I’ve been thinking a lot about the Roman Polanski case. I’ve read everything I can about it over the last few weeks including the original trial transcripts, which left me feeling sick to the stomach. But many people have already said what I feel about the case, including the most excellent Lauren McLaughlin and Jay Smooth.
What I’m really wondering is how all those Hollywood luminaries could have signed that petition. Do they really want the world at large to think they have no problem with the rape of a thirteen year old girl?
Did they sign because all their mates did and not know what they were signing? Perhaps, they thought, it’s another save the whales or end global warming petition. This is my most charitable option. Better they be stupid or careless than consider rape to be nothing.
Do they believe that because they know and like Polanski that he must be capable of no wrong? What a valueless friendship that is. I value my friends precisely because they call me on my wrong doing and mistakes. Stand by your friends absolutely, but own it when they do wrong and pressure them to make amends.
Do they believe that artists can do no wrong? That the talented can steal and rape and murder with impunity? I hate to break it to them but genius is not a moral quality. No amount of great art excuses rape.
Far too often powerful, privileged people forget that rules apply to them too. They do this because far too often people like them, like Polanski, get away with rape. They begin to think that this is their right. It’s our job to remind them that no one has that right. No matter how famous or how rich or how high up they are in government.
So, Tilda Swinton and the rest of you? Not getting more of my money any time soon.
Update: In the comments below Sarah points out that many of the people who signed that petition are not, in fact, part of Hollywood. Many are part of the European film industry. Woody Allen and others don’t make Hollywood films. Salman Rushdie and Paul Auster are writers.
There are many, many people who work in Hollywood who are appalled by the petition. The people who signed the petition are not representative.