Monday, September 28, 2009

Rapist, International Fugitive Arrested: Media Aghast

I will preface this by saying I like Roman Polanski's movies, at least the ones I've seen--Rosemary's Baby, Frantic, The Pianist, and especially Chinatown; I saw a restored print of it ten years ago that was almost a religious experience.

His sudden arrest in Switzerland over the weekend has stunned the world's artistic community. A true cinematic artist, one who's long-suffered and even been forgiven by his victim, opinion seems to be that...the man is a rapist and why the fuck are we having this conversation?

Yeah. Rapist. He didn't "have sex" with a 13-year old girl. He raped her. Well, first he got her drunk and high on quaaludes. Then he raped her.

Don't believe me? Check out the Smoking Gun's transcript of her testimony. I looked at it for the first time on Sunday. It made me ill.

Predictably, the comments at the New York Times website were full of fail. A lot of people seem to feel that he's "suffered enough." They base this, I guess, because he hasn't been allowed to re-enter the United States since he fled in 1977. Instead, he's had to content himself with making lots of money directing movies in Europe and living in France.

Ya know, I just got back from France. That's really not a hardship assignment.

The latest bit of doucheoisie posturing is this:

Nearly 100 entertainment industry professionals, including the movie directors Pedro Almodovar, Wong Kar Wai and Wim Wenders urged in a petition that Mr. Polanski be release, saying: “Filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision.”

Ronald Harwood, who won an Oscar as screenwriter of “The Pianist,” which Mr. Polanski directed, said: “It’s really disgraceful. Both the Americans and the Swiss have miscalculated.”

Jack Lang, a former French culture minister, said that for Europeans the development showed that the American system of justice had run amok.

“Sometimes, the American justice system shows an excess of formalism,” Mr. Lang said, “like an infernal machine that advances inexorably and blindly.”
One wonders, however, if Wong Kar Wei, Wim Wenders, or Pedro Almodovar would feel comfortable leaving a prepubescent female relative unattended around Roman Polanski. Or if they'd be arguing about the "great artist" exemption for a shocking act of rape if it were their 13-year old daughter.

Liss McEwan, as usual, hits it right on the head:

Very few, if any, of the people who have publicly defended Polanski, or who have worked with him, make it their business to champion or associate themselves with admitted child rapists. They make an exception for Polanski for the same reason exceptions have been for other famous, artistic men – directors, writers, actors, comedians, singers, musicians, dancers, choreographers, painters, sculptors, photographers – who have been known to sexually assault women and/or children: Because geniuses get special dispensation.

Because there's only one Roman Polanski.

So goes the breathless defense of the artiste, while the flipside of that particular coin, because thirteen-year-old girls are a dime a dozen, goes unspoken.

So yeah. Overaggressive prosecution! Of a child molester! Who admitted to it! That's overzealousness, all right! Just remember, as long as you can paint a nice picture or make a good movie, you get to rape young girls!

But not boys. That would be sick.


  1. And don't fall for that "statute of limitations" argument, either. While prosecutors are given a fixed amount of time to bring charges for most crimes, once someone is indicted that's it. In this case, Polanski had already pleaded guilty and was awaiting sentencing when he absconded.

  2. Thanks for this. It's no better in the UK. I Tweeted yesterday: "So Polanski's finally been arrested, & evading the law for 31yrs is just a "legal headache"? Burn, Guardian, burn: " - The Guardian being what was once an exemplary left-wing paper.

    I should write my own blog post about this, but got some hard deadlines this week. I'm sure it will continue to unfold in a sickening manner though, so maybe next week!

  3. Polanski wasn't even indicted. He pled guilty. He skipped bail because he feared (I hope correctly) that the judge was going to reject the proposed agreement that would have had him plead guilty only to Unlawful Sexual Contact with a Minor and receive a ninety-day sentence, reduced to the forty-some days already served when he was being held for psychiatric evaluation. For those unfamiliar with how American criminal law works*, the judge is under no obligation to accept a plea deal -- those are worked out between the prosecution and defense -- and would have been entirely within his rights to demand an actual trial or a different deal.

    *Note: The Law and Order verse is, shockingly, not a good source for such information.

  4. It's absolutely true that the judge wasn't bound to uphold a plea bargain; however, it is also true that they generally do, because otherwise the DAs have a nightmare on their hands, and the whole point of plea bargaining is shot down. Which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your philosophy.

    Though I agree with you, Moira, and according to Bill Wyman's Salon story, one of the reasons the judge got tougher is that the DA let him know that Polanski was carousing in Europe and making him look like a fool:

    (Caveat: Law and Order, according to a friend of mine who works in the Brooklyn DA's office, isn't that bad a simulation...and as a matter of fact, I think there was even an episode where Jack McCoy urged a judge to toss a too-lenient plea agreement ;)