Thursday, October 8, 2009

I think I get it

I've been alternately avoiding and pondering the whole Polanski debacle for days now. As the list of celebrities who've signed the various petitions grows, I've become increasingly dismayed and confused. I mean, Woody Allen was a no-brainer. But Emma Thompson? Really? For some reason that's heart-breaking to me. And my (fairly predictable) response has been to avoid movies and TV altogether and lose myself in books and football games and playing with my kid. Because nobody has mastered the art of avoidance-of-depressing-stuff like me.

But my confusion and dismay has been largely resolved by this post by the inimitable Twistie Faster (I mean, Jill Psmith), who notes that in Hollywood, rape is nothing more than a plot device. And realizing that the Hollywood-types who have taken on the role of rape-apologists are so completely out of touch that they don't get that rape is not actually just a plot device in real life is sort of reassuring. Of course it still causes me to lose whatever respect I might have previously had for them. Of course it still makes me feel like boycotting movies in general for the foreseeable future. But it relieves my confusion. Rather than having to re-conceptualize all these celebs as horrible, malicious people, I can view them as clueless and out of touch. To them, the rape of a real-life 13 y/o was just a pivotal moment in the story of Polanski's life, and not actually a traumatizing, scarring event in the life of an actual flesh-and-blood vulnerable person in her formative years. Because when you're the secondary character in a plot device like this, you're not really a character at all, but just a sort of placeholder.

So, given that this is their General Understanding of Stuff (a technical philosophical term, y'all), they just become pathetic, ignorant people who are out of touch and potentially very dangerous. As such, they don't deserve a shred of respect or to earn a penny from this work that has so dangerously deluded them. But they aren't quite the monsters they had originally seemed to be. It's still frightening to think of the influence they have in our culture. And it's frightening to think of the danger a girl or young woman working in Hollywood is in, given the prevalence of this worldview there. But at least now I can make sense of their response and leave it behind.


  1. Anonymous10/09/2009

    Hmmm. They're still all assholes for signing, whether it's out of ignorance or not. But it is really fucking hard to boycott that many directors and actors at the same time. There's like 5 movies left that we can actually watch with a clear conscience.

  2. Meg'n10/09/2009

    Seeing Whoopi Goldberg and Emma Thompson jump on the bandwagon broke my heart too.

  3. HappyFeminist10/09/2009

    Did you see Janeane Garofalo on Real Time w Bill Maher? I liked the point she made about Hollywood not being a monolith. Although I can't say I've heard of any actors or directors speaking out against Polanski. But then she said all this stuff about him not being allowed to work in the US and how that was his punishment. So maybe this is the view of it that most people in Hollywood have, even though it's totally wrong, of course.

  4. Serendipity10/12/2009

    Maybe the Janeane Garofalo story shows how insular and out of touch Hollywood really is.

  5. If there was ever a clear-cut story of a guy doing a sick, evil act to a thirteen-year-old girl it is most certainly this Polanski thing. Makes me want to puke. Remember, this asshole was over forty years old at the time and stipulated to the facts. No question, no mystery. He did it. He admitted it. Period.

    Given the willingness of the general feminist community to literally lose their minds over things like the Duke and Hofstra false rape episodes, the lack of OVERRIDING negative response from the feminist community to the Hollywood justification of this bullshit is unbelievable. I think it speaks volumes to the politically correct environment in which you ladies play. How would you feel it if was your sister or daughter? I don't get you people. You want to do war with me over whatever, but when a clear cut, slam dunk deal comes up you rationalize it away. Unbelievable.

    These Hollywood people are 100% the monsters Rachel refers to. They have the power, authority and exposure to the market to do the right thing. Instead they take the amoral route. This is elitism at it's most depraved level. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

  6. JoanofArc10/12/2009

    Um, there has been a loud and clear response from the feminist community. Can you name any feminists who are defending Polanski? All the feminist editorials and blog posts I've read have strongly criticized the response from Hollywood and the media in general. I'm not sure what you're reading, Burn.

  7. Ms. Joan,

    I think we've seen the lack of effective response already. We're certainly seeing "softening" as noted by Rachel in the original post. I know some of you may feel that I am normally out of my mind, but on issues that are as clear cut as this, it's an easy call.

    Given the "progress" that feminism has generally made over the past three decades a person would think that you folks would be capable of mustering more outrage on this issue than we have seen. My frame of reference is as I have noted previously. Selective enforcement of feminist values isn't right or fair. You can't scream outrage for circumstances that are questionable on the facts and then walk away from slam dunks like this.

    I'm just saying that if you really have power take the hard positions that need to be taken, as a movement. There has rarely been an opportunity for your movement to take an action that will be universally be appreciated and lauded. Call Gloria. She has the money. Bet ya she doesn't want to play due to Hollywood politics.


  8. OK, but Gloria Steinam is hardly "the general feminist community." Did you mean "the-highly-visible-and-almost-always-singled-out-by-the-press-to-represent-all-of-feminism feminists"? In that case, I agree that there hasn't been enough public feminist outcry.