Moral Fudge – nyum nyum nyum

There is no room for Gary Glitter in my frontline library.

Yeah, I know, judge not that ye be not judged and all that, but Christ the man is a horror show isn’t he? A proselytising pervert. An unapologetic monster. A despoiler of flesh and manipulator of minds who cannot even conjure up the slightest spark of recognition that his relentless selfish pursuit of his own gratification might be wrong in some absolute sense.

I always preferred The Sweet in the glam rock canon anyway, and the festive playlist will probably survive without Another Rock’n’Roll Christmas.

Gary Glitter then, let him be expunged from the record. I have spoken and exercised swingeing, virtuous justice. I have swinged.

Easy peasy, now let’s move on to Roman Polanski and watch my moral absolutism disintegrate.

The undisputed facts of the Polanski story are these:

  1. In 1977 Roman Polanski had sex with a thirteen-year-old girl in Los Angeles. He was arrested and charged with rape. He pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.
  2. He fled to London and then Paris to avoid sentencing.
  3. After having lived in exile in Europe since then Polanski was finally arrested by the Swiss police in September 2009 as he travelled to the Zurich Film Festival. This was at the behest of the US authorities.
  4. America instituted extradition proceedings. There was a huffy uproar from a section of the film-making community. The Swiss ultimately rejected the extradition request and pronounced Polanski a free man.
  5. Charlotte Lewis, who worked as a child actress on Polanski’s film Pirates, appeared at length on a BBC discussion programme today (27/07/10) claiming that in 1986, aged sixteen, she was coerced into sex against her will too. Her motivation in talking about it now, she says, is to add to the weight of evidence that will see Polanski extradited to the States to serve his time.

“Polanski,” shouts the world with some justification, “You are a menace and a pervert!”

There are some mitigating factors, maybe. Polanski lived his early life in the Krakow ghetto. His mother died in Auschwitz. In 1969 his heavily pregnant wife Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson and his “family”. I don’t imagine you would emerge from all of that unscarred, but does that make any difference?

Rather magnificently Samantha Geimer, the girl whom Polanski raped in 1977, subsequently publicly forgave him, and even wrote a piece in the LA Times arguing that he should be allowed back into the country to accept his Oscar for The Pianist.

She’s my hero in all of this.

Anyway my attitude to sex, stated numbingly often, is that y’all should just get on with whatever you want to do as long as it’s consensual. Some of it sounds exciting, what you all get up to, some of it sounds a bit worrying, but, hey, it’s none of my business. If you’re all cool with it, then so am I. The only point where other people are justified in sticking their noses in (unless you have invited them to, er, stick their noses in) is when consent is absent, and this is explicitly the case when one of the parties is not of full age and capacity.

Polanski committed an immoral and illegal act and his subsequent behaviour hasn’t really been that different from Gary Glitter’s. It’s a doddle for me not to engage with Glitter’s work because I don’t like it. It’s different with Polanski though.

A lot of his films I just can’t enjoy. You can keep Frantic, Bitter Moon, The Fearless Vampire Killers and so on, but I really, really like Rosemary’s Baby.

There were hyperbolic calls on the radio, as Charlotte Lewis was being interviewed, for the whole of Polanski’s career to be boycotted and parallels with the Gary Glitter case were specifically drawn.

And yet I’m keeping Rosemary’s Baby on my shelves. Also I have, and love, DVDs of The Thick Of It starring Chris Langham who later served time in prison for downloading child pornography onto his computer.

What does that make me?