It’s truly heartening that, in the face of increasing scrutiny on sexual assault after the Harvey Weinstein scandal erupted, the international film community is taking seriously the epidemic of sexual assault against women and children and demanding a new attitude of support toward victims and of no tolerance toward those predators who have inflicted so much pain on the lives of the innocent.
In what can only be described as a catastrophe of timing, Cinémathèque Française, a French film organization partially funded by the French government, has decided to honor Roman Polanski, the Oscar-winning director famous for such classics as “Chinatown,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” and “The Pianist,” and infamous for having been convicted of child rape and fleeing the U. S. to avoid punishment.
In 1979, Polanski pleaded guilty to raping a 13 year old girl. He drugged her, then raped her in the face of her repeated cries for him to stop. Since then, other women have come out and accused Polanski of sexually assaulting them when they were children, one as young as ten.
Even given his guilty plea, conviction, and fleeing from justice, the Hollywood crowd has repeatedly stood by Polanski and defended him.
In 2003, Polanski won the Oscar for Best Director for his work on “The Pianist.” Polanski was unable to re-enter the U. S. for fear of being imprisoned for his crime of raping a child, so Harrison Ford of “Star Wars” fame kindly flew Polanski’s Oscar to Europe and personally hand delivered it to him during a film festival in Deauville, France.
In 2009, Whoopi Goldberg famously defended Polanski in the face of the incredulous Sherri Shepherd on a broadcast of The View, when she insisted that what Polanski did wasn’t “rape-rape.” Goldberg said, “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. It was something else but I don’t believe it was rape-rape. He went to jail and and when they let him out he was like ‘You know what this guy’s going to give me a hundred years in jail I’m not staying, so that’s why he left.'” So, whatever “rape-rape” is, Polanski didn’t do it, according to Goldberg, and so his leaving the country in the face of jail time for his crime of drugging and raping a 13 year old girl was perfectly reasonable in her mind.
Let’s make no mistake about it: Hollywood and the international film industry is a cesspool of female and child sexual assault. If Roman Polanski can be defended with a straight face, and even honored by an Oscar, after having been convicted of raping a 13 year old, then little about the Harvey Weinstein scandal is going to inspire reform in the industry. Accusations coming out against even the most hallowed of Hollywood icons, such as Dustin Hoffman and Kevin Spacey, will likely have little long-term impact, either, after the necessary acknowledgment of their abuse makes the fewest headlines possible. The fact of the matter is, Hollywood simply doesn’t care. Their cohorts in the mainstream media don’t care, either.
But, if we care, then we can take action. Simply put, we can stop going to see movies produced by an industry that cares little about protecting the most vulnerable, but instead feeds on the manipulation and exploitation of women and children (and, in some cases, men).
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.