September 29, 2009

The Philosopher's Petition: "Apprehended like a common terrorist Saturday evening, September 26, as he came to receive a prize for his entire body of work, Roman Polanski now sleeps in prison."

Begins French Philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who is collecting the signatures of "writers and artists." I put "writers and artists" in quotes, because the list includes, presumably as "artists," at least one actor and one fashion designer. If "artists" is a comprehensive term, why aren't writers "artists"? But I delay. On with the rest of the petition:
He risks extradition to the United States for an episode that happened years ago...
And he fled! That's why time has passed. He's avoided the jurisdiction. It's not as if prosecutors let the case go stale.
...and whose principal plaintiff...
Plaintiff! You might talk like that in France, but here in America, that's the language of torts. And we are talking about crime.
... repeatedly and emphatically declares she has put it behind her and abandoned any wish for legal proceedings.
And how much money was she paid to settle the case? What were the terms of the settlement? Do you approve — as a general rule to be applied to all — of dropping criminal charges whenever the victim has been moved to closure?  It is the nature of criminal law that it is a crime against the people, and not merely a wrong against the victim. Do you argue against that, philosopher? Why? Give reasons! Your assertions are not enough — philosopher.
Seventy-six years old...
Yes, he's that old because he fled and because he was protected in other countries that apparently did not take rape so seriously, at least not when it was committed by a great artist.
... a survivor of Nazism and of Stalinist persecutions in Poland...
If a life of suffering excuses crimes, many, maybe most, of our criminals would escape prison. Wouldn't the Nazis themselves have cried about their own suffering in the years preceding their rise to power? Philosopher, do you approve — as a general rule to be applied to all — that those who have suffered earlier in their lives should not be punished for the serious, violent crimes that they commit? Explain, in abstract terms that meet the standards of the discipline of philosophy, why you think this is so.
Roman Polanski risks spending the rest of his life in jail for deeds which would be beyond the statute-of-limitations in Europe.
We have statutes of limitations here in America too. Do yours absolve fugitives? Philosopher, do you absolve fugitives who succeed in evading capture while a period of years passes? Would you do that for everyone? For Nazis? Explain your reasons in terms that meet the standards of the discipline of philosophy, so we can judge.
We ask the Swiss courts to free him immediately and not to turn this ingenious filmmaker into a martyr of a politico-legal imbroglio that is unworthy of two democracies like Switzerland and the United States. Good sense, as well as honor, require it.
Do you assert that an artist ought to receive special treatment? Would an ingenious Nazi deserve to live out his life in peace? What does the special treatment of artists have to do with democracy? Explain what ingeniousness, filmmaking, and democracy have to do with your proposed rule.

Bernard-Henri Lévy, you present yourself as a philosopher. I would like to honor philosophy. Back up your petition with a philosophical argument that we can understand and critique.

IN THE COMMENTS: Peter Hoh said:
So in Bernard-Henri Lévy's world, there are common terrorists. One must presume that some other terrorists are uncommon. Perhaps some are extraordinary. I wonder how one can tell the difference?
Surely, the 9/11 attacks were uncommon. In fact, they were ingenious.

Let's not forget what the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen said on September 17, 2001:
... Stockhausen...  called the attack on the World Trade Center ''the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.'' Extending the analogy, he spoke of human minds achieving ''something in one act'' that ''we couldn't even dream of in music,'' in which ''people practice like crazy for 10 years, totally fanatically, for a concert, and then die.'' Just imagine, he added: ''You have people who are so concentrated on one performance, and then 5,000 people are dispatched into eternity, in a single moment. I couldn't do that. In comparison with that, we're nothing as composers.''
So, Bernard-Henri Lévy, by your standard, we should leave Osama Bin Laden alone?

137 comments:

madawaskan said...

unworthy of two democracieslike Switzerland and the United States.

You forgot to ask him what his definition of democracy is.

Florida said...

This is one of the best posts on the controversy that I've read. Congratulations, Ann.

It reveals, for all to see, that for a certain segment of society, there is no philosophy that they would espouse for all.

They are all hypocrites of the first order - and seek for themselves and their brethren the right to rape innocent children with impunity for all time. But only for themselves. That is their philosophy.

If these folks are still wondering why the Holocaust occurred - they need look no further. If these folks are wondering why some people (Iran) would like to see another one soon ... they need look no further.

This is the reason.

Kevin said...

I'm starting to get the feeling that the battlelines in the Culture War in the West can be summed up in the question:

"Do you think Polanski should be prosecuted?"

madawaskan said...

He seems to be advocating for an-

artistocracy.

Richard Dolan said...

A silly, uninformed statement by B-H Levy, and the small handful of others who have signed. Anne notes that at least one fashion designer has signed as well. How fitting, since Free-The-Old-Rapist is rapidly turning into the fashionable pose du jour. As with fashion generally, it has nothing to do with facts or ideas, and everything to do with Making A Statement That Others Will Notice.

chickenlittle said...

Brava Althouse,

Brilliant!

I wonder what R. Crumb thinks about all this.

peter hoh said...

So in Bernard-Henri Lévy's world, there are common terrorists. One must presume that some other terrorists are uncommon. Perhaps some are extraordinary. I wonder how one can tell the difference?

dbp said...

His petition does serve a purpose of sorts: It is a handy list of famous people who lack either the inclination to think or the ability.

rhhardin said...

It is the nature of criminal law that it is a crime against the people, and not merely a wrong against the victim. Do you argue against that, philosopher? Why? Give reasons! Your assertions are not enough — philosopher.

The legal system can't justify itself; some nonlegal argument would be needed on each side.

As to crime against society, my argument for capital punishment for murder is that it honors the place accorded by society to the voice of the victim, a voice that is missing.

Which I mention because in this case, the voice of the victim is not missing, and in fact is in opposition.

A crime against the people doesn't enter into the argument in the former case; why the latter?

I think the correct counterargument here is that you can't flee the process, because our state takes all access to violence to itself by way of that process, in return for protecting you the perpetrator from revenge by others.

Which protection by us he's been taking advantage of without submitting himself to the process.

I think that's the philosophical argument for nabbing the guy.

madawaskan said...

So he's got that descriptor in there-"like a common terrorist"-[really they're common?] but here is what hes thinks in that arena-

Other critics of Lévy attack his support of the Mitterrand doctrine that allows Italian terrorists members of Brigate Rosse to live in France as free men and women despite the fact that the Italian courts have sentenced them to long imprisonment or Life sentence. Lévy argues that during the late 1970s and 1980s basic human rights were not respected in Italy.

And, toss this in for irony-

With the aid of real Washington political advisers, Italian conceptual artist, Francesco Vezzoli, created two commercials for competing US presidential campaigns, - pitting Sharon Stone against Bernard-Henri Lévy - in a project entitled Democrazy, shown at the 2007 Venice Biennal.

Christy said...

