I am an Errol Flynn fan. Most of you know this, but it’s something I feel should be laid out in the open before I say another word.
I am disgusted with the so-called good and allegedly great of Hollywood right now. The news is full of Polanski again, just as it has been in the past, and every commentator, blogger and tweeter that has nothing else to say is passing judgement on Polanski in some form.
I have nothing to say about Polanski. There is nothing to say. He drugged and raped a thirteen year old child and was found guilty of that crime. As Bill Hicks and his friend Jimmy Pineapple used to say: Case. Fucking. Closed.
I am not here to pass judgement on Famous Respected Film Director Roman Polanski, because it’s already been done. I am here to pass judgement – inasmuch as it’s in my power to do so – on Hollywood.
Many people have rushed to sign up to the Free Polanski crusade. (The link is in French but has been translated by various news sites). The jokes about Woody Allen signing it so write themselves… but there are people on this list that I respected this time last week.
David Lynch. Neil Jordan. Jeremy Irons (who fucking played Humbert Humbert in the Lolita remake for fuck’s sake!) Gilliam. Scorsese. Women like Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Fuck me. Hollywood has always been a pretty insular community most interesting in protecting its own but this is a new and fascinating low for them. They’ve been covering up scandals exactly like this for as long as Hollywood has existed… but I don’t think they’ve ever stood up so publicly for ‘one of their own’ after it all came out before.
This from the same ‘community’ that still scorns Elia Kazan for naming (already known) names during the dark days of HUAC.
Hollywood does not like outsiders attacking any of their number. Jon Stewart’s Baldwin Brothers and Chris Rock’s Jude Law jokes made most of us laugh when they hosted the Academy Awards, but they didn’t go down well in the Kodak itself. Sean ‘Po-Faced Douche’ Penn even tried to correct Rock on the Jude Law score during the show!
Please allow me the opportunity to repeat again: Roman Polanski drugged and raped a child. He pleaded guilty. He then ran away. Is that clear? Excellent.
By the way, one name on the list really leapt out at me: Harrison Ford.
Yes kids, INDIANA JONES IS STICKING UP FOR A LAW-DODGING CHILD RAPIST. Let us be clear and unambiguous. The petition has not been exposed as a fake and there is no reason currently to believe it is. It’s not on Wikipedia, after all… To be understood: HAN SOLO believes that Roman Polanski’s liberty is more important than the concept of justice. This from an actor who has made a living playing morally upright characters who strive for justice in various ways.
That’s going to make watching Air Force One a different experience, isn’t it? It’ll still suck, of course.
None of this would matter except that Hollywood (the idea, the concept, rather than the geographical location) continually touts itself as right-on, forward-thinking, the people with the right answers. The guardians of artistic standards (yes I know, try not to laugh) and so sure of themselves as right that the conservative right hates them for their left-leaning liberal smugness.
Well, I feel as if that’s been thoroughly shot in the foot this week. Not so much shot in the foot as shot in the foot, turned gangrenous and then amputated above the knee with a hacksaw.
I’ve never really thought that Hollywood had the answers or was always right, but I still laboured under the belief, as a dedicated movie fan, that most of the people there were trying to make good movies that had a point, that they were trying to change the world through art, for the better.
Well… there’s a lot of names not on the list (and given the circumstances, Big Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston are notable absentees perhaps)… but a lot of the people on the list or who have otherwise spoken in Polanki’s defence are important in Hollywood. Directors. Producers. Weinsteins.
As I said at the top, I’m an Errol Flynn fan. EF’s statutory rape trial knocked the Second World War off front pages at the time. The difference between Errol and Polanski is three-fold: Flynn wasn’t accused of having to drug anyone; the females in question were 17; he was acquitted.
I don’t say this to excuse Flynn. I know his tastes ran to girls considered underage at the time and in at least one case, a girl who would be considered underage now. My point isn’t even that I have always taken to understand that his cases were about statutory rape and not necessarily about him forcing anyone to do anything. The argument was then as it likely is now, that a good many 17 year old girls in 1942 would’ve quite happily let Flynn in. That’s not even my point and I’m starting to make excuses for the old cunt and he doesn’t deserve it.
No, my point is this: Errol Flynn was a terrible human being. A total bastard. I watch his films anyway. It doesn’t follow that I condone his actions: I don’t. That said, it is possible to separate the ‘art’ from the human in many cases. What I love, what I always have loved, is Errol Flynn the idea, the guy up on the screen who never really existed. That’s fine, as long as I understand that what I care about, what I always enjoyed, was a myth wrapped up in a legend hidden in fiction.
You don’t have to defend the human to accept that his or her ‘art’ or whatever skill, is important to you, or that you find it interesting or enjoyable. It is possible to say ‘Roman Polanski made some great films that I really enjoy, but as a human he is despicable and deserves the full weight of the law on his head.’
That said, I’m talking about the fiction. In real life, over 100 people have surrendered the high ground for a cause I simply don’t understand. It will be difficult to accept much Harrison Ford ever has to say ever again. I will now watch Scorsese movies with a new eye because they didn’t have to stick up for Polanski. By defending the indefensible, they have endangered their art in the eyes of sane people, because there will likely be a lot of second-guessing from here on. Because it’s one thing to be despicable… and yet another to defend the despicable. (I make no comparisons in terms of which is more reprehensible, just observe that they’re different).
I judge you, Hollywood, and on this score I find you deeply wanting. Deeply. I have stuck up for you pompous bastards for a long time because I cared about the movies. If I can move past the shit Errol’s done through the years and still enjoy his films then I must be pretty open-minded and able to put real life aside…
But you’re talking in real life right now and you’re being douchebags. You’re just plain wrong. There isn’t a single movie in the entire history of the world that justifies anyone evading justice. If Bogart had been found guilty of a such a crime, I would say he deserved the penalty as laid down, regardless of the fact he’s in Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and The African Queen. I’d still watch Casablanca but he would need to serve his punishment. It’s called justice and a lot of the time it’s complex and full of grey areas.
This is not complex and it’s not full of grey areas. Polanski was found guilty of a heinous crime and ran away. I judge you, Hollywood Elite, for defending him and calling for him to continue to evade justice just because he made a few films that someone decided were important and he had a pretty shit life.
TL;DR: So, Hollywood Fails on a truly Epic level and I am not surprised.