Gore Vidal, Rape Apologist

[Trigger warning.]

In an interview with The Atlantic, "American literary and cultural icon" Gore Vidal offers his take on Polanski:
I really don't give a fuck. Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she's been taken advantage of?
I don't even know where to begin with that shit. Leaving aside the fact that Polanski's 13-year-old victim was not, in fact, "a hooker," even if she had been, sex workers have the same right to consent as any other person does. Vidal is, of course, a Fauxgressive King, so perhaps I shouldn't be shocked, but I am, that he's eminently willing to treat that simple concept with such resounding contempt, given his commitment to sexual freedoms. I suppose "hookers" who reserve the right to not be "taken advantage of" are merely an impediment to the sexual freedoms he had in mind for pansexual intellectuals who can't be arsed with bourgeois concepts like consent.

When the interviewer, John Meroney, responds, politely, "I've certainly never heard that take on the story before," Vidal goes on to explain:
First, I was in the middle of all that. Back then, we all were. Everybody knew everybody else. There was a totally different story at the time that doesn't resemble anything that we're now being told.

The media can't get anything straight. Plus, there's usually an anti-Semitic and anti-fag thing going on with the press – lots of crazy things. The idea that this girl was in her communion dress, a little angel all in white, being raped by this awful Jew, Polacko – that's what people were calling him – well, the story is totally different now from what it was then.

...Anti-Semitism got poor Polanski. He was also a foreigner. He did not subscribe to American values in the least. To [his persecutors], that seemed vicious and unnatural.
I don't doubt for a moment that anti-Semitism was expressed against Polasnki 30 years ago, because anytime any person from a marganalized group does anything for which they're widely criticized (rightly or wrongly), there will be some people who infuse that criticism with bigotry. And while the coverage of the case today may well be focused more on the facts of the case and less on trying to demonize Polanki, that's not because "the story" is different: It's because feminists have spent the interceding decades doing vigorous public survivor advocacy and educating the public about victim-blaming, so details of any rape matter to more people than they did in the 1970s. (Though we still have a long, long way to go.)

All of which is to say: The facts are the facts. And Polanski's being subjected to anti-Semitism does not mean there is not a legitimate case against him. It is one of the many unfortunate contradictions of our multi-bigoted culture that a rapist can also be a victim of racism. As Shaker ErisDiscordia pointed out just earlier today in this thread about a current rape case in California: "This is going to be a trainwreck of victim-blaming versus racism. On the one hand, the victim is a female rape victim, and we know how about how much judges and juries care about them, but on the other hand, there are an awful lot of 'foreign-sounding' names on that list of suspects. What a nightmare."

When the race-baiting starts, it won't make those rapists any less guilty. Not now, not in 30 years.

Back to Vidal. He is then asked, "So you're saying that a non-Jewish director wouldn't have to worry about getting caught up in a sex crime scandal? Such a thing wouldn't be an issue for Martin Scorsese?" And as if to hammer the nail into his own coffin, he responds:
Well, he's an absolutely sexless director. Can you think of a sex scene that he ever shot?
Well, yeah. But aside from the multiple sex scenes I can immediately recall from his films, I also recall his infamous cameo from Taxi Driver, in which he plays a passenger who excitedly natters at Travis Bickle: "Have you ever seen what a .44 Magnum can do to a woman's pussy? What a .44 Magnum can do to a woman's pussy, now that you should see!"

It is one of the most disturbing and ominous references to sexual violence I've ever seen committed to film, one of the scenes I most closely associated with Martin Scorsese (which is, in case it's not evident, not a compliment), and yet Vidal casually thinks of him as "an absolutely sexless director."

I suppose that's merely one of many bookends marking the cavernous difference between myself and Mr. Vidal.

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