Wrote this when it was more timely (did anyone else find it curious that John Phillips and Le Petit Pollack got busted in the same seven day period? The perv stars alligned.) Anyway, I'm still going to launch it, reinspired by the video I just saw on a friend's website, as posted way below. The belt.
I am starting to see Free Polanski, in graphic, writ, sentiment. I cannot understand it, why people so insouciantly dismiss from reasonable consequence a man who plied with alcohol, drugged, then raped and sodomized a thirteen-year-old child in Jack Nicholson's home, while she protested. A man who, no matter what the stature and breadth of his talent, plead guilty to sex with a minor and then fled the country. I'm sorry, not being able to pick up your Oscar just doesn't quite qualify as penance.
Let me reiterate, He drugged and raped a child. The fact he felt the need to sedate her should tell you just what sort of man he was, just what manner of "seduction" was occurring, and by whom. It's ludicrous to point the finger at the girl, no matter how nubile, whatever wiles she might have possessed or even employed. In this country, we don't think it's cool to fuck children, and no one would be arguing this point were the victim a boy.
I have read all thirty-six available pages of her testimony, looked at newly released graphic evidence and medical reports, as well as the parole officer's recommendations to the court. It's pretty interesting. I cannot believe no one ever mentions this:
There is one moment of exquisite discomfort, impossibly cute horror, sadness, hilarity, perverse poetical madness, when the naïf tells the court, "He performed 'cuddliness' on me."
The attorney asks for clarification, she gives it. I won't repeat it, not because I'm shy, but because you get it.
I had to recuse myself from the document for a time following that.
The empaths feel he's suffered enough. I understand their point and agree he's been through a lot - the loss of his mother at Auschwitz, his wife and child slain by the Mansons, his own ghetto childhood, and always forever being so terribly, terribly short.
(let that last one sink in a little)
When we awaken from our nightmares, we don't go forth and perpetuate violence on others, innocents, to retaliate against the midnight demons.* We are meant to turn the other cheek. Way to pay it forward, Polanski.
Some argue (this includes the state-appointed psychiatrist and parole officer who offered their recommendations), that he wasn't really the sort to be a continual danger to others. I guess not. I mean, how you can know that? I'm not really certain. Any probing into his later romantic history paints a slightly different picture, but ok.
Still, what about his attempts to scar my psyche?
I'm not trying to say the man isn't hugely talented, but shall we take a moment to examine the psycho-sexual content of the films of this "great writer/director" for a moment? I will stick to the ones I've actually seen:
Pre-Tate Era (in case you're tempted to argue that was the event that did him in):
Repulsion - Hot Belgian chick goes nutso as she indulges obsessive rape fantasies. (1965)
Rosemary's Baby - Sweet newlywed, fond of white light and daisies, transforms seedy, dark, old Manhattan apartment to prepare for offspring. Sadly, husband has joined downstairs Bohemian/Satanic cult, then drugs her and allows her to be raped and impregnated by Lucifer himself. Which, sort of makes her a starfucker. (1968)
(Faye applies make-up on the set, 1974)
Chinatown - Amid the land and water rights turf war in the San Fernando Valley, aforementioned Gentleman Jack discovers somber and resistant, but still smokin' hot, Faye Dunaway. In the course of his seduction, is disappointed to discover that she has begotten the rape-child of her father, which makes her his Baby Mama Daughter (in the parlance of the day). Oh, and Polanski pops up briefly to vivisect Jack's face. Did he regret already using the title, Knife in the Water? (1974)
I'm so gay for Kinski in this, though it's Playdohnic.
Tess (of the D'Urbervilles, I read this one as a teenager, but saw the film in 5th grade and loved it, but was Completely Traumatized.) - Hopelessly beautiful country maiden, with some distant, long-forgotten claim to nobility, is played as pawn to her coarse father's ambitions. She is sent to the affluent cousin for employment, who seduces her with strawberries perfectly mimicking the voluptuous beauty of her lips, then rapes and impregnates her. After which, he casts her back to her family farm where, in true Hardy fashion, the baby dies. More bad, heartbreaking stuff happens, and though it involves continual mistreatment from men and an eventual life of virtual prostitution, there isn't any more rape, so we end it here. However, it is notable that Polanski had a long-term relationship with his star, Nastassja Kinski, which began when she was 15. (1979)
Bitter Moon - Roman cast his much younger, if legal, wife in a Love Boat cruise of sexual "exploration," sado-masochism, and general degradation and depravity. This film is a shipwreck, and I hated it. (1992)
The Ninth Gate - I dunno, never saw it, but I know it's about Satan. Still, no rapin', so what's the point?
(I understand this documentary is rather forgiving of the situation. I haven't seen it, but at least one of the interviewees is lying.)
And this is not about a failure of forgiveness on my part for a great artist or for a fragile, imperfect human being. It's about having some feeling for the child he victimized. It's about not taking the cheap, well-worn road where we blame the female for her natural loveliness. Are we still going to continue to sanction rape for "important" people? Dear Miss Goldberg, do you really need to be an apologist for Roman Polanski? It wasn't "rape-rape"? Is that a legal term? Did you learn NOTHING from your starring role in The Color Purple? Are you a complete dumbshit? I used to think not. Do you not know what a plea bargain is and why a defendant bargains for it? Do you imagine a thirteen-year-old girl wants a middle aged midget, no matter how famous, to give her anal? Is that rapity-rape, you wascalldy-wabbit? I guess in other parts of the world...
Celie, I think it pisses God off when you walk by an abused child and don't notice she's raped.
Of course you're the woman who, many years ago, insisted upon getting the private company jet to Comic Relief (you know, the charity fundraiser?), then threw a fit backstage over the decadent waste at the craft service table, according to my friend and former HBO VP. That was big of you, thinking of all the funds diverted from poor people. I mean, melon balls and jet fuel are about the same in the commodities market, after all. Shame on you, Whoopi, on both counts. I'm now angrier at you than the actual perp.
What this is about, for me anyway, is respecting the sovereignty of other human beings, whatever qualities they possess or lack, whatever their ambitions, whatever their relative "worth," as if that were even a measurable quantity. She had a right to pass through that home untouched, even if she was just a girl. Even if she was sent to the casting by her own mother. Even if she were as dumb, lame and completely dysfunctional as Whoopi Goldberg. And that brings us of course to the fact that the victim herself has forgiven him and wants this all to go away. That's where I get stymied, because as much as I want to see good laws upheld, justice to me isn't about serving the structure and letter of the law itself, it's about protecting the people. I don't know if California views rape as a crime against the state, thereby removing the decision of prosecution from the hands of the victim, but I am too tired to Google it. I can see why we would protect against responses akin to Stockholm Syndrome and also how a patriarchal handling can further damage the injured party.** It boils down to personal sovereignty.
And okay, maybe there really was a kangaroo presiding, and Polanski wasn't going to get a fair deal. So he ran. Maybe I should research all that too, but I don't think it changes what he did.
It seems clear to me that the director was never really publicly repentant at all. Let's face it, he has called it a "love affair." So, as for you, Mr. Polanski, whatever the case, that girl didn't make you short. God made you short. He was punishing you in advance.
(*Oh wait, We do that all the time. I generally do not.
**This is a blog post unto itself, but I had a close friend who was raped, brutalized and very nearly killed, if not for her formidable escape. The perp got out of state quickly. Her veteran father and his secret ops chum took it upon themselves to see that justice was served. His head was on a platter, quite literally, if you drop the dish itself. And that is the horror she never quite got over. Many of you will say he got what he deserved. But she hated her father for it, precisely because he took the control from her hands.)