I wasn't alive for the heady days of Vietnam and burning draft cards and Kent State, although I'm supposing that the last decade's war protests and Occupy Wall Street might form something of an approximation. So I can't speak to the era's tensions with any kind of authority, but there's one thing I do know from first-hand experience: your grandparents probably hate the ever-loving shit out of Jane Fonda.
A lot of that stems from an extremely controversial trip that Fonda took to North Vietnam in July of 1972, wherein she posed for pictures with NVA soldiers and, worst of all, engaged in a press conference with American POWs who had been tortured and forced to partake in the press conference and speak out against the war. I love the fact that I live in a country where speaking out against the actions of the government is considered a healthy and respectable form of free speech (for the moment, anyway), but it's hard not to agree that Fonda pushed some moral boundaries with the visit, a good accounting of which you can find on Snopes. It's one thing to speak out against a war that you feel is unjust, but Fonda went so far as to accuse the POWs of exaggerating their circumstances, "probably for their own self-interest." Which...wow.
My grandfather is a retired admiral who spent a good chunk of the 60's and 70's in Vietnam, so understandably he still has some strong opinions on the merits of Fonda's trip to Hanoi, as well as the woman herself. I would not at all want to be in the room with him when he learns that one of the most famous hippie liberals of the era has reportedly been cast as America's most famous drug-hating granny, Nancy Reagan, in The Butler, an upcoming film from Lee Daniels, director of Precious. Man, would I not want to be there, except perhaps to summon emergency services to help treat the ensuing cardiac event.
The Butler is a biopic of Eugene Allen, the long-serving White House butler who worked for eight different presidents over a lengthy career. It's no doubt a fascinating story, but the Fonda casting is certainly a note of curiosity. Nancy Reagan never came across as being a hardcore conservative, from my memories (and has been active in supporting things like stem-cell research despite the party line), but it's hard to imagine that she fostered many good thoughts about someone like Fonda. Reagan's still alive and kicking at 91, so it's possible that we'll get her opinion on the news at some point soon.
Obviously, the goal of any film is to cast the best actor or actress for the role at hand, but it's hard not to feel that some consideration to the wishes of someone who's still alive might be nice in this instance, especially someone as generally well-thought-of as Reagan. I'm sure Fonda would do well in the role, but there's still the faintest whiff of troll-iness in the casting that skeeves me out a bit, especially given the prevailing conservative opinion in America that Hollywood overtly or covertly advocates liberal social policies as a rule. Maybe they'll double down and get Tim Robbins to play Reagan, just to see how much foam accumulates at the corners of Rush Limbaugh's mouth as he rants and raves.