By Saswat Pattanayak
It’s a deceitful media circulation which suggests that the American judiciary is going after Roman Polanski. The truth is it never has. Polanski is a filthy criminal who had raped a child and yet was allowed to let go by the American justice system for over three decades. And this time, he is merely a bone which Switzerland threw at the United States over its UBS catastrophe. As for Polanski, who has visited Zurich several times and never been arrested before, its going to be few wordplays around extradition treaties that will ensure his freedom while, corporate media, hollywood biggies, and opportunist feminists rally in his support.
Roman Polanski is not merely mentally sick, physically brutal, and powerfully abusive, but he is also a rapist of a minor without a sense of repentance. Had he any iota of regrets, he would have surrendered to the legal system on his own, not continued to evade arrests, and make movies, no matter how many awards they win. It is in the content of character, not in the counts of awards, that a person is to be judged. His affairs with his leading ladies should not have bothered us, but his brutal rape of a minor is not an act worthy of kind reviews, let alone of a solidarity march.
But precisely, drawing from his old boys networks, from the euro-centric privileges, from the elite film industries, from the corporate media friends, and from the liberal feminists, Polanski has succeeded in generating unprecedented solidarity today. His support base glorious and powerful beyond any recent recollections. And in it, lies the greatest irony of our times: the justice system in capitalistic societies.
Each country’s administration that let Polanski work on its land is guilty of abetting this criminal. Mainstream media’s claim that European countries are harboring him while American judicial system is seeking him is utterly misleading. Polanski was to be sentenced not only for rape of a minor, but also on charges of sodomy with drugs. During the 70’s when police dogs were being unleashed upon innocent black workers on the streets, when educated youths were being mercilessly shot at for their demands for racial equality, and poor people were being arrested for jaywalking in rich neighborhoods, Polanski was allowed to go shoot in foreign lands even after he pleaded guilty to the rape charges (in order to avoid harsher sentences associated with sodomy with drugs, he just preferred being sentenced as a rapist and as an European-American, get a bail for the rest of his celebrity life).
For more than three decades (32 years, to be precise), this man was not arrested by the American judiciary. He did not even have to abscond, or flee, as the media reports suggest. He remained in public limelight, continued making movies in Britain, France and Poland. The Oscar jury even shamelessly awarded him with the highest prizes. He could easily have been arrested within three weeks of his departure from the United States. Three decades made him mere immortal.
Disproportionately high number of poor people in America are imprisoned for crimes that are not remotely as heinous as Polanski’s. There is scarcely any demand for their unconditional release. And yet, the American elites have all the hearts for this scum of a man – a filmmaker powerful enough to evade law for such long periods. The man who could not have the courage to surrender before due processes of law, but always had the audacity to attend award ceremonies. Now that he is finally being held in Zurich, all kinds of extradition laws are being reviewed to have him released. What is even more interesting are his lawyers’ claims to their Zurich counterparts that they have evidence to suggest the California police were not very keen on his arrest. Following that, the efficient police department of Los Angeles immediately responds by saying they have been looking for Polanski for over thirty years now, and his arrest has nothing to do with diplomatic faux pas over UBS scandal!
How would have been an ordinary man treated while in position of Polanski is an easy guess. California court would not have taken so long to find a rapist, especially one who is visibly present everywhere, giving out interviews, and receiving awards. In place of an European like Polanski, what would have happened to an African-American celebrity had he been convicted of raping a minor, not to talk of drug possession charges accompanying it. It is worth noting that Michael Jackson was acquitted of all charges by the court, and yet he was damned as a pedophile by the media even after his death. No Hollywood elites signed petitions to attack the press or to convince President Obama that Jackson was a true American hero who deserved a tribute. But here is a man already confessed to have raped a child after drugging her and the media are all quoting his famous friends about his deeply troubled personal life!
