Friday, October 2, 2009

Polanski - Letterman Double-Header

David Letterman. Roman Polanski.


Roman Polanski. David Letterman.


One guy did something shockingly illegal some 30 years ago, and has finally been nabbed by the long, long , really really long arm of the law.

The other one did, by his own admission,"terrible" things over many years, but "terrible" is a self-description: It hangs a lantern (hah!) on a career-long habit of dating co-workers. It certainly isn't illegal. And he got blackmailed for his troubles.

I'm rooting for Letterman. I'm not rooting for Polanski.

To make the case that David Letterman did something illegal would require that someone find him guilty of sexual harassment: That is, coercion or promotion in exchange for sexual favors. It's true that Letterman has long dipped his pen in company ink, but he's been on top of his game for over two decades, and I doubt he would ever put his career in harm's way for a fling. He may seem all aw-shucks and Heartland charm, but we don't know the man. Hell, I've been watching Dave since 1983: I won't even pretend to try.

I will venture an opinion, though: He'll escape any personal prosecution. He's either so friggin' smart that an overture he makes to comely staffer begins with legal paperwork being signed. Or he really is so gee-whiz and awkward that his crushes are of the schoolboy variety: boyish and insecure (and insecure celebrity: how 'bout that?) to the extent that philadering and quid pro quo are far off the table. Again, it's all guesswork.

As for Polanski: Lock his ass up. I'm not coming from a right-wing, absolute justice angle here. I actually believe the 13-year-old girl he raped has come to forgive him. I also believe he has shown some small amount of remorse for the act.

What drives me absolutely crazy about this case is the resurfacing of celebrity exceptionalism. Everyone from French lawyers to petition-bearing Hollywood types are making a passionate case for his release, on the grounds that... that... that he's a great filmmaker, and it's been, like, a really long time. I think that's the case being made.

Well, the first part, that Polanski is a great filmmaker, I do not disagree with . I saw A Knife In The Water in film school and was transfixed by it's artistry. Chinatown is still one of my favorite films. Roman Polanski is, in my personal opinion, without reservation or doubt, one of a few truly important filmmakers of the last part of the 20th Century.

This fact places him above the law? This fact gives him immunity from prosecution? This fact makes the quite terrible thing he did to a girl 31 years ago palatable?

Lock his ass up.

As for the argument-- argued quite well by Ronald Sokol-- that this late, late prosecution is, by virtue of it's immense delay, tantamount to legal revenge, How's this for a reply: Revenge is a dish best served cold.

ADDENDA: I know Daniel wrote earlier that we wouldn't be doing this sort of crap. I did get the memo. This whole thing got just a little too big and weird to ignore, is all.

1 comment:

  1. I forgive you. And I suppose there is an issue that can't be ignored, in that the messy personal lives of famous people freqently affect the revenue streams that they are injected in. The proportions of this problem, at least, are unique to showbiz. I mean both the magnitude of effect and the number of people involved in terrible, terrible behavior.