Have not women's groups worked hard to change the laws so that abusive spouses can be charged even if the battered wife refuses to bring charges? Hasn't the feminist movement felt they know best what is right for women who have been attacked? Consistency would demand progressive women overwhelmingly support bringing Polanski back to serve jail time.

I thought statutes of limitation were only for crimes for which one was not caught at the time?

madawaskan said...

Just a bit about the "Brigate Rosse" or Red Brigade in Italy at the time-

The Red Brigade was a Marxist Leninist group that kidnapped the former Christian Democrat Prime Minister Aldo Moro and murdered him 54 days later.

Richard said...

" ... do you absolve fugitives who succeed in evading capture while a period of years passes?"

Actually I think it should be incumbent on the authority issuing the citation to show due diligence in bringing an individual to justice. What efforts were made before now to bring him to the jurisdiction? Sit and your rights and you should lose them after some period of time.

Quayle said...

This is the ultimate end of group identity and party politics.

Our guy should always be pardoned.

Their guy should always be shot.

There is no law. There is only group and group power. All facts must bend for the group.

peter hoh said...

I can't wait for Camille Paglia to weigh in on this.

Sullivan hasn't said anything yet, either.

Paddy O. said...

We seem to be living in an era in which artists want to suffer only rhetorically.

Seems like real artists would embrace the truth of punishment, enduring it as part of their artistry.

Indeed, the aged artist who must pay for the crimes of a soiled and escaped middle age seems to be a story worthy of being told. It is a great artistic theme of "always running, but never escaping, finally meeting the punishment face on, as an artist, as a thinker, and finally as a man."

The cowardly artist seems to have found honor in our era, only a cowardly artistry can only produce, ultimately, cowardly art applauded by other cowards.

Even if it is good art on some levels, it is marred, ruined, by what better art could have been made, could still be made, by facing one's own life, mistakes and faults and miseries, straight on.

Punishing the man takes away nothing from the art that has been made, while it speaks much about the hope that in our era we will not put up with the injustice, the abuse, the wanton perversion that used to be ignored. We will not put up with crimes of the powerful against the weak anymore, whether they be one people against another or one man against a girl.

We must bring justice even to a man who has endured his own injustice. The victims can not become victimizers, otherwise the cycle never ends.

We say with all the victims, never again. And we must keep saying it, even if the perpetrator has made art.

rhhardin said...

because he was protected in other countries that apparently did not take rape so seriously,

That's surely political and so not a great argument.

It's either the law or it isn't and the argument would have to work in either case.

Darcy said...

Thank you, Althouse. I agree that this was brilliant.

Kensington said...

Wow, that list of signatories is like a Who's Who of who not to Support in the future.

rhhardin said...

Philosophers petitioning is a little like basketball players fighting, geterally amusing to watch.

Angry letter from Quine and other philosophers decrying the awarding of an honorary degree to Derrida, here.

Derrida printed it in his own book.

Kensington said...

"I wonder what R. Crumb thinks about all this."

Well, if the documentary on Crumb depicted him fairly, I'd imagine he'd snicker over Polanski's actions and then draw some thirteen year olds with really thick legs.

blake said...

Which enrages Althouse more? The crime, or the sloppy reasoning that seeks to absolve it?

Balfegor said...

... Stockhausen... called the attack on the World Trade Center ''the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.'' Extending the analogy, he spoke of human minds achieving ''something in one act'' that ''we couldn't even dream of in music,'' in which ''people practice like crazy for 10 years, totally fanatically, for a concert, and then die.'' Just imagine, he added: ''You have people who are so concentrated on one performance, and then 5,000 people are dispatched into eternity, in a single moment. I couldn't do that. In comparison with that, we're nothing as composers.''

Somehow, you know, this just works when you read it the Dr. Strangelove voice.

traditionalguy said...

The default mode of thinking in Europe sees crimes as commited against a King, not as against the People, since they see government as a Kingdom with a Parlement elected to restrain taxes and wars. To a European mind the only crime is violating the King's Peace. In the USA we believe that power comes from people and that the laws enacted by the people's representatives must be obeyed by all people. Kings have always had the Equity tradition of the King's Conscience permiting the King to act over the law and grant pardons and clemency in special cases. The history of Kings in Europe comes along with a common acceptance of the Papal authority that comes from the King of Kings being used to create a Pax Romana across Europe. Get used to this, because the UN is taking on that role of the Pope over a World System of Nations ASAP. Somebody alert Sarah Palin.

Balfegor said...

Kings have always had the Equity tradition of the King's Conscience permiting the King to act over the law and grant pardons and clemency in special cases.

Yes, why, almost like an American President or Governor!

madawaskan said...

This from Bernard less than a year ago-

Bernard-Henri Levy: Of course, in saying this I mean an extreme form of tolerance, one that prompts us to accept the notion that all opinions, absolutely all, without any distinction or limits, deserve our respect. Where does that leave the opinion of the racist, the fascist, the rapist or that of anyone who, in the name of some ideology or other, calls for mass murder or the assassination of those who offend them?

In the minds of the fanatics of tolerance all these opinions deserve respect; and in their eyes the fanatics themselves expect to be treated equally and with dignity.

Methadras said...

Oh, the maudlin pathos of it all. LEAVE POLANSKI ALONE!!! LEAVE HIM ALONE!!! I MEAN IT!!!

*that never gets old. :D

Paddy O. said...

Oh yeah, and let me add to the applause.

Very nice, Althouse.

I've noticed that the writers and artists, and bloggers, I value most have an ability both to say something brilliantly while at the same time moving my thinking in new, sometimes only loosely related, direction. Thus, inspiring me to write, or say, something more than what was in me before. Which is why I have lingered in Althousia. The hostess and those who gather so often evoke more thought, more musing.

Thanks, again.

Levy, it seems, offends you but maybe in this he evokes the heightened artistry of your own musings. In that he finds his best contribution.

And maybe so too Polanski, in being prosecuted, inspires artists and writers and philosophers to rise beyond passivity, to respond. Maybe. Though, I think their truthiness to selective powers is a reminder we're not exactly living in the pinnacle of art and culture.

edutcher said...

Except for the shot at Miss Sarah, well said, tg.

madawaskan said...

He seems to be advocating for an- artistocracy.

You noticed.

And, though not a Truman fan, dare I say, "Give 'em Hell, Annie". You nail it - this is a crime, not a difference of opinion and, yes, he should be made to pay as an example.

madawaskan said...

Levy seems to have watered downed definitions of much, I wonder if he believes in anything bigger than himself-or his special class.

That could be unfair but on first glance this looks to be.

One thing that the French culture and the Hollywood Elites might have in common is an obsessive relationship with the superficial, with fashion, with looks, with youth.

The last a constant dread and fleeting feeling which when you believe in nothing bigger or grander than yourself could be the ultimate depressant.

You end up hating youth possibly.

The details are important because they make it more an act of hate, of violence.

miller said...

