Inspection- Roman Polanski: Pedophile or Nasty Criminal Putz?

Polanski: Pedophile? Or nasty, criminal putz?

The case of Roman Polanski has me into more than mere muse as of late over these two skews: ways to frame his crime. When I first heard the news I wondered, “Where the hell has the media been on this?”

Where the media usually is: no where to be found if it’s not sexy or serves the some big corporate agenda.

What’s the fuss is about his cinematic work I have never quite figured out. Even though I’ve had multiple film critique classes and know amongst many profs his work is well respected, in my opinion his most famous movie: Rosemary’s Baby was a big yawn and a big promotional smooch to Catholicism and superstition, for example. I can’t remember a damn thing about Chinatown or The Pianist. Good movies hang with me. Polanski’s movies twist away easier than Linda Blair’s all too obviously fake head. And sometimes all I’m left with is fake puke. Gross? Yes, but not all that interesting, relevant or even good fiction.

Yeah, I know. Supposedly Baby was supposed to have been based on real events. But I’m enough of a skeptic to only believe that’s what really happened like that just as soon as I see the ghost of Harry Houdini who said he would come back if it’s possible.

His movies, as a whole, have neither overwhelmed me, nor impressed me. I do think, like most icons, he’s a bit over-rated.

Though I was not impressed, I have no personal ax to smash into what soon will be mere remains of a towering tree of a career here. What makes him so popular? Stumps me.

Since I’m not a fan you’d think my first reaction would be to cheer the pickle he got himself into in after using his own personal pickle in a very inappropriate manner, oh, so long ago. No, my first reaction was…

“Why do they insist on conflating statutory misbehavior with being a real pedophile?”

This has less to do with Polanski than it does my feelings regarding dating and age differences. I learned about this issue early: when I was still a teen, and I also learned I am no fan of older men who date underage girls. I lost a friend in the late 60s/early 70s over this issue.

Dan was a smarter than your average 16 year old who, more so than most, was hormone driven. (Maybe I should strike “most” and rephrase as “all?”) Briefly after we first became friends he started dating Marsha. She was 14, he was 16. OK, problematic, but not something I found offensive. The last time we had a true discussion was when he insisted he was going to date Lisa.

“Dan, she’s a sixth grader. And if you hadn’t futzed around all these years by now you’d be a senior like me. It’s immature decisions like this that hold you back.”

“But I like her!”

“Dan, she’s friggin 12 years old, you’re almost 18.”

“But I like her!”

“Dan, if you do this, I can’t be your friend anymore.”

Well, I’m sure you know where that went. So I’m obviously no pal to those who do such things. But there’s something so obviously different when comparing the two. Both are predatory, true, though I believe one is less so. Someone who dates under age; especially with that much of a difference, should be punished. We have to draw the permission line somewhere, and a 12 year old really… most of the time… hasn’t the schnock to decide either way. OK, I understand that doesn’t translate into “all,” but I still go back to…

“We have to draw the permission line somewhere.”

But a true pedophile should really be more clearly defined: both legally and socially. Why? Someone who chases five-year-old kids is sick beyond belief. So why do we, as a society, shove both dating under age women and chasing little kids into this catchall pedophile category? We shouldn’t, because it’s like treating assault as the same as mass murder. The two are simply not the same, and they shouldn’t be put together on any list: national or local, without at least distinguishing between the two.

That’s what we don’t do now. As it stands a 18 year old who gets caught with a 15 year old is pretty much considered the same as the 50 year old who likes to prey upon 3-year-olds. That is flat out wrong.

Yet, as the story progressed and I learned more about what happened, I became less and less comfortable with my own position.

She was drugged.

She was drunk.

I would assume Polanski had something to do with all of the above. “Jackass” doesn’t quite describe my feelings.

I have read she’s still angry over what happened, although even she has said it was long ago and we should let it go. I’m sorry, I can’t agree: he had to be in his forties, she… 13. And, to add to the rage, we can’t let someone who ran get away with it, even if the judge went back on an agreement.

But all these issues: the drugging, the alcohol, the extreme age difference… could be punished under separate laws. We could actually punish him worse than a true pedophile if we treated his crimes that way. Yet in their anger people want to conflate this kind of criminal prosecution with those sick bastards who hunt and prey on the smallest and most vulnerable amongst us, much like our laws do.

There simply is no comparison.

One type of person needs to be punished, yes, but the other probably needs to kept away from civilized society: permanently.

Now that’s something I might agree to.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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