Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hollywood's Rape Apologia

[Trigger warning.]

After Liz brought up the media coverage of Roman Polanski's recent arrest, I thought we could use a little blog closure on the topic, even though "closure" in this case can be more accurately described as "disgust."

As you've probably read, Polanski was arrested in Switzerland last week when he entered the country to attend a film festival and receive an award. He's been living and working in Europe for the last three decades. He fled the United States to avoid being sentenced for unlawful sex with a minor--a crime to which he confessed. His 13-year-old victim testified that Polanski gave her champagne and Quaaludes and that he didn't stop his mulitple assaults when she repeatedly said "no."

There are several facts that people like to insert at this point, to brush off and excuse Polanski's actions. The victim had a pushy mother who intended Polanski to sleep with her daughter. The judge in Polanski's case behaved improperly. Polanski thought he had a plea bargain. Polanski has been living in "exile" outside the United States, therefore suffering the horrible fate of not being able to return to Hollywood to direct the many films he's made since the 70s. His victim does not wish to prosecute Polanski anymore. And of course, it wouldn't be rape apologia if we didn't insert the classic: She wanted it.

What all of these "but, but, buts" don't change, however, is that sex between a 40-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl has a name: statutory rape. It's got rape in the name, because regardless of the drugs and liquor, or even supposed consent, in the eyes of the law it's assumed that the power structure that exists between adults and children makes it impossible for a child to truly consent to sex with an adult. Any such act is not truly understood by the child, and is an abuse of power. Why we wouldn't believe the testimony of a girl over Polanski is another issue. What we do know is that Polanski confessed to an act that is rape, of a child, period, and never served his time.

More insightful writers have detailed this case and the reaction from Hollywood's elite, especially the depressing number of film industry people (Wes Anderson, sigh) who have signed a petition in support of Polanski. I encourage you to read the pieces on Salon and Jezebel. I also encourage you to check in on this Shakesville thread every once in a while, where you'll hopefully see the list of celebrities speaking out against the rape apologia as this case pans out.

No comments:

Post a Comment