I guess for me it's the creepy feeling that the educated elite really don't think the law should be applied fairly. All this talk about justice & the rights of man - it all goes by the wayside when it's someone famous.

That's not the rule of law. That's the government by glitterati.

Eric said...

I thought statutes of limitation were only for crimes for which one was not caught at the time?

I believe the clock stops as soon as the prosecutor files, at least in California, so the "it's been a long time... let it go" argument is more political than legal.

Quayle said...

You end up hating youth possibly.

It seems to me that you end up lusting for youth, and for innocence.

Having sex with a gorgeous adult woman becomes passé.

Having sex with dozens of gorgeous women and men, at the same time, becomes blasé.

What follows is a restless, conflicted worm inside that desires innocence, yet wants to mock and destroy innocence.

Methadras said...

This crime occurred in America. Polanski ran like the little bitch that he is. His victim, now an adult, for whatever reason has seen fit to absolve him of that crime because, for whatever reason (well, there are really multitudes), no longer wants to pursue sanction against Polanski.

Unfortunately, he's committed a felony sexual assault and to not prosecute him because he is simply not in the jurisdiction for said prosecution and/or simply because his victim no longer wishes to go forward is no excuse to have the law drop dead at the foot of Polanski. Otherwise he will be getting away with raping the law as well.

chuck b. said...

Anglo-Saxon philosopher A.C. Grayling has a clearer, but much less bloggy, view of things, here.

Methadras said...

madawaskan said...

You end up hating youth possibly.

The details are important because they make it more an act of hate, of violence.


No, you end up wanting to be the first to foul and corrupt it with your taint. Pedo's always want to be the first to inflict their brand of evil on the most vulnerable of our society, our children. A guy like Polanski wallows in the credit that we was there first. He got there first. He imprinted his taint on her. He had a window of opportunity to be first and he took it. Aside from the gut-wrenching hell-spawned desire of how this evil harbors itself into these sub-human filthy animals, they walk around basking in the knowledge that they got there first.

traditionalguy said...

Balfegor...Yes, we allow our Governors those pardon amd clemency powers, but then we make them afraid to use them. In 1915the National Guard in Georgia had to save Governor Slaton from a lynch mob coming to his home to hang him, like their group did hang the convicted man, for Slaton's granting that man clemency from a death sentence to Life in Prison in a case involving the rape of a 13 year old girl by a Jewish man who was seen by many as a wealthy foreigner from New York City. The Leo Frank case is well described for attorneys in a fine book called "And the Dead Shall Rise". It sure impressed my grandmother who was 20 years old when the lynch mob marched passed her house on Peachtree Street that night with torches on the way to lynch the Governor. But Governor Slaton was a man of courage who did the right thing, although he lost his next election. Leo Frank was clearly not the killer, but the KKK politicians from Cobb County where the dead girl was from had a strong anti-semitic strain that was deadlier than their pro-segregation policies. That intense anti-jewish hatred continues today in the Skinheads all over the country, but thankfully not in Atlanta where Jewish people are highly honored for their intelligence and honesty, such as the Falcons' owner Arthur Blank.

MikeDC said...

You guys are such Puritans. Forcible sodomy is the lifeblood of the arts. Lock people up, or kill them, for trivial offenses like raping 13 year old girls? Even the Taliban know there's nothing wrong with that!

But the real crime here would be to have missed out on quality feature length presentations like The Ninth Gate and Frantic. I mean, the sophisticated mind boggles.

madawaskan said...

Methadras-

You are definitely correct in the individual perp's case, but why is there a higher tolerance/empathy for this in Hollywood, New York, and in the salons of Europe?

Most likely it is a rotten and decayed upset of what is "valued" in those environs.

mtrobertsattorney said...

I will rise to the defense of the philosopher:


The highest function of human beings is authentic creativity.  The only humans that can achieve authentic creativiety are artists.  Unfortunately, ethical principles and legal rules often interefere the creative process of of creative artists.  Therefore,an intelligent person will realize that these principles and rules should apply only to the uncreative masses.  The creative among us should be exempt from these burdensome restrictions.


I don't agree with this argument, but I think it that it is a fair representation of postmodern philosophical thought.


Plato and Aristotle? Who the hell are they?

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Father Martin Fox said...

When folks in this country see Europe as decadent...this is the sort of thing that makes us think that.

Yes, and Hollywood too.

Skeptical said...

This doesn't offend me as an American. It offends me as a philosopher.

Okay, it also offends me as an American.

Pogo said...

History is here repeating as farce.

In 1964, Lenny Bruce's act was in Greenwich Village, and undercover police detectives in the audience arrested him for the use of obscenities.

From Wilipedia: "A three-judge panel presided over his widely-publicized six-month trial, with Bruce and club owner Howard Solomon being found guilty of obscenity on November 4, 1964. The conviction was announced despite positive testimony and petitions of support from Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Jules Feiffer, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, William Styron, and James Baldwin, among other artists, writers and educators, as well as Manhattan journalist and television personality Dorothy Kilgallen and sociologist Herbert Gans."

And now, 45 years later, the 'arts community' gathers in support of pederasty.

In a similar vein, the next Woodstock will be a 3-day Viagra commercial, with The Rolling Stones, near 70s, singing Satisfaction for, God willing, the last time..

Michael Ryan said...

It makes me want to go artistic all over Europe's ass. Maybe about 150 megaton worth.

Quayle said...

mtrobertsattorney has nailed it.

A momentary, local creative act is celebrated, and the resources and people that are consumed and destroyed in the process are nothing.

Revenant said...

Could someone explain something to me? My question is this:

Why is Polanski considered such a genius as a director?

I mean, seriously. He made "Chinatown", which is admittedly a great movie and pretty much the best thing Jack Nicholson has ever done. But the rest of his filmography is largely a bunch of B-movie crap. What am I missing? He looks a hell of a lot like a one-hit wonder to me.

Florida said...

Balfegor said... "Yes, why, almost like an American President or Governor!"

You know, the difference between us and you Balfegor is that we're not afraid to kill our government.

Our country started that way - and it's a fine tradition that continues to this day. We killed every redcoat we could find. At the time, they were our fellow British subjects. We killed the Governors, and eventually (virtually) the King.

We kill our own governors too. Huey Long died from an assassin's bullet. George Wallace was almost got.

Angry with how Lincoln governed, Boothe did the deed crying Sic Semper Tyrannis!

Actor's used to take action ... not sign mealy petitions whining when they couldn't get their way.

More recently, Tim McVeigh unleashed hell on a government run by Bill Clinton for murdering a peaceful religious sect in a firey blaze.

Our leaders know we're armed to the teeth and ready to take them out the moment they forget who the boss is.

Florida said...

"Why is Polanski considered such a genius as a director?"

Lineage.

Joan said...

Ann's posts on this topic have been splendid, but this is the best of them so far.

