I am the worst kind of debater. I feel empathy for everyone's position and end up not knowing where I stand. (Which is the opposite of the Maharishi, who majored in Rhetoric and, annoyingly, can debate anyone under the table. In fact, he will make you feel bad for ever considering the position that you hold.)
With this case, I couldn't be further away from wishy-washy. I find it hard to grasp exactly what the Polanski supporters' argument is. And I've come to the conclusion that the argument is genius trumps child rape*. (LLG also discusses this topic on her blog here and as we've discussed it together, I hope she won't mind me also weighing in on the subject while I'm righteously indignant.) Let me illuminate: If Polanski were a transient, his treatment would be completely different.
I have always believed that crazy is okay if people are brilliant. I have used it to defend hideously abusive men, filmmakers too, in fact, not for crimes anywhere near the one we're discussing here, of course, but I've done that snobbish thing. It's really so Hollywood. "Honey, you gotta forgive the bad behaviour -- the man's a genius."
Well, I was wrong too. There is absolutely no excuse.
Polanski's parents were both thrown into concentration camps, where his mother subsequently died. In 1969 his wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered, brutally by Charles Manson. This is more tragedy that any man should ever endure. He has made some extraordinary films. My favorite is "Chinatown," but he's also responsible for "Rosemary's Baby," "Tess" and "The Pianist" which won the Palme D'Or and the Oscar for Best Director.
However, in 1977 he drugged and sodomized a thirteen year old girl. That would be a child one year younger than my own daughter. (And yes, there are so many questions one asks about that day, especially "Where the hell was this child's parent?")
He has been a 'fugitive' ever since.
A couple of days ago Polanski was arrested at the Zurich Film Festival and is to be extradited back to the US. Many artists and filmmakers, such as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Harvey Weinstein and a bunch of other Hollywood folks have signed a petition in his defense.
- Evgenia Peretz writes pithily about the subject in Vanity Fair here.
- The Salon piece is here.
- Steve Lopez shares his outrage in the LA Times here. (Possibly the best thing I've read on the subject).
- And David Wild sums it all up with a custom-playlist for Polanski here.
*a theory I first espoused on my Facebook page early yesterday morning, to which my friend Josh replied: "what a disgusting comment on our society... and oh so poignant..."