Not just United States, even United Kingdom could have taken an action on Polanski. It could have easily handed over the criminal to California. But that did not take place. And the French, the self-proclaimed civilized, those that taught the Algerians how to behave as decent law-abiding citizens, of course preferred to twist their own laws when it came to treat a self-confessed rapist. French judicial system, instead of imprisoning a convicted and at-large criminal, decided to play word games of extradition treaties and harbored a pedophile rapist into emerging as a filmmaker of some repute. Not just that, this abominable piece of trash was even heralded as the pride of France, as one of the greatest of its sons! How does a rapist cease becoming one after crossing geographical borders is beyond amazement of human intellect of this century.
The Hollywood, the corporate media as well as renowned feminists have all come together to support Polanski and to demand his immediate release. Such hollow and reactionary are our current progressive movements that the world of films – that imaginative, creative society of free thinking professionals, has lost every sense of self-respect in their unquestioned support lent to a child predator.
Whoopi Goldberg claims she “does not believe, it was a rape-rape”. In her feminist sit-com show, “The View”, she thinks, “he’s sorry. I think he knows it was wrong. I don’t think he’s a danger to society.” Instead of using the opportunity to appeal to women of Hollywood and television industry to come out about the sexual exploitations women have continuously faced in film societies, resulting in phrases such as “casting couch”, and worse, rapes and humiliations by the veteran directors, producers and actors, Ms Goldberg decided to defend a child rapist and assumed he must be feeling sorry!
Debra Winger is also feeling sorry, apparently because according to her, the whole art world is going to suffer in the arrest of Polanski! Even as she knows, Polanski might at the most get a probation, or in the least likelihood, the highest of 16 months in prison. Which world will suffer for one year detention of a convicted rapist can only be left to Winger’s imagination.
Now comes, Peg Yorkin, the renowned feminist and chair of Feminist Majority Foundation, which she co-founded with Eleanor Smeal. Yorkin not only does clearly absolve Polanski, she even reverses the foundations of progressive feminism with her statements to LA Times: “My personal thoughts are let the guy go. It’s bad a person was raped. But that was so many years ago. The guy has been through so much in his life. It’s crazy to arrest him now. Let it go. The government could spend its money on other things.”
Its sad, but a true reflection of comfortable feminists throwing around millions of dollars in charitable causes meant to address issues concerning women, but in reality, sympathize with the perpetrator as a victim. Yorkin parrots, what the mainstream media does: Polanski has been through a lot in his personal life. But they do not ponder over for a bit as to how does that anyway relate to the specific criminal act? When no one objected to his winning awards despite his personal life, why would the law not apply to Polanski because of it? The logic of Yorkin, Winger and Goldberg, our contemporary women champions of feminism are victimized by the same sexist structural overarching they are trying to contest.
Not to mention of the powerful males in Hollywood who are busy drafting petitions in support of the rapist claiming that “filmmakers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision.” Someone needs to tell them that France is already in Europe, so that mention is redundant, and secondly, “around the world” has no empirical basis. The whole world is not as perverted and manipulative as these signatories: Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Mike Nichols, Woody Allen, Neil Jordan, Harvey Weinstein, Pedro Almodóvar and Ethan Coen.
The final defense is in the assumption that raping of minors was commonplace in those days and Polanski being a man of his times, his arrest is an unfortunate exception. Such arguments lack validity since in those days, so many black men were being routinely arrested on entirely false charges of rapes. It is true that Hollywood was perhaps the place for the Anglo-American playboys. Woody Allen immediately comes to mind – a privileged liberal who exploited his adopted children and married his stepdaughter, without his image being tarnished in any manner.
What is more distressing is that this trend of relegating the invisibly exploited women by the powerful filmmakers of Hollywood to irrelevance continues to this day. The fact that over a hundred legendary filmmakers come together to suppress the significance of combating sexual exploitation in the world’s wealthiest film industries, speaks of their own contributions in silencing the victims to this day. Be their films be declared hollow, their messages sexist, and their positions unworthy.