Repulsion, rage and Roman. From comments, to blog posts, to emails, my entire day has been filled with Roman wrath. I can handle it. And I should -- I touched on a sensitive, flammable issue. But based on my "Repulsion" piece here, I think some readers failed to understand what I was writing, and simply jumped to conclusions. Some thoughts were well thought out, and even if they didn't agree with me, I find this interesting since the study of film should involve a multitude of opinions. And I *was* studying a film. But due to the numerous comments, I felt I should explain my take on the Polanski case, and I linked more thoughts to my site, Sunset Gun. But since then, emails, blog posts and comments have increased, so I thought it necessary to publish it here as well.
Upon hearing the news of Roman Polanski's arrest Sunday, and after arguing, discussing and thinking about the horribly mishandled case, especially by the late Judge Laurence Rittenband, and of course, the wrongful actions of Polanski towards young Samantha Geimer in 1977, I posted my take on Polanski's brilliant Repulsion here, at the Huffington Post. From Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, Tess, Death and the Maiden, Bitter Moon and other pictures, I've always contended that Polanski has depicted women with complication, humanity, ugliness and most important, empathy. Polanski is an artist, an acute observer of life's darkness and absurdities on the level of Dostoevsky or Nietzsche. I write this not to defend statutory rape, I write this to study the visions of a troubled, talented human being, a human being who has gone through real horror himself and a human being who also happens to be one of the greatest filmmakers alive.
But before discussing Repulsion, I wrote this, very briefly at the Huffington Post:
I'm not going to go into my Roman Polanski defense. I've been doing this all morning, nearly ranting and raving over my views on the matter, and have grown frustrated and depressed. But in short, I'm not happy about his arrest. So, I would rather discuss one of his greatest pictures, a brilliant portrait of female sadness, alienation, sexual neurosis turned to psychosis. A movie all women should watch -- his masterpiece Repulsion.
This caused a flurry of outraged comments. Though many readers appreciated my essay, many slammed me for what they read as a defense of Polanski through his movies, Repulsion in particular. The Washington City Paper's blogger The Sexist wrote: "Congratulations, the Huffington Post's Kim Morgan:You win the prize of penning the most disgusting defense of Polanski I've read to date!"
Well if I get a prize, I'll hand a gold statue to The Post News blogger who wrote a bizarre, creepy take on my piece: "Kim Morgan claims she's setting aside her arguments for the right to rape children, and instead does some film criticism of Repulsion in an effort to suggest that Polanski can't be a rapist, because he understands women , and their dark desires -- hint, hint, his 13-year-old victim was asking for it when she cried and said no and begged to go home. Polanski knows women better than they know themselves, she says. He knows, apparently, that 13-year-olds are dying to be raped, even if they continue to say no after the fact by pressing charges... Morgan's insinuation that rape is some secret desire of women everywhere, and especially of junior high school girls."
I'm not sure how to respond to this this Andrea Dworkin-style foaming of the mouth, other than, I'm happy that she actually dug into my piece this deeply and at least saw some of the dual desires of women. Or, rather, what she views what I see. Even if she erroneously believes I'm saying Polanski can't be a rapist, because he understands women. And even if she thinks I'm a sick fuck.
And here from, Wet Asphalt:
Frankly, this argument is the most blatant example of starfucking to be found and that Repulsion is in fact a piece of shit has no more bearing on the argument than does the fact that Chinatown is a masterpiece. The ONLY reason a 'film and culture' writer like Kim Morgan would be 'ranting and raving' at all about anything related to this case is because Roman Polanski is a famous person and Kim Morgan is a starfucker.
Yeah. I've got no response to that one.
Though I understand the sensitivity and complexity of the matter, I find some of the hysteria bordering on insane. The emails I've received range from polite disagreement to articulatete salvos, to bizarre wishes that I should be or had been raped for my current defense of Polanski. Since I was 13 many years ago, and a woman myself, it's interesting to me that defenders of rape don't stop to think that perhaps, I might actually know a thing or two about such matters.
My stance has been that I believe the case should have moved along as originally settled by all parties, and not turned into the witch hunt it has become. Even, Roger Gunson, the Assistant DA who led the original prosecution, has expressed his problems with Judge Rittenband's conduct and stated that "under those circumstances" he wasn't surprised that Polanski fled. And I think that, for the sake of Samantha Geimer, this should have been laid to rest decades ago.
Read more Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun.