Chapter 8. Contextual lies: Distortion, Insinuation and Manipulation

There are such a lot of wonderful ways to manipulate the reader! This book is truly inestimable: it uses them all. We’ll deal with the subtler ones in this chapter (not that we won’t have to deal with some direct, barefaced lies and other kinds of lies we’ve seen above; they are so abundant here it’s not always easy to disentangle them).

The "kid"
The "creepy old man"
My reader may have noticed a priceless trick the media use when talking about this case. They post a recent picture of Polanski, when he is 76 to 80 (depending on the year the article is published) years old, and the [in]famous Lolita-esque picture of Samantha taken by Kinney when she was around 12. The reader is supposed to feel, at least on subliminal level (though many believe it directly) that this old man had sex with this little child. Geimer does exactly the same: she keeps calling herself a “kid” and him a “creepy old man” and “old goat”. We’ve already seen how much a “kid” she was; as for him, I hope many people remember what he looked like - Martin Amis called him “a genetic anomaly”, looking around 20 when he was 50 (let alone 43). Polanski’s proverbial youthfulness and attractiveness for women must not be disregarded – not because I think Samantha should have loved him, like so many awesome women have done, but because we must be able to see through her lies every time she utters them. 

These lies are sometimes very transparent, sometimes much better disguised; in this chapter we’ll deal with the latter.

[mother and Bob] knew [Polanski] was powerful and famous and could do things for all of us.
…Mostly I was thinking: Ew, there’s this guy who’s like my size and sort of looks like a ferret. But he’s super-powerful and he wants to photograph me. Me!

This obsessive repetition of “powerful” has a well-calculated purpose. The reader who already knows that the intercourse was by no means forcible, must remember another aspect of the concept of rape: when the victim is helpless, put into a position where the powerful aggressor makes her do what he wants even without using force. In brackets, I have to say that there are hardly many situations when this kind of coercion could be equated to a real (forcible) rape, since in the modern world the woman mainly does have a choice; but even this consideration is irrelevant, because:

How exactly was he “powerful”? Although at that moment he had more money than the Gaileys, - some leftovers from Chinatown, made three years before, one of his only two box-office successful films (the other being Rosemary’s Baby, 1968), - he has never possessed heaps of money in his life. At that time he didn’t even do any producing, being only a hired worker, depending on production companies. Not a politician, not even a businessman, not a “somebody” by any accounts; just a man possessing little except his talent that he could sell as labor force.

How are his talent and fame relevant to power? What kind of “power” did he have over Samantha, or her family? How did they depend on him? How exactly could he put the powerless her in a positions where she couldn’t refuse his advances?

I cannot stop thinking, too, about the sexual norms of the 1960s and 1970s versus today. A New Yorker piece about the Horace Mann School abuse scandal I discussed earlier quotes Gary Alan Fine, a 1968 graduate and sociologist at Northwestern University. “This was the late sixties, and what we now think of as rape or sexual assault didn’t quite mean the same thing in that age of sexual awakening.” Fine said. “If you’re a powerful person and you do things that others respond to because of your power, you may convince , that they really love you and this is between two equals.” Love was not the issue in my case, but his point is well taken. The powerful are used to being wanted. They take it as their due.

What delightful hypocrisy. First, she insinuates that there are parallels between a teacher/student relationship and what happened between her and Polanski, although it’s clear that a student does actually depend on the teacher. Then she drags in that “powerful” again, which is completely out of place, and finally speculates on how Polanski was used to being wanted because of being “powerful”, which he has always been only in terms of talent and – according everyone’s accounts – the power of personal charm. It’s a fact so widely known (although getting hushed by media, especially American) that even Geimer has to admit elsewhere, “After all, Roman Polanski didn’t have to work hard to get beautiful women”; “This man had a reputation as a great lover” who “could have the most scintillating women in the world. Yes, he was used to being wanted, legendarily so, by women of a totally different class than Gailey.

Our relationships with teachers were warmer and fuzzier [than today] – and yes, as we got older, they sometimes crossed the line. But even when there were instances of creepiness, there was generally not a sense of criminality. In fact, not just teacher/student, but any relationship where there was an obvious power imbalance – as with myself and Polanski – well,  those kind of relationships were not as frowned upon then as they are today.

