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!
#5. Courtney Love
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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.
#4. Roman Polanski
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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.
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty
"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?
#3. Marvin Harrison
Stick with me; it's going to get a little sports-y over the next couple of entries. Rest assured, though, that we won't actually be talking about sports. Just athletes suspected of being involved in wanton violence, including murder. You guys like murder, right?
Sure you do! And on that note, let's talk about former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison. His name is in the news at least once a year, solely on account of how he keeps getting snubbed when it comes time to send great players to the NFL Hall of Fame. In terms of what he accomplished on the field, he totally deserves it. He was Peyton Manning's go-to receiver for more than a decade. Over that time, they become one of the most prolific quarterback / wide receiver combos in the history of the sport.
On top of that, he was all business. He never talked to the press. He didn't showboat in the end zone. All the things white people love. Along with his aforementioned quarterback and his head coach, Tony Dungy, Harrison was part of a trio of "model citizens" who exemplified everything an athlete or organization should be.
Of course, it's always the quiet ones you have to worry about. In the years since, we've learned that Dungy is a virulent homophobe. And Manning not only sat on a female trainer's face while at the University of Tennessee, but he also kind of destroyed her life when he wrote about the incident in a book and lied about the details. The craziest rumors of off-field wrongdoing, though, continue to swirl around Harrison.
It all started back in 2008 when a man named Dwight Dixon, a convicted drug dealer, was shot during an altercation at a car wash in Philadelphia. He claimed that Marvin Harrison was the shooter, and sure enough, ballistics testing traced the bullet that hit Dixon to a gun owned by the sports hero. Harrison gave a statement to police shortly thereafter in which he not only placed himself at the scene of the incident and admitted that the gun in question belonged to him, but also lied about whether the gun had been fired recently.
Dixon took his story to the media, sitting down for an extensive interview on the ESPN show E:60.
Not long after that interview, Dixon was killed in -- you guessed it -- a shooting in Philadelphia. When police rushed to the scene, he said he believed the incident (which happened down the street from a bar owned by Harrison) was tied to the 2008 shooting. Unfortunately, he fell into a coma and died before police could interview him fully.
Somehow, despite the circumstances of the first shooting, Harrison was never questioned in connection with the death of Dwight Dixon. As in, not at all. Ever. The man who was named as a suspect by the victim at the scene was never asked to talk to the police. It was reported that the FBI was looking into the case back in 2009, but nothing seems to have come from that either.
As a result, don't be surprised if every time we hear news of another year that's passed without Marvin Harrison getting into the Hall of Fame, it's accompanied by a few stories about how he maybe had a guy killed.