I was listening to Michael Medved this afternoon as he put forth the idea that the resources of the State of California could be put to better use than to extradite Polanski and bring him back for sentencing. The word he used was "prosecute", but it's my understanding that Polanski doesn't need to be prosecuted, he already confessed, and he skipped before sentencing. Regardless, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Medved then -- even more incredibly -- split hairs over what had actually happened. Polanski plead down to "sex with a minor", and so did not "admit" to rape, but it seems clear from the testimony that's what happened. Medved also thinks it's not worth going after Polanski because he presents zero risk of being a repeat offender.

For a guy who writes about movies and Hollywood quite a bit, Medved can be quite dense. He seems perfectly OK with the idea that Polanski was able to buy himself out of his sentence. So much for the rule of law.

Revenant: Tess of the D'Urbervilles made a big impression on me when I saw it college. I had just read the novel and IIRC, it was remarkably faithful, and similarly depressing. I have no idea if it is in fact any good at all. At that point I liked just about everything. Regarding that film, though -- Polanski slept with it's star Nastasia Kinski when she was just 15.

Steven said...

The architect of the Holocaust that Polanski survived was an artist. One thoroughly steeped in the idea, common among late-19th and early-20th Century European philosophers, that great artists were beyond morality. Not that their art justified whatever crimes they committed, but that their art made them a higher order of being, whom common men (like those who make up a democracies like Switzerland or the United States) were not fit to judge at all.

The French, for all their early failings in recognizing the artist's genius, at the last finally collaborated with him. Unfortunately, the cretinous British, Americans, and Russians refused to accept this philosophical doctrine of artistic immunity to judgment, and destroyed the artist.

And just think, if they had accepted it, and let the artist act freely, Mr. Polanski would never have had the opportunity to drug a thirteen-year-old and triply rape her.

Cedarford said...

Europe is in a philosophical place that makes opposition to the US extradition warrant inevitable.

1. They see flagrant judicial misconduct directed at a prominent European, who jumped bail and fled "injustice". They know that in America, they almost never try to extradite someone who jumped bond and fled to another country on minor crimes or even within the States on major crimes, provided many years have passed and the person has led a long, law-abiding life since then.

2. Europe has grown resentful of American bullying, and see this as another instance of the US pounding one European country on several counts, this time Switzerland. That is the Swiss citizen take, too, that the Swiss should stop being so obsequious to America's demands.

3. Europe has an age of consent from 13 to 15. They consider America having ridiculous statutory rape laws almost never enforced in America, that have ridiculously high penalties on a par with actual rape.
They believe, philosophically, that law that is enforced so capriciously in America with choices on who to prosecute left to pure whim and local politics - malicious.

4. They know America has given shelter and refugee status to many figures who committed major crimes abroad. Death squad members. Ahmed Chalabi. They sheltered a Cuban Exile terrorist who blew up a Cuban airliner with a bomb for over 35 years - lest they enrage the Exile Community and lose votes in a Swing State.

5. Most importantly, they note the girl he bedded didn't want him prosecuted then, doesn't want him prosecuted now..and see America's odd "plea bargain" system as a way to avoid an investigating magistrate determining actual crime and recommended sentence. They veiw, somewhat correctly, the plea bargain as a contract. Confess to a crime in return for a deal. Well, if the judge works to destroy the deal, contracts broken, in Euro minds...so the confession of guilt should be nullified as well.
That is how it works in US torts..admissions and agreements to do things based on admitted fault or cash in lieu of admission of fault that form a Settlement is all thrown out if the Settlement is voided by a Party. You admit you polluted a river to get a 50K fine, and the judge tries to fine you 150K in reviewing the Settlement...he can't claim that fault is now established but the fine isn't. The admission of fault is also "reset".

******I agree that Polanski's artistic accomplishments should be besides the point, but those who know him best, who are in the artistic community...are making their appeals because they think Polanski is a good guy.*****

John Lynch said...

Anyone ever going to mention Woody Allen? Compare and contrast?

Christopher said...

Revenant wrote:

"Why is Polanski considered such a genius as a director?"

Mostly because of Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown which are generally acknowledged as classics today. I'm not sure if The Pianist will stand the test of time or not, but it's at least a very good film.

Few filmmakers have one classic film in them, let alone two (maybe three) classic films and a bunch of really good films (Repulsion, Frantic, Tess, and The Fearless Vampire Killers).

Polanski's genius is that at a time when most filmmakers on both sides of the Atlantic were asserting that they were above genre and that their goal was to subvert film's outmoded traditions, he deliberately and self-consciously worked within the confines of genre to strengthen those traditions.

Chinatown is a solid traditional noir piece updated with a Watergate-era sensibility. Rosemary's Baby is a solid traditional claustrophobic psychological thriller updated with a late-1960's occult sensibility.

Both are pure genre films, as are most of his lesser films -- even his bad ones. Frantic is an attempt to bring the traditional genre of the "mistaken identity" spy thriller into 80's, replacing the gangsters and communists of earlier eras with terrorists and international smugglers. Repulsion is a traditional psychological thriller placed within the context of an era when feminism and seemingly motiveless crimes were on the rise. The Fearless Vampire Killers was an attempt to give the genre of European horror (in the tradition of Hammer Studios and pre-giallo Italy) a satirical and irreverant 1960's edge.

The fact that he was intelligent and aware enough to do that, and the fact that his style produced two classic films and several good ones is why he's considered a genius.

Well that and, as a director, he was capable of getting excellent performances out of actors, especially his leads.

Christopher said...

For what it's worth, I think that the reason that so many artists and intellectuals are coming out in his defense is because they seem themselves as an elite aristocratic class that is always under attack by reactionary know-nothings. They see Polanski as one of their own and they're circling the wagons, nothing more, nothing less.

lucid said...

Can evil be dissolved in art?

Of course not. I think what we feel is simply the contradiction of having entered via sympathy to the artist's world and then finding there the face of a monster. We want to deny one or the other. Same as with Michael Jackson.

Jim said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onzGJXTBt1A

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Dude: F%*(in' Quintana... that creep can roll, man.
Walter Sobchak: Yeah, but he's a pervert, Dude.
The Dude: Yeah.
Walter Sobchak: No, he's a sex offender. With a record. He served 6 months in Chino for exposing himself to an eight year old.
The Dude: Oh!
Walter Sobchak: When he moved to Hollywood he had to go door to door to tell everyone he was a pederast.
Donny: What's a... pederast, Walter?
Walter Sobchak: Shut the f*%& up, Donny.

Brian O'Connell said...

Let me join the chorus: great post, Ann!

It's interesting that this controversy isn't skewing left/right but rather elite/non-elite. Our betters in Paris and Hollywood are going nuts over this, and the usual suspects in the media who support them (or kiss their asses) are trying their best to back that up. There are pro-Polanski pieces on HuffPo and in the Guardian, but very few of the commenters at either site are having it. Their reaction tends toward repulsion actually. I find this quite reassuring.

