No, LA Times, it is not “Hollywood vs. Middle America” in the Polanski case. It is a self-protective and sometimes tone-deaf industry against the entire rest of the country.
But it is disappointing to see who is rushing to Polanski’s defense — and how they do it. Woody Allen? Uh, predictable. Harvey Weinstein, though, should perhaps consider putting a sock in it, because he sounds awfully foolish:
In an opinion piece in London’s the Independent, Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein, who is circulating the pro-Polanski petition, wrote: “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time. A deal was made with the judge, and the deal is not being honored. . . . This is the government of the United States not giving its word and recanting on a deal, and it is the government acting irresponsibly and criminally.”
In an interview, Weinstein said that people generally misunderstand what happened to Polanski at sentencing. He’s not convinced public opinion is running against the filmmaker and dismisses the categorization of Hollywood as amoral. “Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion,” Weinstein said. “We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.”
Hollywood has the best moral compass because actors sometimes do telethons?
I don’t buy into this “Hollywood is so amoral and out of touch” business, but I do think that, like a lot of industries, they’re fairly insular and tight-knit, and they protect their own. When power players like Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen throw their support behind Polanski, it’s awfully hard for the less-powerful to speak up. I’m sure there’s a fear that detractors won’t get work, or will be professionally shunned. So I understand why a lot of actors would stay silent. I don’t like it, but I get it.
What I don’t understand is why so many people are signing this petition. On the most basic level, it’s especially disappointing when the signatories are people whose work I like and respect. Pedro Almodovar. Wes Anderson. Natalie Portman. Kristin Scott Thomas. Darren Aronofsky. Diane von Furstenberg. Julian Schnabel. Martin Scorsese. Tilda Swinton. Gael Garcia Bernal (there goes my biggest crush). Penelope Cruz.
But they are, after all, just entertainers. It’s absolutely heartbreaking when the support comes from someone who should really know better — like the founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
“My personal thoughts are let the guy go,” said Peg Yorkin, founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “It’s bad a person was raped. But that was so many years ago. The guy has been through so much in his life. It’s crazy to arrest him now. Let it go. The government could spend its money on other things.”
Of course, there are some celebrities and well-known types who haven’t jumped on the Polanski bandwagon. Via Shakesville, that list is here. It includes Kevin Smith, Kirstie Alley, Jewel, Toure, and Eve Ensler. And Bo Zenga seems to be one of the only people talking sense:
Producer Bo Zenga (“Scary Movie,” “Soul Plane”), is one of the few executives taking a different view. “I don’t actually believe that people in Hollywood would put protecting their own above a 13-year-old girl who was raped,” he said.
“I think these people have honestly forgotten what this is really about. Everyone needs to go back and read the grand jury testimony to remember how vicious this rape was because right now everyone thinks we’re debating whether or not Polanski got a raw deal. It irritates me that people around the world think that all of Hollywood is saying that the rapist is the victim. Because I don’t feel that way, and neither do most of the people I talk with.”
Still, it would be nice of those other people would speak out.
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