SPECIAL COMMENTARY BY MONDO CULT PUBLISHER
A Modest Solution to the Polanski Problem
by Brad Linaweaver
Ever since the American economy was struck down by a hit and run driver on Wall Street late in 2008, the world has been holding its breath. What would happen next?
Well, the Republicans lost power and the Democrats gained power, and somehow the War on Terror marches on without stumbling. The Pentagon budget remains untouchable even though we owe China a trillion dollars. “It's Chinatown, Jake.”
The immediate struggle is about a shift in the economy over the possibility of National Health Care. Many people are out of jobs and people with jobs aren't spending big. Everyone's yelling at each other and stressing over the subject of how to get medicine to control stress. America needs more money from somewhere.
Things are so bad that Michael Moore has made another movie. Another damned Michael Moore movie!
So who should come to the rescue and take our minds off the problems of 2009? It's just about time for Rosemary's Baby to have grown up and be the right age to threaten the world, but hey, look! It's Roman Polanski with a legal case over three decades old. Unbelievable!
Some of us thought the Polanski matter was behind us. He had effectively exiled himself from America when he fled the country. A lot of us thought that he would stay on his side of the Atlantic and we would stay on ours. Who could still care about celebrity crime in the polyester decade of the Seventies (a whole decade that was a felony) after something as serious as September 11, 2001 ?
We did not reckon on two things. First, the Internet is a real Devil beyond anything dreamed up by Ira Levin. Second, as mentioned in the first paragraph, the economy fell off a cliff in late 2008 (which has put a dent in magazine publishing like it has everything else).
Many strange things happened when the economy was crippled in 2008; things as strange as what went on in a hot tub with Polanski and a thirteen year old girl. One of these unusual developments was that the fiscal force field surrounding Switzerland shook and sank.
Switzerland is an entire country that used to be the planet's most secure bank. It wasn't easy maintaining neutrality during World War II. It was no small feat remaining aloof during the Cold War. A country capable of doing that could survive anything. Except...
... it couldn’t survive America’s nervous breakdown at the end of 2008.
And so, the American Empire went after tax havens in Switzerland and that night there came the sound of breaking glass from the bank windows. It’s no wonder the Swiss capitulated. It is a wonder that they have any chocolate left.
One unexpected result of the New World Disorder was that an old criminal case against Oscar winning director Roman Polanski was reactivated. Suddenly, all the deals he had made to secure his safety turned to ashes.
Think about it. France and Poland would not extradite their celebrity citizen back to America. Israel would not extradite him either. The British might have so he avoided all the hot tubs in Merry Olde England , but felt that he was secure in Switzerland where he had one of his houses.
The statute of limitations would have run out long ago on both the statutory rape and other rape charges (the liquor and Quaalude rape) even if Polanski had pleaded guilty to everything instead of copping to one charge only. The Internet and talk radio as well as cable fake news have pretty much exhausted all these legalistic details with every armchair attorney in the USA.
A typical commentary was to be found on FOX News; but the point is that it was typical! For once, MSNBC, CNN, Headline News and FOX all seemed to be on the same page.
At FOX, Bob Beckel, the Big Union Liberal Democrat said he’d kill a guy like Polanski if it was his daughter. So Beckel was the conservative. Sean Hannity, the Right Wing Republican, said he’d give Polanski life imprisonment. So Hannity was the moderate. Meanwhile, on a FOX show with higher ratings, Bill O’Reilly said he’d give Polanski five years. So O’Reilly was the liberal. An odd turn of events in anyone’s reality.
These kind of shows rarely if ever discuss exactly where Polanski would be imprisoned or done away with. The implicit assumption is that it has to be in America. Why is that?
National pride is why. Polanski defied the authority of the state government of California and the federal government of the United States of America. There is no statute of limitations on that. Logically, this should be the topic on the Internet and the babbling talk shows. It isn’t.
An angry female prosecutor on MSNBC told an astounded Chris Matthews that “the victim is not important” in the Polanski case. Was she making a point about Polanski insulting the American legal system? Of course not. Her opinion was echoed by another angry commentator on a different cable channel pontificating that rape is not a crime against an individual but a crime against society. For these people, the issue is not the girl in Jack Nicholson’s hot tub with smarmy Polanski; or the dissing of America by famous Polanski.
What is going on here?
In a vain attempt to make sense of it all we turn to someone who spends every day in the outer regions of Cyberspace: J. Neil Schulman.
1.) “Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, wants the charges dismissed and Polanski freed. She does not want to testify. She wants the government to leave her alone. She wants the government to leave Roman Polanski alone. I just don’t see how an all-powerful State saying to a powerless victim ‘you’re our client whether you want to be or not’ is more equitable than the victim being allowed to decide for herself that civil damages were sufficient to make her whole. Samantha Geimer is satisfied that she was made whole by the half a million dollars paid her in reparations.”
