Should attitudes about allegedly heinous sexual behavior be mitigated by the passage of several decades? If a certain industry bigwig in his 50s is credibly accused of having harassed or assaulted a woman nine months or two years or even a decade ago, is that the same kind of outrage as an 86-year-old director having allegedly done something equally awful 40 or 45 years ago, when he was in his early to mid 40s and, not incidentally, swimming in the sexually wanton waters of the ’70s?
The conventional response would be “no, time doesn’t matter, doesn’t mitigate anything — a criminal is a criminal is a criminal.” And I’m not disagreeing with that. The opposite view is that an 86 year-old Roman Polanski, married with two grown kids, isn’t the same person he was 40 or 45 years ago. Emotionally, psychologically, even on a cellular-makeup level, that person literally doesn’t exist any more.
A separate view is that many respected filmmakers, especially those who were running around with power in the freewheeling ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, are unfortunately guilty of blemished or dishonorable behavior in the sexual arena. It’s very hard to find a famous person who doesn’t have some kind of skeleton in their closet, and the fact is that rebels and malcontents are often drawn to the creative realm, etc. The bottom line is when you start saying “your decades-old sexual history is too odious for us to allow you to be nominated for a Cesar or an Oscar”…where do you draw the line? Or do you draw it at all?
Certain French actors and filmmakers — Catherine Zavlav (Kabul Kitchen), Andrea Bescond and Eric Metayer (Little Tickles) and director Amandine Gay (Speak Up) — along with the U.S.-based Rosanna Arquette are calling on the European Film Awards to rescind Roman Polanski‘s nominations for An Officer and a Spy ahead of the 12.7 Cesar awards.
“The movie industry’s acceptance of Polanski must end…its complicit willingness to ‘separate the art from the artist’ must end,” a protest statement reads. “We ask that you also step forward and take a stand against sexual violence as movie industry professionals and European citizens. We ask you to shine your spotlight on rape culture in Europe and to shame, rather than laud, its perpetrators in the film industry.”