Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Tallest of Trees for Polanski

Perhaps the saddest part of our cultural "evolution" is our collective obsession with celebrity. We can't - we won't - get away from it. Are there really over three million people who care what Ashton Kutcher tweets? Simply, unbelievable.

It's everywhere you turn, our obsession with celebrity. Years ago, it used to be only the checkout aisle of the grocery store and its tabloids - half of which featured alien babies and "jackalopes." Over time, the newstand sprouted US Weekly and all the other glossy trash, to whereas now a shopper has to deploy a search and rescue team just to find a Snickers bar at the checkout aisle. Our stupid obsession with celebrity even gave birth to the absolute shittiest channel in television history, the E! network, where even bad shows won't go to die.

Somehow, over the past two decades, celebrities have grown in stature to shape the very opinions we used to develop on our own. Did you know that 50% of women 18-55 won't do anything unless Oprah tells them to do/believe in it? Okay, I made that statistic up, but I bet it's pretty close. As for politics, since when does the beacon of intelligence shine from none other than Alec Baldwin or Susan Sarandon, or some other idiot best known for entertaining us in little 30-minute to 2-hour segments?

Thankfully, we my be experiencing just a bit of a turn - for the better - away from our celebrity fixation. On September 26, famed director Roman Polanski was arrested as he entered Switzerland, on his merry way to being honored at an awards ceremony. We tend to forget, as we snatch up Blu-Ray copies of Chinatown out of the bargain bin, that Polanski is a fugitive from justice, running from a 1977 felony conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

As news of Polanski's arrest spread virally through the world media; including, presumably, through Kutcher's 140-characters-a-tweet-literary-brilliance; several members of the close-knit Hollywood community offered vocal support for ol' Roman, including renowned celebutard, Woody Allen.

I know - ridiculous. After all, what does Woody Allen know about taking advantage of a young, impressionable girl who ... . Uh, never mind.

Defending Roman Polanski and his past actions? Some of us ordinary non-celebrities almost fell for it too. Luckily, the facts of the case have re-emerged after 32 years and one somewhat off-base documentary (2008's Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired) suggesting Polanski has already served his punishment (yes, in many respects, living in exile in France could be construed as punishment). For those living far removed from both tabloids and Twitter, let's review the legal facts of the case, to which Polanski has confessed:
  • Used the false pretense of a fashion magazine photo shoot to lure a 13-year old girl to a friend's house (the friend being Jack Nicholson, no less)
  • Provided several glasses of Champagne to set the mood
  • Took topless photos of the child
  • Provided a now drunk adolescent with a Quaalude
  • Forced himself on the teen (that's euphemistic phraseology for vaginally and anally raping her)

13 years old. Collectively, the above would be designated multiple felonies if the victim was 31. No matter where you're from, it's wrong.

Polanski wrote in his autobiography that he remains bewildered that "I should be sent to prison, my life and career ruined, for making love." Are you kidding me, Roman? Yes, you should be sent to prison. And, it wasn't love, you douche bag, it was a rape of a scared 13-year old girl by a then 43-year old sexual predator. As for your career, your Hollywood buddies, the very ones who gave you an in-absentia raucous standing ovation when The Pianist won you an Oscar in 2003 - well, they don't seem too terribly put off by your crimes.

Over the past ten days or so, public support for Polanski has, for the most part, waned. Celebutard indignation may sprout privately over egg white omelets and vegan sausages at The Beverly Hills Hotel, but thankfully the loud and noisy proclamations have been re-targeted at the old standbys - the war(s), the environment, the price of "bling," etc.

We still have a nice political tug-of-war in determining if Polanski, a French citizen, will be extradited by Switzerland to the Unitied States, where upon Polanski would land in a Los Angeles courtroom. One can only hope that it works out - for the justice system, that is, not for Polanski.

Maybe it's because I'm the father of a 14-year old girl, I don't know. But me, if I can't see "short eyes" Roman swing from the tallest redwood in California, I would like to at least see him do a little well deserved time in the joint. It doesn't have to San Quentin, Pelican Bay, or any of the other gladiator schools. Rather, LA County lock-up would be good enough, where I'm certain one of our societal standouts would show Ro a whole new enlightened meaning of justice and "love."

Now, of course, I could be wrong - that's just this guy's opinion.

Tweet me up @RayHartjen

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