1975 Women-in-prison flick directed by Jonathan Demme. Tagline reads “WHITE HOT DESIRES MELTING COLD PRISON STEEL!” Originally uploaded at IMDB
Kate Harding thinks — and who but an asshole could disagree? — that it would be “superfun” to play a game called “Don’t Give Money To People Who Think Rapists Deserve Absolution, Sympathy, Freedom and Regular Public Tongue Baths.”
Harding alludes to a hypothetical boycott of the products blurped out by the burgeoning collective of rape-apologist celebrities who’ve lately been infesting the public square sporting “Free Roman Polanski” buttons. To the dismay of some of their more evolved fans, the gang includes pop-culture darlings whose public personae may have previously conveyed, when observed by the casual end-user, the [false] impression that they don’t support child rapists.
Who, you might ask, would be barbarian enough to form a chastity belt of solidarity around fugitive child rapist Roman Polanski?
A whole bunch of famous movie people, it turns out. Including Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Demme, Wim Wenders, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and Woody Allen. Oh, and Natalie Portman.
Wait! No! Not Whoopi, the affable Center Square who’s black enough to be hep, but not so black that she scares the honkys? Not Jonathan Demme, writer/director of Caged Heat (“Rape Riot and Revenge! White Hot Desires Melting Cold Prison Steel!”)? Not David Lynch, director of Eraserhead, beloved fanboy 16mm art-house ode to infanticide and male anxiety about jizz? Not Martin Scorsese, glamorizer of macho thugs, whose second most memorable character is a wise-cracking pre-teen hooker-with-a-heart-o-gold? Not Woody Allen, the sexullectual nebbish who likes to get bizzy with his step-children?
God, not Natalie Portman, photogenic girl?
It blows the lobe that total strangers (film stars, directors, “media personalities,” TV actors, et al) should transcend their 2-dimensional products to play active roles — enjoying varying degrees of symbololotry (no really, it’s a word!) — in the real lives of pop culture consumers. It blows the lobe, but the phenomenon (wherein civilians believe they have a sympathetic, unique rapport with their celebrities) supports a multi-zillion-dollar industry, a tragedy equal in scope only to the recent discovery that there is no more Cool Whip in the spinster fridge.
So, should a media personality’s insane views on bail-jumpin’ rapist Roman Polanski be a deal-breaker? Fuck yeah, they should. “Rape? It’s less important than Chinatown” is now part of their official pop narratives. Please. Like Chinatown is a sacred pile of Jesus-bones, or vital to the biosphere, or the cure for cancer or something. And even if it were, sending Polanski to the hoosegow would hardly eradicate his fucking beloved movie from the planet.
Dump the bastards!
What’s the deal with celebrities, anyway? Do they imagine the public are just maxi-pads with spending power, stuck to Hollywood’s underpants and happy to soak up what ever oozes out? Are they so bloated with self-regard that, when they aren’t giving each other awards on televised red carpets, they actually confuse their tight-knit cabal of overpaid ingenues, perverts, and 2-bit hams with a sort of Privy Council of the Divine? One that is imbued with sufficient power to override in their fans such ethical and just prejudices as “rape is a crime”? Or to subvert the justice system with their keen and considered legal analysis that Polanski, forced to live comfortably in Paris and make Oscar-winning films all these years, has “suffered enough”? Whoopi, a noted legal scholar, has famously observed that what Polanski did — i.e. drugging and sexually assaulting a pre-pubescent girl — wasn’t “rape rape.”
Possibly Whoopi views Polanski’s violent crime in this seriously fucked-up way because in Hollywood — patriarchy’s primary misogyny propaganda unit — rape is nothing but a plot device. An extremely popular plot device. In fact, it’s the principal motif in about 97.3% of films and TV shows. Ya gotta love the Hollywood “love-rape,” wherein the starlet demurs, so the hero gives her what she really wants (see Gone With the Wind for an Oscar-winning archetypal example). The love-rape is so popular that Hollywoodists apparently think nothing of its practice in real life. It’s completely normal for directors to invite “sophisticated” 13-year-old “Lolitas” into their homes by promising to photograph them for Vogue, but instead they dope’em up with liquor and ludes to facilitate “consensual sex.” That’s not rape. That’s entertainment!
Disappointed fans of rape-apologist celebrities might consider, once they’ve worked through their shock and bereavement, precisely what, in terms of philosophic value, is really offered by these people. I hypothesize that it is possible to live a stunningly adequate life without buying any Woody Allen at all, either Allen-as-concept (see “sexullectual nebbish,” above) or his sexist-ass films. Likewise, it shouldn’t be too difficult to eliminate both the essence and the filmography of Natalie Portman from the intellectual environment; few, if any, spinster aunts in good standing could even pick her out of an identity parade. Ditto all those other artistes. And if playing Kate Harding’s “Fuck You, Rape-Apologist Celebrities!” game means crossing Whoopi’s Sister Act II off my Netflix queue, well, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
Celebrities are just mercenary pukers of pop culture artifacts.