Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Defending Polanski; or, how the Hollywood left has completely lost its marbles

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yesterday, I posted on the truth about Roman Polanski, and this was my conclusion:

Whatever you think of the cinema and celebrity of Roman Polanski, it is the truth that should matter most, including the truth about what happened over three decades ago.

What is that truth? That he drugged and raped a minor, a 13-year old girl (read the sordid details here).

That is disturbing -- and criminal -- but what is also disturbing is how so many in Hollywood have rushed to his defence since his arrest in Switzerland.

Consider some of the high-profile, world-famous names who have signed on to the "Free Polanski" movement: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Wim Wenders, Pedro Almodovar, Wong Kar-Wai, Jonathan Demme, and Harvey Weinstein. According to The Guardian, Weinstein is "calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation."

Apparently, the "terrible situation" is Polanski's arrest, and the fact that he may now be held accountable for his actions of over three decades ago, but the real terrible situation is what he actually did (or what he is alleged to have done, and was convicted of), namely, raping a minor. How is his arrest more terrible than the crime? How, to these cinema big shots, is rape so insignificant as to pale in comparison with the plight of one of their own, of a man who raped a minor and then spent over three decades avoiding extradition, continuing his career and living the good life, one much imagine, in France?

Look, it's not that I don't respect Polanski as an artist. I do. I think he's grossly overrated, but I do appreciate, for the most part, what he has done in film. And I love some of filmmakers on that list, especially Woody Allen. But please. This outpouring of support for Polanski -- from Hollywood, from Poland, from Switzerland... from around the world. Are we simply supposed to ignore the fact that Polanski raped a minor? Apparently so.

And that shows that there is a despicable double standard at work here. What if, instead of being a celebrated movie director, the rapist were, say, some anonymous dude? Well, he would have been send off to prison with a long sentence way back when, no possibility of escaping to France to avoid extradition and without a single notice in Variety. Or what if the rapist were, say, a conservative filmmaker (there are a few), someone without so many famous friends and allies on the Hollywood left? Sure, he would likely have received the support of the anti-Hollywood right and become a cause célèbre among fellow conservatives, but, then, double standards do go both ways, do they not? Just because the right would do something doesn't mean the left should.

Honestly, I am sickened by the "Free Polanski" movement, sickened that so many great filmmakers have taken up the cause, sickened that not nearly enough attention is being paid to what actually happened thirty years ago. And I say this as a liberal, as someone fairly sympathetic to the left, including the Hollywood left. I expect such behaviour from the right, but, as I hold the left, and liberals, to a much higher standard, it just pisses me off when the left pulls this sort of shit. Isn't the left about women's rights and children's rights and fairness and equality and progress and the rule of law? Since when is it a moral vacuum where you can get what you want if only you're a famous artist and know the right people? Since when does it care not a whit for rape?

As I put it yesterday, if the case was politically motivated or mishandled (which it may have been), or if Polanski is actually innocent, then let the evidence be presented in a court of law, not in the faux court of the pro-celebrity press... and certainly not with Polanski's pals using their own fame to agitate for his release and exoneration. Do they know the facts? Or, as is more likely, do they simply not care what happened, preferring instead to support their friend no matter what?

For more on Hollywood's appalling response to Polanski's arrest -- and much of it has been worse than a group of filmmakers signing a petition, notably from Whoopi Goldberg, who argued that the rape wasn't "rape rape" -- see my (conservative) friend Ed Morrissey:

Only a moron or a moral midget would read the transcripts and the actual facts of the case and conclude that Polanski deserves to avoid accountability for this crime. Unfortunately, Hollywood is filled with both.

Alas, so it would seem.

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  • Hollywood, by and large, IS NOT supporting him:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:17 PM  

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