What’s Wrong with Hollywood? (updated)

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.


  1. Lili on #

    The thing that really irritates me (apart from everything you said) is that, if 170 “ordinary” people signed a petition, it would mean NOTHING. In fact, it would mean that whatever they were petitioning against, we should go ahead and do it, because clearly not enough people care to not do it.

    But because it’s 170 celebrities, it’s all over the news, and is given Great Importance. Why does David Lynch’s opinion have more value than mine?

  2. Tammee on #

    I so agree. And as for Woody Allen, a man who marries his own daughter(I don’t care about adoption legalities, he was acting as her father), he is in no position to appeal on behalf of another perv. The majority of these others I have not heard of, but those who I know will not see my cash either.

  3. Q on #

    I’m so pleased that normal people are getting so riled up about it. I plan on boycotting until they get the message.

  4. Rebekah on #

    Oh, Jay Smooth. Horrible topic aside, I loved his video on the issue and agreed with him entirely.

  5. CKHB on #

    Terry Gilliam? WTF?

    I have NO idea what is wrong with these people.

  6. Sash on #

    I don’t think it’s that they consider rape to be nothing. It’s that they consider the 13 year old girl to be nothing.

  7. Tim on #

    This whole thing just blows my mind. I can’t even fathom how anyone can say that he should not be persecuted! I wonder if anyone on that list would be so forgiving if it was their daughter/sister/friend who was raped?

    Because, and I’ll say it again for people who keep forgetting, he forcibly raped and sodomised a thirteen year old girl after drugging her while she pleaded for him to stop.

    Even though the (now) young woman who was raped by Polanski doesn’t want to endure a trial, I think it has to be clear that Polanski’s evasion of law enforcement for so long is totally unacceptable.

  8. Anne M Leone on #

    I agree with Sash; I think it shows Hollywood’s incredible disrespect for women. And the fact that so many female celebrities have signed it (even worse, so few have spoken against it!) makes me so sad.

    The Blog of the Moderate Left has a great post about this: http://moderateleft.com/?p=5775

  9. Katie on #

    I’m so glad other people are bothered by this.
    Everytime they talk about it on the news, they seem to make a point at the end to mention his career and the fact that his wife was murdered.
    They find someone on the street to ask their opinion, and it’s inevitably someone saying, “Leave him alone. He’s been through enough already. And look what he’s done for film!”
    As if these things excuse his crimes. There are plenty of people with murdered family members and/or genius careers out there who have somehow managed to not rape anyone, or commit any other crimes for that matter.

  10. Ali on #

    This post is like a running commentary of what I have been thinking since I read that petition, except that it started with about an hour of me being too mad to do anything. On top of the fact that my respect for people like Pedro Almodóvar got pretty much crushed, there is now no way I am going to see the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus when it comes out next week. And I was really looking forward to it. Please wake up, Hollywood, it’s really not difficult to figure out what’s right and what’s wrong here.

  11. Shveta on #

    Thank you, Justine. We’ve really let the cult of celebrity go insane. We’re willing to let famous people get away with anything just because they’re our royalty. No. We’re a democracy, not a monarchy/oligarchy, and everyone is subject to and needs to follow the same laws.

    Not to mention that rape is unethical and wrong and horrible, and to do it to a young girl. . .

  12. Jennifer on #

    I keep having the feeling that celebrities are covering their asses with regards to getting jobs and whatnot. Like putting down a child rapist will hurt their careers because those who sympathize with him are the ones in charge.

    Okay, I don’t know that for certain, but I definitely have a “CYA” feel about this situation.

  13. Christa on #

    I think the call to arms is more a matter of not wanting to admit that no celebrities are above the law. They want to feel like because of their position in society, they don’t have to obey all the rules. If you are talented enough, you can be left alone. They are protecting their peer because if they don’t they have to admit that if they find themselves guilty of something, they too must suffer the consequences. They are looking for that way out that could extend to all of them if need be. However, I don’t think the world works like that nor should it. Just because you do something well doesn’t mean you can’t do something wrong.

  14. Sara on #

    While I agree with everyone on Polanski, I must admit to being tired of hearing how these 170 people represent “Hollywood”. Hollywood is a very large industry in which literally hundreds of thousands of people work, some of whom are my friends. These 170 people (many of whom, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Tilda Swinton, Terry Gilliam, don’t even work *in* Hollywood) do not represent the entire industry, or even 1%. If 170 authors came out in support of Polanski, would we refer to it as “New York”? Or the Publishing industry? I do not admire the individuals who signed this petition, but I still support the industry.

  15. Justine on #

    Sara: You’re absolutely right. My sister, Niki Bern, works in the visual effects industry and has spent years working in Hollywood. She feels as I do about Polanski.

    I’ll add an update.

  16. Kay on #

    I’m late to this discussion (just subscribed to the feed!) but I work in the film and TV business and I assure you that nobody I know condones the brutal rape of a thirteen-year-old girl.

    So what’s wrong with Hollywood? Nothing. It has nothing to do with Hollywood and everything to do with personal points of view. Polanski is a brilliant filmmaker. But he’s also a child rapist. “People in Hollywood” have the capacity to keep track of complexity of this sort.

    I realize that Hollywood-bashing is always fashionable but I’d rather not be lumped in with a bunch of morons who signed a petition. Not ONE PERSON thinks they will be denied a job if they’re against child rape. But has anyone asked for the petition of people who think Polanski needs to be punished? Of course not. Because where’s the story in THAT?

    If you’re asking why Hollywood wants Polanski released, aren’t you saying that all the people who work in the film and TV industry are FOR child rape?

    Doesn’t that sound somewhat irresponsible?

    And I’d totally punch Terry Gilliam in the heart if I ever saw him.

Comments are closed.