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Friday, October 2, 2009

On Excusing Roman

Chinatown, Pirates, and Frantic are among my favorite movies. I admire Roman Polanski's work as a director. He has a keen eye and a fearlessness in storytelling.
I do not think that my admiration of him as a director necessitates my admiring him as a man or even a human being. I do not think that his ability or talent should make him immune from consequence.
He raped a thirteen-year-old girl. He plead guilty to having done so. In a time before hordes of paparazzi roamed the streets, before "Extra", "TMZ", and the E! Channel, and before blogging, The Hollywood machine could not muster enough power or influence or money to sweep his actions under the rug (and I'm sure we can expect that they tried).
He drugged her. He plied her with alcohol. She said no. Repeatedly. He didn't care. She was thirteen.
(If you want the more sordid details, Kate Harding wrote an eye-opening column on
He did it. He confessed to it. He fled the country.
I am surprised at the number of people who are rallying around this man. If he were not an Oscar-winning director, would these people be as willing to gloss over the facts?
Frankly, I'm a little tired of this notion that "artists" need to be excused from real-life consequences, as though being creative diminishes one's capacity in some way.
I once had an actor throw a temper tantrum in the middle of rehearsal, storm out of the theatre, and refuse to return for the rest of the day.
I began to make a list of possible replacements for him, but the producer said, "Oh, he's just being an actor."
I said, "No, those people who just had to witness that display and are still standing there ready to go on are being actors. He is being a child."
Alas, he didn't get fired that day. (He got fired a week later for calling one of the actresses at her workplace and making inappropriate advances. The producer had nothing to interject with that time.)
Being an artist isn't easy. It requires a type of thinking for which we are not trained in our rearing. Artistry requires a leap out of one's comfort zone - or it should if it's to be worthwhile.
The creative among us deserve respect for their creativity, but not excuses for their bad behavior.

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