Last week, when Shaker Mathilde emailed me about more heartbreaking signatories on Bernard-Henri Lévy's pro-Polanski petition, she said, "Perhaps tomorrow Emma Thompson and Ang Lee will pop up on the list. Then the nightmare will be complete."
To which I replied, "That gave me an enormous, cathartic lolsob." Because, of course, the idea that Emma or Ang would ever sign such a thing was absurd!
Today, Mathilde emailed: "Hello, it's me again, ready to ruin your day. Just in case you didn't know: Emma Thompson signed [the] petition. And the nightmare is coming true!"
And so she has.
I really don't understand what the hell is going on in these signatories' heads; I really don't. Although... Last Saturday, I asked Kenny Blogginz if he'd happened to watch the previous night's episode of Real Time, on which Janeane Garofalo was a panelist. He said he had—and immediately knew about what I was going to ask him, because it was so weird. And it may be a clue.
Maher has been one of the few celebrities to speak out about Polanski, the hypocrite that he is; in fact, I tuned in just to see if he'd make a rape joke in the same week he lambasted Polanski, and of course he did. In his New Rules segment, he actually did a child rape joke, comparing putting a "smart choice" healthy label on Froot Loops cereal to "a creep in the park carrying a puppy so kids will know he's friendly." Yes, eating Froot Loops and being raped as a child—exactly the same.
But I digress.
In the segment he dedicated to Polanski on the episode [that link comes with its own trigger warning], he says that the widespread support for Polanski in Hollywood is "why Hollywood gets a bad rap," which prompts Garofalo to jump in and point out Hollywood is not a monolith, and then it gets wacky from there [starting at 0:50]:
Maher: I mean, this is why Hollywood gets a bad rap—Richard Dawkins then jumps in with a rape joke wrapped in a blanket statement about Muslims, and then the segment ends, so there was no follow-up on Garofalo's evident misunderstanding of the facts in the case.
Garofalo: It isn't Hollywood! You're talking about people who are supporting him— Hollywood's not this monolith of like-minded people—
Maher: A lot of people signed that petition.
Garofalo: Yeah, and a lot of people didn't. It's a—you know, Hollywood, like I said, it's not this entity that moves with one mind. You're talking about Roman Polanski and a bunch of people who, I guess, know him or admire his work. I, uh, you know, would, would I sign it? But, you know, a pedophile—I'm not gonna sign a piece of paper supporting this guy. But I guess they feel that he has been, you know, paying for this for years—
Maher: Paying for this? He lived in France!
Garofalo: Well, he couldn't come back here, right? Isn't it that he could not, he couldn't—
Maher: [snorts] Where he's from. Oh, what a—
Garofalo: Yeah, but Roman Polanski has been not allowed to work in certain places. That's what I was led to believe.
So I was left wondering who it was, exactly, that led her to believe Polanski has been "not allowed to work in certain places." I mean, technically, that's accurate—but it's because he's been a fucking fugitive, not, as it's made to sound here, because he's been "banned" from working in America in some sort of extralegal punishment unique to him.
I said to KBlogz, "Did you get the impression we were getting a glimpse behind the curtain at the narrative that's being circulated about Polanski among his industry peers?" And he said that was exactly the same impression he got when he watched it.
Which is certainly no excuse whatsoever for anyone who's put their name to that despicable petition. The facts of the case are incredibly accessible—practically unavoidable for anyone who wants to find them. It's just an observation about how deeply insulated from reality a lot of celebrities really are if they're being told and unquestioningly believe that "Free Polanski" is merely about allowing a guy to work where he's been banned by virtue of some exorbitant and extraordinary retributive gesture by the provincial and puritanical US.
I suspect that a good number of the people whose names are on that list would be utterly mortified if they learned the actual facts of the case. As well they should be. By both their public support for an unapologetic rapist, and the idiocy or ignorance that landed them in that position.
It's a sickening ledger of conscious rape apologists and the easily led fools who jumped on their mendacious bandwagon.