Rosemary's Crybabies

What's the matter with Roman Polanski's Hollywood pals?


There are a number of ideas in this world that never should be introduced to each other; "Christian" and "rock" are one example. "Movie" and "wholesome" are certainly another. And really, one thing we always have been able to count on is the boundless depravity of Hollywood. For this, I used to be grateful.

Obviously, those of us with even a tenuous grasp of decency or respect for the rule of law understand that filmmaker Roman Polanski—who, need we be reminded, loaded up a 13-year-old with alcohol and quaaludes before raping her—should find himself putrefying in prison. Even actors must believe this, right? No?

The subsequent skirmish over Polanski's arrest—not exactly a momentous international incident—isn't between right and left or blue state and red or secularist and social conservative. It's a gaggle of actors and directors against everyone with a moral IQ higher than Woody Allen's.

Harvey Weinstein, the noted co-executive producer of Pulp Fiction, has been one of Polanski's staunchest defenders. He claimed that the Polish director already had served his time (directing movies in Europe) and that we should trust his take on the situation because "Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion."

Imagine, if you can, the impenetrability of this man's ironclad bubble. Weinstein's success is predicated on dispensing tales from the darkest, most twisted corners of the imagination. Don't get me wrong; for this, I am also grateful. Some of Weinstein's ethically magisterial works, for instance, have included Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead (tag line: "They can die quickly. They can die slowly. But they must die!") and Death Proof (plot: "Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his 'death proof' cars to execute his murderous plans"). Now, I ask you, if Weinstein possessed even a scintilla of decency, would he have subjected this nation to The Nanny Diaries?

When Weinstein circulated a pro-Polanski petition after the director was apprehended in Switzerland, Allen—a man who, somewhat prophetically, carried on an affair with a teenager in his film Manhattan, one of my all-time favorites—immediately signed up. As did Martin Scorsese, a true giant of cinema, whose depiction of psychotics, mobsters, teenager prostitutes, drugs, mayhem, and crass violence can only be called genius. But moral? Compassionate? Not exactly.

Polanski himself made a name directing Repulsion (plot: "Left alone when her sister goes on vacation, a sexually repressed young beauty goes insane with surreal fantasies of seduction and rape) and Rosemary's Baby, wherein a housewife is imbued with the devil's spawn (co-starring Charles Grodin!).

I enjoy many of these charmingly decadent films for what they are: fantasy, titillating, coarse, absurd, and escapist. There are few people who possess the talent to send us to a world where violence is without consequence, where serial infidelity is patched up with a couple of witty sentences and middle-aged men (often, incredibly, resembling the ones directing the films) can secure companionship from lithe 20-year-old beauties as effortlessly as they can jump from building to building chasing would-be terrorists.

The problem is that apparently, many of these people have a problem distinguishing between "art" and reality. As well-known blogger Allahpundit recently tweeted, "Word on the street: Polanski's next film is so good, Europe's going to let him (redacted) an eight-year-old. It's THAT GOOD."

Where are the average, serial-marrying, middling Hollywood immorals as their profession is sullied by the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, who asserted that Polanski's sin wasn't "rape-rape," and Debra Winger, who called the rule of law "Philistine collusion"?

What is the average American to make of this incident? Despite the coverage, not much. 1) Hollywood denizens are extraordinarily out of touch. 2) We send them to jail when necessary. 3) Always, always ignore them unless they have scripts in their hands.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at