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Scoundrel Time

I was going to let this pass and probably should have (but when do thin-skinned bloggers ever let anything pass?), but I was flabbergasted to see myself attacked for praising Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer in this magazine and, especially, on CBS News Sunday Morning.

It’s another L. Brent Bozell III-sponsored special, which is fine: He has his moral universe, I have mine. I thought I’d summed up (or tried to) my conflicting feelings about Polanski here, and that I could go on to analyze the art in the context of the life and the life in the context of the art. In the case of Polanski, you can learn a lot about his inner world from his films, and that world is a scary place. As it should be, given the life he has led. But watch how the wingers work. When I said on CBS that Polanski was “both a victim and a victimizer,” this was presented as a) another deviant left-wing attempt of left-wing CBS (!) to exonerate Polanski for the rape of a thirteen-year-old; and b) another example of liberals’ sympathy for deviant sexuality. You see, the writer implied that the "victim" designation was in reference to poor Polanski’s exile and house arrest. You’d need to bring outside knowledge to the column to know that he spent his childhood hiding from the Nazis who’d murdered most of his family; that he’d subsequently grown up in a totalitarian Soviet puppet-state (Poland) that hated Jews almost as much as the Nazis did; and that after he’d finally managed to come to the U.S., his pregnant wife (and nearly-full-term child) were butchered by the Manson family.

As someone who believes that Polanski should go to prison, I maintain that The Ghost Writer is a superbly directed paranoid-conspiracy thriller, the work of a 78-year-old filmmaker who has barely lost a step. I also think Wagner’s Ring cycle is a hell of an opera. Sometimes great artists are profoundly messed-up human beings, but as long as the work itself does not promote evil (see the extraordinary new documentary Harlan: In the Shadow of The Jew Suss about Goebbels’s favorite filmmaker after the divine Leni), there’s more stuff in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in L. Brent Bozell III’s philosophy. How extraordinary the depths to which Right will stoop to appeal to the rage of the gullible. Calling Roy Edroso…

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