Roman Polanski will, as they say, “face justice” in a child-rape case so old the victim is perimenopausal. Good. There shouldn’t be a statute of limitations on that sort of thing, and no matter what the victim says today, there needs to be a reckoning, 76 years old or not, great artist or not, friend of Jack Nicholson or not.
I saw the documentary about the case. I have read opinions from both sides, those who call it “brilliant” and those who argue it was a cleverly constructed propaganda job (which, in documentaries, is a little like accusing water of being wet). No question that the case was seriously flawed, the judge a fool, etc. No question that the victim wants the case to be dropped and Polanski officially forgiven, as she says she has done. Admirable of her, but has anyone asked if the forgiveness was accompanied by a cash payment? I can’t recall. No question that Polanski, at 76, is likely no menace to society, or even to young girls, anymore. (Although you never know. I remember reading a story pegged to one of the big anniversaries of “Chinatown,” in which screenwriter Robert Towne described doing a rewrite with Polanski at the latter’s house, and how easily distracted Polanski was by the scene out the window, where several young girls frolicked poolside. He liked having girls of that vintage around. If only so many didn’t have mothers who thought that was just swell.)
The older I get, the more comfortable I am with situations that are muddy, complicated, filled with icky people on both sides but still have a clear right/wrong distinction, and this is one of them. Polanski needs to answer for, if nothing else, his flight to Europe. And that’s all I have to say about that, other than this: Like David Edelstein, I’m dreading the resolution of this case; he notes in a brief blog post, “Now, there will be a lot of grandstanding by idiots.” Yep.
If the Achilles heel of the right wing is their seemingly endless supply of family values-bleating, boy- and/or mistress-buggering Republican hypocrites, Hollywood plays the same role on the left, providing their private jets, their money and their glittery stardust and then getting that what? look when someone catches them being a little too artistic in the morality department. I haven’t said anything about Mackenzie Phillips yet, mainly because I couldn’t wrap my head around the nearly overlooked detail of that sordid story: Phillips asks us “not to judge” her father. It takes a very specific sort of showbiz birdbrain to say something like that, to tell us something vile and stomach-turning and them demand our stomachs not turn.
No real practical purpose will be served by locking up Polanski at this point, but (shrug). And if Mackenzie Phillips’ sordid overshare serves any practical purpose at all, let’s hope that it sets the bar so high for celebrity memoirs that fewer get published. The way I look at it, if the next starlet can’t top this with, oh, cannibalism, then the next starlet doesn’t get a book contract. Win-win.
Which brings us to Mitch Albom, who has a new book out this fall, another slim, small, wide-margined, born-to-be-a-bestseller volume called “Have a Little Faith.” The Free Press assigned a freelancer — that’s what “special writer” in the byline indicates — to do their Q-and-A, a wise move even if it produced the usual bootlicky crapfest, accompanied by two photos of the elfin Albom looking dark and broody. If I read the story correctly, the book examines Mitch’s return to Judaism? No, he doesn’t do that. He just has “faith,” preferring to play the piano at an inner-city black church and meet weekly with his old rabbi, who inexplicably has asked Albom to give his eulogy, even though he’s still hale and hearty. So much for rabbis being wise and learned. (I think it was Judaism, or at least Philip Roth, who gave “learned” its two-syllable pronunciation, in fact.)
It may be a sign of my boredom with Albom that I can’t even get pissy about this book, although we’ll see how the publicity tour goes. He has the usual kickoff planned — a star-studded “and friends” weepfest at the Fox Theatre tomorrow night that sounds excruciating. Ernie Harwell will be there; nothing like the presence of a beloved public figure with a terminal cancer diagnosis to get a crowd leaking like a sieve. Maybe Dave Barry can lighten things up, but my guess is, Mitch will settle for nothing less than a two-hanky soaker.
Boy, you can tell I’m working until 2 a.m. all this week, can’t you? I’m a hangin’ judge, and I’m coming for you. Just as soon as I have a little more coffee.
Off to the gym, instead. The only thing that keeps me sane in a week of five-hour sleep is clean living. And naps.