The only obvious power imbalance was that she could – and did – put him in jail, twice. I repeat: what other power did he have over her? How did she depend on him?

And after repeating it, I finally see the light. Of course. She wanted to be a movie star. How could I forget? That’s what she says throughout her description of the events. How she wanted to look mature, experienced and worldly – and behaved accordingly (“played her part”) because she was afraid he might turn her down otherwise. Now the “I was afraid” from the GJ testimony, even though it contradicts everything she writes in the book, at last finds its rightful place: she was afraid she wouldn’t get to the movies if she hadn’t played her part well.

Is that called “power imbalance” or “abuse of authority”? I would call it differently: namely, she was trying to use him. That was the only “power” he had over her: he could be helpful in promoting her acting career. That’s it.

Others (like Gore Vidal, who knew the family personally and defined Samantha as a “hooker”) might consider it just common prostitution: having sex with someone (or, in her terms, letting him have sex with you) for gain, monetary or other. We’ll only say again: no, there was nothing like “abuse of authority” in this case. Just the contrary: an attempt to use a man for the family’s ends.

I thought I could read him: Give me what I want, or someone else will.

If he had ever hinted to her that if she hadn’t consented to sex with him he would have chosen someone else – that would have been coercion from his part, and prostitution from hers. But no, he didn’t! It was all in her mind. He never set any conditions. He never told her to drink. He never told her to take Quaaludes. He never forced her to have sex with him, either by force or threats or coercion.

Somehow in the eyes of media and the two other authors of the book that makes it rape.

Yes, it’s always important to remember that three people were writing the book. We saw in this chapter Geimer’s description of the intercourse. Now, apparently, Newman and Silver go over that chapter and rush to repair the damage done by her frankness, trying to represent it as if the words “we are both playing our part” meant something quite different:

There were just two people involved in my rape in March 1977 – the perpetrator Roman Polanski and me. I played my part – I was the kid who was raped. Polanski played his – he assaulted me, and was arrested and charged.

We saw what the “we’re both playing our parts” referred to: that she did not want to notify him that she wasn’t (if she wasn’t) happy with his actions: according to her own words, she decided to go till the end, “to let him do it”, even though she “felt certain I could have made him stop”.

The two other authors make quite a few similar attempts.

If I were clever or if I had put up more of a fight, or if I hadn’t drunk the champagne or taken the Quaalude or… and so on, then I could have figured a way out of Nicholson’s house before things got so crazy.

This is elegant. “More of a fight” suggests there was fight, while we already know that she “made the decision to let him do it” and felt certain she "could have made him stop"; in a word, that if the authors were in any way honest, it should have been “if I had put up any fight at all”, or better, “if I had ever let him know I didn’t want it”. The “figured a way out” is, in the light of her own confessions, a sick joke: the “way out”, otherwise called a door, was right in front of her all the time (just like the way out of the bath she got out the moment she wanted to) and all she had to do was walk out of it. The reader is supposed to forget all he has read, and believe that 1) there was some fight; 2) she wasn’t free to go away. Both are bullshit. Moreover, the reader is also supposed to believe, out of the blue, that Samantha was somehow hurt in the process, contrary to all medical evidence, or her countless declarations that she was not hurt "in any way":

I overheard a discussion about how unfortunate it was that there was no physical damage to me – especially rectally. There was this sense of disappointment. If only he’d hurt me worse, in more obvious ways, everything would be better. (…) It is disconcerting to be a young girl and know that people are on your side yet still feel a sense of regret you weren’t damaged enough.

The reader must get an idea of some vague “damage” that was there, but somehow didn’t seem sufficient to the callous examiners. Compare it to all her other statements: 

He didn’t hurt me in any way.
…The worst part was, no-one believed me. Everybody thought I was making it up. It was so traumatic, starting that night when my mother called the police.
…(KING: Did he get rough?)
No, no. He was just persuasive.
…It was just sex. 

The authors make a sordid tour de force to justify both the allegation of her being hurt and the impossibility for her to walk away. They shamelessly compare Samantha’s little adventure to two actual tragedies. One had happened to her friend Ann, who at the age of ten was grabbed on the street, pushed into the car, driven into the woods, brutally raped and left there bleeding and barely alive.

