Why Do People Hate Roman Polanski?

Roman Polanski is a controversial film director who has been both praised for his cinematic achievements and reviled for his criminal actions. While he was once considered one of the great auteurs of cinema, public perception of Polanski has soured over the decades due to his despicable past behavior. So why exactly do so many people now hate Roman Polanski?

Background on Roman Polanski

To understand the disdain for Polanski, it’s important to first understand his background. Some key points:

  • Polanski was born in Paris in 1933 to Polish-Jewish parents. As a child during WWII, his family was forced into the Kraków Ghetto before being sent to concentration camps. His mother died in Auschwitz.
  • He began his film career in Poland before moving to the United States in 1968. He directed major films like Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist, earning praise and awards.
  • In 1977, Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to statutory rape.
  • Before sentencing, Polanski fled to France, where he has lived as a fugitive ever since. Attempts to extradite him back to the US have failed.

This background provides context for why public opinion has shifted against the once-acclaimed director. The tipping point was his conviction for sexually assaulting a minor.

Key Reasons for Hate and Controversy

There are several key factors driving the hatred and controversy around Roman Polanski today:

He Raped a Child

The biggest reason Polanski is so widely despised is that he raped a 13-year-old girl. This heinous crime understandably sparks outrage and disgust. Many believe his actions are unforgivable and can never be justified, no matter his directing resume.

He Has Avoided Justice

By fleeing before sentencing, Polanski has avoided paying the penalty for his crime. The fact that he has escaped real justice for over 40 years through legal loopholes and jurisdiction issues angers people. There is a desire to see him finally held accountable.

He Lacks Remorse and Blames the Victim

Polanski has never taken full responsibility for his actions. He has downplayed the severity of the rape, blamed media pressure for his guilty plea, and complained that the justice system treated him unfairly. This lack of remorse and repeated blaming of the victim have prevented any redemption in the public eye.

He Symbolizes Hollywood Privilege

To many, Polanski represents a toxic Hollywood culture that protects powerful abusers while ignoring their victims. The fact that he continued to enjoy success and accolades after his conviction strikes many as a symptom of Hollywood’s moral corruption. People are increasingly unwilling to separate abhorrent behavior from artistic talent.

Times Have Changed, But Polanski Has Not

Evolving social mores and awareness around issues like consent and sexual abuse have cast Polanski’s past actions in a much harsher modern light. But he remains unapologetic, which cements him as a pariah in today’s climate. As society’s standards change, his refusal to change with them angers people.

Hypocrisy on MeToo Era Values

In recent years, the MeToo movement has empowered victims and ostracized famous abusers. But Polanski’s defenders argue he should be judged by 1970s norms. This apparent hypocrisy in applying modern values selectively roils critics who argue all rape is reprehensible, regardless of era. The continued support Polanski enjoys strikes many as antithetical to current moral expectations around accountability for sexual assault.

Ongoing Controversies and Reactions

While the rape itself sparked Polanski’s initial downfall, controversies surrounding him have continued for decades. These recurring issues keep him in the news cycle and continue stirring public anger:

2003: Polanski Wins Best Director Oscar

Despite his conviction, Polanski was awarded Best Director for The Pianist in 2003. Public criticism was intense, and many felt it exemplified Hollywood’s willingness to overlook abuse. The backlash cast a permanent cloud over the prestige of that Oscar win.

2009: Polanski Arrested in Zurich, Fighting Extradition

In 2009, Polanski was arrested in Switzerland and spent months fighting extradition to the US. While some argued he had paid his debt, others said it proved he was still avoiding justice. Switzerland ultimately did not extradite him due to misconduct by the original judge.

2018: Polanski Expelled from Academy Post-MeToo

After years of complaints, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences finally expelled Polanski in 2018 following the MeToo movement. This controversial decision decades late was celebrated by many but criticized as selective by others.

2020: Polanski Wins Best Director at France’s Cesar Awards

When Polanski won Best Director at France’s Cesar Awards in 2020, numerous attendees walked out while others defended his right to be honored. This polarizing reaction showed how the director remains a lighting rod and complicates the separation of art from artist.

The recurring controversies keep Polanski’s crimes in the spotlight. For many, his rape conviction will always define him, and no amount of cinematic achievement can outweigh it.

What His Defenders Argue

While public opinion has decisively turned against Roman Polanski, he still has notable apologists and defenders in Hollywood and beyond. They make arguments like:

  • The initial charges were inflated, and the victim’s testimony supports a lesser offense.
  • He reached a plea deal for time served, which the court violated by threatening more prison time.
  • Other directors like Alfred Hitchcock have been accused of abuse and harassment without being permanently shunned.
  • His art should be judged separately from his personal life. Great films deserve recognition.
  • He suffered incredible tragedies like the Holocaust as a child.
  • He has paid his debt and doesn’t deserve ongoing public shaming.
  • The rape occurred over 40 years ago, and dredging it up now is unnecessary.
  • Official pardons by victims should settle the matter.

However, none of these defenses have succeeded in redeeming Polanski’s reputation in the public’s view. Most find his continued lack of accountability inexcusable.

Conclusion: An Unforgivable Offense and Avoidance of Justice

In the end, Roman Polanski is broadly hated because he raped a child and then escaped true justice for that heinous act. His unwillingness to take responsibility and his tone-deaf complaints of mistreatment further anger people. The fact that he continues enjoying success and acclaim is seen as a symptom of the privilege and moral corruption in Hollywood.

For many, Polanski’s monstrous sexual violation of a minor girl can never be rationalized or mitigated, regardless of his tragic history. Until and unless he finally faces the sentencing he still deserves, the majority of the public will continue despising Polanski as a predator who got away with it. The message is clear – talent, renown and childhood trauma don’t excuse rape. And fleeing justice will not be tolerated, even after all these years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What crime did Roman Polanski commit?

In 1977, Roman Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping 13-year-old Samantha Geimer at Jack Nicholson’s house. He ultimately pleaded guilty to statutory rape.

Where is Roman Polanski now?

Polanski fled the United States to France in 1978 before being sentenced for his crime. He has lived in Europe ever since, avoiding extradition back to the US. He is now 89 years old.

Did Polanski show any remorse for his actions?

No, Polanski has never taken full responsibility for his crime. Over the years, he has blamed media pressure, judicial misconduct, and his accusers for his situation. He maintains the relationship was consensual, showing little remorse.

Why don’t authorities in France extradite Polanski to the US?

While US authorities have continued seeking Polanski’s extradition, French authorities have refused to transfer him, in part because of an alleged mishandling of the case by the original American judge. His fame and connections likely contribute to his protected status in France.

What future legal consequences could Polanski still face?

If Polanski ever returns to the US, it’s very possible he would finally face sentencing for his decades-old crime. Some of the original charges had lengthy prison terms if he is convicted again. But at his advanced age and with sentencing errors alleged, predicting an outcome is very difficult if he ever stands trial again.

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