[guest post by Dana]
The recent flood of sexual misconduct accusations against powerful public figures doesn’t seem like it will be coming to an end anytime soon. Even this week, another accusation of rape was made against Harvey Weinstein. Actress Paz de la Huerta alleges that Weinstein raped her two times within the span of a few months. His accusers now exceed 55 women.
Clearly, the floodgates have opened up, and almost weekly new accusations are being leveled against powerful men in show business and media. This would include actor Kevin Spacey, whose accusers have now reached double-digit numbers, some having been victimized by the actor when they were minors; filmmaker James Toback, whose accusers now number, shockingly, more than 300 women, a number in which a significant majority relate similar eerily revolting descriptions of Toback’s unwelcome behavior; Roy Price, who headed up Amazon Studios but has since stepped down in the midst of sexual harassment claims (and whose fiancee called off their nuptials in light of the revelations – a wedding at which Woody Allen was scheduled to perform); director and producer Brett Ratner, who counted James Toback and Roman Polanski among his “closest friends and whose number of accusers currently stands at six women. The most recent media notables facing accusations of sexual misconduct include David Corn (Mother Jones), Mark Halperin (MSNBC, ABC News), Michael Oreskes (NPR), Bill O’Reilly (Fox News) and Lockhart Steele (Vox Media).
In spite of this particular dam bursting open, there is still an active effort being made by movie making elites to whitewash even the most heinous and criminal sexual behavior by those within their own community. The latest example employed cropped up this week after the opening of a Roman Polanski retrospective in Paris. An event met with vigorous protest:
French feminist groups staged demonstrations Monday night at the opening of a retrospective in Paris for the film director Roman Polanski.
Photographs appeared on social media of protesters holding placards outside the Cinémathèque Française film institute, where Mr. Polanski, 84, was attending the event honoring his work. One video showed demonstrators chanting “Polanski, rapist” and hammering on the Cinémathèque’s window.
Before the demonstration on Monday, several women’s rights groups, including Osez le Féminisme, had called for the retrospective to be canceled.
An online petition signed by more than 28,000 people criticized the timing of the Polanski tribute, citing the widening allegations against the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and ensuing social media campaigns that highlighted the extent of sexual abuse.
As a reminder, Polanski was orignally charged with giving drugs to a minor, rape and sodomy (of a 13-year old girl). Two other women have also accused the director of having sexually assaulted them when they were minors.
In response to protests against Polanski at the event opening, a tortured effort to rationalize the honoring of the child rapist was made:
Costa-Gavras, a film director and head of the Cinémathèque, said in a statement that it was not the institute’s place to act as an arbiter of morality and dismissed objections to the programming as censorship.
“We don’t award prizes or certificates for good behavior,” he said. “Our ambition is different: to show the complete work of filmmakers and to place them in the permanent history of the Cinémathèque.”
That a vaunted member of this particular community easily brushes off the egregious behavior of a child rapist in the midst of a very ugly season where the filthy underbelly of the show business/movie making industry is being repeatedly exposed to the public is to unwittingly render a devastating blow of judgment against the whole community. While not denying Polanski’s behavior, Costa-Garvas nonetheless easily skirts the issue by dishonestly claiming that movie people don’t moralize because art and thus sends a confusingly inconsistent message: Yes, we abhor and condemn any who commit any varying gradation of sexual misconduct against our own – except when we don’t:
If the entirety of the film making industry cannot even, without hesitation, collectively condemn (and disassociate from) a child rapist in their midst – or at least refrain from celebrating him – why on earth do any of these latest victims of everything from sexual harassment to rape remotely believe that their personal horror stories will result in any sort of real and lasting change within their industry? Because clearly, the art takes precedence over even the most vile behavior.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)