Polanski vs. Gibson

Monday, 19th July 2010

On my facebook page, I recently posted links to newspaper articles about the aforementioned two people – and I use the term sarcastically and extraneously. I did this twice for each one, given that people from different time zones do not always bother to click on “older posts” to see what others would have posted while they were asleep or away from their pc.

Frankly, I expected a barrage of comments on my wall, as has happened several times when I post something that touches the nerves.

I was gobsmacked when no one – not the Catholic, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, Maltese, foreigners, friends, relatives, artistes or celebrities who usually never hesitate to give their two cents’ worth, kept mum. Some of them to be fair did send me a private message, but that’s as far as it went.

Let us, for the sake of accuracy, recapitulate about what happened.

Mel Gibson left his wife, mother of his seven children, for Oksana Grigorieva, from whom he had another child. The relationship turned sour. Not paying child support is the least of his misdemeanours – he has been recorded threatening ex-girlfriend, using vulgarity, profanity and racist insults, and, perhaps as an afterthought, admitting that his career ‘is over’.

His language was so bad that one magazine took the interesting step of reproducing the rant as a tag cloud, rather than as a transcription… the bigger the word, the more often he said it.

In a Mad Max moment, Gibson completely lost it when he hit his ex-girlfriend in the face as she was holding their daughter Lucia, breaking Grigorieva’s teeth.

But – and this is a very big but – some people actually blamed the woman for what happened, cherchez la femme style. She should not have “stolen” another woman’s husband, they ruled, conveniently forgetting that it takes two to tango, and that she was left literally and figuratively holding the baby.

Gibson’s saving grace appears to be the film “The Passion of the Christ” – which is tantamount to saying that chucking bucketfuls of blood about conveys instantaneous sanctity.

Roman Polanski, on the other hand, did not abuse a (formerly) consenting adult.

In 1978, he had fled from Los Angeles to Paris, via London. He strongly suspected that the judge would refuse to honour the terms of the plea bargaining in which he had agreed to undergo psychological evaluation. His crime was described as “having unlawful sexual intercourse with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer”.

And of course these words do not describe what the child went through – to the extent that she lied to him that she had asthma, so that on the pretence that she needed her inhalers, he would take her home.

Again, people looked for a scapegoat – and found one. The child’s other was judged guilty of pushing her daughter into what she assumed would be the limelight, hoping that Polanski would make her his next star.

In September 2009, had been held by Swiss authorities in at the request of the U.S.; he had been under house arrest since December. However, he was set free because Switzerland’s justice ministry “could not be sure there were no errors in the American case for extradition”, since the U.S. failed to provide confidential testimony form his sentencing procedure between 1977 and 1978. Friends of friends had a lot to do with this decision, too, in a complicated, unfortunate series of events.

So we have two men, both guilty of horrid abuse, both of whom happen to be film directors.

This, apparently, gives them “un-touch-ability”, with people falling over themselves to find mitigating and extenuating circumstances for their atrocious behaviour. For, wouldn’t you know, all geniuses are eccentric, and sometimes, eccentricity leads you to do unmentionable things on the spur of the moment.

Presumably, we must now rap these two persons – I refuse to use the term “men” – lightly on the wrist and bid them go and direct a few more box-office hits to make up for lost time. Oh, I was nearly forgetting that Gibson said that his career is over.

None of us can say for sure whether, had we found ourselves in Gibson’s and Polanski’s positions, would not have acted as they did – or even worse.

But what amazes me is that some of us are ready to find excuses for them, thereby accepting that violence and rape could go unpunished if a person wields enough clout.

Joe Public when found guilty of child molestation or wife-beating, is definitely not pitied and excused by his peers, unless they are of the same ilk; in fact, people would be baying for his blood before the case hits the new bulletins.

Cristina Odone of The Daily Telegraph, put it best when she said [about the Polanski case]: Here’s a maxim for Left-wing luvvies: let’s treat the Pope like a rapist, and treat a rapist like the Pope. In the eyes of Lefty luvvies the only real difference between the Pope and Polanski is that the latter is an artist.

That, you see, erases a multitude of sins – yes, even the rape of a 13-year-old girl. The same people who are viciously denouncing Benedict even though he has not been convicted of any crime defend Polanski despite his conviction because he’s “one of us”.

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