I have been watching the news and shaking my head. A friend of mine has dubbed the petition to save Roman Polanski "The Jerk List," except that she didn't use the word "jerk," but you get the picture. I wonder how people can sign that position and still manage to live with themselves? I wonder if they realize that some of us are taking careful notes as to who signed it, and making a mental list of Hollywood People To Avoid At All Costs?
Let's start from the beginning. In 1977 he was accused of drugging a 13 year old girl with champagne and Quaaludes at Jack Nicholson's house, "refusing her please to be let go," and raping her. He pled guilty, under the assumption at that time that his sentence would be 46 days in prison for psychiatric observation.
Before he could be sentenced, Roman Polanski packed up and fled to France. He had French citizenship at the time, and France refused to extradite. (Way to go, France.) The French press feels that this story is about how puritanical America is, how unreasonably severe we are, and how unsophisticated we are about matters of the heart.
At this point, Roman Polanski is on the hook not only for the original rape charges, but for fleeing the country in order to escape imprisonment. There is no debate on this point, by the way, despite what Polanski's sympathizers would have you believe. The case is concrete; the only possible contrary argument is, "But so what?" He drugged and raped a thirteen year old girl, but so what? He fled the country to avoid imprisonment, but so what?
The primary case in favor of Roman Polanski is that "His movies are awesome, and he's an old man, and he deserves to be cut some slack." As if he had walked out of his job early at the meat packing plant thirty years ago, and now everyone wanted him to go back and slaughter cows for three more hours before he punches his time card. As if Polanski is being held to a standard which is far too high for someone as elderly and distinguished as he is.
Oddly enough, I think Star Jones has the most apt commentary on this situation. She Twittered "Be real y'all, if Spike Lee had done some skullduggery like Polanski... no one would not be rallying behind him... unless they had a rope!"
Or forget Spike Lee, and pretend that Roman Polanski was just a regular guy who had committed this crime and then escaped extradition. When Switzerland announced they had him in hand, the American public would be baying for blood. But Roman Polanski? Well, "it's complicated," we're told.
It's not complicated.