This is not the post I was going to make tonight.
I was looking forward to taking advantage of my evening off to give you a nice Crunchy Process Goodness post that's been brewing in my brain about Pride and Prejudice. Then, this morning, I read this article about the petition demanding the release of Roman Polanski. I'm embarrassed for my industry. I'm embarrassed that this statement is being perceived as our collective position on the subject.
And make no mistake, it is being perceived that way. Type Polanski's name in the search box on Twitter or in a Google Blog search, and watch the derisive comments about the industry as a whole scroll by. Who can blame them, given the growing list of signatories, individuals and institutions alike?
I'm exactly nobody in this business. I have no illusions about that. After all, that's the reason I don't post about contentious subjects here. This blog is a fun place to yammer about the work I love, with the occasional shameless plug or YouTube video that makes me happy. The last thing my modestly growing little career needs is for somebody to Google me and be offended by my spouting off on a contentious subject.
This subject should be anything but contentious.
I'm nobody. So maybe it means nothing to anyone but me that I declare, definitively and on my public blog, that this document does not speak for me. Or maybe it will mean something. I don't know.
There are so many things wrong with the statements in that petition: The characterization of Mr. Polanski's offense as "a case of morals," as if he got caught skinny-dipping in a hotel pool. The implication that an outstanding warrant should somehow not count simply because of its age, and the failure to acknowledge that he is not merely a suspect but a convicted felon.
And then there's this: By their extraterritorial nature, film festivals the world over have always permitted works to be shown and for film-makers to present them freely and safely, even when certain States opposed this.
I have the greatest respect for the tradition of presenting works by filmmakers who face genuine political persecution, who struggle and risk to create in the shadow of oppressive governments. I applaud festivals for doing whatever they can to get these people there safely and get their voices heard.
That the text of the petition equates Mr. Polanski's situation with theirs, when his arrest is the consequence of actions that have nothing to do with his work, is disingenuous and deeply insulting.
I'm nobody in this industry. But that's not to say nobody in the industry is standing up to dissent.
Kirstie Alley. Allison Anders. Alison Arngrim. Patricia Arquette. Adam Barken. Roseanne Barr. Ed Bernero. Luc Besson. Carrie Brownstein. Drew Carey. Beth Chamberlin. Noel Clarke. Paul Cornell. Michael Cudlitz. Jamie Lee Curtis. Sarah Fain. Lexa Doig. Jesse Eisenberg. Darren Ewing. Elisabeth Fies. Neil Gaiman. Martin Gero. Melissa Gilbert. Christopher Gorham. Javier Grillo-Marxuach. Greg Grunberg. Hart Hanson. Lore Hartounian. Salma Hayek (on Access Hollywood, link pending). Aviva Kempner. Sue Kramer. Lisa Kudrow. Robert Llewellyn. Joshua Malina. Denis McGrath. Ashley Edward Miller. Tom Morello. Rosie O'Donnell. Mo Rocca. Chris Rock. Michael Seitzman. Sherri Shepherd. Kevin Smith. Zack Stentz. Kurt Sutter. Alison Sweeney. Emma Thompson. Bo Zenga.
Honorable mention to a former Hollywoodite, because, well, the people of California did elect him Governor and all.
It might not be a very long list, but it's a start. And I'm sure there are more I don't know about. I'll add them as I become aware of them.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled babble.
Edit, 10/1/09: Thanks to yinyang for the comment pointing me to chrismm's post. I'm borrowing from her list (and the suggestions of her commenters) to expand this one, but also recommend you head over there. Partly to congratulate her on a job very well done, but also to check out the additional public figures -- authors, journalists, musicians, etc. -- whom I haven't added here only because it's the film industry that's primarily being perceived as calling for his release as a monolithic entity, and I want to do my little bit to demonstrate that isn't the case. She's also more thorough than I am with multiple links and descriptions. Generally awesome, please check out!
Edit, 10/3/09: I've now seen (and added my name to) two counter-petitions online, one at Care2 and another at Big Hollywood. The latter specifically calls on industry professionals.