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Posted by on Sep 30, 2009 in Arts & Entertainment, Media | 22 comments

Defending Polanski; or, How the Hollywood Left Has Completely Lost Its Marbles

Yesterday, I posted on the truth about Roman Polanski, and this was my conclusion:

Whatever you think of the cinema and celebrity of Roman Polanski, it is the truth that should matter most, including the truth about what happened over three decades ago.

What is that truth? That he drugged and raped a minor, a 13-year old girl (read the sordid details here).

That is disturbing — and criminal — but what is also disturbing is how so many in Hollywood have rushed to his defence since his arrest in Switzerland.

Consider some of the high-profile, world-famous names who have signed on to the “Free Polanski” movement: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Wim Wenders, Pedro Almodovar, Wong Kar-Wai, Jonathan Demme, and Harvey Weinstein. According to The Guardian, Weinstein is “calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation.”

Apparently, the “terrible situation” is Polanski’s arrest, and the fact that he may now be held accountable for his actions of over three decades ago, but the real terrible situation is what he actually did (or what he is alleged to have done, and was convicted of), namely, raping a minor. How is his arrest more terrible than the crime? How, to these cinema big shots, is rape so insignificant as to pale in comparison with the plight of one of their own, of a man who raped a minor and then spent over three decades avoiding extradition, continuing his career and living the good life, one much imagine, in France?

Look, it’s not that I don’t respect Polanski as an artist. I do. I think he’s grossly overrated, but I do appreciate, for the most part, what he has done in film. And I love some of filmmakers on that list, especially Woody Allen. But please. This outpouring of support for Polanski — from Hollywood, from Poland, from Switzerland… from around the world. Are we simply supposed to ignore the fact that Polanski raped a minor? Apparently so.

And that shows that there is a despicable double standard at work here. What if, instead of being a celebrated movie director, the rapist were, say, some anonymous dude? Well, he would have been send off to prison with a long sentence way back when, no possibility of escaping to France to avoid extradition and without a single notice in Variety. Or what if the rapist were, say, a conservative filmmaker (there are a few), someone without so many famous friends and allies on the Hollywood left? Sure, he would likely have received the support of the anti-Hollywood right and become a cause célèbre among fellow conservatives, but, then, double standards do go both ways, do they not? Just because the right would do something doesn’t mean the left should.

Honestly, I am sickened by the “Free Polanski” movement, sickened that so many great filmmakers have taken up the cause, sickened that not nearly enough attention is being paid to what actually happened thirty years ago. And I say this as a liberal, as someone fairly sympathetic to the left, including the Hollywood left. But isn’t the left about women’s rights and children’s rights and fairness and equality and progress and the rule of law? Since when is it a moral vacuum where you can get what you want if only you’re a famous artist and know the right people? Since when does it care not a whit for rape?

As I put it yesterday, if the case was politically motivated or mishandled (which it may have been), or if Polanski is actually innocent, then let the evidence be presented in a court of law, not in the faux court of the pro-celebrity press… and certainly not with Polanski’s pals using their own fame to agitate for his release and exoneration. Do they know the facts? Or, as is more likely, do they simply not care what happened, preferring instead to support their friend no matter what?

For more on Hollywood’s appalling response to Polanski’s arrest — and much of it has been worse than a group of filmmakers signing a petition, notably from Whoopi Goldberg, who argued that the rape wasn’t “rape rape” — see my (conservative) friend Ed Morrissey:

Only a moron or a moral midget would read the transcripts and the actual facts of the case and conclude that Polanski deserves to avoid accountability for this crime. Unfortunately, Hollywood is filled with both.

Alas, so it would seem.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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  • PWT


    Excellent post.

  • casualobserver

    You even earned a permalink in HotAir for your piece yesterday.

    p.s. anybody see if Whoopi got booed on The View today?

  • 100% agree with you Michael. . . with deep regret it does look like there are concerns about the Justice system. . .but you have clean sliced this one. . .it is good to read an article when a writer can put the loose ends of dissonance and questions in a bundle of sanity. . .Thank you. . .

  • DLS

    As I have written, PR self-immolation. Way to go, lefties in Hollywood.
    They even hate the evil Establishment (does that include anyone in Obama’s admin who worked with the Swiss as they did earlier, with identification of Swiss bank account holders to spot tax evasion?).

  • AustinRoth

    Michael – I have been probably one of your most consistent and vocal critics.But I must commend you on a well crafted, clear-sighted post, and the moral clarity you are bringing to this disgusting display of apologism towards Polanski.Bravo.

  • Good post, but I have two nitpicks:

    1) Polanski pleaded guilty – he HAD his day in court before, and he admitted the crime.

    2) Please provide an example of conservatives rushing to defend someone who pled guilty to a crime and lived as a fugitive. The implication of the sentence “just because the right would do something doesn’t mean the left should” is that the right would, in fact, so the thing at hand. I do not believe that this is correct, and I think an accusation of that nature should have something backing it up.