2.) “If you believe that the victim—Samantha Geimer—should not have a say about the disposition of the crime that was committed against her and only her—then please tell all the law-and-order types to shut their pieholes about how they care about victims’ rights. It just rings hollow.”
The sophisticated intellectuals with whom Schulman normally engages did not appreciate his common sense observations. Tom Paine might consider this common sense but try telling it to Glenn Beck! One of these geniuses summed up his view on Polanski with two simple words: Fry him!
This raises an interesting question. If those who want the death penalty in this case were given the magical power to deal with the Nazis who actually murdered Polanski’s mother how could they exact a punishment more severe than what they would do to the film director who didn’t murder anyone? Come to think of it, how could they punish Charles Manson and his Homicide Girls more than they would Polanski? Everyone remembers Polanski’s non-lethal crime, but does anyone still care about the grotesque Manson murders and what happened to Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate? There is no campaign against John Waters for trying to get one of the Manson girls out of prison.
William F. Buckley, Jr. once wrote that we must not misplace the discriminating faculty. Since his death, all distinctions are lost in the Totalitarian Age of the Internet. The lynch mob is God more than ever.
Roman Polanski is a creepy guy. He is not Public Enemy Number 1, but he disturbs Americans at a deep level. This was true even before his crime. Although largely forgotten now, many Americans thought he was behind the murder of his wife. They did not, of course, have a shred of evidence to support such an opinion, but public speculation only stopped when the cops found Manson. Crazy stuff!
The bravest thing Nastassia Kinski ever did was go on a late night television show in the USA and defend her relationship with Polanski when she was 15 years old or thereabouts. She was his main squeeze in Europe after he fled America. Her reward was that she eventually starred in TESS. The studio audience was unimpressed with Nastassia. The host smirked at her. After she left, the next guest came on and he made fun of her. That guest was John Candy. Guess who the host was? It was David Letterman. They all made fun of her and there wasn’t a right wing Republican in sight. (Did I mention the host was David Letterman? That name seems vaguely familiar. Letterman, Letterman. It will come to me.) Laws may change but attitudes don’t. Europeans and Americans will never agree about the age of consent. We should agree to disagree and move on.
Still, the problem remains: what to do about Polanski in the 21st Century?
America can always use money, especially now. The final solution (to coin a phrase) is that Roman Polanski needs to buy his way out of trouble one last time. He paid off the girl and he paid off Europe (for all the good it did him) and now he needs to pay off the United States Government and the State of California.
How about selling all his homes but a cheap flat and emptying all his bank accounts but one? That money could be used for victims of sexual abuse in America.
In return, Polanski could receive a promise (not a pardon) from every relevant government entity in this country that no further attempts will be made to extradite him back to the Land of the Free. Case closed. The exile would finally be official.
America needs money more than it needs symbolism. It is better for Polanski to pay off the USA (a matter entirely separate from Geimer) than to give all his money to sleazy lawyers. The time has come for realism instead of hysteria.
As the sun sets on decadent Europe we turn again to our own wholesome country. We notice David Letterman again, the All American Boy. His scandal comes as a relief after contemplating Polanski forcing himself on the precocious 13-year-old girl. Letterman would never make a mistake about age of consent. He is someone Americans understand, the boss fishing off the pier. The young women with whom he had trysts are probably so loyal as to cause great distress to the militant feminist lawyers who have a platonic ideal of the workplace. In other words, it looks like he got away with it.
If the blackmailer of David Letterman had ever produced his imaginary film the audience would be treated to lots of production values, vibrant colors and the film would be in English. Polanski made movies like that as well, but that’s not how he started in Europe. He made black and white films in mysterious foreign languages thus requiring English subtitles. What it comes down to is that Americans don’t like the kind of art house films that happen to be Polanski’s life.
In Polanski’s first feature, KNIFE IN THE WATER, the main character is at a crossroads trying to decide if he should go to the police over a crime he believes that he committed but that actually didn’t happen. The picture fades out before we know his decision. All the trouble in Polanski’s first film takes place on a sailboat. Water seems to be the Polish director’s nemesis. Whether it’s hot tubs or the Atlantic Ocean, he should avoid them and spend as much time as possible on dry land. Only time will tell if David Letterman is going for a swim.
Brad Linaweaver is the publisher of Mondo Cult. A best-selling, award-winning author,
he hung around Hollywood for over 15 years before he escaped.
Did you enjoy this article? Did you hate it? Join the discussion in the Mondo Cult Forum.