The Oxford English dictionary defines a paedophile as a person whose sexual desire is directed towards children.
Last week the film director Roman Polanski was arrested by police in Switzerland acting on a US extradition warrant while he attending a film festival in his honour. Polanski was wanted in relation to the vaginal and anal rape of a thirteen year old girl. He had groomed the girl with the chance of a photo spread in Vogue magazine and then drugged her. The case dates back to 1977. Polanski had pleaded guilty to statutory rape in the hope of escaping a prison sentence but then skipped bail and hasnt been back to the United States for more than three decades. You might think that the capture of a fugitive paedophile would be universally applauded. Not so. The intelligentsia were in uproar at Polanskis arrest and pending extradition to America to stand trial. Celebrities were livid. Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, et al couldnt believe that Polanski had been banged up. He should be released. NOW. And they know better than you, so youd better listen. Because theyre special people. Celebrated Swiss photographer Otto Weisser, famed for his photographs of women both in and out of bikinis, caught the mood perfectly when he said: He’s a brilliant guy and he made a little mistake thirty-two years ago. And, I mean, we all mistakes, dont we? Havent you? Last week I left one of my electric hobs on.
Film producer Harvey Weinstein threw his weight behind the outrage and commented at length. He remarked: It is a shocking way to treat such a man. Polanski went through the Holocaust and the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, by the Manson family. How do you go from the Holocaust to the Manson family with any sort of dignity? In those circumstances, most people could not contribute to art and make the kind of beautiful movies he continues to make. A petition has been organized by a group of film luminaries, aghast that such a famous and gifted paedophile has been arrested. It states: We demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski. Film-makers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary film-makers, is used by police to apprehend him. One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. One mans paedophile is another mans what? Polanskis cause has been taken up by, amongst others, Stephen Frears, Terry Gilliam, Michael Mann, John Landis, Monica Bellucci, David Lynch, Jeanne Moreau and Tilda Swinton. He may become the Paedophile Mandela. Perhaps the Specials will re-form; dust off the pork pie hats and get the two tone out. I can almost hear Terry Hall now, with his rude boy patois: He was just having fun when he poked her up the bum, so Freeeeeeeeeee, Roman Polaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanski
So I was wrong and the capture of a fugitive paedophile isnt universally applauded. It seems its down to ying and yang, and so, obviously, as Harvey Weinstein said, Polanskis got a few trump cards to play when it comes to inserting his penis up the vagina and backside of an unwilling thirteen year old. (1) He survived the holocaust. (2) His pregnant wife was murdered. (3) His molestation of a child is somehow mitigated because of his blinding use of colour and lighting in China Town. In that case, crack on, mate, fill your boots. Perhaps paedophilia is a question of context. Perhaps its a question of who, when, how and why? A Roman Catholic Priest stuffing one up the choirboy after Vespers and we all know that its a shameful act and should be condemned. The Church is such an incestuous organization, perpetuating myths and lies. Not at all like the film industry. We’ve all read The Da Vinci Code. Some random dirty old man flying to Thailand to get smoked by a thirteen year old girl deserves the unflinching contempt of us all. But, obviously, Polanskis is a special case. And as Whoopi observed: It wasnt rape, rape. No? Whoopi cleared things up by adding: [America is] a different kind of society we see things differently. The world Europe sees things differently So maybe its all down to taste. Maybe its a question of a certain kind of Europeans sophistication when it comes to matters of sex. Maybe its because the general public, drones that we are, dont understand the exceptional place that such people as Whoopi and Polanski inhabit. Under these circumstances, perhaps Polanskis sexual molestation of a child can be likened to a gourmand who appreciates outré cuisine reserved for those of a discerning taste, intent on sampling the finest dishes. Those dishes that are out of the ordinary. Those dishes that only the special people with deep pockets and glamorous lifestyles can appreciate. Like fattened foie gras and honey seasoned baby Orang-utans colon. Polanskis sexual palette is refined by his apparent genius, the common rabble wouldnt understand. Perhaps with his creative force, this wasnt the run of the mill sodomy of a child by an adult, this was the sexual adventure of a cinematic sage savouring the succulent vagina and anus of a thirteen year old girl with a special, sophisticated relish that is not only excusable, but understandable for a man of his refinement. Perhaps the illustrious people who have signed the petition to free Roman Polanski grasp something that we lesser mortals simply cannot understand? Polanski champion Stephen Frears and his painter wife, Anne Rothenstein, have young children. Would he, I wonder, be happy to have Polanski help his daughter at thirteen to earn her brown wings? Perhaps he could commemorate the event by having her first bowel movement post rape dropped onto one of his wifes blank canvases. Framed and hung. Brown, red and white. A study in the anal rape of a child. It might win the Turner Prize.
We are, as Jonathan Meades once observed, when comparing the contrasting attitudes to mass murders Adolf Hitler and Uncle Joe Stalin, selectively fastidious, selectively demonizing. Polanskis arrest coincides with the case of nursery school worker Vanessa George in Plymouth. George took indecent images of children in her care and shared them with like-minded perverts Angela Allen from Nottingham and Colin Blanchard from Rochdale. There is nothing glamorous about the life of Vanessa George. Theres nothing sophisticated about the images she took of toddlers. Her use of depth of field had none of Polanskis touches. Her lighting effects were appalling. She didnt capture a naked child with anything like Polanskis flair behind the lens. Vanessa George has been universally vilified. Vanessa George has been branded a monster even by her own children. Detective Superintendent Adrian Pearson, of Nottinghamshire Police, who investigated the case, said: Those three individuals have shared quite willingly and freely images, texts, fantasies of the most serious level you could imagine. George, unlike Polanski, isnt a genius film director and friend to the famous. George has yet to draw on the support of Whoopi Goldberg, Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese. Stephen Frears has not, so far, jumped to Georges defence. Monica Bellucci has said nothing about George. Perhaps if Georges work is repackaged as cutting edge gonzo cinéma vérité shell get them behind her. You never know. But, as it stands, George isnt rich, she isnt sophisticated, she isnt a genius, shes just a pervert who preyed on children. No one has called for her release. No one has vilified the authorities for bringing her to justice. Theres a world of difference between her and Roman Polanski, obviously.
Anyway, Im going to watch Whoopi in Sister Act 2: Back in the habit (the directors cut). Its a bit of an auteurs version. Its challenging to watch. It has the deleted scenes where Father Maurice and Father Ignatius spit roast an altar boy while Whoopi and the sisters sing I cant help myself (sugar pie honey bunch) in the background. Cinema gold.