Thursday, October 1, 2009

Roman Polanski

I can't believe I have to write this blog - I've waited days for this to go away, but since it won't, I will comment.

I am highly disappointed in several Hollywood stars - Penelope Cruz, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese - who have signed a petition asking for Roman Polanski's extradition to the United States on charges of statutory rape to be reconsidered. Polanski is unquestionably a brilliant director of such movies as Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby, and most recently, The Pianist. However, Chris Benoit was also an incredible wrestler, who was unequivocally viewed as a monster upon his murdering his wife and son before taking his own life two years ago. While his skill allows some of us wrestling fans to separate the professional from the personal and still enjoy his body of work, and while I know some who continue to defend Chris Benoit as a talented performer, I know of no one who defends him as a human being, or his final acts on this earth; nor does the fact of Roman Polanski's skill as a director exhonorate him from seducing a 13-year-old girl with alcohol and drugs before raping her.

I know that Hollywood - at least some of it - leans toward the left end of politics, which has among its tarits forgiveness of crimes. But I highly doubt these people were first on the front lines asking forgiveness for the priests who were outed as pedophiles a couple of years ago in a huge sex scandal on the Catholic church; nor do I suspect they would defend Roman Polanski if he were simply a truck driver or mailman. Bottom line is that talent does not excuse you from living on the moral and ethical plane we all must share as human beings. I am able to enjoy Roman Polanski's films while still believing he should be in jail, and that fleeing to France rather than facing incarceration should now be added to his list of crimes.

I am also a very forgiving person - I have been hurt very badly by people I would still love to communicate with, and I have very good relationships with people who have hurt me. I still enjoy a good Chris Benoit match while loathing how his final chapter was written. However, I believe for forgiveness to take place, remorse needs to be expressed. When I do something wrong - legitimately wrong - I do apologize and attemt, however lamely it may be, to make amends. And when others seem contrite, I am quick to forgive as well. I am highly dubious of Paris Hilton because she has not learned from her experience in jail due to DUI and driving on a suspended license; ditto Lindsay Lohan. Conversely, I feel great sympathy for Montel V. Porter in the WWE, who spent nine years in jail on robbery and kidnapping charges to be paroled and to make a success of his life as an athlete. Or Bill Clinton, who after his mistakes with Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky has tried, albeit clumsily at times, to be a good and supporting husband to Hillary Clinton. From feeling simply sad and bemused by her, I have a great deal of respect these days for Britney Spears.

Roman Polanski, on the other hand, has expressed no remorse or regret; he in fact has lived a very posh lifestyle with a series of teenage girlfriends in France. I understand that there might have been some procedural errors in his case; and I'm not so reactionary and so ignorant of the law that I want to discredit those as I've heard some pundits do. However, the fact is at the end of the day he pled guilty to and acknowledged raping a child. He has learned nothing from those actions. And rather than dealing with any unfairness or inequities the law might have shown him in terms of due process, he handled it with his own brand of morality; unilatirally, fleeing the country.

I understand as well his young victim simply wants the case dropped, as it (and the attendant publicity) has already caused her more damage, she claims, than the rape itself has. I'd believe that and this is the most compelling reason that I might actually support letting Roman Polanski live out his days in exile. However, at this point, once he pled guilty, unfortunately it became not a civil case in her hands, but a criminal case handled by society, 'The State'; should she wish, she can testify that she just wants to put this behind her at his retrial/sentencing/what have you. Or turn off the TV and close up the newspapers and step out of it altogether; no one could blame her. And I do feel terrible sympathy that this ordeal continues to haunt her thirty two years later. However, she is wrong in blaming the media, or public, or prosecutors for such; if Mr. Polanski had simply served his time, this case would have long since gone away. It is yet another way he has hurt and violated her.

As to his age and the long space of time between his crimes and now - we still try to prosecute Nazi war criminals don't we, who are arguably older and more infirm than Roman Polanski at this point. And you certainly don't hear Hollywood criticizing that, nor should you - I'm married to a Jewish man of European descent, so I certainly agree! But same here - people, especially young people with a possibly bright future ahead of them, deserve better treatment. As a teacher, there are few crimes that more devastate me than when I hear of children being hurt. I admire Kirstie Alley and Perez Hilton and their ilk for speaking the truth - that Roman Polanski, while a talented film director, is also a convicted criminal and rapist who owes a debt to society. I hope 'Hollywood Justice' and the blind eye we turn on behalf of talented people (OJ Simpson, Michael Vick, etc.) doesn't end up applying here.

No comments: