Yesterday the Academy kicked out Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski. I give them credit for Cosby alone.
40 years ago, Polanski was convicted of drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl, and after he was convicted but before sentencing, he fled the country so he could stay out of prison. And for all the years since, Hollywood has given him a complete pass on that: distributing his films, A-list actors starring in his films, and acclaim and accolades for his films. This is not a debate of whether or not he’s a good filmmaker, but these are films he should never have had the opportunity to make. For 40 years, Hollywood has been complicit in this man’s crime because they were happy to heap praise upon him and keep working with him even though he was—and remains—a fugitive from justice.
A few years back he was briefly arrested and detained by the US while traveling internationally, but that fell through for $ome bizarre rea$on. When this made the news a bunch of celebrities talked about it, with Whoopi Goldberg on The View saying she didn’t think it had exactly been “rape rape”. But it was, Whoopi. The girl said no. Never mind that she was 13, and that’s not okay because a 13-year-old can’t give true consent; never mind that she was under the influence of a lot of drugs and couldn’t give true consent; she said no.
Everyone knew this, except some like Whoopi who chose not to learn about the case before yapping about it on TV. Just like with Weinstein, they all knew. And the only reason they’re finally doing something about it now is because, with monsters like Weinstein coming to light, he’s become a political inconvenience. Plus, Cosby’s conviction gave them cover so they could do both at the same time.
And sure they can say, look at all he’s been through. His parents were murdered in the holocaust. His wife and unborn daughter were murdered by the Mansons, and how does anyone cope with that sort of grief? Isn’t it understandable that he’d go off the rails for years and years, and do something stupid he’d regret?
Well no, not to that degree. Getting lost in booze and drugs and orgies I could fathom, but you don’t invite children to those parties. And this wasn’t even the only incident. He’s been accused of other sexual assaults on minors, not just this one, that happened since then. But Hollywood is okay with that. Or they were, for basically my entire life, right up until yesterday.
These are the people who hector us all the time on whatever topic they wish, claiming to be our moral betters, while they come from a swamp more disgusting than anything you’d find in Washington, DC or Brussels. Their shielding of Polanski for 40 years goes so far beyond cowardice as to need a new word for it. Turning their backs on him now is not a point in their favor, but rather a long-overdue stanching of a wound that festered long ago. It’s good that they did it, but in a very relative sense, like how it’s “good” when a serial killer gets too old for it and hangs it up voluntarily without having faced justice. If they had any backbone whatsoever they would have cut Polanski loose during the Carter administration.
And that’s to say nothing of Woody Allen. Though to be fair, he hasn’t been convicted of anything yet.
The sad thing is, there are even worse monsters still among them. Weinstein was the tip of the iceberg, but we’ll never see the bottom of it. The #MeToo movement was useful in catching a few big fish, but it’s a mob mentality, and mobs have a sustainability problem: they burn out quickly, and they lose energy when they pull in inappropriate targets. Going after Louis C.K. was a dumb move, because from everything I ever read he never did anything without consent; and the Aziz Ansari hit piece was a textbook example of overreach. Weinstein? Lauer? Spacey? Sure, all worthy targets. But others remain. You know they do.
Allow me to don a tinfoil hat for a moment. If you were one of the 98% of sexual predators in Hollywood who hadn’t yet been caught up in the #MeToo maelstrom, what would you do? Trying to stop it would only call attention to yourself. Say nothing? Too much pressure to say something. So you could either speak up hypocritically and hope the fire missed you, or you could feed the flames. Because mobs rely on the indignation and attention span of the public, and people as a group can’t maintain outrage forever unless they’re personally involved.
Make no mistake, Hollywood is cleaning house by stuffing as much as possible into the closet and under the rug. They’re quick to dogpile on those who get caught now because it buys them time to cover up. Polanski was only a tricky case because he was caught 40 years ago and they not only helped him evade punishment but continued to treat him as an honored friend, so they had to find a convenient excuse to throw him under the bus while our attention was largely on something else.
I’m still glad to see him go. But it was a punk move doing it now, not back when I was in diapers.