Polanski Wars

The Telegraph‘s Matthew Moore reported this morning that Wikipedia administrators have blocked filmmaker Roman Polanski‘s Wikipedia page from being changed after an ‘edit war‘ broke out following the news of Polanski’s arrest two days ago in Zurich on a 31 year-old beef that has been forgiven, to some extent forgotten (save for Marina Zenovich‘s documentary about the case) and has been clearly withering on the vine and yellow with antiquity except in the heads of L.A. prosecutors and the online moral-vengeance crowd.

In other words, the same battle that happened here yesterday has been happening among Wikipedia posters and all over the web.

Polanski slammers on Wikipedia have apparently tried to amplify the matter into a much uglier and more pernicious thing than may be fairly warranted, and his defenders have tried to frame the episode within a realistic historical and sociological realm — i.e., one unmotivated by a curiously frenzied and tub-thumping moral outrage that seems to be about something other than just the late ’70s behavior of Roman Polanski, Samantha Geimer and Laurence J. Rittenband.

What is it that is preventing the Polanski haters from easing up about this thing? Unlike Michael Jackson, Roman Polanski didn’t invest tens of millions into constructing a child-luring fantasy realm called Neverland, which obviously allowed Jackson to take certain liberties. Polanski was, in 1977 and ’78, simply a brilliant obsessive with certain wounds and bruises and perverse inclinations who one night acted like a brute and a pig and probably damaged a young girl’s psyche, although apparently not to a great extent, to judge by her own statements about the incident.

The demons in Polanski that allowed for such behavior were almost certainly sired by his traumatic World War II Nazi-evading childhood and then further exacerbated by the slaughter of his wife and unborn son at the hands of the Manson family in 1969. Does this history excuse his abhorrent behavior in the case of a young teenager who, with the aid and assent of her mother, got herself into a situation that was way over her head? Of course not. Has Polanski suffered at all for his crime, apart from going to jail for 42 days in 1977? Of course he has. The crime has been haunting his head and heart for 32 years and it has defined the political and geographical limits of his life and career for same amount of time — more than half his adult life. He’s lived as a fugitive, a restricted man, a hider in the shadows — never a good thing for anyone in a spiritual sense.

But in the minds of the haters, Polanski hasn’t begun to suffer enough. They’re determined to lash him to the rack and keep him there. They want Pilgrim justice, flayings, black caps, thumbscrews, howls and clanging metal doors.

How do the haters not understand that forgiveness and letting go, particularly after decades of natural healing and the universe having moved on, is an essential tenet of a humane and compassionate philosophy/attitude? Especially when the victim herself has been saying “give it up” for years?

I wrote this morning that there seems to be something almost fetishistic about this case for some people — a weirdly lopsided and enduring sense of vengeance that they feel a need to pursue. There’s something oddly primal going on here. Some kind of metaphor they’re reading into it.

“Why, oh, why, do so many people go so rabid over this, and not thousands of other outrages and injustices?,” Glenn Kenny wrote yesterday morning. “[The] theory that it might have something to do with one’s feelings towards an older person, etc., could indeed be relevant. My own instinct is less charitable. [The revived Polanski episode] just gives people a chance to have a good long wallow in their own inflated sense of righteousness. You should enjoy, as they say.”

Mike in Seattle urged the haters to “please understand the concept of projection. All this righteous indignation is coming from you — not the case, not him, not anything except you. Projection. This is not about what Polanski did or did not do. It’s about you and your feelings toward some older person who did you wrong in your life. Please take responsibility for your feelings.

“What is this obsession that people, especially Americans, have for punishment and revenge?,” he went on to say. “Do these events all take place in a vacuum? Is there no consideration for what happened to this man only a few years before this incident? With his pregnant wife and child brutally murdered? It would seem as fresh and raw as yesterday. So to everyone who says he must pay, does this not get taken into account at all? When a soldier fresh home from some war goes PTSD nuts on his family, would we all say he needs to pay? Or would we say he needs help, and that he surely must have been temporarily insane? Why does Roman Polanski not get just a little of the same consideration? These events do not happen in a vacuum.”

The author Robert Harris, who wrote the adaptation of Polanski’s latest film, The Ghost, said that Saturday’s arrest struck him as “disgusting treatment.” French culture minister Frederic Mitterand contendedthat “a scary America” had “shown its face,” and said it “doesn’t make any sense” for the director to be “trapped” and “thrown to the lions, because of ancient history. [Polanski] has had a difficult life but he has been able to have a family life in France with a wife who loves him and children he has brought up with great care and attention.”

Polanski’s agent Jeff Berg, speaking on BBC Radio 4, echoed this sentiment, pointing out that Polanski’s director’s “psychological makeup” may have been adversely affected by the personal tragedies he’d endured, but that he’d moved forward in his career and personal life since the child rape conviction.

  • crazynine

    Raped. A. Child.

  • Chicago48

    But. The. Child. Recovered. And. Was. Compensated. And. Has. Been. Saying. For. Years. That. Polanski. Is. Forgiven. And. Asking. Everyone. To. “Please. Let. This. Go.”

    I’m not defending Polanski, but he hasn’t gone on to commit another crime. And his arrest is on fugitism, not on the sex charge; he fled — that’s why he’s arrested.

    Not a legal expert, but it just seems that some kind of international law was broken.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    I’m not a legal expert, either. But if I’m not mistaken (and I very well could be), his charge technically wasn’t rape.

    Having said this, of course, I’m not saying he didn’t act like a completely and utterly filthy dirtbag of the highest (lowest?) order.

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com/ MovieBob

    Wells-

    “I wrote this morning that there seems to be something almost fetishistic about this case for some people — a weirdly lopsided and enduring sense of vengeance that they feel a need to pursue. There’s something oddly primal going on here. Some kind of metaphor they’re reading into it.”

    (I put this on the “old” thread, but since this is prolly the new one…)

    It’s called “Class Warfare.” NOBODY ‘likes’ a rapist, statuatory or otherwise, but the folks who’re “fixated” on Polanski are so because of the symbolism; i.e. “the rich” or “the elite” being able to “get away” with anything they want.

    To be fair to their point, I’m not sure that you and other full-on defenders (or “appologists,” if you prefer) for Polanski aren’t engaged in a mirror-land version of the same thing. You didn’t defend Jacko, I don’t imagine you’d be AS jazzed to defend Michael Bay of a similar charge. Basically, I calculate that your defense is grounded largely in a view that Polanski’s contribution to world cinema makes him worth “saving” in the long run.

  • Don Murphy

    Crazynine I assume you’re crazy and have the intellect of a nine year old- please go to the Barney boards.

  • Indeed

    “He’s lived as a fugitive, a restricted man, a hider in the shadows”

    In one of the most beautiful countries in the world with tens of millions of dollars at his disposal who went on to make more than a few movies and was recognized with an Academy Award.

    Yeah, he’s really been living the life of an outcast.

    We may as well stop the manhunts for folks who have been fugitives for 10 years or longer. So what if youve robbed a string of banks…you know what you did and Im sure youre sorry for it.

  • Indeed

    And Im not big on punishment. I think the fairest outcome would be a retrial if the corruption previously was as extensive as some claim.

  • bluefugue

    I don’t really see why it’s tub-thumping or whatever to suggest that when a crime has been committed, the legal machinery ought to be able to work itself to its conclusion. (And that should include full consideration of any possible prosecutorial misconduct as alleged in the documentary.) Maybe this makes me a Kafkaesque, soulless bureaucrat, but as there was an outstanding warrant for Polanski, I don’t think it’s so very bizarre or indefensible that it should be acted on.

    Polanski is a great artist; Polanski suffered more in the first 40 years of his life than any person should; the girl in question went on to forgive him. All acknowledged but not, as far as I can tell, strictly relevant to the legal matter in hand.

