Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I have decided what I think about the Roman Polanski situation

I went back and forth on this one because there are so many angles. He raped a 13-year-old! But--he had a plea deal for no jail time, but then the judge had an ex parte communication with a prosecutor and decided to throw him in the hoosgaw anyway! But--that doesn't justify fleeing the jurisdiction! But--his wife was murdered when she was pregnant! But--he thinks he can get away with anything just because he's famous! But--his mother died in the Holocaust! But--he raped a child! But--the now grown-up victim doesn't want him to go to jail!

I decided that I think the last thing is the most important: the woman who was the 13-year-old victim has forgiven him and moved on with her life, thinks he understands that what he did was wrong, and doesn't want him to go to jail. The response to this is that crimes are committed not just against the victim but against society/the state, and that it's up to society/the state, not the victim, to decide the appropriate punishment. But the criminal justice system does, at least sometimes, take victims' positions into account--that's the point of the "victims' rights movement," which allows victims of crimes (or their families) to speak at sentencings and parole hearings. It's true that there is also a movement towards prosecuting domestic violence even when the victim does not cooperate. I think that's a generally good development, because it makes the statement that domestic violence is wrong and will be punished regardless of whether the abuser is able to pressure the victim into recanting or changing her story.

Bringing charges when the victim doesn't want them brought is, in some ways, paternalistic--it's basically premised on the idea that the victim is not able to decide what's in her best interests. But I think that is an ickiness worth dealing with, in fairly limited circumstances. It is reasonable to say that domestic violence should be prosecuted without victim cooperation because domestic violence victims are likely to systematically support underprosecution of their abusers, and that underprosecution is bad for society as a whole.

I do not think this same rationale applies to Roman Polanski's rape victim. She is not in some kind of long-term abusive relationship with Polanski such that he is able to pressure her into blaming herself rather than him. She's a well-adjusted grown-up with 3 kids of her own who hasn't seen Polanski in 30+ years. If she doesn't want him to go to jail, I dont think everybody else should second-guess her.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Committing to living life in the present by watching TV

You know that magical-thinking sensation you sometimes get when cleaning the house that once you finish you will be done with for good and won't ever have to do it again? When I read Entertainment Weekly's Fall TV Preview a few weeks ago, I had that feeling, about work--I was looking forward to the time when I would be done with work and could really focus on other things, like TV, exercise, and blogging.

In the real world, I probably won't be done with work until at least 2042, and by then TV and the internet will be obsolete. Exercise will probably still be around, so I can hold off on that for now, but I should probably get on the TV and blogging while there's still time.

In that vein, I watched the new episodes of Gossip Girl, Dollhouse, and Bored to Death this weekend. Scripted TV, how I have missed you!

Of the three, I surprisngly found Gossip Girl to be the most affecting. The kids all headed off to college, and as difficult as you might think it would be to create convincing First Day of School nervous excitement for characters who act like alcoholic 37-year-olds, they basically pulled it off. Blair moved into the dorms at NYU (instead of her gajillionaire boyfriend Chuck's love nest) so that she could establish herself as the Queen Bee of the freshmen. But the plan backfired when B's Upper East Side culture clashed with college-kid crunchiness: nobody came to her sushi and saketini party because they were watching Vanessa's documentary about her organic community garden. And, Dan (Dan! the one from Brooklyn!) vetoed her signature accessory, telling her, "No headbands in college." Ow! The pain of being the reject is not dulled by having a catered cocktail party all to yourself.

Dollhouse was full of sexy mysteriousness, as usual, but I found that I could barely keep up with the ongoing plot arcs because I hadn't thought about them since last year. I do love Joss Whedon's refusal to dumb down his plots for people who aren't paying attention, but it sure does make you feel dumb then you are not paying attention.

Bored to Death, which stars Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis (the cousin of my idol Carolyn Hax's ex-husband Nick, if you were wondering), is about a writer (Schwartzman) who poses as a private detective in order to combat his ennui, or something. It was funny, but the most impressive thing about it was that it was the only show set in New York I've ever seen that really felt like it was in New York. New York kind of freaks me out, so that may not be a good thing in the end, but it was impressive nonetheless.

So that was a productive weekend! I am now going to direct my newfound energies towards watching The Amazing Race.