Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roman Polanski vs. R. Kelly. What's the Difference?

Imagine if you will a fugitive rapist on the lam. He's finally been caught after raping a child. The reports indicate that he forced himself on her in several positions and the girl was scared not to resist. We would be relieved, we would be happy and even though wounds would be dug up, it's justice finally coming.

Now make that person Roman Polanski. 31 years after leaving California despite pleading guilty to those charges, he got arrested in Switzerland this week. And Hollywood has unloaded both barrels of support from Martin Scorsese, Debra Winger and Whoopi Goldberg.

(Sidenote: When I saw Woody Allen's support, all I could think of was Mos Def's "Mr Nigga" when he said Allen "molested and married his stepdaughter." A consenting adult but still, the irony)

But let's compare him to another sexual deviant. Another genius of his craft. Another polarizing figure. Come on down, Robert Kelly.

Unlike Polanski, Kelly had video evidence floating award for years. But just like the famed director, it took him years to go to trial even though he had an army of defenders. He still released music (just Polanski made films and cameos) and acted like he'd never see a courthouse. And he still won awards.

My question is this. How come Kelly still had to go to trial even though we thought he'd never get there and yet nobody wants Polanski to see court even though he pleaded guilty. What's the difference between what they did?
Both of them abused a minor. Both of them got away with it. Both had high-profile supporters in their corner. Yet Kelly still had to answer for his crime while Polanski has not.

So what if his accuser has forgiven him and has moved on. A felony is not about if the victim wants to press charges, it's the state against the accused. I'm not even saying dude should rot in jail, he should face the chance to pay the price for what he did.

Two successful men of their craft with dark pasts that need to be exorcised and held accountable. One already has and one needs to be.

Like Kelly, Polanski's skill should not be used to overshadow his faults. I liked his version of Oliver Twist in 2005 (more faithful to Dickens IMO) just like I enjoy Kelly's songs before I banned them from my I-pod. But that has nothing to do with their transgressions and I hate when people bring that that overshadows him fondling and having sex with a 13 (!!!!) year old girl.

Read LA Times Columnist Steve Lopez's great piece on this here - the court documents are tough to read. A crime is still a crime folks and no celebrity can tell me otherwise.

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