  • Jack South P.I.

    For me the problem with Polanski is that he did not pay for his crime. I’m sorry, but this is true. I agree with most of what Wells says about this troubling case and stipulate his facts are true but you cannot get past the fact that this man evaded the law. I don’t care about the corrupt judicial system or a crooked judge. The point is that Roman Polanski, rich International filmmaker, saw the doors closing in on him and skipped town.

    Would he have been able to do this if he was poor? If he wasn’t famous?

    You are not allowed to do this in America. The system may be, at times, unfair but you have to go through channels or it doesn’t work. Polanski didn’t like the sentence he was about to get and took off. If you think Polanski doesn’t deserve to be punished for his crime (and again for evading the law for so long) than you might as well go ahead and take the blindfold off Lady Justice because you are in effect saying it is okay for some people to evade the law and not others.

    And please stop saying he has been punished enough. He is rich and famous and won a friggin’ Oscar in his time on the lam. Whatever traumas he suffered are for the court to take into account when passing sentence. ONLY THE COURT GETS TO DECIDE.

    You have to take the good with the bad. For every ten convictions of Byron De La Beckwith and the like you get an aquittal of O.J. Simpson. Them’s the breaks.

    I agree the case should have been settled a long time ago. But Polanski shouldn’t be the one who gets to decide his own punishment. He did, after all, drug and rape a girl. Or slept with a 13 year-old. Either way he needs to be held accountable.

    And this is coming from someone who is an ardent (and conflicted) fan of his work. Chinatown is one of the greatest pieces of art ever created.

  • DarienStyles

    “In one of the most beautiful countries in the world with tens of millions of dollars at his disposal who went on to make more than a few movies and was recognized with an Academy Award. Yeah, he’s really been living the life of an outcast”

    You’ve said it perfectly, Indeed. People make it seem as though he’s been hiding in shelters, while struggling for a healthy life.

    What I see is an elitist double-standard. How can anyone excuse a crime as heinous as this? Sure, the victim may have forgiven him, but that doesn’t take away his actions.

    I’m not a hater. I’m someone who believes in equal treatment. If the judge was “corrupt”, then they could have appealed. Escaping from the country only made things worse. Though I have to say the original plea was a joke.

  • Mark

    well done bluefugue. People are getting hung up on the emotions and details, which matter little, legally speaking..

  • hunterd

    Wells, if you really believe that Polanski just one time made the “bad call” of drugging, raping, and sodomizing a 13-year old girl, that this was some kind of misunderstanding, then you’re an idiot. And you’re not an idiot. So you’re just in denial.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “ONLY THE COURT GETS TO DECIDE.”

    What happened to a 13 year-old girl over 30 years ago? Pardon my naivety, but why exactly? The woman doesn’t want a re-trial, nor does she want to testify at one. If justice isn’t serving the victim’s wishes in this specific case, who is it serving?

    He wasn’t born here, and doesn’t live here anymore. To exactly what end are we punishing him?

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “well done bluefugue. People are getting hung up on the emotions and details, which matter little, legally speaking.. ”

    I’d agree that people are getting hung up and carried away with the emotional and class undercurrents of this case.

    But tampering with due process matters more than just a little, legally speaking.. ;-)

  • Jayne

    Actions have consequences. Polanski himself bears the responsibliity for skipping the country and for 30 years, refusing to face the music. It’s called the long arm of the law, and it was always going to catch up with him, sooner or later.

  • Mark

    “The woman doesn’t want a re-trial, nor does she want to testify at one.”

    What makes you believe that the government has any interest in retrying this case? Then want to sentence a man who skipped sentencing.

  • JCEFalconi

    Question:

    Is it possible to think that a man who rapes a 13 year old should be tried by the laws of the country he did it in, without being seen as some crazed vengeance-fetishist getting off on the schadenfreude ?

    Again, I say, is there any other argument Polanski’s supporters have? an ad hominem attack based on, I guess, supposed psychic abilities?

    also from Kate Harding @ Salon.com

    “. Before we discuss how awesome his movies are or what the now-deceased judge did wrong at his trial, let’s take a moment to recall that according to the victim’s grand jury testimony, Roman Polanski instructed her to get into a jacuzzi naked, refused to take her home when she begged to go, began kissing her even though she said no and asked him to stop; performed cunnilingus on her as she said no and asked him to stop; put his penis in her vagina as she said no and asked him to stop; asked if he could penetrate her anally, to which she replied, “No,” then went ahead and did it anyway, until he had an orgasm.”

    http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/09/28/polanski_arrest/index.html

  • Wrecktem

    Wow, I was on the fence about this whole thing. Really didn’t care. Until now. Seeing Wells’ contortions to try to justify Polanski’s behavior is sickening, and now, not only do I consider Polanski’s sin indefensible, but I consider Wells an enabling brute. This diatribe is truly reprehensible and, one day, Wells will look back at it and feel shame.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Kane, even if everything you say is true, it is not for Polanski to decide. You don’t get to live abroad on high and simply wait our your 13 year-old victim to become a 30 year-old who doesn’t want to press charges. You have to face the music and the court decide that. Not me, not you, and certainly not Roman Polanski.

    I believe we punish crimes to pursue justice. If someone (like Michael Jackson) rape children but his victims refuse to testify (because they were paid off), if this still not a crime? Has justice not been thwarted?

    My beef is the same as bluefugue: Polanski shouldn’t get to decide whether or not he should be punished.

    He shouldn’t be given a pass simply because he was so good at evading the law for so long.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    We all know the general rule in all cultures about rich and wealthy celebrities in most matters involving conflicts and disputations and unlawful or law-defying behavior, which is that they get to skate. And yes, here is a case in which those who resent this privelege get to say “no skating…this one suffers …the will of the people and the Old Testament law demand it!” It’s the rioting mob at the end of Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust.

    You’re right — I wouldn’t feel as strongly about this if Michael Bay was the transgressor. Or OJ Simpson. And there’s no question that I felt zero sympathy for the young-boy-coddling Frankenstein freak that Michael Jackson turned into. Polanski is a master filmmaker and therefore a kind of Art God, and yes, in my heart of hearts I feel that he occupies a special place in the ongoing creation-and-destruction process and should be, at the very least, afforded the respect that he has more than earned. He’s not just some corner-grocery schlemiel. He’s Roman Polanski — a self-torturing artist and seer and a candle-lighter in the depths of the human condition. And an artist who hasn’t, to my knowledge, been chronically and repeatedly buggering young girls. Yes, he acted like a slovenly unthinking beast with Samantha Geimer, but once and only once (as far as the law and known recorded fact is concerned). Once! And she’s past it. And so is everyone else except for the ranting online moralists.

    So on top of everything else, genuine Art Gods…yeah, you’re kinda right…deserve, I feel, a certain kind of consideration that could also, perhaps, be extended to Joe the Plumber types from time to time, depending on their particulars. We need to show compassion and understanding all around when and where appropriate. I’m not saying that Art Gods are exempt from honoring the laws of decency and compassion that we all must follow, but they are, I feel, very high on the general totem pole. Because Art Gods bring a certain understanding and clarity about common woes and miseries to humanity, and in a way are (I feel) the Chosen Messengers because their work clarifies our situation, refreshens our spirit and lightens our load.

    Should Art Gods be cut any kind of a break if they’ve done horrible and fiendish things that show an innate cruelty and sickness? Certainly not. But of course, Roman Polanski is not in this group, not by a damn sight. He’s a flawed man, a traumatized boy living the body of his present self, a guilty man, perhaps a sad man, clearly a damaged sufferer to some extent. But despite all this he made great films and great art. Early on he struck a match rather than curse the darkness, and he wiil continue to try to do the same until the match finally goes out.

