Roman Polanski attends the 'Based On A True Story' screening during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 27, 2017 in Cannes, France.

Roman Polanski Is Not Being Persecuted By “Neo-Feminist McCarthyism”

Just... no.
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Roman Polanski, despite fleeing the country to avoid sentencing for a heinous crime, is still making films and being accepted into prestigious festivals. In a recent interview given in the press notes for his latest film (as reported via Deadline), Polanski and his interviewer manage to show that he has no understanding of the gravity of the crime he has committed, nor any care about consequences.

The writer interviewing Polanski, Pascal Bruckner, asked Polanski about the persecution he’s dealt with throughout his life. “As a Jew who was hunted during the war and a filmmaker persecuted by the Stalinists in Poland, will you survive the present-day neo-feminist McCarthyism which, as well as chasing you all over the world and trying to prevent the screening of your films, among other vexations got you expelled from the Oscars Academy?”

Polanski replied “Working, making a film like this helps me a lot. In the story, I sometimes find moments I have experienced myself, I can see the same determination to deny the facts and condemn me for things I have not done. Most of the people who harass me do not know me and know nothing about the case….My work is not therapy. However, I must admit that I am familiar with many of the workings of the apparatus of persecution shown in the film, and that has clearly inspired me.”

The film in question, An Officer And A Spy, focuses on the 1894 Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jewish officer was convicted wrongfully of treason and sentenced to life in prison. Polanski tied the story to the rise of modern anti-Semitism, which is a fair comparison. Another fair comparison is his own experience fleeing the Nazis during World War II as a child. However, when he tries to compare a man wrongfully convicted of crimes due to anti-Semitism to how he drugged and raped a 13 year old girl, that’s where we should draw the line.

Polanski has endured trauma throughout his life, and I am not going to minimize the loss and pain he has gone through. However, he admitted and was convicted of statutory rape and then fled the country. Even if his victim has said she’s forgiven him, he still made the conscious decision to assault a child. If anything is grounds for being “canceled” then that should be it. Being persecuted for committing a heinous crime is not the same as being persecuted by the Nazis. There is a massive difference.

Bruckner’s question is also deeply flawed in comparing the #MeToo movement and modern feminism to Nazis and Stalinists. The #MeToo movement is literally just demanding that Polanski be held accountable for, again, raping a child. That is not the same as a fascist ideology like Polanski faced during the war. To compare the two, and to say that somehow being expelled from the Academy due to the crimes he’s been convicted for is somehow a great “vexation” shows a deep lack of respect and understanding.

At this point, there’s little else to be said. Polanski is a convicted rapist who admitted to assaulting a teenager. This isn’t McCarthyism or some sort of hate movement against him. Women are rightfully angry about his actions. His work has not been removed from history and he’s still getting shots at film festival glory, so clearly this isn’t persecution. People pushing back against him and his place in the canon is a consequence for his terrible actions.

(via Deadline, image: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock)

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Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.