Monthly Archives: September 2009

Roman Polanski and the grossness of ’70s Hollywood

Kate Harding has a terrific post in Salon pushing back against the dominant framing of the Roman Polanski arrest. Rather than first thinking of Polanski as a brilliant, persecuted director, she says, we should start here: “Roman Polanski raped a child.” Then he pleaded guilty, and fled the country before sentencing.

(Other good reading in this vein: Harding’s follow-up in Jezebel recounting the depressingly long list of Hollywood types who support Polanski. And Bill Wyman’s pushback against obseqious coverage of a 2008 documentary about the Polanski case.)

But something else in the Polanski tale keeps catching my eye. From the CNN report on Polanski’s arrest:

Polanski was accused of plying a 13-year-old girl with champagne and a sliver of a quaalude tablet and performing various sex acts, including intercourse, with her during a photo shoot at actor Jack Nicholson’s house. He was 43 at the time.

Nicholson was not at home, but his girlfriend at the time, actress Anjelica Huston, was.

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The continuing awfulness of John Edwards

Hey, remember when John Edwards was running for president, and his wife’s cancer returned? And then he was caught having had an affair, and he lied about not having an affair? But then he had to admit that he did have an affair, but he denied that the child of the woman he had an affair with was his, but nobody believed him because he’s a liar who cheated on his wife who had cancer? And then he stopped running for president because nobody wants a president who cheats on his wife who had cancer and lies about it? Remember that? Yeah, this guy:

Mr. Edwards is moving toward an abrupt reversal in his public posture; associates said in interviews that he is considering declaring that he is the father of Ms. Hunter’s 19-month-old daughter, something that he once flatly asserted in a television interview was not possible. Friends and other associates of Mr. Edwards and his wife of 32 years, Elizabeth, say she has resisted the idea of her husband’s claiming paternity. Mrs. Edwards, who is battling cancer, “has yet to be brought around,” said one family friend.

Way to take responsibility after lying to the world, John Edwards! Especially now that nobody in America wants to ever hear your name again! Oh, also there’s this:

[P]eople who know Ms. Hunter said she was planning to move with her daughter, Frances, from New Jersey to North Carolina in coming months.

Those are going to be some fun Christmas dinners with the whole fam!

It’s not really fair to say that one case of adultery is worse than another. But in a recent Atlantic essay, Caitlin Flanagan put what Edwards did in perspective to devastating effect.

Writing about Helen Gurley Brown, Elizabeth Edwards, and infidelity, Flanagan first recounts the funeral of a teenage boy who died in a car crash — the same way the Edwardses’ son Wade died in 1996. Then she pivots to what John Edwards’s infidelity means in such a context:

Things fell apart when they tried to spade in the earth, and there was screaming and titanic grief, and you were in the position of watching someone being forced—physically forced—to bear the unbearable. At last it was done, and the family stumbled back up the hill to the air-conditioned cars with the liveried drivers, and the mother collapsed into one car, and the door was shut solidly behind her, sealing her into her shadowed madness.

“You are so hot,” Rielle Hunter said to John Edwards 10 years after he and his wife buried their first boy, and after they had started a new family, and after they had given their all to a presidential campaign—with the personal losses and long separations that come with it—and after Elizabeth had been diagnosed with cancer and undergone a disfiguring surgery and chemotherapy and lost her hair and been handed a recalculated set of odds about her life expectancy with two very small children who needed their mother.

What a creep.