  • R.J. MacReady

    Jeff Wells: A fan of child rapists…as long as they make good movies.

  • Jayne

    Agreed, Wrecktem. Jeff, this is just indefensible and I can’t help but think this plays into your longstanding angry and dismissive attitudes about women in general. I highly doubt you would be defending this pissant if you had a daughter.

    Furthermore, here’s a link to a story about a woman who skipped jail in Michigan, hid out for 30+ years and was finally caught. And guess, what? She served time and was eventually released after a short stint in jail. She did her time, and is now a free woman. Polanski needs to man up.

  • Jayne
  • JChasse

    Does anyone get the feeling Jeff would be harder on Polanski if he were hispanic and partying too loudly early in the morning?

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    I would have thought this would have been over and done with on HE today, but I see that Jeff has decided to stir the pot again for page views by rehashing the entire imbroglio. Who exactly is obsessed with fighting this fight here? I was ready for a fresh week.

    But apparently Jeffrey is very concerned about some of our wants & desires when it comes to his punishment (“They’re determined to lash him to the rack and keep him there. They want Pilgrim justice, flayings, black caps, thumbscrews, howls and clanging metal doors.”).

    What I expect to see is Polanski stand before a judge, who then sentence him for both the crime and his fleeing justice. Then those “mitigating circumstances” that Jeff is so found of will kick in and Polanski will probably get either a very short (a year or so) or suspended sentence.

    Then, for folks like me, we can honestly tell our children that even if a parent can’t always protect a child, society will step up and do so.

    There’s also this mitigating circumstance – Polanski decided to live the life of a rich and famous person, and therefore made himself very visible in this society. Hence, he becomes a very visible symbol of the justice system and the social contract. The average citizen needs to see that in the end he suffers the same fate as the pedophile down the block who doesn’t have the means to spend 30 odd years in luxurious exile.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    “What makes you believe that the government has any interest in retrying this case? The[y] want to sentence a man who skipped sentencing.”

    I understand that. And he is a fugitive, no doubt. But are you really sure there’s no interest in retrying the case? I’m not so certain.

    “I believe we punish crimes to pursue justice. If someone (like Michael Jackson) rape children but his victims refuse to testify (because they were paid off), if this still not a crime? Has justice not been thwarted?”

    I’m not sure I connect the dots in quite the same way as you do in terms of equating hush money (which I’m not even sure was proven to be the case with MJ?) with actual forgiveness. 30 years after the fact, if the victim does not want to endure a trial, then indeed the legal system itself is thwarting the woman’s own personal sense of justice.

    Again, in this particular case I believe personal justice trumps any claim of “societal justice” – I would feel differently if the case was driving drunk or taking hostages. In those situations, there are too many lives/feelngs at stake. But this was essentially a one-on-one crime.

    His fleeing from sentencing is of course another matter altogether.

  • Mark

    This is one silly HE thread. Is there any argument for the US not to seek extradition against someone who fled sentencing? A part of Polanski himself probably would welcome a resolution to the ordeal before he passes. I think/hope Jeffrey’s real beef is concern that some hardass judge ends up putting Roman in an American jail for 10 years, but we’re a long way still from that outrage.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Wells, you are free to give Polanski a pass here on your forum. But it is foolish (and a little bit dangerous) to suggest that he deserves special treatment in the courts.

    He commited a crime and admitted to it. He plead guilty. When he sensed he wasn’t going to like the punishment, he fled (committing another crime). In America, you don’t get to build your own prison like Pablo Escobar and walk out whenever you feel like it. You have to face the music, do the time, and then you are free again to strike the match.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I’m not saying that if Polanski is extradited to the States and finally faces the bullshit legal music and…whatever, winds up doing another month or two in jail before finally being cut loose and declared a free man in the eyes of U.S. law enforces that it might not be, in the final analysis, perhaps a better thing in a certain sense. At least the chapter would be finally and irrevocably closed. Except in the minds of the Polanski-hating crazies, that is.

    Wells to Jayne: “Indefensible”? I’m just saying consider the whole case in its proper proportion, cut the man at least a little bit of slack, consider the pain already suffered, consider what Glenn Kenny and Mike From Seattle said. And don’t you dare talk to me about not understanding what it is to care deeply for children and the feeling of anger or vengeance I might have if someone were to hurt one of my two sons, especially in their vulnerable youth. Just because I had sons and not daughters doesn’t make me blind as far as understanding this situation.

  • bents75

    “And guess, what? She served time and was eventually released after a short stint in jail. She did her time, and is now a free woman. Polanski needs to man up.”

    Polanski already served a brief stint in jail as well – and he’s spent the last 30 years living with the stigma of a sex offender that this country would have gladly slapped on him for the last 30 years even if he did man up and serve his time right fromt the onset.

    I don’t have a problem with holding people accountable for their options, but there’s more than one way to punish someone and the idea that ‘technicalities’ like this are being dredged up this long after the fact is another classic example of this country having one of the most illogical criminal/justice systems in the world.

    This country loves to sentence people to pay for their crimes, and then when they do, we continue to make them pay for it over and over again.

    Just my opinion though.

  • hardlanding

    While there may be people fixated against Polanski, what worries me more is those fixated *FOR* him, like Jeff. All of a sudden Jeff is an advocate for forgiveness and compassion, which is certainly not in keeping with his general track record. You’re welcome to your own opinion, but don’t flatter yourself that you’re Mr. Objectivity.

    The crime has been haunting his head and heart for 32 years

    How do you know this? How do you know he hasn’t given it another thought for 30 years, other than the darned inconvenience of not being able to travel to the US? Who’s projecting here?

    He’s lived as a fugitive, a restricted man, a hider in the shadows

    Those lonely shadows, like his multimillion dollar ski chalet in Gstaad. If that’s the horrendous life of a fugitive then sign me up.

    it has defined the political and geographical limits of his life and career.

    He’s been limited to France, Germany, and Switzerland. Not exactly the definition of “house arrest” or anything.

    Especially when the victim herself has been saying “give it up” for years?

    Don’t forget that she only started saying that after Polanski *PAID* her, in an “undisclosed settlement”. She sued him, so I guess she wasn’t quite so over it then, huh?

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Word to the bents.

  • Jack South P.I.

    Wells, why can’t you separate Polanski’s art from his crime?

    Just because you love his work doesn’t mean you have to love the man.

    If your commit a crime, you must be punished. Only the courts are allowed to decide that fate. That is the contract we have made as a society.

  • Travis Crabtree

    He should at least pay me back the ten bucks I paid to see “The Ninth Gate”.

    All of you people who want Roman to pay some kind of penalty for what he did obviously haven’t seen that really great documentary about him. It was so well-made and moving. If anything he’s a hero.

    In related news, California is moving to pass a new bill called the “No Probs Law”, which, in essence, states that if you are convicted of child rape in the state of California your sentence will be overturned the moment your victim declares that a) “it’s cool” b) “really, don’t worry about it” or c) “it’s behind me, no, really. It’s all good”

  • Indeed

    Jesus, Jeff……

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to hardlanding: Anyone who’s been hurt and violated by a rich celebrity would be foolish not to try for financial compensation. Standard operating procedure, the way things work, etc.

  • Jack South P.I.

    bents, Polanski hasn’t paid a lick for his crimes. Restricting yourself to countries that won’t extradict U.S. warrants is hardly punishment.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    My response to Polanski’s fleeing his sentencing reminds me of that classic Chris Rock routine on O.J. Simpson:

    “I’m not sayin’ he should’a killed her, but I understand.”

