Wednesday, September 30, 2009


The people at Shakesville occasionally say good things, but for the most part they're pretty dumb. Is my experience, anyway. So I'm not surprised by their approach to the whole Polanski thing, but I am infuriated by it, as is my duty as a person on the internet.

First, there's Melissa McEwan's repeated posting of the names of celebrities who have become "disappoinments" to her by signing the "Free Polanski" petition. No mention of the fact that she doesn't actually know these people (they're celebrities, not acquaintances), so having a preconceived notion of their feelings about these issues is a bit silly. No mention either of the fact that there is no relationship between, say, Harrison Ford's feelings on Roman Polanski and Harrison Ford's usefulness as an actor (when it's a director or a writer I could see there being more of a link, fine, but PETA were still idiots for protesting Chicken Run because the creators of it eat chicken, if you get what I'm saying*). No mention that if all of these people that she once respected feel this way, perhaps there might be a least a little room for argument? I'm not necessarily saying that Polanski is innocent, or that he deserves to be freed (any more, I should specify, than any other imprisoned person, all of whom deserve to be freed, but that's too much to be getting into right now). All I'm saying is that if a whole bunch of people you respect are suddenly behaving in a way that you find objectionable, you could at least consider that you could be wrong. Not saying you have to come to the final conclusion that you're wrong. Just consider it.

And now, far more objectionable: co-blogger Deeky's post titled "Taking Her Side".
Aside from Kevin Smith (who tweeted this out yesterday) and Greg Grunberg (who posted this) I've not seen any other celebrities siding with Samantha Gailey, Roman Polanski's victim.

The silence is, as they say, deafening.
Leave aside for the moment that Kevin Smith's "Do the crime, do the time" is a reflexive, thoughtless repetition of someone else's reflexive, thoughtless repetition of a horrible, horrible cliché that reinforces the disgustingly punitive aspects of our culture. Leave aside the fact that Greg Grunberg seems to be posting in utter ignorance of the details of the case (Polanski pled guilty because the judge agreed to a lenient plea bargain, and fled because the judge changed his mind after Polanski made his plea--which, incidentally, is not illegal but sure as hell should be).

What's disgusting about Deeky's post is that people are not taking Ms. Gailey's side by denouncing Polanski. What she wants, as she has said repeatedly, is for everyone to drop it so she can move on. By talking about it, endlessly, the Shakesville bloggers are emphatically not taking her side. Regardless of their reasons for thinking they're in the right (some of which are convincing, some of which are not), they are not on her side. Claiming that people like themselves and Smith and Grunberg are is extremely presumptuous, and denies Ms. Gailey's right as a human being to choose for herself how to feel.

I find it extremely ironic that a bunch of self-righteous ninnies are denying Ms. Gailey her humanity in their overeager attempts to denounce someone else for denying her her humanity. Obviously there is a huge difference in degree in not respecting her wishes and (allegedly**) drugging and raping her, but both actions are efforts to strip her of her human agency in order to achieve what you want. There's also the fact that the bloggers (myself included, unfortunately) are doing it now, whereas Roman Polanski, if he did it, did it thirty years ago. He and she are different people now than they were then, and the people they are now are not in a relationship of victimizer and victim. But the people who are refusing to just fucking drop it like she wants are, in their presumably*** smaller way, victimizing her now.

The silence is, as they say, what she fucking asked for, you arrogant asshole.

Oh, and incidentally? It's possible to be a feminist and not automatically think that Polanski should be locked away forever (especially if like me you think no one should be locked away). It's also possible to be a feminist and like directors you don't. Or to find worth in works that have elements of misogyny. If it upsets you that I say that as a man (and therefore someone not directly impacted by misogyny), I'll add that I feel the same way about works that are homophobic or antisemitic. The world is a complicated place that includes bad things mixed in with good things. The ability to recognize the good things in spite of the bad does not necessarily make someone your enemy.

*Among other reasons that PETA are idiots.
**Not in legal terms, perhaps, but in human moral terms, the accusations have by no means been proven.
***Of course I have no idea if Ms. Gailey would agree with my assessment.

UPDATE: While I was writing this, the following exchange took place in comments. Commenter clauclauclaudia said "The difficult thing about speaking up to support the victim, is that the victim has publicly said [that she feels] victimized all over again every time the case gets lots of media focus. How do you support her by saying *anything*, given her feelings on the subject?" To which Melissa McEwan, the owner of the blog but not the writer of the post, responded,
Just a point: It does say "her" and not "Samantha."

Given the sex of most rape victims, and the fact that this case is indeed about justice and about rape narratives generally, like the ever-popular "he said-she said" and so forth, maybe it's relevant that it's "her" side.

Just sayin'.
Which is such a steaming load of bull. For one thing, if that was Deeky's intent, he should have said "women's" instead of "her", considering that the specific case he was referring to was about one specific person, so naturally "her" would seem to refer to, well, her. For another thing, he explicitly says "I've not seen any other celebrities siding with Samantha Gailey." So unless McEwan is trying to say that Samantha Gailey is some kind of new collective noun indicating every woman on Earth, she's full of shit. For clarity's sake, when I say "she's full of shit," the word she refers specifically to McEwan, not all women.

UPDATE II: I guess I should mention that I'm using the name "Gailey" partly because it's the one Shakesville used and partly as an attempt to be as respectful to her as I can be while, you know, disrespecting her wishes and continuing to talk about it. She uses a different name now, possibly (I don't know for sure if this is actually why, but my impression is that it is) to help disassociate herself from all this, and by not using it I am, I hope, at least not harming that effort. I just don't want to come off as disrespecting her in another way by using a name she has abandoned. I think and hope my reasons for doing so are sound.

No comments: