Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What a Great Liberal

Gore Vidal is so sick of this whole "demonizing rapists" business:
In September, director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland for leaving the U.S. in 1978 before being sentenced to prison for raping a 13-year-old girl at Jack Nicholson's house in Hollywood. During the time of the original incident, you were working in the industry, and you and Polanski had a common friend in theater critic and producer Kenneth Tynan. So what's your take on Polanski, this many years later?

Vidal: I really don't give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?

What a despicable creature.



PG said...

Vidal could put in it in the guise of fighting anti-Semitism, so he could fool himself at least that he was being a great liberal: run over the woman in order to support the Holocaust victim.

PG said...

To clarify, now that I've clicked through and seen that your source only took a small part of the relevant material:

I’ve certainly never heard that take on the story before.

First, I was in the middle of all that. Back then, we all were. Everybody knew everybody else. There was a totally different story at the time that doesn’t resemble anything that we’re now being told.

What do you mean?

The media can’t get anything straight. Plus, there’s usually an anti-Semitic and anti-fag thing going on with the press – lots of crazy things. The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko – that’s what people were calling him – well, the story is totally different now from what it was then.

Hollywood once provided protection for some of its people. For example, Rock Hudson was heterosexual to the public until 1985, when he announced he had AIDS.

Studios protect big moneymakers. The movies with Rock Hudson and Doris Day were profitable. Each star was given the Sheriff’s telephone number to say, “Lay off.” The Sheriff wasn’t going to go fucking around with the talent. They were the income of Hollywood.

During the 1970s, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and producer Robert Evans were celebrated for lifestyles of sexual extravagance.

Well, they’re all virgins, every last one of them. I can testify to that. And the last one you mentioned, he’s a super virgin.

They’ve certainly never been criticized and condemned for their sexual excesses. But Polanski was condemned even before he pled guilty to raping a girl.

Well, believe it or not, anti-Semitism is very strong out here, even though this is a Jewish business. L.B. Mayer was the worst anti-Semite of all.

But he was Jewish.

Well, Mayer’s view was, “The public will turn on all of us if they know that one of us has done anything.”

You think anti-Semitism is motivating the prosecution of Polanski?

Anti-Semitism got poor Polanski. He was also a foreigner. He did not subscribe to American values in the least. To [his persecutors], that seemed vicious and unnatural.

What are “American values”?

Lying and cheating. There’s nothing better.

So you’re saying that a non-Jewish director wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught up in a sex crime scandal? Such a thing wouldn’t be an issue for Martin Scorsese?

Well, he’s an absolutely sexless director. Can you think of a sex scene that he ever shot?

Errol Flynn stood trial for raping underage girls in 1943, and was acquitted. Was he treated differently than Roman Polanski?

Everybody liked Errol Flynn.

Women threw their underwear at him.

Well, he was clean-limbed. You couldn’t find a single hair on those legs of his. So he’s another golden virgin.

David Schraub said...

I read the whole source too -- I don't the context helps that much. It blurs the water, but it doesn't absolve anything.

Anonymous said...

Vidal's satire hits the nail on the head. Although it is hyperbole to say that the victim is a hooker the conclusion of the probation report is that her testimony is not true. Yet thousands of lynch Polanski pundits act like Polanski has been convicted of the dropped charges. The victim wants this to go away perhaps because the reasons why the probation report rejected her testimony may become public. According to the LA Times the mother did not even attend the garnd jury hearing. Yet the mother filed the complaint . Something is clearly amiss here and the pundits may end up with egg all over the collective faces.

Anonymous said...

Isn't demonizing ("to turn into a demon or make demonlike") a bad rhetorical act that is fundamentally dishonest?

And for that matter haven't you previously blogged that it's bad to attach hyper-opprobrium to crimes like rape because it makes people assume it's really uncommon and the only rapists are creepy Kill Bill truckers or the victim somehow invites it.

All that said I don't know enough to have an opinion on Polanski or Vidal.

David Schraub said...

Polanski was convicted of non-dropped charges (unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, aka statutory rape). I have no problem with the idea behind statutory rape laws which suggest thirteen year old girls cannot consent to sex with grown adults. He jumped bail and became a fugitive from justice, and deserves punishment for it.

I'd also note that my post regarding the problem of restricting rape to something done only by stereotypical "bad people" (which you're misinterpreting -- my objection isn't to stigmatizing rape, it's to using that stigmatization to presume that only horrible psychopaths could possibly do it), isn't applicable to this post. My objection to Vidal isn't that he isn't calling Polanski a demon, it's that he is, in fact degrading and demonizing the victim of the assault here. At no point in my post did I ever say it was justifiable to slut-shame the victims of rape.

Anonymous said...

The Polanski case does seem to be much ado about nothing if the probation report got it right that the victim was "willing". The penalty imposed on Polanski which was no prison sentence was apparently quite typical for the 1970's. However it is also true that only a minute fraction of probably less than one percent of incidents resulted in even an arrest. The social attitude towards the infraction of the law was radically different in the 1970’s. First of all in California the victim was defined as female and the offender as male. Missing was any idea that the offense necessarily caused any psychological damage to the victim and the primary concerns were unwanted pregnancy and loss of virtue in sub cultures that valued that. Thus really prosecution depended on the victim stepping forward. One result is that Polanski appears to be the only celebrity convicted in the entire decade despite underage groupies and casting couch starlets. A sign of the times is that victim apparently had no intention of even reporting the incident and always considered the legal process she became involved in as far more oppressive than whatever transpired between her and Polanski.

Cara said...

One issue that rarely comes up in the Polanski debate is that there were drugs involved. (In the 70s? In Hollywood? Woah.) In any case, not only was the victim 13 and therefore unable to grant consent because of her age, but she was also under the influence of substances given to her by Mr. Polanski. Doubly unable to consent.

PG said...

'The Polanski case does seem to be much ado about nothing if the probation report got it right that the victim was "willing".'

'A sign of the times is that victim apparently had no intention of even reporting the incident and always considered the legal process she became involved in as far more oppressive than whatever transpired between her and Polanski.'

I love how Anonymous sees no connection between the first sentence and the second. The probation report labels the victim as a slut who had prior experience of sex and drugs, ergo she must have wanted to be drugged and sodomized by a man old enough to be her father. Gosh, why would a court process like that be traumatizing?