She’d gone through something much worse than this and she’d survived. But she’d been unable to say no, too. When she had a chance to just walk with me away from trouble, I couldn’t get her to move. This time, I couldn’t get myself to walk away. I couldn’t shout, Get off me! Or What are you doing, you moron!

Now remember what you already know about what exactly happened, starting with the topless photos, going through posing naked:

and finishing with “letting him do it”. No, right, she did not walk away or shout “get off me”. Can in any way be compared with being grabbed by a stranger, or is there no end to human hypocrisy? No, probably not; here’s another tragedy they use for their purposes as shamelessly:

A male relative, an awful, scary guy, was getting drunk at nights and being abusive toward her [Samantha’s friend Michele. – J.M]. She was afraid to tell her mother. And so it continued. Several months earlier, she had seriously considered hurting herself. As it happened, it was the night I was with Polanski. For years we convinced ourselves that these two awful things happened on the same night because we had some sort of psychic bond: I was hurt, so she had to hurt herself.

Now, a girl wanting to get to the movies, and sleeping with the man who could help her in this only because she convinced herself  that if she hadn’t “given him what he wanted, someone else would”, is somehow similar to being repeatedly raped as a child by an “awful” guy, so scary Michele was afraid to tell her mother? Is that what the authors wants you to believe?

Silver gives it a beautiful finishing touch:

No matter what his crime, Polanski was entitled to be treated fairly; he was not.

Disguised as a nod towards unbiasedness, this implies that the “crime” was indeed horrible. Not something as bland as “unlawful intercourse” with a non-virginal adult female (yes, yes, don’t shudder with indignation! “adult female” is how her medical report defines her); no, probably something as horrible as what had happened to Ann or Michele.

Thus effacing from our memory the account of facts as given by Samantha herself or confirmed by the documents such as medical and probation reports (“ neither an aggressive nor forceful sexual act”, “physical maturity and willingness and provocativeness of victim, and the lack of coercion by defendant” etc), but creating a picture of a horrible crime comparable to those two, the authors will now proceed to insinuating that Polanski could actually have been convicted of rape.

…Sometime later, Dalton said that the reason the prosecution had dropped all of the other charges was that they could not prove them. You have to hand it to Dalton. Even when he lost, he kept saying he’d won.
…Ironically, Polanski should have been very grateful to Larry. It was Larry who convinced the court to protect my rights and keep me from testifying, making it possible for him to get the plea bargain. Without that, Polanski probably would have served at least a few years in jail.
…Judge Rittenband accepted the plea. It wasn’t a perfect solution – Polanski “walked” on the most serious charges – but it was a win for me.

Walked? Because the other charges were not based on anything. Please give me a single piece of evidence. Something – anything! – that could be a proof. No trace of intercourse, let alone anal, let alone forcible. No evidence of alcohol or drugs in her system, because the police, going by her appearance and behavior, didn’t see any reason to test her for those. Someone else’s semen on her underwear, which undermines her credibility beyond belief; the absurdity of mother’s and the inconsistency of Samantha’s testimony… enough? So, how exactly could the prosecution prove these preposterous charges?

No way, that’s how. It is hard to prove charges that are false, especially when all the parties included see it plainly. With their contradictions and the forged evidence, the Gaileys would have never withstand a cross-examination and would have been publicly exposed as perjurers and false accusers – that’s why Silver tried so hard to avoid trial. And that’s why Geimer/Newman/Silver now have to recur to more and more lies and distortions, exaggerations, insinuations and falsifications, even concerning the seemingly minor subjects. Every little helps their purpose.

[in his book, Polanski says] that at the time of the first meeting at our house, my mother had asked him to recommend a good agent to her, and that Bob had asked him to pass along an interview request to Jack Nicholson on behalf of his magazine, Marijuana Monthly(…).
My mother did ask for an agent recommendation. Bob did ask for Polanski to pass along the interview request. Did that imply there was some sort of quid pro quo for professional courtesies that included nookie with the thirteen-year-old? (Neither the agent nor the Nicholson interview came through.)

