I wasn’t planning to say anything about Roman Polanski’s renewed legal problems but I’m a lifelong film buff so I decided to take the plunge.Rosemary’s Baby was one of the first grown-up movies I remember seeing in a theatre as what is now called a tween. It scared the living shit out of me in a really good way and helped to inspire a lifelong interest in creepy, dark and pulpy films and books. I think thatChinatown, Repulsion andThe Pianist are also timeless classics.Chinatown was the perfect merger of film noir and roman a clef storytelling with truly amazing performances by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston. There’s even a creepily effective turn by the director as a knife wielding thug as seen above.
Having established that I admire Polanski’s films: does that impact my opinion of his arrest? Hell, no. The fact that he’s an artist doesn’t excuseplying a 13 year old girl with quaaludes and liquor and then raping her. It’s a crime, folks, and one that Polanski pled guilty to some 30 years ago. Then, instead of either taking his medicine or withdrawing his guilty plea and standing trial, Polanski became a fugitive.
Polanski’s recent arrest in Switzerland was a surprising development BUT it was partially caused by his lawyers’ attempts to set aside his conviction. That’s right, unlike the creepy bleached skin perv Wacko Jacko, Polanski was *convicted* and then committed another crime by fleeing the country. I know I’m repeating myself but it’s something that’s gotten lost in the discussion of the case. It’s not about international film festivals and artistry, it’s about a child being raped by a man 30 years older than her.
Polanski’s defenders have said and written some bizarre things. Some have claimed that it was a youthful indiscretion: it wasn’t, he was 43 at the time. Whoopi Goldberg has, quite notoriously, claimed that it was “not rape-rape.” That’s a particularly disgusting claim coming from a woman and downright preposterous as applied to the facts of the case: drugging a child and forcing yourself on them may be dubbed statutory rape but it’s definitely rape. I think Whoopi rolled her dreads too tightly or something that morning.
Other Polanski apologists have asked us to forgive him because he’d had a hard life prior to becoming an admitted rapist. It’s true: he survived the Shoah, fled Communism and his wife was among those slaughtered by the Manson “Family.” All true: but many, if not most, criminals have had horrible life experiences BUT if you commit a serious crime such as rape, you need to be punished. Inner city youths with sad life stories don’t have the likes of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein passing petitions around in their behalf.
Finally, the most offensive as well as legally dubious defense is the “he’s an artist so he can do whatever he wants” argument. It’s poppycock, piffle and hooey. It barely dignifies a response other than: Holy Nietzche, Batman.
Now that I’ve ranted about Polanski’s defenders, do I think that the proverbial book should be thrown at him? Not neccessarily. I think, for a change, he should be treated no better or no worse than any other defendant in his position. Give the rich man the same medicine a poor man would get: it’s called equal protection and equal justice.