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Tony Grist

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Plate Sin With Gold..... [May. 20th, 2010|12:17 pm]
Tony Grist
One of the weirdest things about the whole Polanski affair is how this guy who'd been convicted of drugging and raping a thirteen year old girl (then ran away) got welcomed by the European glitterati like a returning prodigal. You'd think his crime would have made him untouchable, but it didn't- and for thirty years his career flourished-  in all which time- so far as I'm aware- no-one famous ever said, "Ugh, I don't want to be in the same room as that creep". When he finally got overconfident and put himself in a position where the police could swoop, a huge number of his dear friends rallied round and protested his arrest- and Whoopi Goldberg- of all people- said on a talk show that it wasn't as if his crime was "rape-rape"- by which I suppose she meant he didn't use a knife. Now Robert Harris, author of the book on which Polanski based his most recent movie, has written an article rubbishing Charlotte Lewis- who recently came forward to say that Polanski assaulted her too.

Where were Harris and Goldberg and all those other dwellers above the clouds when Gary Glitter and Chris Langham came a cropper? 

Clearly culpability in matters relating to the sexual abuse of children depends on how cool you are. If you're only slightly well known- like Langham- or actually a bit naff-  like Glitter- you're paedo-scum. If you're wonderfully famous and powerful-  like Polanski, Bill Wyman, Michael Jackson or Pete Townsend- you're an artist with a troubled soul.  I was going to say that at least the entertainment industry- unlike the Catholic Church- doesn't preach at us while sheltering kiddy-fiddlers,  but then I thought about it some more and realised that, of course, in it's own way, it does. 

[User Picture]From: steepholm
2010-05-20 11:50 am (UTC)
When the Polanski case flared up again I was immediately struck by the contrast with William Mayne. A lot of the excuses peddled by Polanski's supporters - it wasn't rape-rape, it was a long time ago, mores were different then, his talent gives him special privileges - also applied to Mayne. Yet there was no fuss when Mayne (rightly, imo) went to jail. Thereafter he was never published again, and all his backlist (sadly, imo) was allowed to go out of print, even as Polanski was assembling his young cast for Oliver Twist. The contrast certainly shows up Hollywood and European hypocrisy - but actually, I think most people find that fairly apparent anyway.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-05-20 01:22 pm (UTC)

I haven't read Mayne, but the obituary makes him sound like a very interesting writer.

I have similar feelings about Chris Langham- a very fine comedy actor who has now disappeared- along with all his work. His crime- downloading child pornography- strikes me as considerably less heinous than what Polanski did.
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[User Picture]From: aellia
2010-05-20 12:44 pm (UTC)
So,so true. Thank you for expressing it how I never could.
The poedophile,who lived in our road,is out of prison.
We saw him,swaggering along the High St in Canterbury.A man who said he wanted to rape a baby and then kill it.
I hope his troubled soul rots steadily while he's alive.
How is Ailz today?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-05-20 01:24 pm (UTC)
I hope the police are keeping tabs on that man.

Ailz is tired (she didn't get much sleep in hospital) and still hurting, but she's happy to be home.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2010-05-20 12:46 pm (UTC)
And he bragged in a Playboy interview, and said "EVERYBODY wants to f--- young girls."

He wasn't even all that good a director. He made a film -- The Ninth Gate -- that not even Johnny Depp could save.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-05-20 01:34 pm (UTC)
I came across that article when I was researching this post. He's a vile man.

I don't like his work. I saw most of his earlier films as they came out- and they made me feel sick. After a while I learned to avoid anything with his name attached.
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[User Picture]From: cluegirl
2010-05-20 02:25 pm (UTC)
I can't explain it rationally, and the Precious knows I've tried, because I rather like to make sense of the world in which I live. But the closest thing I can think of, is how folks like tigers better than stoats; both are pitiless killers that prey on things weaker than themselves, but there's some kind of gravitas to the bigger, badder animal that somehow makes it 'cool', rather than creepy.