No, it was exactly the other way, and she has to know it. Polanski wasn’t crazy about the idea of photographing this particular girl, but he failed to help Susan (not Bob: Polanski didn’t pay much attention to that weird request), because the agent he talked to refused to represent her (a mediocre actress). After this, Polanski felt obliged to do at least something. What the authors do here is only an example of a smear attempt, just as they consistently try to cast a doubt on the genuinity of the Vogue Hommes assignment:

Polanski sat down in the living room and explained what he wanted to do. A French edition of Vogue magazine was looking to do a story on the differences between American girls and French girls – exactly why is a little vague, but it seemed perfectly plausible at the time - and he needed to find the right American girls.

Elsewhere she will again allege that there was no Vogue assignment at all, which is not only something only a very gullible reader can swallow (the assignment has been confirmed many times since), but also something that doesn’t make sense: do they mean it was all a clever plan to get Samantha Gailey in bed - by someone who had the most gorgeous women in the world? But, as we said, every little helps: it creates the necessary impression, and if it does this at the expense of consistence and logic – remember, the target reader of the book is supposed to have none.

In the same way, she dismisses his ordeal of 2009/10 (see our Chapter 7- at the age of 76 being held in prison for three months, and then under lock and key for another six, all the time remaining the target of unprecedented abuse by media) as “not exactly Guantanamo Bay”. In the same way, she pretends she doesn’t know how the media and the establishment persecuted Polanski both in 2009/10 and in 1977, or says that

[in mid-April, Polanski] with the judge’s consent, had retreated to his home in London to escape the press (I wonder if a noncelebrity would be given this professional courtesy).

- which is just plain old barefaced lie, but well calculated, again, to provoke the necessary reaction. In the same way she – pot calling the kettle black? no, pot calling the snow black, since he has never said anything that is in contradiction with know facts – says this about his memoirs:

Let me be clear: Much of what was said in Polanski’s book was true. But there were also several terrible lies about me an my family – about my mother being flirtatious, about there being an unspoken erotic frisson between me and Roman, and so forth. You can call them misperceptions all you like; they’re still lies and they hurt. With his autobiography, he was profiting from his misadventures and attempting to rationalize his crimes; there was a certain level of swagger and arrogance in it all.

Notice “his crimes”, in the plural: the reader must believe that in the book he describes some other “crimes” and probably boasts them. The authors obviously calculated that theirs and Polanski’s books have different readers. Everyone who has read his book knows that, if anything, it is a very dry book, with no appeals for pity or even compassion; its main principle is understatement. Accusing a man whose life was as hard as Polanski’s of “profiting from his misadventures” in a book based on downplaying these misadventures (something lots of critics have berated Polanski for) only reveals, once again, the baseness of the accuser.

But that’s not all. What she calls “lies” is only a matter of personal perception. Doesn’t she know what lies are? A lie is what she, Silver and Newman have been using all the time, whether they are just falsehoods easy to disprove with documents and/or common logic, or emotional pieces whose purpose is misleading the reader, such as this:

No one recalls for sure when my father was notified, though we all assume it was the day after the rape. (…) I can imagine him crying (…) They were hot, silent tears, the kind a man cries when he is furious and powerless.

I wonder if he cried the same hot, silent tears when he had learned that his daughter had had sex before, or when a few weeks later she started to have it with everyone around under his very nose. But won’t she try to blame her promiscuousness on Polanski too? You bet she will; see the next chapter.

1 comment:

Samskara said...

Jean, you know. I'm trying hard to find anything reasonable about this book. Reading about her two friends, Ann who was actually raped and the other girl who was assaulted, this leads me to believe that Samantha also wanted to belong to the prestigious rape club. That's all I can gather from her account. The whole sob story about her father sitting and crying those oh so silent tears makes me gag. He doesn't know about silent tears. When I think of a father crying tears, I only think of Roman Polanski finding out about the murder of his unborn son, and Colonel Paul James Tate finding out about the murder of his daughter, Sharon Tate. This family doesn't know tears. Samantha Geimer through this book is trying to sound like Jaycee Lee Dugard or Elizabeth Smart or even Elizabeth Fritzl. Like Polanski somehow took her to a torture dungeon and committed all kinds of lewd acts upon her person. This is what I get from what you've posted here from her interesting tome. She is a disgusting human being to even think she knows what rape is.