The fact that Christian, conservative Michael Medved is taking Polanski's side- that's just shocking.

News says some French person wrote Hilary Clinton about a pardon. I'm sure Obama's instincts are to pardon- there are few more elite than he- but he's not going to waste any of his diminishing political capital on this. Unless he makes a serious error in judgment and thinks that pardoning RP will earn him praise. Nah, too ridiculous, even for him.

It's Schwarzenegger who's RP's best bet. It would improve his legacy among the Hollywood set. (IANAL)

And by the way, Frantic was not a good movie.

Fred4Pres said...

Geragos says Roman will win.

Meanwhile a Boston man gets 18 months for stealing a hot dog.

And Jewel proves she is a real jewel.

bagoh20 said...

Art is often a celebration and immersion in honor, bravery, compassion and character as well as the depravity of those things absent, yet many artists themselves often find the good out of reach in themselves. They then easily accept their lacking as though they themselves are merely a character in the art. Unfortunately they must see their victims as nothing more than pieces of craft as well.

It reminds me of the earlier post of the writer threatening the bravado of physical violence when all know he would shrink at the opportunity should it become real. Many artists, for me, are the last people I would depend on for anything important other than art. They trust that it absolves all. For us less gifted it does not.

Fred4Pres said...

The fact that Christian, conservative Michael Medved is taking Polanski's side- that's just shocking.

Medved is a conservative Jew. Not a Christian.

Medved said, because I happened to hear his show today, that he thought the California DA should cut a deal with Polanski, agree to serve some sort of time, and this matter is over. I do not necessarily disagree. Putting Polanski in jail for life now is not really an option and likely never going to happen. What the Swiss want, what is probably in the best interest of California, and what the California DA want is to save face. The best way to do that is cut a deal with Polanski. Let him serve some agreed sentance and be done. Since Wesley Snipe got three years, how about three years?

Polanski is guilt of the crime. He fled the jurisdiction. He is no victim here, but extraditing him from Europe is going to be difficult.

Aloysius said...

The degree to which someone defends a pervert is the degree of their depravity.

Do you suppose they woulkd have been saying this if instead of Roman Polanski it had been Roman Catholic Priest.

Synova said...

http://minx.cc/?post=292988


What Crimes May Celebrites Commit, Based on Their Artistic Contributions?

Appended: a list.

MadisonMan said...

Do you think Polanski should be prosecuted?

No. He's already pled guilty. Why prosecute him?

This is a great dissection, althouse. It, and the piece in salon that peter linked to the other day, should be required reading by apologists in Hollywood.

bagoh20 said...

rhhardin said:
"As to crime against society, my argument for capital punishment for murder is that it honors the place accorded by society to the voice of the victim, a voice that is missing."


While, I agree entirely with the rest of your comment, I think this part is insufficient. Capital punishment is appropriate because it is the only way to honor the level of loss which is complete, irreplaceable and unreconcilable for both the victim and the immediate society from which he is taken.

In the movie "Unforgiven" the Clint Eastwood character William Munny says: "When you kill a man you take away everything he has and everything he's ever gonna."

Everything is indeed everything.

My brother was murdered by a gunman out on parole and died in my mother's arms on the street. After serving 17 years the unrepentant murderer was released. We were all diminished again by that news.

A few months after release, the murderer died of natural causes. When I told my mother we both cried uncontrollably with joy and finally felt the most uncommon relief. I can't explain any of those emotions except as a need for justice.

Murder is a crime of totality and requires total justice. That's my reasoning, even if tangential to the topic. Sorry.

Jon Sandor said...

This is the ultimate end of group identity and party politics.


Our guy should always be pardoned.


Their guy should always be shot.



The strange thing is that Polanski is not one one of anybodys "guys", as far as I can tell. It's a mystery to me why assorted left-wing blogs and blog commenters are jumping to ths mans defense. It's not as if he's a senior Democratic politician.

former law student said...

As a philosopher the Emperor BHL is buck-naked.

Professor A: Eagles don't hunt flies. Just because he's a French thinker doesn't make him important.

dclemens said...

Serious question--Ann's piece is excellent as are many comments. There is much reference to Nazis and the Holocaust. Abstracting from the instant case, what would discourse be like without the Nazis as a kind of benchmark or reference point? Did the Nazis achieve some sort of perfect evil to which all other evil can be compared, with which all other evil can be measured? If one could not speak of Nazis, what would we use as a reference point?

Tom Perkins said...

1. They see flagrant judicial misconduct directed at a prominent European, who jumped bail and fled "injustice".

Are you claiming that is what they imagine is going on, or you claiming it is what is going on?

2. Europe has grown resentful of American bullying, and see this as another instance of the US pounding one European country on several counts, this time Switzerland.

Child rape should be excused on account of their delusion?

3. Europe has an age of consent from 13 to 15.

He didn't do the rape in Europe, did he?

4. They know America has given shelter and refugee status to many figures who committed major crimes abroad. Death squad members. Ahmed Chalabi. They sheltered a Cuban Exile terrorist who blew up a Cuban airliner with a bomb for over 35 years - lest they enrage the Exile Community and lose votes in a Swing State.

That's your opinion. None of it is demonstrated fact. You probably think the School of the Americas is a torture college.

5. Most importantly, they note the girl he bedded didn't want him prosecuted then, doesn't want him prosecuted now..and see America's odd "plea bargain" system as a way to avoid an investigating magistrate determining actual crime and recommended sentence.

What matter is that? The injury done to the victim is not the only one to repair. To the extent a plea bargain is a contract, it's with the prosecutor, not the judge. The prosecutor is free to resign and the judge can assign the state new counsel.

but those who know him best, who are in the artistic community...are making their appeals because they think Polanski is a good guy.

And they are self evidently abjectly wrong.

former law student said...

bagoh2o: I'm very sorry to hear about your brother.

I would argue that even capital punishment is inadequate. Simple restitution is never enough punishment for property crimes -- a term in prison must accompany it. Yet capital punishment is merely restitution -- a life for a life -- and yet not even restitution because it cannot restore your loved one.

chickenlittle said...

Anyone ever going to mention Woody Allen? Compare and contrast?

Link.

richard mcenroe said...

Read Clive James' Cultural Amnesia. Our innelekshul yurpeen betters have a habit of coming up short in the crunch.

Or if you want something shorter...

Revenant said...

Mostly because of Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown which are generally acknowledged as classics today.

Rosemary's Baby is considered a classic? Seriously? I'd always thought of it as the horror equivalent of Soylent Green -- influential, yes. Inspired many cliches, yes. But pretty cheesy and dated, and not really all that good. But you could be right, IMDB rates it very highly.

But jeez, 35 years since his last major film? I can't help but think that if he hadn't had that "sexual fugitive" vibe going for him this last thirty years Hollywood would have forgotten the man ever existed.

bagoh20 said...

traditionalguy said: "Get used to this, because the UN is taking on that role of the Pope over a World System of Nations ASAP."

