The Political is Personal, and Occasionally Cinematic.

Over in the Movie Bonanza post, Trooper York refers to some people whom he will not part with his money–or even attention–for. His last response is worth quoting in full:

I don’t really get mad. I just refuse to waste my time on people I detest because of politics or something they have done in real life. Like Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. I can get through my life just fine without giving them any of my money. There is currently a move to rehablitate Polanski, I wonder how that will go.

But Robin Williams and Sarah Jessica Parker are the King and Queen of the Dammned.

I was going to say that I’m not particularly that way, although it is true that I’m pretty strict about avoiding giving Microsoft money. But individuals? I don’t generally feel it.

I have enough unpopular ideas that, were I to enforce any sort of ideological purity, I’d never be able to watch or buy anything. But are there limits? Well, I won’t go to see Michael Moore any longer, but that’s because he’s convinced me that he’s actually a bad person. I actually wish some of the ideas he promotes had as eloquent a voice in someone less vile. (So, there’s a rule: If you want me to stop purchasing your wares, simply exult in treating others badly.)

Now, Roman Polanski is an interesting case. Troop is right that there are forces trying to rehab him. It doesn’t seem to be in dispute that he drugged and raped a 14-year-old girl, and whether her mother set them both up is rather irrelevant to that. The girl (now a woman in her 40s) has forgiven him, but perhaps that’s not really relevant. It’s easy to say, “Yes, Polanski is worthy of censure.”

But what does that mean? OK, no more going to Polanski movies. Well, I think I’ve been to one (The Ninth Gate) without knowing it was his. But does it mean, say, we don’t watch Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby? Forever, or for a few years, or what?

What is it we’re trying to accomplish? Or are we not trying to accomplish anything, and this is just the one remnant of “polite society” left? “We have few standards, but we don’t watch movies by rapists.”

Polanski’s aberrations are not his art, unlike the previously mentioned Michael Moore. He doesn’t exult in raping 14-year-olds, I don’t think, and he certainly doesn’t film that. I probably would have gone to see the Leni Reifenstahl movie had Jodie Foster managed to make it, but I don’t think I’d have gone to see a Reifenstahl movie, had she made one in recent decades. Her art was her undoing as well. Polanski seems to me (by contrast) to be an ethically weak, drug-addled celebrity of the sort we excel in creating here.

I don’t have anything conclusive to add, really.

Except maybe: Forget it, Troop, it’s just Tinseltown.

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