I've avoided writing about the Polanski horribleness because it all seemed so rarified to me - how could anyone in his right mind believe the ridiculous celebrity "defenses" of Polanski's actions? They can't even really believe it themselves, can they? Goldberg's "not rape-rape," all the "but he's so GIFTED" junk, coupled with the "and now he's old, and it was a long time ago, and anyway the victim - um, I mean the woman in her forties he... um... had unspecified (by me) relations with three decades ago, anyway, she wants to drop it, right?" All that. It's all, to my mind, veddy veddy P!ss Christ: we the hoi polloi are simply not sophisticated enough to understand the art (of the p!ss, or of the defenses). All we know is that it stinks.
But now we get to this, in which Patterico quotes at length from a WaPo chat with Tom Shales, Columnist:
Tom Shales: Hello, Dunn Loring, I didn’t want to sign off without trying to answer your question. I didn’t realize I had written a column defending Roman Polanski and minimized his crime – are you sure it was me? I mean, I? There is, apparently, more to this crime than it would seem, and it may sound like a hollow defense, but in Hollywood I am not sure a 13-year-old is really a 13-year-old.
It was, indeed, he, back in summer '08; he claimed that Polanski was never charged with rape. Goldberg believes this too, on the grounds that Polanski copped not to "rape by use of drugs," which was one of the charges, but to "unlawful sexual intercourse." ("Unlawful sexual intercourse" speaks to his iconoclastic artistic sensibilities, dunnit? After all, all genii make their own rules, including sexual mores; even Heinlein said so. Pfah.) But in the snippet Patterico reproduced and I re-reproduce here, Shales again minimizes the crime with his "I am not sure" statement about the nature of Hollywood 13-year-olds.
Now. I am not stupid. I know that Goldberg meant, "It was statutory, not violent." (Technically true but ABSOLUTELY false in that Polanski's 'luuding the kid up certainly diminished her capacity to fight back - so he didn't have to get violent with her. Smart man.) I know that Shales means, "A 13-year-old model in La-La Land is not exactly the same in her life experience as a Kansas small-town 13-year-old; look at Drew Barrymore, after all." But for God's sake, is either of these observations ANY kind of defense?
From Patterico's comment thread:
35. When twenty year old street thugs go to war over drug turf that’s ‘children dying from gun violence.’
When an ideologically select forty year old rapes a thirteen year old ’she’s not really a child.’
Orwellian doesn’t begin to describe Shales and his ilk..
Comment by ThomasD — 10/6/2009 @ 11:22 pm
And that, in a nutshell, is expediency in the service of ideology and tribal (celebrity, that is) identity. It's... well, like P!ss Christ, no matter how often and how passionately you put it forth as Great Art, at root it's gross. And everybody knows it.