Either that, or there was a Deal made somewhere, for thirty years of freedom before the bill came due. But that's where things get into the unprovable range of karma and payback and bad guys eventually getting their comeuppance, and while I may choose to believe in such things, I'm not fool enough to trade on them in a rational conversation...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-05-20 02:59 pm (UTC)
I think you're onto something there with the stoats and the tigers.

I believe in karma. I think you have to pay for what you take- maybe not now- maybe a long way down the line- but sooner or later things will get evened out.
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[User Picture]From: wlotus
2010-05-20 02:40 pm (UTC)
Rape is rape, and the rape of children is even more dispicable than the rape of an adult.

I don't believe Michael Jackson raped or molested anyone; at least one of his accusers has recanted, saying his father pressured him into making the false accusations. And to his credit, Jackson stood trial and was acquitted. Polanski, on the other hand, ran from a conviction rather than do the time he deserved. I was profoundly disappointed with Whoopi for defending him. What the hell was she thinking?!?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-05-20 03:18 pm (UTC)
As you know, I'm not particularly fond of Michael Jackson, but you're right- he was aquitted- and his friends stood by him because they believed in his innocence. Polanski's friends, on the other hand, have stood by him even though he was convicted of child rape and has never hidden his predilection for very young girls.

As for Whoopi, I guess she had a brainstorm. I can't believe she's proud of that remark.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2010-05-20 04:57 pm (UTC)
I believe some women will allow their partners to molest their children because they are afraid they will leave them. Who is worse?

I suppose the Polanski thing is on the same level, that which we fear or reverence we are likely to excuse, no matter how much we know it's wrong.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-05-20 05:26 pm (UTC)
Not much to choose between them, I'd say.

I guess in Polanski's case money had something to do with it too- by which I mean his ability to make money for producers by directing highly successful films.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2010-05-21 05:35 pm (UTC)
Some folks will excuse all kinds of execrable behavior if the perp had himself been victimized. And here we have Holocaust survivor whose pregnant wife was brutally murdered by the Manson gang. Doesn't wash for me -- plenty of Holocaust survivors managed to live their entire lives, including subsequent traumas, without drugging and raping young girls.
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From: jorrocks_j
2010-05-21 09:37 pm (UTC)

Well, actors are good and acting, just as bankers are good at banking...

...but neither ability makes them particularly good at being good.

But--I suppose it's human nature--people attribute all sorts of gravitas to those who are very good at what they do.

The problem's compounded when what they do is produce narratives, images and personae that affect us deeply. We don't want to believe people who can do that, can be evil. It makes us feel like dupes, but more importantly it makes us feel like something dear has been taken from us.

Which perhaps explains a lot of revisionist criticism: Auden going "Yeats-was-a-FAAAAAAAscist, neener-neener-NEEE-nerrrrr!" Nobody goes after Ezra Pound, though, despite his producing propaganda broadcasts for the Fascists while said Fascists were still killing American and British soldiers. Perhaps that's because fewer people like Pound's work than Yeats', and so "doing him down" doesn't take away the affection and good memories from as many people.

And it's taking things from other monkeys that proves the stronger monkey stronger.

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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2010-05-23 03:00 pm (UTC)
Tony, I don't much care for this topic.

For starters, I am relatively free of Puritanism, so I find the tendency of some to go looking for the taint of sin in Polanski's art appalling.

A name that springs immediately to mind in the context of this discussion is that of Egon Schiele, qv. Had he lived, one is tempted to assume that his questionable relationships with teens would have ended his career instead of influenza. Had he been born in these latter days, and subjected to such clucking as I see here, then this is a virtual certainty and my world would be poorer for it.

Which is the greater ideal, art or justice? Polanski's apologists seem to hold art to be the higher of the two. Since they are mostly artists themselves, that should hardly surprise us. The aristocracy that once protected and nurtured the arts is long gone, so these days it is our cultural aristocrats, Polanski's peers, that must do what they can to protect their own. I wish them well.

We live in an age when it is easy to whip up a mob against a man like Polanski, while the real monsters walking among us, men like Cheney and Blair and Netanyahu, are untouchable, often loudly defended by constituent members of that very same mob.

In such a world, I am so glad that I don't need to take a stand on the Polanski case, one way or the other.
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