Then we will have to relish our role as the Great Satan. "Satan Exceptionalism" has a ring to it.

Jeff said...

The philosophy of Michael Caine's character in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels:

"To cheat is French, but to be caught, that is American."

Polanski got caught. Let him suffer American consequences.

Revenant said...

Anyone ever going to mention Woody Allen? Compare and contrast?

Is there much of a comparison? Soon-Yi was an adult, the relationship was and is consensual, and they've been married for 12 years. Not much of a parallel to getting a 13-year-old drunk and then raping her, it seems to me.

Allen is obviously a horrible *father*, but I don't see the criminality in what he did.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Geragos says Roman will win.

He's lost pretty much every major (as in "in the public eye") case, hasn't he? From the Peterson murder to the Winona shoplifting.

bagoh20 said...

"Did the Nazis achieve some sort of perfect evil to which all other evil can be compared, with which all other evil can be measured? If one could not speak of Nazis, what would we use as a reference point?"

I've often wondered that as well. They do just fit so many arguments though. Partly because despite their incredible evil, they were successful, even admirable in many ways. Imagine what a world power they would have been if that energy, intelligence and resources were put to peaceful use instead.

They were so totally destroyed as a people by there own depravity and their enemies that there was no chance of that afterward.

If they never existed, maybe communism would get it just deserts as the great evil it truly has been, but has rarely been given the honor. This is mostly due to the Nazis seen as right and the reds as left.

Steven said...

Did the Nazis achieve some sort of perfect evil to which all other evil can be compared, with which all other evil can be measured? If one could not speak of Nazis, what would we use as a reference point?

In the case of my comment, it would be difficult to find a substitute reference point. Because I'm not using the Nazis as a case of pure evil.

I'm using a case where a specific person committed great crimes in part because he had internalized a specific idea spread by modern philosophers of the artistic genius. I'm comparing it to the current case of a philosopher asking that an "ingenious filmmaker" go unpunished for his crimes. It only works with both philosophers and artists involved.

Other cases of similar evil don't have that link. I wouldn't have had come up with my comment if a Mussolini-like fascist had led Germany into the Second World War, and Polanski had been "a survivor of fascist aggression and Stalinist persecutions in Poland".

jcr said...

He wasn't apprehended like a terrorist, he was apprehended like a fugitive on a child molestation charge for which he had pled guilty.

If he were apprehended like a terrorist, he would be bleeding from multiple injuries.

-jcr

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

fls said: "Yet capital punishment is merely restitution -- a life for a life -- and yet not even restitution because it cannot restore your loved one."

My point was that restitution is impossible as your comment says. Even if the perpetrator is some how unconscious and unable to know his fate or even prefers it, I still think capital punishment gets as close to justice as is possible and therefore is called for. This does not mean I would be in favor of executing a severely mentally handicapped killer. That "murder" would be virtually accidental to me. It would only need to be prevented in the future.

This need for capital punishment for murder is part reason and part instinct for me. It seems a part of my make up internally and also I think for most people, even those who have mentally masturbated their way out of it. I don't mean that as an insult, I'm just not very literate.

Chris said...

I think of 'elitists' as the uncool, bossy types that tried (unsuccessfully) to rule Elementary school. Now they are all grown up and are the Communists that want to rule us all. What kind of toilet paper are we allowed to use? What temperature is our thermostat allowed to be at? What kind of cars are we allowed to drive?

John Clifford said...

@peter ho, what could Andrew Sullivan possibly say without looking like a hypocrite of the first order? (Yes, he IS a hypocrite of the first order, but looks are everything to the pseudointelligentsia.) If Sullivan argues in favor of Polanski's prosecution/extradition, how can he defend his own evasion of prosecution on drug charges? If he argues in support of Polanski, then how can he defend supporting a self-admitted, convicted child rapist?

Yep, this is a litmus test for intellectual honesty, and a large number of our so-called intellectuals are failing the test.

Hypocrasy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

wv: horspilm - incredible affront to propriety, e.g., "What a bunch of horspilm!"

Chris said...

Drug possession charges are 'progressive' charges not envisioned by our founding fathers. Don't step on me!

Belial said...

Ann, your tone in this post could not have been better.

Explain your position, Philosopher.

A year or so ago when Left in Dark Times came out I went to hear BHL speak. It was a Q&A format with Arianna Huffington, which should have tipped me off I suppose. A greater poseur I have never seen. A vain, smirking gasbag, with not an original thought in an hour and a half of talking but plenty of cheap potshots.

William said...

Rosemary's Baby when it first came out had the slam impact of Psycho. In Psycho, the major star of the movie is murdered almost at the beginning. This upset all audience expectations and made the rest of the movie a very jittery experience. In Rosemary's Baby, Satan won. This is the first time this had ever happened. You left the theater feeling scared and disturbed. We were living in a time of assasinations, war, riots, rising crime. There was a vague, inchoate feeling our age belonged to Satan, and Polanski's film dramatized that moment. Later when his wife was murdered so brutally, Polanski seemed to be not the observer but the plaything of the dark forces that he dramatized.....Then he ratcheted it up. He was not the dramatist nor the object of evil; he became an agent of evil. The rape, flight, and subsequent successful career give one the same uneasy feeling one had at the end of Rosemary's Baby: Satan had won. It is necessary for Polanski to pay for his sins in order to restore moral balance to our world.

Steven said...

They sheltered a Cuban Exile terrorist who blew up a Cuban airliner with a bomb for over 35 years

The Cuban exile in question, Luis Posada Carriles, was acquitted of the airliner charge. He was held in Venezuelan prisons for eight years after the acquittal anyway. Then he was tried a second time, and acquitted a second time. He's only a fugitive because Venezuela wanted to keep him in jail to try him a third time.

It may be legal in Cuban, Venezuelan, and even European law to hold a man in prison for years and repeatedly try him until you finally convict him, but it's certainly alien to the American concept of justice.

former law student said...

bagoh20, we're in agreement, I think.

Capital punishment: a wholly inadequate punishment for murder, yet it's as close as is feasible.

A.Braxas said...

"Apprehended like a common terrorist ..."

I think our philosopher has less trouble with the concept of Polanski being thought a "terrorist" than he does with him being thought "common."

Count on the self-appointed exceptionalists to claim special privileges for kindred spirits.

Reading this has told me nothing of M. BL's philosophy; it has told me everything about what kind of human being he is.

bagoh20 said...

former law student said...

"bagoh20, we're in agreement, I think."


Hell, I guess anything is possible.

MC said...

It certainly shines a light on the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of a certain class of elitists.

stuiec said...