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Indeed: “Jesus, Jeff”? So I can’t be a voice for forgiveness, letting it go, suggesting that Art Gods be regarded in a certain light if their crime is a one-time-only, moving on and settling down, etc. But if I pick up my Polanski-hating pitchfork and torch and join the mob, I’m a good guy. Is that it? Boy, words can’t describe how good and wholesome and close-to-God it feels not to be with the Transylvania townspeople on this one.

  • jasctt

    Rape is rape and anyone who tries to justify is just as awful a person as the rapist.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Bents obviously wasn’t talking about punishment in the strictest legal sense, so who are you to say he hasn’t, Jack?

  • Jayne

    Oh, but I do dare, Jeff. With every post on the subject, you sink lower.

    Here are the facts:

    Polanski, at the age of 44, raped an innocent baby girl, legally unable to give consent under any circumstances. Though drugged, the victim repeatedly asked him to stop. If you don’t believe me, read the trial transcripts.

    Polanski pled GUILTY of a lesser offense and after serving what he presumably thought was an adequate 42 days in jail, decided he didn’t like the idea of further punishment. He then skipped the country, only to galivant across Europe for the next 30+ years.

    Polanski flaunted the rule of US law for three decades and it’s finally caught up with him. He was a big man in the bedroom with that little girl, wasn’t he?

    Now that it’s time to actually pay the piper, he ain’t so big.

  • Mark

    “I’m not sayin’ he should’a killed her, but I understand.”

    What he shoulda done was the whole 90 days at the non-jail jail, and later avoided Octoberfest like the plague.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Jasctt: i didn’t try to justify rape, and you damn well know it. I said the Polanski sentencing was dealt with and carried out 30-plus years ago and then perverted and then forgiven and so on, and now it’s being dragged back and replayed because of some politically ambitious LA prosecutors. I’m getting really sick of mental midgets and debating-team contortionists like yourself. “Rape is rape and anyone who tries to justify is just as awful as the rapist”? You make me want to throw up.

  • Jack South P.I.

    When you commit a crime (which Polanski irrefutably did) you hamust face court-ordered punishment. Case closed.

    Kane, do you really believe people should be allowed pay pay for crimes in any way other than “the strictest legal sense”?

    It seems to me most of Polanski’s suffering over this case is because he put himself is exile, both legally and geographically. If he had simply been a man and faced the music, this whole episode would have been put to rest a long time ago.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Paying for crimes in the “strictest legal sense” can definitely pale in comparison to other, less-concrete ways people will continue to pay for their crimes over and over again in life.

    Bents was actually making some pretty interesting ambiguous philosophical observations there, but apparently you seem to feel more comfortable living a life of “case closed” rigidity.

    Hope it works out for you.

  • Monument

    I’m married to a woman who was molested as a child, I understand moral outrage. But I also understand that every time the subject is brought up, she has to think about and relive something that she would rather not.

    The person being hurt by all this attention is Samantha Geimer. Once again she is reminded, her family is reminded, her friends are reminded, her neighbors are reminded that she was the girl that Polanski messed with all those years ago. What right does anyone have to rip the scar off a wound that healed for the victim years ago? Save your moral outrage and self righteous hand wringing for people and issues that directly concern you and your family.

  • Indeed

    Wells to Indeed: “Jesus, Jeff”? So I can’t be a voice for forgiveness, letting it go, suggesting that Art Gods be regarded in a certain light if their crime is a one-time-only, moving on and settling down, etc. But if I pick up my Polanski-hating pitchfork and torch and join the mob, I’m a good guy. Is that it? Boy, words can’t describe how good and wholesome and close-to-God it feels not to be with the Transylvania townspeople on this one.

    Gimme a break. You can ALWAYS be a voice for forgiveness and letting it go. However, being a voice for the aforementioned only in the case of individuals you deem as “Art Gods” is both laughable and despicable. I wonder if you would feel the same way if Jon Voight was the subject at hand. After all, he has won an Oscar., and his performance in Anaconda is the bees knees.

    Between suggesting that Polanksi was “living in the shadows” for the past few decades and claiming that he is some how superior (which is what you are doing) to you, I, or any other “normal” folk in the world, the only way to describe your argument is…well Im not sure theres a word in existence for it. If there was one, Im sure it wouldnt be kind. Delusional comes to mind but methinks thats an insult to those who suffer from “reasonable” delusions.

  • sashastone

    “Jeff Wells: A fan of child rapists…as long as they make good movies.”

    Oh my god. This is some scary stuff you are accusing Jeff of.

    And Jayne, excuse me but you say “facts” of the case and then you say “raped a little girl.” No, he didn’t RAPE a LITTLE GIRL. Did you grow up in this era? Did you grow up in Hollywood or Topanga or anywhere near when this went down? Do you have any memory of what it was like? It was NOT like it is now – it was not post-Oprah, post-McMartin preschool hysteria….

    No, before you jump right to “oh, so she’s a slut!? She was ASKING for it!!?” No, taking off your top and sitting in a jacuzzi with a grown man, drinking champagne, mother nowhere in sight – yeah, at 13 I might have thought, “now we’re going to sit down on the rug and play checkers and watch the Sound of Music and eat popcorn and then I’m going to be famous!” Please.

    Wait, don’t freak out. Take a deep breath. Calm down. Yes, what Polanski did was wrong. Yes, he should have been punished for his crime.

    The mother should have also been prosecuted for child neglect. And the child herself should have been given a long lecture about going to famous movie directors homes and posing topless for them. How about saying no long before it ever gets to that point?

    As a parent of a young daughter I would have rather shave my head bald and pour battery acid on it than send her alone to see a movie director, Polanski nonetheless. This kid isn’t going ANYWHERE with a grown man without me there. It just wouldn’t happen.

    So it did happen, he did drug her to loosen her up, he did rape her – he should have been given a fair trial — he wasn’t given a fair trial. Now I hope he is given one.

  • Abbey Normal

    OK, here goes:

    On the one hand, I think Wells makes some valid points about the limits of human culpability, the slack that can be afforded great artists as contributors to human progress/understanding, and the general water-under-the-bridgeness of this whole deal. And yet the fact remains that the guy did something reprehensible, then greatly compounded that mistake by running away and not facing up to what he’d done.

    But I’m curious…Exactly who is served by extraditing and prosecuting him now? Certainly not the victim; not only has she plainly stated her disinterest in it, but I would guess she dreads bringing the whole thing up again. The family? You mean, the victim’s mom who unthinkingly dropped her off at Polanski’s and probably isn’t even alive anymore? Or the victim’s kids who could probably do without yet again hearing precisely what happened to their mom 30-odd years ago?

    And what of Polanski’s wife and kids in France? One assumes they would be horribly, negatively impacted by going through this. So why do it, then? Some principled vision of “justice”? That word, as it applies to criminal law, was long ago bought and sold in this country. There are no absolutes. Quoting “the law” as if it’s holy writ is a shortcut to actual thought. Every situation has to be considered individually.

    I say, let him be.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Thank you, Sasha. Seriously…thanks. Pass it on to Kris Tapley while you’re at it.,

  • Travis Crabtree

    Have any of you seen the avant-garde student film I made while at the University of Michigan working on my mathematics PhD? The Ann Arbor Clarion called it “…satisfying” and the Student Film Forward Festival deemed it “Accepted for Entry”.

    Though I obviously didn’t choose film making as a vocation, many say I have the talent to really turn some heads, which I’d very much like to do, given the chance. And I have Polish ancestry. Just sayin’.

    – Theodore (Ted) Kaczynski

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com/ MovieBob

    Just to be clear… does anyone HONESTLY think it’s likely that if he gets extradited and stands before a court in the U.S. they aren’t just going to read him the riot act and then let him go? Do you really see them locking him up?

  • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/moviegeeksunited Movie Geeks United

    I personally think Polanski should welcome and extradiction to the U.S. and put this whole sorry chapter behind everyone involved. I doubt he would get any jail time if he faced the courts.