    Other than those, I’m in complete agreement.

    • HemmD


      2) Please provide an example of conservatives rushing to defend someone who pled guilty to a crime and lived as a fugitive. The implication of the sentence “just because the right would do something doesn’t mean the left should” is that the right would, in fact, so the thing at hand. I do not believe that this is correct, and I think an accusation of that nature should have something backing it up.”

      two examples took about 12 seconds, pled guilty and were defended by the right as unjust convictions.

      scooter libby
      Larry Craig

      if you wish to make the whole difference running, you’re being hypocritical.

      • Actually, running IS the most important difference (although neither of those two were convicted child-rapists). Running from justice is an affront against the entire criminal justice system. There is a difference between complaining that a conviction is unjust and arguing that evading the punishment is an acceptable response.

        The hypocrisy was where, precisely?

  • I don’t think this issue comes down on the Left or Right. It just so happens Hollywood is mostly liberal, but this seems like a matter of entertainment types closing ranks rather than ideology.

    • AustinRoth

      Chris – as soon as you can find one known Conservative Hollywood type signing on to the ‘save Polanski’ movement, I will grant your point. But not until then.

  • rudi

    I’m not defending Polanski, but the victim has no interest in seeing Polanski extradited to the US.…He’s pleaded guilty and made a civil settlement with his victim. The criminal justice system has more pressing needs. Like tasering a grandmother or a quadriplegic…
    Or the endless search for blond missing coeds…

    • casualobserver

      With all due respect for the victim, the extradition does not seem to pertain to the crime against her per se. It is that of being a fugitive from the justice system.

      One would surmise a hero of the working man, the unmoneyed, the unprivileged, such as yourself, would rail against one of the privileged bourgoise walking away from justice, but apparently if he is a Democrat, you make an exception.

      • pacatrue

        Nice way to ignore what rudi said, casualobserver, and stick in your own opinion about Democratic hypocrisy. Rudi made a point that he thinks if the victim doesn’t want the extradition, then perhaps the court system should spend their time elsewhere. Of course, you can disagree with that point. I disagree with it myself, but at least engage his actual statements instead of just using it as one more place to display the moral superiority of your political team. This constant need to turn everything into a my team / your team thing is one of the greatest problems we face in getting decent governance today.

      • Hey casual — Just for the record, I do think that so-called progressives who are defending this dude are being extremely hypocritical. I think you know that I consider myself a progressive. This whole thing is disappointing to the point of heart-breaking. I don’t know that Polanski would consider himself a “Democrat” particularly, considering he’s a foreign national, but that’s besides the point.

        • casualobserver

          There is no room for logic or finesse, such as your point, in the pursuit of the besmerchment of political foes.

          The crude logic stream of Polanski…..Hollywood…..left….Democrat………will work well enough with mainstream America to be nonetheless effective.

          The invitation to burden the Dems with this pseudo-fitting albatross is too inviting to pass up.

  • Father_Time

    Polanski needs to go to prison and get his well deserved … See how he likes it. Hollywood has been largely talent-less for the past twenty years anyway, (except for Spike Lee). With their wild assertions they have done the Democrats more harm than good IMO.

    • So, F_T, you know how everyone’s all like, “hey, rape is bad” and stuff? Maybe this isn’t a particularly good place for you to be making rape jokes. Ya think?

  • AR,
    Since there are ~25 conservatives in all of Hollywood, I don’t think you’re being fair. Rather the burden is on you to explain why this is ideological.

  • ElZagna

    People of all ideologies abandon the party line when a case becomes personal. Right, left, center, libertarian, socialist, fascist… you name it. When it gets personal, ideological purity is the first thing tossed overboard.

    It’s silly trying to make a right-left issue out of this. Everybody does it. Let’s just acknowledge that and get on with the substance of the story which is essentially what should be done about a 30 year old case of statutory rape in which the perpetrator fled the country to avoid sentencing.

  • Zzzzz

    This isn’t a party thing. It is a privilege thing. Hollywood types defending one of their own is no different than politicians defending their corrupt brethren or executives defending the extreme bonuses of the financial industry. I think Polanski should burn, but then again, I am one of the little people who actually is expected to follow the law.

  • casualobserver

    @@Nice way to ignore what rudi said, casualobserver, and stick in your own opinion about Democratic hypocrisy.

    I devoted my first paragraph to a specific, substantive rebuttal to his point. The victim cannot control the decision to prosecute the flee from justice.
    However, as you apparently have no issue with him making gratuitous and defamatory remarks against law enforcement personnel, I thought you should allow me similar latitude in making gratuitous and defamatory remarks about political preferences.

  • archangel

    Dear Casual, the topic is about Polanski and Hollywood and “free polanski” project and several other points. Please stay with each post topic across the site as per TMV commenters’ rules. It’s appreciated. thanks.dr.e

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