Hollywood’s Reaction to Polanski’s Apprehension
The apprehension of Roman Polanski has created a Hollywood and media frenzy. As I am sure we are all aware, Polanski is the director who, 20 years ago, plead guilty raping a 13-year-old girl and then fled to a country with which the United States does not have an extradition agreement. As both an actress and a self-defense instructor who teaches women and girls how to lead safer lives, I have to say I am saddened on so many levels by the reaction of some Hollywood heavyweights to Polanski’s apprehension. More than 100 Hollywood figures, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Mike Nichols have signed a petition calling on the Swiss government to free Polanski, claiming we should all let bygones be bygones. It seems there is an attitude that, while Polanski’s crime was bad at the time, in retrospect it really is not such a big deal.
Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, has stated that she has moved on but I cannot help but wonder what the young girl, who has since grown into an adult, whom Polanski victimized is thinking and feeling. I cannot help but wonder if she feels she three times victimized. Once by Polanski, once by a system that allowed her attacker to live free for 20 years, and now finally by pop culture’s support of Polanski and the media frenzy that seems to never cease. I cannot help but wonder what she thought when she heard that Whoopi Goldberg, host of The View, did not believe that what happened to her was “rape rape.” Finally, I cannot help but wonder what it feels like to have a moment that could have the potential to bring her some sort of closure being trampled by an outcry of support for Polanski to the point that she asked for charges against Polanski to be dropped so she could stop reliving the details.
Polanski plead guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl and then fled the country. Worse, he has not even shown remorse. In a 1979 interview, Polanski told British journalist, Martin Amis, “If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But . . . [having sex], you see, and the young girls. Judges want to [have sex with] young girls. Juries want to [have sex with] young girls. Everyone wants to [have sex with] young girls!” I personally cannot see what about this man inspires anything but contempt, disgust, and regret. I definitely cannot see what about this man inspires support.
Now, while I am an actress, I am about as far from “Hollywood heavyweight status” as you can get. I work, in my humble opinion, in the single most fabulous regional market in all the land. Most people know it as Portland, Oregon. While this is in no way intended to be an indictment of all Hollywood actors and production professionals, I still feel grateful to look at this tightly knit Portland acting community and feel a stronger moral compass than I feel coming from Hollywood right now. It also makes me grateful for actresses like Gabrielle Union who speak out against violent crimes against women and lobby to support measures that aid victims and punish offenders.
I simply cannot agree that what happened to Polansnki’s 13-year-old victim is not “rape rape.” I also cannot agree with movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who is circulating the petition, that Polanski has “served his time.” I cannot connect in my mind how being free to live your life in France for 20 years equals paying for your crime. Finally, I cannot agree to let bygones be bygones. While the petition being circulated and signed saddens me, I still have hope. My hope is that Hollywood, who has come to the aid of victims of Katrina and 9/11, also comes to the aid of Geimer by stopping this nonsense and uses this incident as an opportunity to come to the aid of other victims of violent crimes and the organizations that support victims and punish offenders. Finally, I have hope that someday Geimer will be free to lead the life she so desperately wants, a life that does involve phone calls from reporters and reliving that tragic day. I have hope that the legal systems of the different countries involved will echo the sentiment Geimer conveyed in an interview with CBS years ago. “Justice is never too late.”