    It’s ironic that over the past two weeks, I’ve been preparing a show on Polanski, and interviewed many of his friends and collaborators. I was speaking to Brett Ratner who is a close friend of Polanski) about the rape case a couple of hours before the arrest was announced. Ratner had an interesting scoop pertaining to the case, which should hit the news in a day or so prior to our show airing on Sunday.

  • Irving Thalberg

    No, Jeff, you didn’t try to justify rape. You just said that if you only do it once (Once!) and have a killer filmography and horrifying life history to present as mitigating circumstances, then what’s the big deal?

  • Jack South P.I.

    “Every situation has to be considered individually.”

    I agree completely. But it is the legal system that must do the considering, not the perpetrator himself. That is the only thing I am black and white about, Kane.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    And with your simple-dick, Jack-and-Jill, simplify-complex- matters-into-crude-stones mentality you dare to call yourself “Irving Thalberg“? If whatever remains of Thalberg (in some heavenly or ectoplasmic realm) is listening in on this conversation — and he might well be, given your decision to carry his torch in a certain sense — he would be joining me in a nice healthy vomit. Irving Thalberg? Say hello to Jasctt.

  • Famous Mortimer

    The poster, Famous Mortimer

  • a1

    Jeff, could you please post the chart showing what different crimes that Art Gods are allowed to bypass the US justice system for, depending on their level of Art Godhood?

    Take Kathryn Bigelow, for example. “The Hurt Locker” is a great movie. Not as great as “Platoon” or “Apocalypse Now”, so maybe she’d have to face sentencing for vehicular manslaughter, but that movie should be good enough to drop a DUI charge or two. But if no one saw “The Hurt Locker”, then it didn’t really illuminate the human condition for a lot of people, so maybe she should just be able to evade jaywalking tickets.

    Gosh, figuring out right and wrong can be so hard sometimes. How many awards did “The Pianist” win again?

  • Irving Thalberg

    Kind of telling that reading back a distillation of your own prolix makes you want to vomit, Jeff.

    CHINATOWN, ROSEMARY’S, REPULSION, KNIFE IN THE WATER– all transcendent pieces of filmmaking. Do I think the world is somehow better served by Mr. Polanski being hung, drawn and quartered? No. Do I think serving any more time in prison is going to help anything? No again. But the fact of the matter is that 42 days of Mickey Mouse jail probably wasn’t an appropriate punishment either. And whether or not he was getting screwed over by the system, he didn’t stay and fight in like a man (which would be the typical Wellsian move, n’est-ce pas?).

    He didn’t like what was coming and he fled under the cover of darkness. He broke the law not once, but twice. No piece of celluloid changes those facts.

    And to those who are helpfully pointing out that Geimer wants this to go away, that by dragging Roman back to the United States it’s only opening old wounds of hers, did you stop to think that had Polanski manned up and obeyed the law in another instance, those wounds could’ve healed decades ago? Was Roman getting dicked over by some Cowboying judge? Sure. But even if the law was moving the goalposts on him and even if he directed CHINATOWN, it doesn’t mean that after sodomizing a 13-year-old, he should’ve been afforded the opportunity to write his own punishment.

    If Polanski had been man enough to to face the worst Rittenband had to offer him, he’d certainly be a free man today and none of us would be talking about this. So one last time, who is it that’s opening that scar tissue? Isn’t moral relativism a bitch?

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Fair enough, Jack. But somehow I get the feeling if you were able to hypothetically wipe the “fleeing from sentencing” charge from Polanski’s record (which is obviously impossible), you would still be in favor of the legal system deciding whether or not to bring this 30-something year-old case to trial.

    Given the circumstances of this situation (and the way the victim feels about a re-trial), not only don’t I agree with that, I don’t feel it’s constitutional. After a certain amount of time has passed in this specific crime, I think that the question of whether to pursue “legal justice” can and should only be determined by the victim.

    Indeed, as I stated above, I think the courts getting involved against Geimer’s wishes would actually be an obstruction to her own sense of “justice,” closure, and well-being.

    I do realize that these are just my own thoughts, and I’m probably overwhelmingly in the minority in thinking them.

  • Michael

    I think there’s an excellent argument to be made that, in the name of consistency, fugitives of the law will be pursued by the U.S. until caught. It sends a message to any fugitive, rich or poor, that they don’t get off the hook just by leaving the country, and there is benefit to that policy.

    In this case, bring him back, let him serve a week, and then cut him loose. Justice will have been served.

  • sashastone

    Okay, Michael. How do we send a message, then, to our own legal system that we won’t stand for corrupt, fame-seeking judges? Let’s send that message too while we’re at it.

  • Pomerania

    Well done Jeff for navigating yourself so well – if somewhat masochistically – through a moral maze. I happen to agree with you – we should seek to be compassionate where possible. It’s too easy to jump on this with shrill judgements and finger pointing. If he had served a proper sentence at the time, it might – just maybe – have sent some kind of warning out to the sleazeballs in Hollywood. Incarcerating him now is just going to spread more misery – to his wife and two young, vulnerable children at the very least. His alleged behaviour was the extreme and unacceptable face of a machinery and a set of attitudes that deems it okay to chew up and spit out vulnerable young women. And it’s still alive and kicking.

  • Michael

    Sasha, what is it you’re trying to say? The U.S. justice system sucks? Well, I agree…I misplaced my magic wand though, so fame-seeking judges are a little out of range right now.

    I’m on your side here, I don’t think Polanski should be punished to any great extent. This way he’ll be able to move freely after a token punishment. He’d be a martyr if he’d stayed, but he didn’t. And now we’re here.

  • Mark

    Hey, it was the 70’s! Lecture the victim, prosecute the mother, let Roman get his lifetime achievement award. Forward to Tapley. Everyone wins.

  • gansibele

    Wow, where was the Art God exception when Phil Spector needed it? Or is there also a Weirdo corollary that prevented applying it to him?

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Spector’s Art God power had diminished considerably when he got into trouble. He peaked creatively in the early to mid ’60s so there wasn’t much mojo left when he went to trail some 40 years later. Besides — he killed someone. You’re comparing this to Polanski’s crime? This is getting silly.

    What I said: “I’m not saying that Art Gods are exempt from honoring the laws of decency and compassion that we all must follow. Should Art Gods be cut any kind of a break if they’ve done horrible and fiendish things that show an innate cruelty and sickness? Certainly not.”

  • Jack South P.I.

    Kane, I respect your argument but have to disagree. I don’t think the victim should get to decide, especially if she has taken money from the accused. (Was justice served in the numerous Michael Jackson cases where he paid off his accusers?) This is an ugly business and there are a million considerations but in the end, there isn’t going to be any trial, Polanski wouldn’t dare. If he went before a jury, he would go to prison for the rest of his life simply based on his past statements. This is all about the two sides coming to a deal. I doubt the DA’s office wants to spend its time defending misconduct by their predecessors in court anyhow.

    For me this is all about the rule of law. Do I think Polanski should go to prison? Yes. For how long? I’m not sure. At least a couple of years, I guess. You shouldn’t get to rape someone, flee the country for 30 years, and get nothing for it. Living in exile should hardly count as “time served.” His first crime offends my stomach and his second offends my heart.

    But if he is extradicted and ends up with a suspended sentence or the case is thrown out altogether, then so be it. But at least it will have been decided by an appropriate body.

  • Krazy Eyes

    Isn’t Anjelica Huston on record for stating that nobody knew the girl was only 13 at the time of the incident? I’ve seen 13 year olds who could easily pass as 17 or 18 so I’m not sure why this whole incident couldn’t be written off as a misunderstanding. I’m not trying to defend Polanski’s action — just that the incident might not be as black and white as many here would want it to be. Rapists are pretty reprehensible people but then so then are ignorant moralizers.