A couple of observations:

1) Whatever "Europe" feels about this case, Polanski was arrested in Switzerland, which is specifically not part of the EU and has always held itself separate from the European Project. The age of consent in Switzerland is 16. Polanski seems to have given into his own arrogance in assuming that the Swiss would see him as the victim of overreaching Puritanical Americans as opposed to a child rapist.

2) Polanski has not been evading prosecution -- in the sense of trying to avoid a trial to determine his guilt or innocence -- but is a fugitive from punishment. His guilt has been established by his own admission. He's essentially of the same status as a prison escapee, with the odd twist that the length of his sentence hasn't been determined. (Of course, since he fled his plea bargain, he may now be evading prosecution on charges that had been dropped under that bargain.)

3) No one should be under the illusion that he didn't "RAPE rape" this girl, as Whoopi Goldberg so charmingly put it. When she was asked at the time why she didn't resist Polanski more vigorously and outright refuse his advances, the girl said, "Because I was afraid of him." He did what he did not through charm or through chemical reduction of the girl's inhibitions, but through physical intimidation and the understood threat of force. It was RAPE rape, and it's indefensible, and those who defend its perpetrator now cannot separate their defense of the man from defense of the act.

Gary Rosen said...

C-fudd, like his impotent idol Buchanan, has never shown anything but contempt for Holocaust victims and survivors over 99% of whom never committed rape stautorily or otherwise. But here he is sticking up for one who is a molester. Like I've been saying, he gets his ethics from NAMBLA.

Sundance said...

I wish a liberal would explain to me, how making films exonerates one from rape?? or does drugging a thirteen your old girl not count as rape anymore.

Polanski is no better than Byron De La Beckwith, the only difference is that justice was served in Beckwith's case.

blake said...

In Rosemary's Baby, Satan won. This is the first time this had ever happened.

Manos, The Hands of Fate predated it by two years, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't all that original.

The favoring of downbeat endings was emblematic of that '65-'75 period, but horror is no stranger to it.

Mark said...

The political consequences of this arrest and the predictable reactions to it coming at this time are kind of interesting. Just a few days ago people were talking about the amazing spectacle of the French showing some spine with respect to Iranian nuclear weapons development as contrasted with the American President's naive groveling. We also had the recent betrayal of the Czechs and Poles over the missile defense system that will no longer be built in their countries.

Now the dialog is changed to the French and Poles defending a baby raping pervert who fled from American justice. Considering that Polanski apparently owns a home in Switzerland, it seems odd that the Swiss authorities have decided to act now rather than last year or ten years ago.

Revenant said...

In Rosemary's Baby, Satan won. This is the first time this had ever happened.

It is possible that it was the first time it had ever happened in a Hollywood film. But it had happened on ordinary TV several times in The Twilight Zone alone, and of course many times in novels. Such as, for example, the novel "Rosemary's Baby", which Polanski adapted.

LoafingOaf said...

Polanski seems worse than the people busted on Dateline NBC's "To Catch A Predator". On that show, people get busted for talking to fake 13 year olds and then trying to meet them for consensual sex. Do the people defending Polanski also defend all of the people caught up in the "To Catch A Predator" stings? Polanski did worse them each and every one of the people busted on that show!

rhhardin said...

I'd guess the Hollywood general pass on bonking might come from the casting couch tradition.

Innocence is not presumed, regardless of age; the female is in on making a deal for herself.

Barlycorn, John said...

"You admit you polluted a river to get a 50K fine, and the judge tries to fine you 150K in reviewing the Settlement...he can't claim that fault is now established but the fine isn't. The admission of fault is also 'reset'."

I think Polanski should be tossed in the clink for the rest of his life, "good guy" or not. However, this seems like a salient point. She doesn't want to go through a trial, and with his plea bargain abrogated, execrable as it was, there would need to be a new trial.

He walks, end of story.

AllenS said...

Cedarford said...

"3. Europe has an age of consent from 13 to 15."

The problem with this statement, is that there was no consent given.

weffiewonj said...

How else do you apprehend a fugitive, except as one would also apprehend a common criminal? A letter to come to the precinct? Polite requests to return to the U.S. had been unavailing to date.

And the phrase "common terrorist" is a non-sense twist on the phrase "common criminal," used by the writer for shock effect. We're not yet to the point that terrorists are all that common, less common than film directors maybe, but I haven't checked the census data.

weffiewonj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

Whether Polanski was practicing ius primæ noctis, right of the first night, or like Clinton he did it just because he could, it all reinforces one thing:

Laws, like taxes, are for the little people.

Shanna said...

she was asked at the time why she didn't resist Polanski more vigorously and outright refuse his advances, the girl said, "Because I was afraid of him."

And this is why we have age of consent laws (aside from the fact that she did say no multiple times, which should be enough). 13 year olds are more likely to be intimidated into not fighting back than 30 year olds.

I know the woman involved doesn't want to deal with all this, and after having seen multiple people calling her a slut at 13, and her mother a pimp, who the hell can blame her?

Richard said...

And how much money was she paid to settle the case? What were the terms of the settlement? Do you approve — as a general rule to be applied to all — of dropping criminal charges whenever the victim has been moved to closure? It is the nature of criminal law that it is a crime against the people, and not merely a wrong against the victim. Do you argue against that, philosopher?

It’s as if this learned gentleman, this philosopher, has never read The Oresteia.

Pogo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DADvocate said...

common terrorist

Should be common rapist. Which is what Polanski is.

Joe said...

Ouch. If Fisking were punching, we'd need to scrape Bernard-Henri Lévy off the floor and walls.

Pogo said...

The Lonesome Death of One Girl's Innocence

Roman Polanski, who at forty-two years
At Jack Nicholson's house for a magazine photo shoot.
With champagne and a quaalude drugged a 13 year old girl
Made his way to the hot tub and there he did rape her
She felt so confused, and disgusted by his passes
She told him "no" again and again
She faked having asthma and begged him to take her home.
She said that she cried in his car leaving afterward.

And the cops were called in and his lawyers were on it
He pleaded guilty, and fled before sentencing


Samantha Geimer was called Lolita and temptress
She had a best girlfriend from a good Catholic family,
whose father wouldn't let her go to Sam's house anymore.
"I was this sweet 13-year-old girl, and then all of a sudden
I turned into this pissed-off 14-year-old."
She dropped out of school, and got pregnant at 18,
She married and divorced and moved to Hawaii
She forgives him but says that he did something awful

But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears.

bagoh20 said...

I find more to admire in a common terrorist than this child rapist.

Roger J. said...

This quote seems relevant with respect to levy:
“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

rastajenk said...

I wonder if the creative elite think that John Demjanjuk is getting railroaded.

Big Mike said...

@Roger J -- d*mned right!

And if you've ever had to deal with French plumbing ...

Charlie said...

One of the most pernicious ideas that bubbled up from Europe was the notion of The Elect, the 6 or 8 percent of the population clearly chosen of God, as opposed to the brutes, the other 90-something percent.

