Wednesday, September 30, 2009
C'mon Jake, Its Chinatown
Time for all my blogging pals on Townhall to hate me because I'm going to defend Roman Polanski. I've been reading all the outrage and moral preening from people from every walk of life having a good time screaming about what a perverted freak Polanski is. Just to make sure that all of the solid citizens dont lose their lynch-mob enthusiasm the transcripts of the 1977 case have been released by the prosecutor's office and selectively printed by sensationalist editors so that any jury pool in a future trial will be completely tainted. We're all supposed to imagine that Polanski is some brutal rapist who lured this poor innocent into his evil clutches and defiled her as she fought and protested, weeping at her lost innocence.
Sounds like a rap, huh? Its in the can; this guy's the worst monster to walk the planet since Himmler died. Or maybe not. There are aspects of this case that are either unreported by the media or lost in the phony outrage.
What was she doing over at Polanski's place anyway? Her mother knew she was there. Anyone who is in the film industry knows why she was there. Famous producers, directors, actors, musicians, anyone whose patronage can admit one to the Earthly Paradise that America pays billions of dollars every year to peep at in the tabloids, are approached constantly, at parties, in restaurants, as they walk down the street, everywhere they go, by people desperate to be let in on a piece of The Dream. She was going over to a movie director's house to do 'a photo shoot that would help her career.' I live in Los Angeles and have worked in the film community my entire adult life. I also have two very attractive daughters. If one of them had come to me and told me that they had been invited to a 43 year old movie director's house for 'a photo shoot' I would have immediately contacted this person and insisted on attending this photo shoot. I also would have warned them that if this shoot took place without my permission they could expect the police and the media to be called and a lawsuit to be filed.
Apparently the victim's mother didnt feel that way. She dreamed of the payoff, just like Michael Jackson's little playmate's parents dreamed of the Jacko-pot at the end of the rainbow. Trading your children to powerful men for favors returned is an aspect of human behavior that would turn anyone's stomach but it is much more common than you would think. A good account of it is in Mario Vargas Llosa's 'Feast Of The Goat'. How many women said no to President Billy-goat? Very few. When Angelica Huston turned up at the end of the 'rape' there was no screaming, weeping victim, too terrified to speak and trembling with fear and humiliation. Huston was in the house with them and thought she was just another of the endless stream of chickies that normally buzz around guys like Polanski, guys who can make you a star!
In fact, Angelica's daddy, John Huston, in one of Polanski's greatest films, Chinatown, a film that the victim's mother undoubtedly had seen, speaks this line to Jack Nicholson, whose house the alleged rape was supposed to occur in, "...most people never have to face the fact that in certain situations they're capable of anything." I'm not chased down the street by beautiful women, neither are you. Polanski? The guy who can put you in a starring role that can make you a household name? A cat who can make one phone call and make it all happen? Picasso, an ugly, warty, cruel and old man walked up to a sixteen-year-old Jaqueline Bisset on a street in Paris and told her that he was PICASSO and that she was too beautiful to not be famous. She followed dutifully. Legend has it that Lana Turner was discovered the same way. Marilyn Monroe. The list is endless. I'll bet Samantha Geimer's mother had seen that list, maybe had tried to be on it herself.
And it was the Seventies! Of course thirteen year olds didnt say no to champagne and quaaludes with a famous director. Nobody did. The only amazing thing about that is that they werent also snorting coke. How wasted was Polanski when all this was happening? I dont remember anyone saying. Did you ever see the film 'Boogie Nights'? That was a conservative picture of the scene at the time. In fact, the judge in this case made a deal with Polanski for time served in exchange for a guilty plea. It wasnt looked on as a brutal rape in the context of the time and place. Everyone understood the scene. People in Polanski's position are constantly hit on by wanna-be starlets. Everybody was fairly wasted most of the time. If you gave in to your worst instincts while you were too messed up to resist...well, he admitted his guilt and he had served a couple of months in the slammer; that seemed to be appropriate to the community standards of the time.
Lets also bring up the story of another fan who wanted to be famous, a guy named Charley. Eight years before the Geimer incident took place frustrated wanna-be Charley sent some of his pals over to Polanski's house in Bel Aire. They slaughtered five people and cut Polanski's baby from its mother's womb and stabbed it too. Fans do the darnedest things! Charley got be famous, too. It was worth it to him just like it would have been worth it to Mama Geimer to trade her daughter's body for fame and fortune. What does something like that do to your head? How do you feel about all the desperate wanna-be's when something like that happens to your wife, child and friends? Here's a guy who survived the murder of his entire family during WW2 and lived on the handouts of people who could have turned him in to the Nazis at any time, a person who had to flee the secret police in his own country (his friend Jerzy Kosinski, who wrote a book called 'The Painted Bird' about a child in just that situation missed being in Polanski's house that night in August because of a screwed up plane connection).
How come the people who are howling for Polanski to spend the rest of his life in prison dont want to consider what had possibly led to Polanski's complete lack of judgment in this situation? They dont care that the victim is against him spending any time in jail. How can we let terrorists like Bernadine Dohrn walk away from a cop-killing with a shrug (it was so long ago after all!) and be so angry at Polanski for this trivia. He pled guilty. He showed remorse. The judge who oversaw the plea-bargain double-crossed him. He fled.
So every time you pick up a tab in the supermarket, every 'Hollywood Tonight' show you watch so obsessively, every time the mailman drops this week's People Magazine in your mailbox, every time you close your eyes and imagine yourself looking into the eyes of that lovely young thing and say, 'Play your cards right baby and I can make you a star' you should think of the completely screwed-up lives of the people whose pictures are festooned on the pages of the tabs. Consider how much the people who make their living being your vicarious fantasy objects pay for your obsessive need to transcend your boring workaday life. These arent priests or schoolteachers, they're artists who live extremely hard lives, lives that people with regular jobs and regular paychecks could never in their wildest dreams imagine. They've clawed their way to the top by sheer will, sacrificing everything, friends, family, security, even personal integrity, to get what they've gotten, because they believe in a vision. Before they make it most of their families and friends think they are crazy, that they've wasted their lives. They are crazy! And all of a sudden they go from deadbeats that people avoid to the guy who doesnt have to wait in line at the top restaurant in Beverly Hills, the guy that thirteen-year-old cuties want to do naked photo shoots with. Photographers chase them down the street. Women pant heavily in their presence.
You're real moral right now...if you suggested to a local teenaged cutie that she come over to your house for a topless photo-shoot she would run away in disgust and her parents would either call the cops or get out the revolver and invite you to a different kind of shoot...but then you cant make the little darling a star. She might be able to move to Bev-er-ly! Hills, that its! Swimmin' pools, movie stars! Before you judge Polanski by the same set of rules that apply to America you should just consider that Polanski didnt live in America, he lived in Chinatown.