Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Wes Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Alfonso Cuaron, Jonathan Demme, Terry Gilliam, Taylor Hackford, Isabelle Huppert, Neil Jordan, Wong Kar Waï, Milan Kundera, David Lynch, Sam Mendes, Mike Nichols, Salman Rushdie, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Tilda Swinton.
These are just some of the big names from film and literature who have thrown their support behind Roman Polanski, a man who admitted to engaging in sex acts with a 13-year-old girl and then fled the country to avoid facing the consequences.
Let me say this in simpler terms: These are people who support a rapist. And not just a rapist, but a man who raped a child, someone one year into her teens.
Why? Because he’s a brilliant director who was going to Switzerland to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award and arresting him there was mean and unfair. Or something. My brain exploded reading all the articles. I’m still cleaning pieces off my hardwood floor. After a while the rationalizations turned into the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons going “wah wah wah wah.”
Polanski’s name, his celebrated catalog of films, has given him more notoriety than millions of molesters and rapists the world over whose crimes have long been forgotten. No one cares about the statute of limitations for their acts, is pursuing them or demanding their extradition, because they are non entities. By the same token, Polanski’s name gives him an absurd protection, this legion of voices crying out in his defense, signing their names to a petition to see him freed. People whose names have weight, saying that something that happened 32 years ago doesn’t matter now, that it’s his accomplishments in films we should remember and not one mistake. That, too, is something your average child molester or rapist doesn’t have either, right?
I’m honestly at a loss as to what to say. I look at those names above and I’m shaken. Almodovar, Cuaron, Gilliam, Scorsese, Soderbergh…these are people whose work I respect, and they are seeking mercy for a man who committed an ultimate act of disrespect. How do I reconcile that? How do I pick up one of their films or their books knowing that they think the rape of a 13-year-old is something Polanski shouldn’t face the music for? Aren’t some of these people parents or siblings? Would they sign a petition asking to absolve a man who fed their daughter booze and drugs and had sex with her?
Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.
That’s what the petition says. Extradition will take away his freedom. Do you know what an act of sexual violence takes away from the victim? Dignity. Self-respect. Confidence. Peace of mind. Privacy. The feeling that you deserve to be loved. A sense of happiness. A sense of the future. And countless other things that are are heavy in consequences.
I don’t care if it’s been thirty-two years. I don’t care that the victim herself has spoken out in Polanski’s defense. An act of rape, an act of molestation, should never be waved away as something less important than directing Rosemary’s Baby. And extradition shouldn’t be made out to be a bigger offense.
I’ve never been so ashamed to be an avid fan of film and literature.