Oh hey, Bill Cosby got arrested! Who expected that was ever actually going to happen? Granted, as so often happens with the rich and famous, he'll probably still escape any kind of real justice. But still, the arrest is a nice gesture. In fact, it got me to thinking about a few other celebrities whom I wouldn't mind seeing sent up the river in 2016. We talk about a few on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comics Maria Shehata and Nick Dixon. I'll also talk about a few right damn now. Here goes!
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Admit it, you kind of want this one to happen. Documentaries are the shit right now, and like the rest of the world, you watched Making A Murderer and thus find yourself thirsty for justice of some kind. All those Steven Avery petitions you signed were meaningless because he wasn't convicted of a federal crime. Barring a miracle, there probably won't be a second season of that show, if you know what I mean. But maybe we can turn the events depicted in another popular documentary into a new series!
When it comes to conspiracy theories that refuse to go away, the one that claims Courtney Love was somehow involved in the death of Kurt Cobain is among the most enduring of all. So much so that in 2015, a full 21 years after the Nirvana frontman's untimely death, people are still making documentaries about how it seems like maybe there was more to the story than just a depressed rock star committing suicide. That most recent movie-length investigation into the strange circumstances and details of the case is called Soaked In Bleach ...
... and you can still watch it on Netflix, if you're so inclined. I've written about it before. It's just one of a few high-profile documentaries on the subject. The first, Kurt & Courtney, was a Nick Broomfield jam.
You might recognize that name on account of how he also solved the Biggie and Tupac murders in the aptly-titled documentary Biggie & Tupac.
Okay, maybe "solved" is too strong of a word there. He blamed Suge Knight. The Los Angeles Times blamed Crips and the Notorious B.I.G. I'm sure they'll figure it out someday!
Conspiracy theorists seem a bit more united in their opinion on the death of Cobain. Their suspicions have been fueled in large part by one man: a private investigator named Tom Grant. He was hired by Love in the days before Cobain's body was discovered. She'd filed a missing person's report, and wanted Grant to try and track her husband down. Almost immediately, he suspected something was amiss. He's spent pretty much every day of his life since trying to prove he's not wrong.
Of course, you've probably heard all of this before. But have you heard about what happens at the end of Soaked In Bleach? If you haven't and don't want the surprise spoiled, stop reading now. Cool! The film ends with former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper adamantly stating that the Cobain case should be reopened. That's a pretty big deal, seeing as how he was in charge of the department when the first investigation happened.
So, you know, why the hell not? We haven't had a good celebrity trial in long time. Maybe just throw a case against the wall and see what sticks? If the recent spate of true crime documentaries have proven anything, it's that prosecutors are more than happy to try a not-so-strong case based on nothing more than personal opinion. I say we give it a try.
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Most of you reading this probably aren't even familiar with Roman Polanski, or the criminal case that has prevented him from entering the United States since the late 1970s. It's arguably the second-most-famous crime to ever be associated with his name. The first, of course, would be the Manson Family murders, which claimed the life of Polanski's pregnant wife, model and actress Sharon Tate.
It's hard to top that, at least from a news standpoint. But a completely different crime made him a fugitive from American justice for the past few decades. Back in 1977, it's alleged/confirmed that Polanski had an inappropriate sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl. I suppose I could've left the "inappropriate" part out. That's a given when you're talking about a dude in his 40s sleeping with a kid.
Polanski denied the charges at first, but eventually reached a plea deal that involved him pleading guilty to one lesser charge in exchange for five other, more serious charges being dropped. By that point, he'd already served more than 40 days in prison, and in accordance with the terms of the deal, he was expecting to be sentenced to probation and nothing more.
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"Hi, I'm super rich!"
It's at this point that things get strange. Apparently, word got back to Polanski that the judge in the case was planning to renege on the deal and sentence him to additional jail time. Rather than let that happen, Polanski sentenced himself to a life of staying the fuck away from America forever and ever. He's 82 years old now and has since reached a financial settlement with his victim.
So should we just forget about it? That depends on who you ask. The U.S. government certainly doesn't think so. They've tried to have him extradited twice since 2009, with both Sweden and Poland rejecting the requests and declaring Polanski a free man. He also has several supporters among Hollywood types who never fail to come out of the woodwork any time his case becomes news again. Most of the arguments center around how it's a thing of the past and he's served his time and blah, blah, blah.
Here's the thing: Fuck that. This dude drugged a girl and forced her to have anal sex. This wasn't some exotic fling that we just don't understand because we're not European enough.
Like how a handful of Americans fall in love with soccer every four years.
It was a rape. He was an adult. That's not a crime you should escape culpability for just because you've managed to stay free for a long time. You could make that same argument about Bill Cosby. Why is this different? Fewer victims? Doesn't the fact that the victim was a child negate that a bit?
Also, if the claims about how the judge acted at the time of the original trial are true, then there's a good chance that Polanski would go free anyway. In 2008, LA Superior Court Judge Peter Espinosa ruled that Polanski can challenge his conviction, and has even said that it's possible there was misconduct in the first trial. But Polanski would first have to return to court to argue his case. What's so unreasonable about that?