John Galliano’s anti-Semitic rant in a Paris nightclub cost him his top dog job at the house of Dior. The designer’s remarks have divided the fashion world as all associated with the industry rush to be seen on what they believe is the side of right.
I find it suspicious that the industry so adamantly insensitive to the ever-increasing androgyny of the female form and its effects on women is suddenly scrambling to express disgust over the anti-Semitic statements. This fervent outcry is disturbing to say the least. While the Galliano incident is vile in any number of ways, the outrage expressed seems slightly excessive, considering other celebrity behaviour that is forgiven, ignored and accepted.
Natalie Portman has been lauded the hero of this particular mockery as she publicly gave the designer a dressing down for his remarks stating “she was shocked and disgusted” by them. And rightly so, though she continues to liken the obviously provoked and incredibly intoxicated hate speech as the ”opposite of all that is beautiful.” Bit grandiose? Yes. Normal actor speak? For sure. True? Hardly.
So what about Polanski?
I would argue that the drug-induced rape of a 13-year-old girl lands firmly ahead of Galliano’s remarks on the opposite of what is beautiful and Portman has no apparent qualms with that. In fact, she is a member of the Free Polanski group whose aim is to repatriate the idealized film director. Now, there is no doubt that Polanski did indeed have sexual relations with said 13-year-old girl when he was 43. So no matter how you slice it, consensual or not, sex of any kind with a child makes you a pedo in my books.
Tolerated pedophilia amongst celebrities must be addressed. Think Woody Allen. Think Micheal Jackson.
But pedophilia is not deal-breaker in Hollywood as any number of (in)famous pedos go on to have successful, international careers where they are worshiped and praised for their artistry. Which brings us to the age-old question of distinguishing between the artist and his or her art. Inappropriate behaviour on the behalf of great art has been tolerated for centuries and I would argue that this is necessary to some degree. Artists are at the forefront of exploration of the self and challenging society’s limits, though a of level accountability, must be adhered to.
Now I am not talking about good old fashion drunkenness, lord knows liquid joy and art will always be in a long term (tumultuous) relationship. Neither am I discussing the casual anti-Semitism all too prevalent in common conversation (despicable, yes, but the root of all evil?). I mean, come on people. When it comes to child welfare and retention of personal safety, an artist must be regarded exactly the same as a janitor. Sexual assault and murder have to remain obvious no-nos for everyone. It’s that simple.
Tolerated pedophilia amongst celebrities must be addressed. Think Woody Allen. Think Micheal Jackson. And we mustn’t forget exiled Polanski. Galliano’s verbal affection for Hitler has people calling for his head, while Polanski is still celebrated as a brilliant filmmaker the world over. There’s something really not right about this.
Allen married his adopted daughter and continues to be the darling of New York as a result of his critically acclaimed films. Seriously? She used to call her husband “daddy”… because he was. Has a line not been crossed? And Jackson. Though that sad clown was never convicted, it is agreed that his attitude and behaviour toward children was desperately inappropriate.
Has a line not been crossed?
Hate speech is indeed grotesque, and racism throughout Hollywood must not be accepted as a great number of people are influenced by the gaggle of beautiful talking heads.
But if we’re serious about addressing unacceptable behaviour amongst the famed community, then I say we start with behaviour that exploits vulnerable persons. And honestly, who is more vulnerable than a child?