The Nobel-Hollywood Complex Implodes
Polanski, Letterman, and the Norwegians make conservatives’ day
by Noemie Emery
Three times in the past several weeks, fortune has seemed to beam on conservatives, in unexpected and unprompted ways. Not that they’ve won much, but their tormentors keep losing. Three days in fall 2009 damaged or neutralized three liberal institutions, whose powers have now been curtailed.
Break number one came on September 26, when Roman Polanski, on his way to collect a lifetime achievement award from the Zurich Film Festival, was intercepted by Swiss police and tossed into prison, pending extradition to the United States, which he had fled 30 years earlier to avoid a jail sentence for drugging and raping a girl of 13 (a crime he had pleaded down to unlawful sex with a minor)…..
In defending their friend, the points made by his allies amounted to these: (1) The crime wasn’t that bad; (2) it was bad, but it was so long ago that it no longer mattered; (3) Polanski had suffered already: Family members had died in concentration camps, and his wife and unborn child were murdered; and (4) it might have mattered if it had been done by a lesser creative talent, but middle-class standards of law and of morals do not apply to artistes such as he. Their attitude was prefigured by Tom Shales of the Washington Post in a sympathetic June 9, 2008, review of a sympathetic HBO documentary, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired: “Polanski belongs to a rarefied subculture: celebrities hounded by the state.”….
The second break came on the night of October l. David Letterman started off his opening monologue not with some straying governor’s problem, but with a problem much closer to home. As he told his audience (which laughed and clapped, as it thought he was joking), he had played around with a great many women who were in his employ, and a CBS news producer had tried to extort him, threatening to go public with numerous scandals unless paid $2 million. Among the details which surfaced quite quickly: Dave and the producer had been sharing a woman, which made this affair slightly more creepy than that of Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, though less so than those of John Edwards and former governors Jim McGreevey of New Jersey and Eliot Spitzer of New York…..
Nonetheless, Tom Shales was there again to offer solace: “One of the many sad things,” he lamented, was that now Letterman would be “lumped in with other sexually misbehaving celebrities, even though he stands head and heart above most of them.” Though not an artiste on the scale of Polanski, Letterman was artist enough that he should still be allowed to lampoon political figures whose transgressions were no worse than his was, not to mention being free to slime other politicians with no transgressions whatever, such as when he had called Sarah Palin “slutty” and joked that her 14-year-old daughter had been “knocked up.” Palin deserved it, Shales explained, as she was a “two bit politician.” It’s how Letterman shows his great heart.