    The victim is also on record stating that it was the 4th time she had had intercourse. Why aren’t people as rabid about hunting down and punishing those other 3 rapists?

  • Irving Thalberg

    Just so we can all be clear:

    Should Art Gods be cut any kind of a break if they’ve done horrible and fiendish things that show an innate cruelty and sickness? Certainly not.

    Murder shows innate cruelty and sickness, but raping a minor doesn’t? I’m not trying to put words in your mouth or bring the snark, Jeff. I’m honestly curious if that’s the line you’re drawing.

  • Terry McCarty

    Krazy Eyes wrote:

    I’m not trying to defend Polanski’s action — just that the incident might not be as black and white as many here would want it to be. Rapists are pretty reprehensible people but then so then are ignorant moralizers.

    The victim is also on record stating that it was the 4th time she had had intercourse. Why aren’t people as rabid about hunting down and punishing those other 3 rapists?

    Probably the lowest point (and there will be more) in media coverage of Polanski and the L.A. District Attorneys’ office “we gotta win this time” is this “headline” on Dylan Hanraty’s MSNBC morning show; “To Catch A Predator Director.”

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Well, you make a really good point about the monetary settlements that have been made in the past. That’s not something I had considered. It actually does slightly alter my opinion on this particular case. So thanks for that.

    Also, you say his fleeing offends your heart. Fair enough. But is it really any surprise that a young boy wandering the streets of the Nazi-occupied Warsaw ghetto has flighty survival instincts and doesn’t trust his fate to be decided fairly by authorities?

    Needless to say, I think his own heart and stomach had been brutally offended an inordinate amount of times for one lifetime.

    There’s absolutely no excusing his behavior in the slightest, but as Mike in Seattle said in the last thread, “these events do not happen in a vacuum.”

  • Alex Stroup

    For the most part I have no strong feelings about what should happen to Polanski.

    That said, most of the “punishment” he’s experienced over the last 30 years is self imposed. If he’d turned himself in it would have been over long ago. Heck, if the victim still had turned out forgiving he might have got a pardon from Clinton along with Marc Rich.

    That said, when you choose to be an international fugitive, living with that choice and the way it hampers you goes along with the territory. It is hard for me to feel much sympathy that he finally screwed up and put himself into a place where he could be arrested.

    Heck, it might be a boon in finally wrapping things up if the punishment ends up not being too significant. If being forced to live in France is a punishment, maybe it marks the end of his punishment.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    God, I’m getting sick of this! Here’s how it partly works in my head. Murder, depending on the circumstances, can be a raging premeditated manifestation of cruelty and horror, or it can just be drunkenness with a gun in your hand, or a flash of temper that you failed to reign in. Rape can be a gross and slobbering Hungarian beast pouncing on a fair young maiden in the forest and having his way, or it can be a rich movie director acting like an insensitive and manipulative monster-creep and taking advantage of a much-too-young girl who’s played along in a certain way by popping half a ‘lude and having a glass or two of champagne but who lacks the fortitude to just stop it and say no. The first kind of murder is the worst crime, followed by impulsive or drunken murder (i.e., manslaughter), followed by Hungarian forest beast-rape, and finally followed by what happened between Polanski and Geimer. Those aren’t exactly lines in the sand, but they are relative gradings in terms of heinous behavior.

  • Jack South P.I.

    I feel for the horrors in Polanski’s early life but that is no excuse for the trauma he inflicted on this girl. It’s one thing to take your grief out on the guilty (a la Charle Bronson) its another to create more suffering through your actions.

    I just want to say I think this back-and-forth is one of the most intelligent, fair-minded tete-a-tete Wells has ever hosted. This is great debate. Kudos to the high-minded who are taking this seriously and forming arguments.

  • The Filmatelist

    Wow, it’s impressive how you manage to tarnish the character of the 13-year old “who lacks the fortitude” in not resisting the sleazebag almost 3 times her age, but somehow manage to give Polanski a pass for not lacking the fortitude to man up and face a system that wanted to hold him accountable for raping that 13-year old.

    Oh, and she did say “No”. Again. And again. And again. But clearly not early enough to your liking…

  • frank_delsa

    Why do people keep on equating describing the sexual culture that permeated society in the 70s with “justifying rape”?

    It doesn’t, it simply clarifies the context, which is fundamental in a case like this.

    There is a reason why Polanski was charged with Unlawful Sexual act with a Minor and not with rape, and that reason has very little to do with his celebrity status, and a lot to do with what they could actually prove in court.

    And seriously, could someone explain to me what would be achieved by sending Polanski to jail, beside giving a lot of exposure to the D.A. who’s handling the case?

  • Jack South P.I.

    So much for the high-minded debate.

    SkullBuggery, you are a douche.

  • Indeed

    “Rape can be a gross and slobbering Hungarian beast pouncing on a fair young maiden in the forest and having his way, or it can be a rich movie director acting like an insensitive and manipulative monster-creep and taking advantage of a much-too-young girl who’s played along in a certain way by popping half a ‘lude and having a glass or two of champagne but who lacks the fortitude to just stop it and say no.”

    Christ, a new low. Im done with this.

  • gansibele

    Oh, abusing a 13 year old girl doesn’t show an “innate sickness”? And if Polanski had been arrested in the late 90s, circa “The Ninth Gate”, then the Reduced Creative Mojo aggravant would have applied?

  • Jack South P.I.

    $10 says that is SkullBuggery’s last post under that handle…

  • George Prager

    I was in a rust belt city visiting my brother and we went to a used record store near his home. Inside the store a 40something dressed like a 13 year-old (a white, pasty-faced beer-bellied reprobate with prison tattoos, wearing a Buffalo Bills T-Shirt, tube socks and basketball shorts) was hectoring the owner, asking dumb questions and making dumb jokes, obviously passing the time until happy hour. Everything out of his mouth was dumb, moronic, stupid and retarded. A completely worthless human being from head to toe. The owner of the store was clearly agitated by his presence–you could tell by his body language, the way he answered the piece of shit’s questions and the looks he was throwing my way. Then the moron pulled out the VALLEY OF THE DOLLS soundtrack LP out of the racks and held it aloft. “Which one is Sharon Tate.” he asked the owner. The owner pointed her out, said mentioned that it was a really bad movie and then the moron made some dumb joke about Charles Manson that didn’t make any sense, talked about how hot Sharon Tate was and then he asked “Did Roman Polanski direct this?” I was right next to him a this point and said “No, but if he did it probably would’ve been a good movie.” The moron’s mood completely changed and in a low, haughty and completely humorless tone he said “I don’t see movies by child molesters.”

    This is the tenor of most of the anti-Polanski comments that I’ve been reading so far.

  • George Prager

    SkullBuggery is MIlkMan.

  • Irving Thalberg

    So here’s my problem. One can make a clean case vis-a-vis the aid of an Ethics 101 reading of Kant that Wells’ distinction between murder and manslaughter is a worthy one to make– i.e. we should weigh the intent of the perpetrator in both instances. The problem arises in that I don’t think Kant (or really any ethical system) helps us distinguish between the Hungarian forest beast and the auteur rape scenarios he poses.

    In both instances, the perpetrator’s intent is the same: to have intercourse with another party, regardless of that party’s assent. We can dispense with the Kant for a moment and switch over to a Utilitarian worldview, but I think we arrive at the same problem: in both cases, the beast and the auteur presumably cause roughly equal physical and emotional damage to an unwilling party. One could even make the case that the auteur causes more emotional damage in that he brings his victim onto a World Stage, but I’ll leave that distinction to others. (n.b. I guess this is where one–if one were that sort of person–could attempt to bring in some tap-dance bullshit about how she was asking for it. And yeah, that’s bullshit. In both the forest maiden and Geimer’s case, the victim didn’t want to be raped. End of discussion.)

