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Is Hollywood Really Backing Polanski?

Posted on October 7 2009 4:00 pm
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Filmmaker Woody Allen, who has his own sordid history of sex with young girls, is one of Roman Polanski's defenders.

A month ago it would have been hard to predict that Roman Polanski would be such a big player in the news right now.  As Polanski loses his first attempt to be released from Swiss authorities the controversy over his arrest continues to stir.  While the infamous petition grows, criticism for Hollywood continues to mount.

However, when we take a second look at the list a challenging fact emerges: it may not be all that representative of Hollywood.

Last night Red Eye host Greg Gutfeld weighed in on what should be done with Polanski:

“I want him to come to America.  I want him to go through a trial because I want the spectacle and I want to report on it every night.  And I want to see Hollywood have to defend him over and over again and pay for their idiocy.”

If Polanski is shipped back here, it would be interesting to see how Hollywood handles the situation when it’s sitting in their lap. Though, most of Hollywood isn’t really defending Polanski. Sure, there are Hollywood players like David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and Woody Allen who signed the petition. But these directors don’t live in Hollywood. Scorsese and Allen are well-known for being New York-based filmmakers.

Be that as it may, the buzz over these names has managed to overshadow the majority of names on the list which are primarily from foreign countries.

The Los Angeles Times brings up a good point:

“There’s no petition going around with the names of the real Hollywood elite — A-list filmmakers and studio chiefs like Steven Spielberg, Alan Horn, James Cameron, Amy Pascal, Jerry Bruckheimer, Brian Grazer, Tom Rothman, J.J. Abrams, John Lasseter or Michael Bay — because the real Hollywood elite isn’t supporting Polanski. In fact, they haven’t offered the slightest hint of backing for Polanski. It’s only European and New York-based artists, who clearly see the world in a very different light than the real Hollywood elite.”

It may be easy to assume that all of Hollywood is out of touch and would certainly support something as disgusting as a child rapist.  It is important to note that while there are many associated with Hollywood that are standing for Polanski, most of the film capital’s biggest names are nowhere near this issue.  This is most likely because they know there is no defense for the rape of a child.

My friend and colleague David Swindle and I have been discussing Polanski for a while now.  While we understand that there is no shortage of crazies in Hollywood, this issue has no geographical boundaries.  The petition is full of names from all over the film industry, most of them being part of the industry in Europe. David said,

As a cinephile and frequent critic of leftism in film I find it irritating when my fellow conservatives criticize Hollywood while knowing next to nothing about the film industry. This is the fact: “Hollywood” does not refer to every film ever made. It specifically refers to mainstream films made and released by the studios located in Hollywood, California. Films made by independent filmmakers or filmmakers in other countries cannot be called “Hollywood” films. Hollywood cannot be blamed for them. For example, when I posted a blog onto Free Republic about how Hollywood is certainly leftist but a majority of their films are apolitical I got a Freeper attacking me for it. He couldn’t really rebut my argument so he started making ad hominem claims against me for being young and going against conventional wisdom. When I calmed him down and started talking facts with him he pointed out that films that Hollywood makes often portray the military in a negative light. He gave me three or four examples, among them was the Danny Boyle-directed zombie horror film “28 Days Later.” I responded to him explaining that Hollywood cannot be blamed for “28 Days Later.” It was financed by and made in Great Britain. And so with this understanding of a diverse film industry in mind I almost have to smack myself for not realizing this sooner: it’s not Hollywood that supports Polanski, it’s mainly a small group of independent, artsy, and foreign filmmakers. So while there are plenty of cudgels to hit “Hollywood” with, I’m not sure this is the right one. A majority of Hollywood does not support child rape.

It is important to know that the film industry is much larger than Hollywood itself.  At this point, most of Hollywood has not come out to support Polanski.  In fact, there have been more people in or associated with Hollywood speaking against Polanski than the number of them on the petition.  There is just a scattering of players from the film industry as a whole who are supporting this petition.  Until more of what we consider the “Hollywood elite” come out to defend Polanski, we cannot write this off as a crazy Tinseltown issue.

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