I'm having a series of a personal moral questioning moments today.
Roman Polanski is one of my favourite filmmakers. I've seen many of his films from his student shorts (thanks to SBS TV) and own DVDs of Macbeth, Repulsion, Frantic & The Tenant.
This week, as most people who listen to the news know, he's been arrested in Switzerland at the request of the USA authorities in order to be extradited to the USA for a 1977 offence, which he pleaded guilty of (of a lesser offence) but was not formally charged as he took off as soon as he was able - no formal charge = no statute of limitations.
In the last few years, there have been many priests of various religious denominations that are being charged with old crimes of rape and abuse and the general public is applauding that - "doesn’t matter how the bastard is, lock him up!" The people abused by these clergy are able to resolve some of how they feel and have ended up due to the horror of their childhood.
This is a comparison I've chosen but it's an uneasy comparison - many of the guilty clergy were systematic in their abuse & Polanski, although photographed talking to a couple of (very) young women in Europe around the same time (I recall the photo - he has a bicycle & is in white shorts talking to the girls - but it's in the open folks and everyone has their clothes on), is guilty of one crime at one time.
But what a crime! He talks the mother of a 13yr old into letting the child come unaccompanied to another man's house to photograph her, which he does but he does he drugs her and rapes her, including anally - the kid is 13. I mean, fucken hell, that's appalling.
So where is this girl's Mother? She lets her 13 year old go with him unaccompanied. I mean, does she trust this guy because he's a director? Hasn't she seen his films? In his films there's allsorts including in some; rape, descent into complete madness as well as murder... fabulous films, wonderful films but who lets their 13 year old be taken out of sight to be photographed?
I think when a parent breaches their duty of care with their child, that child is no longer theirs. The Mother had a duty of care, Mother blew that one, didn't she. Wonder why? The sparkle of a big star in her eyes? Her kid gets to be a movie star? This is reminding me of those child pageant fanatics.
Being highly creative and drug-fucked is often the excuse or reason in some cases for dreadful behaviour (John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas is claimed to have raped his daughter on the eve of her wedding while both under the influence of masses of drugs) but there are plenty of other people who have not behaved this way under the influence and his pre-meditation is obvious when he asked to take photos...
Dreadful things have happen in Roman Polanski's life - he was separated from his parents as a little kid early in WW2 and survived the Krakow Ghetto in WW2 but his mother died in the Auschwitz concentration camp (his Father survived Mauthausen-Gusen).
Then, as we all know, his wife and their child in utero were brutally murdered by one of Charles Manson's followers.
Again, it's difficult to reason his raping a girl with his own sorrow and horror - can you imagine all Holocaust survivors and people whose partners have been murdered going around raping children? - then world comes crumbling down.
Having blog-bleated about all this, I need to mention the most notable argument for releasing RP is the survivor of the rape does not want this to go any further. She said no then and meant it and she's saying no again* and again, no one is listening - well the US authorities aren't - and they are the ones that surely should be.
(*now known as Mrs Geimer, the survivor has filed a legal declaration in Los Angeles formally requesting that the outstanding charges against Polanski be withdrawn and she also sued RP & was monetary compensated - so some of his due is "paid" )
The next point is the same as everyone is asking, why now? The clergy cases were not known of and have only come to light now. The Polanski case is 32 years old and the American authorities have no excuse, really.
Maybe the USA is just one big ego trip - and the ego does not want to be seen as being mocked by a foreigner who did a runner.
My last point is the guy is getting older, has made worthwhile contributions to society (- without art there is no society, I reckon -) and has not re-offended since.
The Swiss, who don't ever seem to offend anyone, are really setting themselves up to being immensely disliked.
The Scottish just let the Libyan, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi (say that 3 times fast!) go home because he's old and crook - he responsible (with others never caught) of killing 270 people (the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that went down in Lockerbie, Scotland).
Scales of Justice? getting a bit wobbly at the moment I reckon.
I don't know where my soap box is today - it usually begins to crumple sometime but I am perplexed today. I don't think I'm even sitting on it.
How can a strong feminist - me - stick up for a rapist?
My dilemma is reconciling how much I really enjoy respect Roman Polanski's films with what he did. Is he sorry? Has he remorse? His victim, the survivor, has forgiven him but has he asked for forgiveness? To say he does not think about his crime is ridiculous and he surely does feel remorse. If I have any respect for his works, which I do, I have to believe this - just wish I could find his statements about all of this
I'm not reading any of the articles and opinions since I got 1/2 way through an article that parallels what Nazi war criminals did... mmm. Do I smell a celebrity lynching gathering momentum?
I have no respect for the American authorities and I think they blew this one - best you let him go, bow your heads and be humble for once otherwise you may have to explain why you didn't bother for all these years when the opportunity has always been there? He's never been in hiding.
Just when I was going to steer off and mention the USA authorities locking up Australian Greenpeace protesters in hand and feet chains... ummm, and how they treated an innocent man, Australian, Mamdouh Habib in Guantanamo "detainment camp"... oh yeah, Guantanamo...
...there it goes, my soap box just found, has now crumpled.
Postscript 2 October 2009 - It occured to me while discussing this over dinner with friends that none of us know what happened to Roman Polanski when he was alone, 'relying on the kindness of others' as a young child... Again, it's hard to comprehend any of this.
Also, I forgot to reference my information - it comes from all over the place - partly my memory & Wikipedia & various online newspapers - Australian, British, USA