Today is Yom Kippur, and I’m doing my yearly reckoning with my religion, culture and faith. This year, I’ve struck a bargain with the powers that be. I won’t eat, but I’ll work, and I’ll only work on things that are useful. And here we are. It has been an intense week on the news cycle where media, sexual assault and celebrity collide. We went from Tucker Max to Mackenzie Phillips and now to Roman Polanski.
First we have Whoopi Goldberg weighing in, saying what Roman Polanski did isn’t “rape-rape”, because…? It’s not clear exactly. He’s an artist? Her mother was a stage mom? She was pretty? He is talented? Polanski copped to his crime, but Whoopi Goldberg is a garbled disaster.
Kate Harding of Broadsheet piped up, serving to remind us in nearly every paragraph that Roman Polanski raped a child and is getting a free pass because he’s a beloved director and she was a Lolita-esque nymphet. The article breaks down the privilege afforded to him over the past 30 years, and states clearly that when a 44 year old man has sex with a 13 year old girl, who is repeatedly saying “no,” and who was plied with champagne and pills, that is rape.
The victim-blaming discourse is interesting to revisit (she’s a seductress, he’s a talent, her mom approved), however I’m not sure this arrest now does any service to the victim. She has clearly stated she wants to go on with her life.
When a case is polarizing and high profile, its easy to lose sight of what actually happened, and what is best for all parties. The best Roman Polanski can do is ask for forgiveness. And we can love the art, and condemn the action of the artist.