Opinion Roundup: Where Do Celebs Come Down on Polanski?
Much has been written about Roman Polanski this week. For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few days, here's the case in a nutshell:
Polanski was taken into custody in Switzerland earlier this week and could face extradition to the U.S. in connection with his 1978 conviction after admitting to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. His victim now says she believes Polanski is "sorry" for his actions and is not in support of further punishment.
Although Polanski's case has long galvanized those who believe he should face the consequences for his actions and those who think the director should be dealt with leniently, if at all, the debate got especially heated this week. Below, a sampling of opinion pieces from both sides:
A growing number of celebrities -- including Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese, Sam Mendes, Diane von Furstenberg and Tilda Swinton -- have signed a petition in support of Polanski, calling his conviction a "case of morals." Even Whoopi Goldberg dismissed the transgression. On Thursday morning's "View" she said, "It was something else but I don't believe it was rape-rape." (Note: She later back-pedaled, saying she was talking about the charges at the time.)
The L.A, Times's Steve Lopez says Polanski is being painted as the victim by his supporters, obscuring the real victim in the case -- the then 13-year-old Samantha Geimer.
As for celebs publicly condemning Polanski, so far only a few have spoken out. As Jezebel's Kate Harding notes:
...[when] two of the biggest [anti-Polanski] names are Kirstie "I wish I was black" Alley and Sherri "the earth is round?" Shepherd, we have a problem. Hell, the anti-Polanski side even lost the Little House War: Half Pint defended Polanski on The View, while we get Nellie Oleson. As it turns out, Alison Arngrim (Nellie) is one of the few actors publicly asking the obvious question about Hollywood's wagon-circling: "If Roman Polanski were a Catholic priest or a Republican senator, would these people feel the same way?"
Eve Ensler, writing at Huffingtonpost.com, says the case is clear-cut and that the case shines a troubling light on the fact that rape is still not considered a "serious" crime by some:
"It made it distressingly clear to me that all our years of work have not yet penetrated or changed the culture so that it understands that rape is a legal crime and a crime against the soul."
Blogger Chrism has an expanding list of anti-Polanski celebs here (scroll down).
And so the backlash, as expected, builds. Already a counter petition is circulating the Web in support of extradition and "justice" for the Polanski and hundreds of messages in support of bring Polanski back to California have been posted to Twitter with the hashtag #artdoesnotexcuserape (a swipe at the pro-Polanski petitioners who describe Polanski as "one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers.")
Also in the LA Times, John Horn and Tina Daunt ask if the case will be the wedge that finally turns mainstream Americans against Hollwyood's "we're-better-than-you elitis[m]." Not a fair assessment, writes Jill Filipovic at Feministe:
"I don't buy into this 'Hollywood is so amoral and out of touch' business, but I do think that, like a lot of industries, they're fairly insular and tight-knit, and they protect their own."
Note: The Post's own editorial board and Eugene Robinson (twice), Richard Cohen, Howard Kurtz and Anne Applebaum have also weighed in on the case. The Post's range of opinions prompted this criticism from Glen Greenwald at Salon.com.
Have you read some good takes on the Polanski debate? If so, share the links -- or selected passages -- below.
| October 2, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
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