    Point being, that for a hyper-lefty egalitarian, screw-the-selfish-Capitalists-and-their-value-judgments-that-the-well-to-do-are-better-than-the-Plebes kind of guy such as Wells, the fact that an accomplished auteur (w/ the aid of a shitty mom, sparkling wine and some ‘ludes) is any different from a raging forest beast when it comes to rape smells a little bit like hypocrisy, no?

  • LexG

    Side issue maybe, and not a defense of Polanski or his actions, and maybe not even my feelings on the matter, but:

    if they held a war tribunal tomorrow and brought up every single rock star, pop star, and arcane third-string bass player for some post-hippie dino-rock band who ever had a dalliance with an underage groupie? Most of you guys coming for Polanski with torches would have to throw away 80% of your record collection (or delete your iPod) in the name of consistency.)

    That is to say, if you’re going to allow for ZERO grey area on the subject and stick to the letter of the law, which does not legally/techinically distinguish between Polanski’s case and some guy in a raincoat snatching a six-year-old from a schoolyard…. then you also can’t shrug off every ’70s classic rocker having a 5-minute fling with some groupies in the tour bus. You HONESTLY don’t think just about any and every band you could possibly name had at least one member who maybe, sorta, kinda, knowingly or unknowingly, slept with a 16, 17 year old gal all dolled up to get backstage?

    If you found out today, oops, the rhythm guitarist from Such-and-Such fooled around with 17.5-year-old groupie in 1971… then by your zero-allowances logic, you should have to go out and petition the entire legal system to get the wheels of justice rolling on each and every guy like that.

    And how about college freshmen who have a girlfriend who’s still a high school junior? If you’re eliminating ALL outside factors except strict legality, then isn’t that the same thing as the groupies, the same thing as Polanski, the same thing as a perv on Dateline?

    Again, not necessarily agreeing with that argument, but just throwing it out there, because many are saying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING should be taken into consideration except the technical fact that one person was 18+ and the other person was underage.

  • Gogocrank

    Isn’t it a bit disingenuous for anyone to suggest Polanski was only (“only”) charged with Unlawful Sexual act with a Minor? Isn’t that what he plead down to, in response to a litany of far more severe charges? In return for a deal (later gone bad).

    See, the funny thing is, I can totally – totally – see (if not agree with) where Jeff is coming from on this (hypocritical or not, at least he’s honest). How Polanski screwed himself – beyond having coercive sex with a minor, of course – was by fleeing, and by fleeing he revoked his right as a Rich White Famous Person to play the appeals process and whittle down his sentence to next to nothing. Which may very well be what happens anyway, belatedly, some 30 years later. But to say it’s the prosecution that has stretched this thing on so long is disingenuous, too.

    In fact, if there’s any moral outrage to be had, it’s at why fugitive Polaski wasn’t pursued decades earlier and more enthusiastically. Personally, I have no idea why not, though I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with his talents as a filmmaker.

  • DarthCorleone

    Is it not possible for me to recognize the complexities of the case and the mitigating circumstances that would evoke sympathy for Polanski AND also think it’s right for him to face the decree of the American court system as opposed to a self-inflicted exile? No, I’m sorry – it is possible to both be a forgiving person and to want to adhere to our legal system. This broad brush of the online-moral-vengeance crowd carrying pitchforks does not describe me in the least. As far as I’m concerned, the vehemence on both sides of this argument is disturbing. It’s just a sad situation that needs to put to rest within the proper legal parameters.

  • CitizenKanedforChewingGum

    Jesus…I totally agree with everything Lex just said.

    The apocalypse is imminent!

    Nobody wants to be the guy that says it, but there is definitely a sliding morality scale on which dirtbags should be measured in these circumstances. Gotta take it on a case-by-case basis.

  • The Filmatelist

    “Again, not necessarily agreeing with that argument, but just throwing it out there, because many are saying ABSOLUTELY NOTHING should be taken into consideration except the technical fact that one person was 18+ and the other person was underage.”

    Actually, I don’t see anybody saying that. The argument isn’t zero tolerance against statuatory rape. The argument is that it goes beyond mere stauatory technicalities and into actually multiple non-consensual acts. And it’s not simply some “underage” groupie but a 13-year old victim. You’re conflating issues nobody is arguing.

  • DarthCorleone

    LexG >> That’s a fine hypothetical argument within the confines of laws associated with statutory rape, but I would hope that – were we to throw the book at all those rockers – in the realm of sentencing at least there would be a distinction between willing and enthusiastic 16-year-old groupies and 13-year-olds who clearly say “no.” It’s been a while since I read that grand jury testimony, but to my memory in this particular case common sense at the very least should have prevailed over the “maybe, sorta, kinda, knowingly or unknowingly” vibe.

  • R.J. MacReady

    Polanski is being dragged through the coals because he raped a young girl. He’s being dragged through the coals because he went on the run.

    If US could have arrrested and indicted him 5, 10, 15 years ago…they probably would have.

    Otherwise every rich semi famous dude should just take off for France or some random country when they commit a crime.

    Hey..maybe Michael Vick should have done the same…after all it was only dogs.

    If Kubrick raped one of your kids 20 years ago and went on the run…would u be all ” hey whats done is done Art God, we’re all good”

  • gansibele

    LexG, perhaps unwittingly, points to the crux of the problem: in Puritan America we sublimate the actions of the authors with the works of art. Here there’s a supposition on both sides that rejecting or defending the formers mean admiring or condemning the latter (hence Prager’s fable), but we would have more clarity if that wasn’t the case. No need to delete any music collection. Polanski can go to jail tomorrow but “Chinatown” will still be a masterpiece. The genius –the Art God, if Jeff wants– does exist independent of the man.

  • Travis Crabtree

    Countries like France and Holland and other places I backpacked to after junior year in college are so much cooler and progressive when it comes to genius, master artists who drug and ass-rape young girls.

    It’s particularly times like this that I’m so ashamed to be an American!

  • Irving Thalberg

    There are two huge problems with Lex’s argument. The first, and simplest, is that while all the scenarios he posited fall into that statutory zone, Polanski’s victim reportedly said “no,” which allows us to talk about this as simple rape with no modifiers attached.

    The second in the assumption that just because we’re not on the “live and let live” bandwagon here, that we’re burning our DVDs and refusing to ever watch a Polanski movie again. Pure coincidence, but one of the movies Netflix delivered to my house late last week was REPULSION. I watched it last night and found it to be as masterful as I’d heard. ROSEMARY’S BABY is in my top three favorite horror films. CHINATOWN is a brilliant summation of the noir genre reflected through the incestuous prism of the 70s. The discipline evidenced in KNIFE IN THE WATER would be psychotic for any filmmaker, let alone for one’s first feature.

    I can say all of the above, I can mean all of the above and still feel that Polanski should have–preferably of his own accord–returned to Los Angeles to close the book on his actions. And if that’s not making your head explode, I can say that I’d like him to face the facts but I don’t believe he should be re-imprisoned, etc, etc, etc.

    Isn’t there room to adore the work while recognizing the artists as tragic & flawed? Isn’t there room to want to see some kind of closure rather than a lifetime of exile?

    I think David Edelstein summed up this kind of conflicted thinking best:

    Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland and will reportedly be flown to Los Angeles to stand trial after 35 years. This is as it should be–alas. But it didn’t have to go down this way. The excellent documentary ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED & DESIRED did not minimize the horrific nature of the crime, but also made a good case against the late judge who held up a plea agreement between Planski and the prosecutor. Now, there will be a lot of grandstanding by idiots, who will say that Polanski is worse than the likes of Peter Braunstein and should be thrown in prison for the remainder of his life.