This worldview was a feature of some hardcore early Protestant sects and washed over into 19th century continental philosophy, from there into public institutions (our public schools, for example, from Fichte, via Mann, to us).

The Elect enjoyed different standards of behavior--they would be judged in the afterlife afterall. The brutes on the other hand need to be managed here on earth.

I believe this is your underpinning for Mr Bernard-Levy's notion of right and wrong.

Bill Peschel said...

In France, an artist is excused almost any kind of behavior because he is an artist.

In the United States, it is possible to respect an artist's work, yet understand that the artist himself can be immoral, despicable and culpable.

Those Europeans, they're so unsophisticated and simplistic.

miller said...

You know, not to go all Godwin-y, but Schickelgruber did some lovely watercolors. Does that give him an "out" with our European betters?

SMGalbraith said...

Both the NY Times and Washington Post have had stories that report that the majority (apparently) of the French citizens think Polanski should have been extradited and see the defense of him as appalling.

The supporters of Polanski appears to be almost exclusively from "Les People" (the derisive term the French call the artistic elites) and not really from the larger populace.

Let's hope so.

The Sanity Inspector said...

As for Polanski's body of work, I like what Raymond Chandler is supposed once to have said: "If you liked a book, don't meet the author."

And the hell with philosophes and artistes, who think they are above mere bourgeois morality.

AllenS said...
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AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllenS said...

Early in his career, Adolph Hitler was a watercolor painter. Probably the only time in history that I'm an artist! didn't work as a defense.

Third time is a charm.

John said...

Mr. Polanski is a convicted pedophile. He deliberately stocked a thirteen year old girl gave her drugs and booze and raped her. He pleads guilty to this. He realized that he may actually be punished beyond the standard "community service" usually reserved for the Hollywood elite and ran. He led a very pleasant life in the EU and is now caught and the same Hollywood elite demand he be forgiven. I think he should be lock up, preferably with a very large and very angry (violent) homosexual so that he can experience the joy of being anally raped.

richard mcenroe said...

miller, alan s -- Never mind the waterdcolors! der Fuhrer could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon: two coats!

miller said...

robert - that's one of my favorite lines.

Anthony said...

I searched in vain for the signature of Humbert Humbert on the petition.

Barlycorn, John said...

The only humans that can achieve authentic creativiety are artists.

Yeah, that explains how it was the artists who created the internet.

RebeccaH said...

Rergarding statutes of limitations and being charged with a crime: Polanski has already been convicted on the strength of his own confession to the crime. There is no statute of limitations on a conviction. He's not being brought back to be charged and tried. That already happened. He's being brought back (if we can ever pry him loose from Switzerland) to be sentenced and to serve out that sentence.

When the so-called intelligentsia catch on to that little inconvenient truth, watch the Les Miserables meme catch fire.

Christopher said...

"Rosemary's Baby is considered a classic? Seriously? I'd always thought of it as the horror equivalent of Soylent Green -- influential, yes. Inspired many cliches, yes. But pretty cheesy and dated, and not really all that good. But you could be right, IMDB rates it very highly."

Yep. Personally, I'd probably say that Rosemary's Baby is probably a "better" film than Chinatown, and Chinatown is a pretty phenomenal film in its own right. I was born seven years after Rosemary's Baby was released, and I first saw it in the late 1990's. If it came across as cheesy and dated, I didn't notice.

I can say that I'd be surprised to find Soylent Green on a film school curriculum, but I'd expect to find Rosemary's Baby there.

"But jeez, 35 years since his last major film? I can't help but think that if he hadn't had that 'sexual fugitive' vibe going for him this last thirty years Hollywood would have forgotten the man ever existed."

Having two bona fide and fairly intellectual classic films in the space of about five years gave Polanski's reputation a lot of "gas". So, with every movie that he released, every film buff was really hoping that he'd release something as audacious and revolutionary as Rosemary's Baby or Chinatown.

Of course, he never did. Part of the reason is that by the second half of the 1970's, everybody and their brother was making artful genre films and doing it better and more energetically than Polanski could have ever done.

Lance said...

John wrote...
I think he should be lock up, preferably with a very large and very angry (violent) homosexual so that he can experience the joy of being anally raped.

That's disgusting. I have to agree with Nancy, Althouse's comment thread can get really bad.

Christopher said...

Sundance wrote:

"I wish a liberal would explain to me, how making films exonerates one from rape?? or does drugging a thirteen your old girl not count as rape anymore."

I know that some people automatically assume that positions that they disagree with must automatically be at the other end of the political spectrum, but most liberal types seem to want Roman to face the music. Even much of the French Left seems to be against him.

This isn't so much a "Liberal/Conservative" thing as an "elite intelligentsia/everybody else" thing.

Ralph L said...

Polanski slept with it's star Nastasia Kinski when she was just 15
Perhaps she is a method actor. Too bad she didn't stab him, too.

Revenant said...

If [Rosemary's Baby] came across as cheesy and dated, I didn't notice.

Maybe it is just that there were about a hundred Satanism films made between the mid-sixties and the mid-eighties, and I've seen almost all of them. The only entries in the genre I've ever been able to take seriously were The Exorcist and Angel Heart. For the most part I file them alongside bell-bottom jeans and disco soundtracks.

Christopher said...

Revenant,

No, you're right there. The actual time that you see something and the context makes a pretty big difference. I saw Chinatown for the first time in the late-1990's, the era of X-Files and wheels-within-wheels conspiratorial thinking, and I'd been on a pretty big Raymond Chandler reading binge just before that, too. So I'm sure that I digested it very differently then someone might have in its initial release.

I'm actually really fond of horror films, and I'd seen most of the "demon child" movies of the era before I saw Rosemary's Baby, but I did go into with the knowledge that this was the Ur-"demon child" films. So that undoubtedly changed the way I saw that film, too.

jodru said...

I just feel compelled, as I always do when I see this story repeated, to point out that Stockhausen's statement is taken out of an important context. He spent 30 years of his life writing a cycle of seven operas in which Lucifer was a main character.

He was asked if he felt that Lucifer was just a character in his operas or a real force for evil in this world. He gave a heartfelt response about how the 9/11 attacks are evidence that Lucifer is real and hard at work. Then he made the disastrous misstep of comparing the work of Lucifer in organizing the attacks to the work of artists. His point is still a valid one, in that, against the forces that Lucifer can marshal, artists are weaklings.

Stockhausen always believed that God would overpower Lucifer in the end. Though he suffered miserably after his comments were taken out of context by the press, he persevered and continued to write wonderful music, finishing his cycle and starting another before he died in 2007, just shy of 80.

I don't blame you for having the facts wrong here, because they are so hard to find, but they are out there:

http://www.analogartsensemble.net/2006/12/brain-readjustment-courtesy-of.html

Justa said...

This guy is probably a pedophile himself. The fact that ANYONE is supporting Polanski is disgraceful. Oh, yeah. Woody Allen. Enough said.