The egregious crimes for which Roman Polanski is famous, and for which he is still famously fleeing U.S. justice, should need no mention in the current climate of decades-long sexual predators finally getting the justice they deserve.
That Polanski’s crimes must be mentioned, that anyone needs reminding, exposes a deep, fundamental flaw in Hollywood, in U.S. society, and in our collective obsession with celebrity culture and fame:
The rich and famous still get away with a great deal more than the rest of us.
That Polanski drugged and raped a young girl isn’t a matter of debate; it is a matter of public record. Nothing says guilt like successfully fleeing justice for decades, expatriating yourself from the U.S., and never setting foot in American soil ever again. That, and Polanski wrote extensively about the crime in his autobiography.
How Roman Polanski- who in addition to being a rapist and pedophile, happens to have a directed a few movies, some of which I hear aren’t half bad- continues to make movies, have those movies viewed by top people in the film industry, and receive prestigious awards for those films, in 2019, is the only real question.
Beating the U.S. legal system by avoiding due process does not make you an innocent man. Yet to hear Polanski tell it in a recent interview, he remains utterly unrepentant of his crimes and even has the audacity to complain about his persecution in the #MeToo age as the accusations from other victims pile up against him.
Even Woody Allen, who in addition to being accused of sexually assaulting a number of his own children, seduced and later married the young adopted daughter of his live-in girlfriend, continued to make movies until only recently when he became too hot to touch and Amazon dropped a distribution contract for his last picture.
Better late than never, I suppose.
And yet, the Hollywood cosseting of sexual predators has become a glaring eye-sore in the Information Age. A pattern that is impossible to ignore. Jeffery Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby; these open secrets, and the open Hollywood secret of the casting couch, are all out in the open now.
Yet, these are only the tip of the iceberg. From eccentric Hollywood director Howard Hughes’ propensity for stalling the careers of young starlets he found attractive, buying out their contracts and keeping them in a sort-of stable in case he decided to “date” them, to Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler’s adoption of an underage girl he was “dating”, the horror stories never end.
Hollywood, we have a problem.
It is very difficult to take seriously the moralizing of a group of people who seem willing to accept reprehensible, even criminal, behavior if the price is right.
To continue to accept and defend Woody Allen and Roman Polanski does a disservice to victims and survivors of sexual assault. It does a disservice to every charitable and worthy cause celebrities claim to support. It shows an untrustworthiness and hypocrisy that is difficult to accept with a slice of moralizing.
Perhaps celebrities should take the immortal advice of Socrates and “tend their own gardens”.
Chinatown may be a wonderful movie, I wouldn’t know. But no two-hours of entertainment, no matter how cleverly wrought, is worth the kind of moral compromise required to forget the crimes of the man who made it.
“Pretty Young Thing” is still just as catchy a tune as it ever was. Knowing what we now know about Michael Jackson, what most of us have known for years, can we really enjoy it anymore?
The art cannot be separated from the artist anymore than the ends can be separated from the means.
Great art does not excuse terrible people.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)