And Whoopi Goldberg said that "I don't believe it was 'rape-rape.'"
How is one to explain the film world's conscience?
Here are two possible explanations:
First, as Anthony Mora, founder of a leading Los Angeles-based public relations firm, noted, "the disconnect between Hollywood and the rest of the country seems enormous." This was echoed by another Hollywood insider, Michael Levine, also prominent in PR: "Hollywood people really don't see the world in the same way as average people..."
Many of the people who inhabit the upper echelons of the film world (and some other arts as well) do not have the same moral values as the rest of society. They seem to believe they are ubermenschen -- a form of Nietzschean supermen and superwomen -- to whom normal standards do not apply.
New York Times reporter Michael Kimmelman wrote a fine piece on this disconnect and the self-adulation of Hollywood types. He noted, for example that after calling the rape a "so-called crime," "Mr. Weinstein, in all apparent seriousness, told The Los Angeles Times that "Hollywood has the best moral compass."
Hollywood's view of its superior morality is prompted by two factors: the excessive adulation it receives from the public and from one another (in what other area of human endeavor do people give one another as many awards?); and the belief that making art renders one a morally superior human being.
As noted by many observers, imagine if Polanski were a Roman Catholic priest -- or a Republican politician -- accused of the same crime. All hell would have fallen on the man's head. The Boston Globe cited the Rev. James Martin, associate editor of America magazine: "If Polanski were in a collar there would be no boo-hooing about his recent plight. There would be zero pity for him. ... Can you imagine a petition being circulated among actors, directors, and producers in the United States to have a Catholic priest reinstated in his parish after he had abused a 13-year-old child? If you believe this about Polanski -- that his good deeds offset his guilt and that enough time has passed -- do you believe the same about pedophile priests?''
Second, Hollywood specifically, like the film world generally, is a cocoon. Rather than cosmopolitan, most of those who inhabit this rarefied world are abnormally provincial: Their worlds are inhabited with like-minded, equally provincial, equally self-absorbed types. They dine, socialize and party with clones of themselves and protect one another right or wrong. "Elite Hollywood culture is protecting one of its own," said Alexander Riley, a professor of sociology at Bucknell University.
Once again, Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times: "In Poland, where the director is also a citizen, Polish filmmakers appealed to President Lech Kaczynski to intervene, saying their colleague had fled the U.S. to escape 'a lynching at court.' The president of the German Film Academy, echoing Mr. Weinstein, spoke about the need for 'solidarity among prominent people' and bemoaned how Mr. Polanski had been arrested on his way to a film festival, as if film festivals were embassies or churches."
We have reason to be grateful to the Polanski affair. It offers that most needed of virtues: clarity. It has made the average citizen aware of how broken the cultural elite's moral compass is. And it has illuminated how equally distorted their self-image is. They see themselves as morally superior. They see themselves as worldly when in fact they are profoundly insular. And they see themselves as courageous artists when in fact the rarest films are those that involve any moral courage (for example, how many films about Islamic terror and the world that incubates that terror can you name?)
But the greatest benefit of the Polanski affair may be that the next time you see the Hollywood elite come out on behalf of or against some public issue, you can most likely assume the opposite is the morally correct position.
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