I’m a news junkie — to my own detriment. Ever since I can remember, it’s been bad news all the time. Only now, I can’t explain it, but it feels like we (earthlings) are reaching the tipping point of bad news, trapped in a world that has completely lost its innocence — not in a sexy way but in a scary way.
The daily news stories tell of gang rapes, long-time celebrity sexual abuses of power, beheadings of journalists, hostage sieges, terrorist attacks, church pedophilia rings, child trafficking, gunned down schoolchildren, and rock star baby molesters… the sickening list goes on… until it leaves many of us (I can only speak for myself) feeling utterly defeated and deeply sad.
The world has always been a violent, angry place. It’s as if, after enjoying the warmth and peace of our mothers’ wombs, we come out angry and screaming at the audacity of birth: that we should be forced to live in this ‘cold hard place.’
But something about the current darkness feels different, more ominous. As Pope Benedict said, ‘oh how the world needs tenderness.’ Whereas before the darkness was comprised of the usual ‘world gone mad’ stuff of wars and ‘otherness,’ now it’s a compacted throbbing mass of the aforementioned atrocities coupled with an inability to protect and encourage innocence.
The kidnapping of schoolgirls by Boko Haram and droves of victims who suffered abuse under British celebrity Jimmy Savile are just the tip of the iceberg (of course, despite the Pope’s much-needed words, the Catholic Church and its regional leaders’ systematic abuse of children is the ‘bad guy’ too). When our world is not just dark, mad and evil but when, on top of that, we can’t protect our children (by ‘our’ I mean in a general community sense), we have failed, as spiritual beings, to spread the universal spiritual values of purity and love.
This is the kind of stuff that makes my heart ache uncontrollably. The only thing that may make it ache more is the thought that even my words — in this cynical world — could be construed as cliché or postured. A disproportionate amount of irony, sarcasm and snark in a society is a true sign that we’ve lost our way.
I was watching the Roman Polanski HBO documentary the other day and while I love this brilliant director’s films, I was deeply disturbed by Hollywood’s unabashed support for him on a personal level and for people like Woody Allen (who, even if he didn’t molest his daughter, has a few vices, including inappropriately marrying his adopted child after grooming her from a position of trust).
When I saw a clip of an awards ceremony with people like Martin Scorsese and Jack Nicholson cheering the then-absent award-winning Polanski, it made me feel a bit ill. Let’s just say that growing up in LA around the Hollywood machine, like I did, you hear things about people, things that may not make it into the tabloids but that point to some seriously broken moral compasses.
I briefly wanted to be an actress and attended classes at Strasberg (even met Lee Strasberg), was taken under the wing of my godmother/family friend, actress Barbara Parkins as a little girl, went on some auditions, and was flown to Germany to do a screen test for director Wolfgang Peterson for one. I’ve gone to school with celebrities, the whole nine yards — I know a little bit about how the system works in Hollywood.
It’s a scary system that has not only thrown women away when they became too old to play the female lead (and were too young to play the mom) but also grooms young women (and possibly men too, to be fair) to use their sexuality and work the casting couch system otherwise they’ll be passed over. Hollywood (and the music world as well) teach people to look the other way when a perverted old man is leching on an underaged girl (after all it’s not part of the boring ‘normies’ system of ethics and morals).
I’ve seen this up close and personal and now having lived in other cities/cultures I see it for the sickness that it is. Along with terrorists, governments, corporations and data harvesters, Hollywood lays down its gauntlet and the world complies (perhaps fawns and sycophant-ishly adores, is more appropriate).
So it wasn’t surprising to see so many people point fingers at Polanski’s 13-year-old victim, making her out to be a ’70s Lolita. The truth is that, even if she were a highly sexual 13-year-old (most adolescents are highly sexually charged anyway — par for the course), a grown man offering her drugs and having anal sex with her is still rape — or at the very least an abuse of someone in an adult (privileged celebrity) position.
Looking back to when I was a teen and coming of age, I thought I was pretty badass hanging with much older guys in bands and flaunting my sexuality through rebellious clothing. I believed that was what being an adult was. Sadly, only now do I realize that being an adult is looking back on those days and wishing I had spent more time with people my own age and remained a kid for longer.
Such is loss of innocence. It means never being able to return to that pure, unadulterated sense of yourself and never being able to experience a world that filters out sarcasm, where everything is fresh and possible. Perhaps that loss of innocence is what makes anguished people like Polanski (with his devastating personal history) yearn for innocence so much that they prey on the innocent, like vampires living off the life force of the young.
The world is tired and disconnected from the sacred and pure today. It’s not just evident in kids who are certainly growing up too fast (that happened in the ’70s). It abounds in adults unable to connect to their own innocence (rather than cynicism or sexuality) and more detrimentally, not being able to pass the torch and act as guardians of that innocence, in protecting the young and preserving the spiritual notion of innocence.
What is the answer? I don’t have one. But I do know that from time to time, when I’m feeling particularly wounded and raw, I think back to a wind-up musical jewelry box I had when I was little. A ballerina spun inside the magenta container as the tune chimed on. But far more valuable than all this pomp and prettiness was a little gap in the fabric in which I stuffed handwritten notes which whispered happy secrets into my childhood ether: which boy I liked or who I wanted to be when I grew up. That tiny gap, I sense, is where my innocence resides.