I’ve refrained from writing about Roman Polanski’s latest efforts to paint himself as the real victim of his rape trial in 1978. I don’t want the discriminating readers of Kmareka to think I’m cyberstalking him. I’ve already written about the reluctance of the media to call him what he is. So for the record:
He is not that interesting. He’s a perp, doing what perps do. Minimizing his crime and maximizing his pain and suffering, there in Paris. He’s hired a lawyer to make a case that he should be allowed to have his charges dismissed without coming to the US and facing a court. His victim, who is a non-famous, adult woman living an ordinary life, has to see her name in the papers every time he does something like this, but he doesn’t seem to care.
What is worse, much worse, is that the press blamed the victim at the time, and thirty years later, still fails to acknowledge the nature of his crime.
Bill Wyman, in Salon, takes apart the media spin”
Feb. 19, 2009 | Bad art is supposed to be harmless, but the 2008 film “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” about the notorious child-sex case against the fugitive director, has become an absolute menace. For months, lawyers for the filmmaker have been maneuvering to get the Los Angeles courts to dismiss Polanski’s 1978 conviction, based on supposed judicial misconduct uncovered in the documentary. On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza ruled that if Polanski, who fled on the eve of his sentencing, in March 1978, wanted to challenge his conviction, he could — by coming back and turning himself in.
Espinoza was stating the obvious: Fugitives don’t get to dictate the terms of their case. Polanski, who had pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, was welcome to return to America, surrender, and then petition the court as he wished.
I doubt Polanski will take the risk. Bill Wyman’s essay is excellent, and long overdue. I haven’t seen anyone else hold the media to account for their enabling role.
As a society we have become more tolerant of sexuality in the last thirty years. We speak more openly and acknowledge choices and relationships among consenting adults. At the same time we have become less tolerant of adults who exploit children. That’s progress.
If Roman Polanski is determined to get back in the papers and re-open his case, then let the press report the real story. So far, he’s been able to tell it on his terms, with the press going along. It’s unpleasant to admit that a man who is admired by so many could commit a crime like that. He’s still important, and important men never do those kinds of things, do they?