On Polanski

I've got a new piece up at The Guardian's CifA about Roman Polanski and the narrative that men who produce (what is arguably regarded as) great art are exempt from being decent human beings:
Very few, if any, of the people who have publicly defended Polanski, or who have worked with him, make it their business to champion or associate themselves with admitted child rapists. They make an exception for Polanski for the same reason exceptions have been for other famous, artistic men – directors, writers, actors, comedians, singers, musicians, dancers, choreographers, painters, sculptors, photographers – who have been known to sexually assault women and/or children: Because geniuses get special dispensation.

Because there's only one Roman Polanski.

So goes the breathless defense of the artiste, while the flipside of that particular coin, because thirteen-year-old girls are a dime a dozen, goes unspoken.

France's minister of culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, was quoted as saying: "In the same way as there is a generous America which we love, there is also a certain kind of America which is frightening, and it is this America which has now shown us its face." But for survivors of sexual assault, an America that more highly values art over accountability is frightening – and that pernicious cultural narrative should be frightening to every American for the message it communicates to potential rapists (and actual serial rapists) within the artistic community. Some artists, we tacitly agree, are so important that others must sacrifice for their art, too.

We have long prioritised men's art over women's safety, because there is a belief that a talented man, an auteur with a vision, might change the world, and to truncate that grand possibility with something as bourgeois as justice would be devastating.
Read the whole thing here.

Also see: LeMew.

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