Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I am going to make a bold, courageous statement here.

I don't think Roman Polanski should just get away with child rape scot-free. At this time, I would ask that you please stand back and admire my moral courage.

Now, it's true that compared with the massive fucking malfeasance that goes on unpunished--encouraged, even--in this country every damn day, Polanski's offense--especially since it's such an OLD offense--seems rather picayune, and if THAT'S not a gruesome commentary on our times, I don't know what is. Still. Letting him get away with a really awful crime just plays into and reinforces the narrative: you can get away with absolutely ANYTHING if you have sufficient wealth, power, and/or celebrity. Roman Polanski rapes a thirteen-year-old, Tony Hayward rapes an ecosystem; whatever, it's all good! Punishing Polanski may seem like small beans compared to more global rapists like Hayward, but by encouraging the narrative to persist like this, we're encouraging the truth BEHIND the narrative, in however small a way. And...well, you know my politics; they are NOT such that I think this is a good thing, and I'm surprised that there are people of a leftish persuasion who apparently think it IS, or at least don't mind it enough for it to stop them from defend Polanski on vague aesthetic grounds. Dudes, you know I believe in the transcendent character of art, but this kind of exceptionalism will not fly, no matter WHERE it's coming from. Robert Brasillach was a novelist. He was executed for being a Nazi collaborator. I doubt that causes you a great deal of moral indignation (not that I approve of capital punishment, of course, but that's not really the point). So fermez la bouche!

That said, fuck, man, if he's going to get off scot-free and there's nothing we can do about it, I feel like it is TOTALLY FUCKING INCUMBENT on him to justify his continued freedom to whatever limited extent he can by making some really great movies. Seems only fair.


Blogger Unknown pontificated to the effect that...

I am ambivalent.

He shouldn't get away with it. Ideally, he should have been sentenced and served his time way back when the deal was struck--as opposed to having that scuttled by a less than ethical judge. Or, he should have been prosecuted without a deal, and faced whatever consequences there might have been. But that is not what happened. Whether he is punished or not, we have already stepped into the realm of disappointment (which includes both justice delayed and miscarried, in this instance).

When I watch one of his films, I'm not worried about who he slept with, what books he's read, the fate of his wife, or what his moral worth is; I care instead about the movie. So, it is easy for me to carry your conclusion yet further, and say the best possible outcome of less desirable outcomes following the misdeeds of Polanski (and those of the judge--which are lesser in this specific instance, but arguably as bad in the general sense, where we might say, "Judges, at least, should follow rules if there is to be any lawful justice")... that the best possible outcome now is for Polanski to make superb movies until he dies.

If Polanski going to prison would have had any positive effect upon the narrative of justice in the western world, then perhaps his not going to prison will have some positive effect on the narrative of how to carry out justice such that prosecutors and judges might learn from this nonsense. If that happens, and we also get some great movies out of the deal, then that seems an acceptable result of a bungled process and a terrible crime.

If, on the other hand, not putting Polanski behind bars would keep people awake at night, encourage rape, convince the rich of their special privilege in a way not already obvious to them, or cause further harm to his victim than has already been wrought, then perhaps some movies and a law school anecdote are not the better bargain. But I've yet to really see those points pressed.

2:13 AM  

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