|Justice never seems to apply to Hollywood. The film community think its their right that exceptionalism comes before ethics, or rationality, or law, or fairness, or even equity. A swarm of satisfactory talent, and hence I stress only satisfactory with remote ease, including Whoopee Goldberg, Woody Allen, the deluded psychopath David Lynch and Pedro Almodóvar, have retaliated with an emphatic defence of Roman Polanski: a filmmaker with no morals who had unlawful sex with a teen girl in the late seventies, and has been on the run ever since. An A-list star can boost charities, reverse grave injustices around the world, and lend credibility to under fire politicians. But this is insane. Is Hollywood seriously telling us – yes, us, normal people – that child-rape is swell?
Because we “normal people” wouldn’t get away with it. Roman Polanski, and his fugitive tactics, has achieved one notoriety: to show how libel laws are precariously sentimental, a trait shared overall with western culture; and to confirm the frailty of the law. Polanski is a flawed man – his stardom as a movie director shouldn’t be separated from the ghastly actions of thirty years ago. This is what justice is, and what justice should always be about. Many consider the downfall of Polanski a tragedy – isn’t it more like poetic justice? It’s true the director created brilliant, melodramatic, albeit often clichéd, tragedies behind the camera. It is also true that his long life hasn’t been free from cruel misfortune. Yet this is a fact of life for everyone. Tragedy, within the anomalous showbiz universe, now seems to be distinguished as a misunderstood act that happens to famous people.
Polanski isn’t famous – Polanski is infamous, and how anyone can misunderstand unlawful hank panky is beyond me. And nothing about Polanski is tragic. Indeed, this is a filmmaker who suffers from the deluded extremes of hubris – the film adaptation of a classic Shakespeare opus, and a familiar tragedy too, was renamed as Roman Polanski’s Film of Macbeth. The title is lame – that much is gapingly obvious – but it, just the same, stinks of diaphanous haughtiness. Roman Polanski’s fatal flaws, however, are inherent in his sexual vulgarity. He gave alcohol to a 13-year-old, and then offered Methaqualone, a sedative drug that causes euphoria and, yes, increases sexual arousal – aphrodisia. Polanski’s answer to this shame was to emigrate, run, hide, run some more, relocate himself and invite his successful career to be defamed by squalor, hide again, and run some more – again.
Roman Polanski has lived his entire life by the exhilaration of risk. Polanski has been fugaciously avoiding the courts for three long decades, and his disdain for authority has always been plain – ever since his childhood was incarcerated by the brutally repressive occupation of his native home. It was in March 1941, only months before America’s military entry into the war effort, that Polanski, aged just seven, and his family were driven into a Krakow ghetto of a mere 310 dwellings. They were joined by 18,000 other Jewish citizens. Two years later, on 14th February 1943, Nazis took Bula, Polanski’s mother, transported her to Birkenau, and submitted her to the raging hell of a gas chamber. She, along with an estimated 980,000 Jews, was murdered within days.
Polanski’s father, Ryszard, was transported to the Mauthausen concentration camp one month later. Both Polanski and his father would be reunited at war’s end. Polanski, meanwhile, adopted the alias of Wilk and hid in the countryside. There was little food, and the maggot infested scrappages that did exist “could only be eaten with the eyes closed.” And then, one day, Polanski went into the outside world. He was spotted, two Nazi Axis soldiers took aim, and a charade of bullets riddled the ground behind him. Polanski’s recount of the situation ensured its stark quality stayed with the man forever: they “missed me by inches,” he vividly remembered.
Now that’s risqué and courageous. Such a shame Polanski reduced this close shave to the fun and games of personal immorality. It’s understandable that the girl involved, she who was raped, has condoned the incident, and has forgiven the disgraced director. The innocent lady, haunted forever as a young adolescent on this fateful night, doesn’t want to see these events reopened. Yet, rightly or wrongly and most likely without intent, she is appeasing a grievous abuse and, by default, turning blind eyes and deaf ears to all those children throughout the world who face sexual repression and become toys for rapists and psychopaths to play with. Excuse me, but laws are there to prosecute those who vandalise children and their egregious zones – yet they also act as an exemplar to aid those children who have not been defiled up to now, but could well be either today or tomorrow. This one particular instance is enough. So let’s punish the inherent injustice of it all.
Hollywood exceptionalism – something that makes stars and celebrities devoid of morality or equity – usually gets away. A recent case in point would be the rags to riches 2008 film, Slumdog Millionaire. The movie was a sensational hit – both the director and the studio reacted with wonderment at a gross revenue that exceeded $377 million. But what about the child stars – and their welfare? One had his home demolished and still endures the hell of slums. India’s government were responsible for demolishing the home, but where was the powerful voice from that great moviemaking institution – the true capitalist benefactors, huh? Where were they? Where the heck were they?
Hollywood entered the country, exploited an innocent child with crucial talent that enforced a trailblazer for dollars at cinemas throughout the globe, only to then leave without a hint of stupor at the poverty they’d been exposed to. They used a poor underclass to benefit profit – and left leaving nothing for that underclass that made the profiteers, or media imperialists, rich. Wow. This is an insult, and now similar exceptionalism within the same institution wants to make film icons immortal to laws and morality. Polanski is guilty – and, if justice is allowed to streak through the rocky highlands of ethical reality, he should be punished. Children must be protected, and their psychopathic predators should be outlawed and rejected. Screw Hollywood.
Robert King is a Contributing Editor to WDC.