The FTA Show: Jane Fonda, the GI Movement, and Celebrity Activism in the Late Vietnam War

Peace & Change, Volume 46, Issue 2, Page 119-141, April 2021.


This article explores the FTA (or Free the Army) show, a touring antiwar performance led by Hollywood actors Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland in 1971. FTA sought to support antiwar GIs who, by the early 1970s, constituted a GI movement opposed to the Vietnam War. FTA visited military towns in the continental United States, performing for an estimated 15,000 GIs and reflecting antiwar GIs’ increasingly intersectional analysis of war, militarism, racism, and sexism. In November, the troupe traveled to the Asia-Pacific—the staging ground for the American war effort in Vietnam—to perform for an additional 64,000 US troops in Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, and Okinawa. Pitched as a counter-USO show, FTA, which took its critique of the war to the doorstep of the US military, not only served as a megaphone for the under-reported GI movement, but also evolved celebrity activism, taking it to new heights of oppositional politics.

This was originally published on Wiley: Peace & Change: Table of Contents.