Why Are Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster Working With Roman Polanski?

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It's my sense that the uproar about Roman Polanski's conduct after his arrest was just exhausting to most people, particularly those on the side of the debate who thought he ought to return to the United States to face long-delayed punishment. I assume it's that sense of exhaustion that's prevented a greater uproar about the news that a number of prominent actors and actresses are signed up for his next product, an adaptation of God of Carnage.


Ultimately, I've come to believe that actors and actresses don't keep working with Polanski because they believe art is a higher imperative or because there's some kind of kinship between artistic spirits. Rather, I think famous actors and actresses can justify working with Polanski because they're privileged enough not to see him, and people like him, as a threat. When you can hire bodyguards and a security system, when you can get expedited restraining orders against stalkers, when your children have bodyguards or private tutors or both, when you can get them into good schools and in front of directors, or producers, or the gatekeepers of whatever trade they hope to enter, I suppose it's difficult to imagine being, or having anyone in your family be so vulnerable, that you'd take your clothes off for for a director just for his pleasure, that take drugs or drink alcohol you didn't want to consume, much less imagine being attacked. 

Roman Polanski isn't a threat to Kate Winslet or Jodie Foster because they're not Samantha Geimer, and perhaps can't remember what it must have been like to be as vulnerable as Samantha Geimer. I wish we lived in a world where we all had that sense of security. But we don't. And if artistic sensibility means being able to channel or understand emotions one's never felt in real life on the screen, shouldn't it confer an ability to imagine those kinds of feelings off-screen as well? Or does that only apply when that kind of sympathy is convenient?
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Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture writer with The Washington Post.

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