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What Does Roman Polanski’s Lawsuit Mean for Hollywood?

April 20, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Roman Polanski

If Hollywood wants to change and hold those in the industry to a higher standard, they have decades of hypocrisy to accept and overcome.

As if on cue, their first hurdle is coming up. Director Roman Polanski is suing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, demanding to be reinstated after being expelled last May after the Academy voted to expel him because of the statutory rape case from 1977.

Polanski’s suit says the organization did not follow proper protocol in dismissing him. The Academy did so “in accordance with the organization’s Standards of Conduct,” they announced at the time, adding their leadership expected members to “uphold the Academy’s values of respect for human dignity.”

Polanski’s suit goes on to say that the expulsion decision “is not supported by findings, and the Academy’s findings are not supported by evidence.” The director is asking for the decision to be reversed and for the Academy to pay costs incurred by the lawsuit.

“We are litigating the fairness of their procedure. They threw him out without warning and without giving him a chance to respond. There was not even any notice of why. After 40 years on the same day as [Bill] Cosby. Give me a break,” Polanski’s attorney Harland Braun told Variety.

The expulsion came at a time when the #MeToo movement was turning up a large number of accusers coming forward to document years and years of abuse of people in power.

Harvey Weinstein became the poster boy and the Academy was quick to remove him from their roster.

Let’s keep the focus on Polanski though. It’s been well documented that in 1977, Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping 13-year-old girl Samantha Gailey, who had modeled for Polanski during a Vogue magazine photo shoot the previous day around the swimming pool at the Bel Air home of Jack Nicholson.

Polanski was indicted on six counts of criminal behavior, including rape.] At his arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to all charges. Gailey’s attorney arranged a plea bargain in which five of the six charges would be dismissed, and Polanski accepted, pleading guilty to the lesser offence of unlawful sex with a minor.

After spending 42 days undergoing psychiatric evaluation in prison in preparation for sentencing, Polanski, who had expected to be put on probation, fled to Paris after learning that the judge planned to go back on the terms of the plea deal and imprison him.

In 1988, Gailey sued Polanski for sexual assault, false imprisonment, seduction of a minor, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Polanski agreed to settle with her in 1993.

Also of note is back In October of 2017, Renate Langer told Swiss police that Polanski raped her in Gstaad when she was 15, in 1972. That same month, Marianne Barnard accused Polanski of having assaulted her in 1975, when she was 10 years old.

No word on where those allegations stand.

Let’s pivot to the Academy. For years Polanski has enjoyed all the benefits of membership, critical acclaim, and worked with a number of high profile actors and actresses. All who knew his history. All who chose to work with him.

Watch the clip above from 2003 and note the reaction from the crowd. It’s cringe-worthy and is something the Academy needs to address before they do an about face and make a strong showing of policing their own. To celebrate him for so many years and then hold moral authority over him decades later is a sad chapter. .

Polanski’s lawsuit is an exposure of that hypocrisy and how the Academy responds will be telling, giving them their first real test.

And what of the media? Speaking for myself, once I learned of Polanski’s horrible crimes, I never once gave his movies any attention or viewings. While Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist, and others might be considered classics, I’m unable to look past the artist.

I admit that I struggle to find the line though. What of those in the video above who cheered on his Oscar win? What kind of admonishment to they deserve? If one goes through the degrees connecting everyone in Hollywood, one might find themselves unable to watch any movie.

Thoughts?

article topics :

Roman Polanski, Steve Gustafson