    Perhaps it is time for this magnificent artist and monstrously conflicted human being to return to the United States and make amends.

  • Gogocrank

    Gansibele is totally right. I have no problems listening to Phil Spector’s “Back to Mono” box several times a year, because I love that music. Shame about the man, of course. Same with Polanski. His mistakes in no way taint my enjoyment of “Knife in the Water,” “Fearless Vampire Killers,” “Macbeth,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown,” “Repulsion,” or “The Tenant.” Heck, I really like “Frantic” and lots of “The Ninth Gate” and “The Pianist.” If (as seems unlikely) he actually goes to jail, it won’t change my feelings about those movies. Again, shame about the man, though.

  • Kristopher Tapley

    “Basically, I calculate that your defense is grounded largely in a view that Polanski’s contribution to world cinema makes him worth “saving” in the long run.”

    This is the fact that Wells isn’t willing to admit to. I’d have a lot more respect for his side of things if he manned up and did, however. I’d still totally disagree, but the hypocrisy would at least be out of the way.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    LexG, showing us why he really should stick to his meta-macho shtick.

    Read the grand jury transcript. She repeatedly told him no.

    At every stage of the encounter he was told to stop and didn’t. That is the very definition of rape, regardless of age. It’s also exactly why we have laws against even supposedly consensual sex with minors – they cannot protect themselves. Not to mention laws about giving minors drugs and alcohol.

    He did this in the middle of the day, under the pretext of a photo shoot. Not at some 70’s drug-fueled near-orgy party off Laurel Canyon.

    And doesn’t the fact that the girl’s mother dropped her off tip off the average guy that she might not be of legal age? Although that doesn’t really matter in the end, does it.

    She said fucking no, REPEATEDLY.

    Roman Polanski fucking raped that girl.

    Art God or not, rape does not get a free pass under ANY circumstances, Jeff.

  • Mark

    why are people getting lost in the minutiae of defining rape? doesn’t matter what the victim said, how mature she looked, and what the mom didn’t do. Everyone agrees that he had unlawful intercourse with a minor, pled guilty, and is awaiting sentencing. at this point, what does rape, in the non-statutory sense, have to do with anything?

  • alynch

    This is the fact that Wells isn’t willing to admit to. I’d have a lot more respect for his side of things if he manned up and did, however. I’d still totally disagree, but the hypocrisy would at least be out of the way.

    Didn’t Wells basically admit to that with his whole “Art God” rant.

  • frank_delsa

    Darth, I weas under the impression the whole ordeal happened at a party in Jack Nicholson’s house, which I think, in the 70s, was pretty much alike the backstage of an Aerosmith concert, with a different kind of music playing in the background maybe…

  • frank_delsa

    I meant Death(tongue.etc), not Darth…

  • poseidon72

    I think the question here is what exactly should his punishment be? That’s a tough question so many years later.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    frank – so did I until I saw the very doc that Jeff thinks exonerates him on some level.

    I think his supporters, most probably ignorant of the acknowledged facts, for years have tried to spin this as “Well, it was just one of those 70’s hedonistic, New Hollywood parties that this underaged chick slipped into” to avoid accepting the fact that their Art God drugged and raped a 13 year old girl.

  • mbabbitt

    So let me get this straight. For people supporting Polanski, your logic is do a horrible crime and plead guilty. But then run away to another country and hide out long enough for people to forget about it. Then you are off the hook. Okay, geniuses, which crimes will you say this policy is not right? I guess child drugging and child rape and sodomy is off the table. God, you guys have no logic and no morality; just emotions that run you into stupidity. Any you know, it works.

  • alex655321

    I haven’t read all the posts, so forgive me if this has been previously stated but when we talk about a sex crime do we have any idea what the CHILD might be going through at the time of the plea deal? Do we ask what it must be like 30 years later when she has a husband and children (not to mention that she has been financially compensated to “forget” the whole event, or to forgive. She probably wanted to move on with her life the best she could. How in the hell does this justify the actions of a 42 YEAR OLD MAN drugging and raping a kid? Jeffrey, I hope you have a 13 year old daughter and I pray she gets drugged and raped by and artist you admire.

  • alex655321

    i apologize. Judging by your photo you will never have a daughter unless she is adopted… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • raquelswell

    I was picturing him having sex with her (http://dne.enaa.com/upload/Samantha_Geimer_13_1408%20.jpg).

    I don’t know. I’m on the fence about this.

  • DeeZee

    “Unlike Michael Jackson, Roman Polanski didn’t invest tens of millions into constructing a child-luring fantasy realm called Neverland, which obviously allowed Jackson to take certain liberties.”

    MJ faced the music. Polanski did not. Plus, MJ was never actually convicted of any crimes.

    “Has Polanski suffered at all for his crime, apart from going to jail for 42 days in 1977? Of course he has. ”

    If he has, he wouldn’t be extradited.

    “He’s lived as a fugitive, a restricted man, a hider in the shadows — never a good thing for anyone in a spiritual sense.”

    He’s been a free man in the swankiest parts of Europe. Not even John Gotti got it that good.

    “How do the haters not understand that forgiveness and letting go, particularly after decades of natural healing and the universe having moved on, is an essential tenet of a humane and compassionate philosophy/attitude? Especially when the victim herself has been saying “give it up” for years?”

    I’ll forgive him when he takes responsibility.

    “but he has been able to have a family life in France with a wife who loves him and children he has brought up with great care and attention.”

    And he only had to do that at someone else’s expense.

    Chicago: “but he hasn’t gone on to commit another crime.”

    The same can be said for the torturers at Gitmo. Should we let them go, too?

    “But if I’m not mistaken (and I very well could be), his charge technically wasn’t rape.”

    What he did is still legally rape, though.

    Kane: “If justice isn’t serving the victim’s wishes in this specific case, who is it serving?”

    Other present and future victims?

    “30 years after the fact, if the victim does not want to endure a trial, then indeed the legal system itself is thwarting the woman’s own personal sense of justice.”

    Well, shit, no one likes going to jury duty, either. But not all of us are arguing that our rights are being violated by being asked to serve.

    Wells: “At least the chapter would be finally and irrevocably closed. Except in the minds of the Polanski-hating crazies, that is.”

    I wouldn’t like the guy, but at least I’ll appreciate that he finally did his time.

    bents: ” that ‘technicalities’ like this are being dredged up this long after the fact is another classic example of this country having one of the most illogical criminal/justice systems in the world.”

    Yeah, we shouldn’t go after those hippies who liked to blow up shit in the 60s and 70s, either.

    Monument: “Save your moral outrage and self righteous hand wringing for people and issues that directly concern you and your family.”

    Anyone getting off for rape because of their connections *does* concern my family.

    sasha: I still don’t get why the fuck it being the 70s has anything to do with it. Does that let Jim Jones off the hook, too? And why is a judge doing his job somehow considered more corrupt than a guy who takes advantage of a friend’s daughter?

    Abbey: “Exactly who is served by extraditing and prosecuting him now?”

    Society.

    Terry: “The victim is also on record stating that it was the 4th time she had had intercourse. Why aren’t people as rabid about hunting down and punishing those other 3 rapists?”

    They didn’t drug her, or hold her down, for one.

    George: Um, I’m not sure how holding RP accountable belittles Tate’s death.

  • jimb12345

    filmmaker Roman Polanski’s needs to be prosecuted for him crime. He has been dodging these charges for a long time. Time to pay the piper.

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    I wonder if the Jeffster would feel the same about Polanski if it was his 13 year old son’s anus dripping with Roman’s cum. “Jett, think of the great movies he’s made, you just can’t press charges. Anyway, if Polanski pays enough I can finally buy those movie stills of naked Vinessa Shaw”

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