I've worked in the entertainment industry for almost 20 years. And in that time I've seen the bubble of self-importance in which A-List Hollywood resides. This has been only a minor personal annoyance for me. But with the recent uproar over Roman Polanski's arrest, I can't keep quiet.
I know this isn't really a local issue. But as the father of two daughters, I think it's a human issue. We live in the entertainment capital of the world, many of us gainfully employed there, and this negatively affects all of us. Hollywood is already condemned for being morally depraved, and letting an admitted sex offender ignore his punishment does nothing to change that view.
Harvey Weinstein wrote an open letter to the film industry calling on every U.S. filmmaker to lobby against any move to bring Polanski back to the States.
Weinstein calls Polanski's illegal sexual intercourse with a drugged and resistant 13 year-old girl, the â€œso-called crime,â€ adding that â€œfilm makers are looking for justice to be properly served.â€
Yes, Harvey. We are. And so are a lot of people.
To anyone not blinded by their own self obsessed, self indulgent and self gratifying lifestyle within the bubble of glamour and privilege that is A-List celebrity, the only proper justice is for Polanski to be returned to the U.S. and face the consequences of the crime to which he pleaded guilty.
â€œRoman Polanski is a man who cares deeply about his art and its place in this world,â€ Weinstein tells us. He goes on in his letter to praise Polanski's artistry, painting a picture of societal collapse should the world be denied Polanski's talents for even a moment.
I do agree that Polanski is a great artist. â€œChinatownâ€ is one of the greatest films ever made. But this has absolutely zero relation to anything in this case. Nor does the fact that the crime is â€œancient historyâ€ as some suggest.
Part of the indignation of those that defend Polanski is due to how he was arrested â€” en route to receiving an award at a film festival in Zurich.
â€œIt seems inadmissible?.?.?.?that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by the police to apprehend him,â€ stated a petition backed by France's Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers.
Polanski has served his time, Weinstein tells us. And that time amounts to 42 days in jail before sentencing and 32 years living opulently in Europe.
So let's go over a few things all this says about Hollywood:
?If you're very talented, the laws of society and decency don't apply to you.
?You're not allowed to catch a famous, artistically gifted criminal unless you tell them exactly when you are going to do so.
?If you wait long enough, you become the victim of your crime rather than the perpetrator.
?Have people you know make a sympathetic â€œdocumentaryâ€ about you. Documentaries are always true and accurate â€” just ask Michael Moore.
?Academy Award?.?.?.?Get Out of Jail Free Card?.?.?.?same difference.
If Polanski is such a man of rare character and integrity as Weinstein and others portray, let him demonstrate it by coming back to the U.S. to defend himself vigorously with every means in his power under the law.
I personally don't care whether he serves 10 years or 10 minutes in jail after that. I don't think he is a danger to society either. But these are not things for me to decide. Like Weinstein, I simply want justice served.
So, if Weinstein can petition Hollywood to prevent Polanski's return to face the consequences of his crime, the rest of civilized society can boycott the films and TV shows of those within the bubble who defend him.
The actual list of the â€œFree Polanskiâ€ petition signatories is lengthy, but here is a partial view: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodovar, Monica Bellucci, Tilda Swinton, David Lynch, Jonathan Demme, Wim Wenders, Michael Mann, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Julian Schnabel, Mike Nichols, Sam Mendes and Steven Soderbergh.
Are those in A-List Hollywood fearful that to condemn Polanski is to commit career suicide? Like being a communist during the Red Scare? Or are they fearful that if one of their own falls, everyone within the bubble will lose their immunity? Or are they merely out of touch with the reality that the rest of us live in?
Would they defend a grip, a personal assistant, a caterer or any other average Joe convicted of the same crime?
Being famous grants no special circumstance. The rest of us need to send a message to the world that we don't live within that bubble. And that bubble needs to burst.
?PATRICK CANEDAY is a freelance writer and Glendale native who lives and works in Burbank. He may be reached at email@example.com.