Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Carney-Rappaport affair: Jon Jost's petition

Jon Jost has created an online petition designed to pressure Ray Carney into returning Mark Rappaport's materials to him. (Go here for background, then follow Jost's follow-ups). 

Various people of note have signed it (most famously, Monte Hellman).

I am presently vacillating. On the one hand, stories of what has transpired between Carney and Rappaport - mostly based on accounts provided by Rappaport, with a few minor factual contributions, and many statements of impassioned opinion, offered by third parties - leave no room for doubt that the materials in question should have been returned a long time ago. I would like that to be how the matter ends. Even if Carney had been given these materials as a gift, as he apparently claims, given the circumstances, it seems unforgivable that he not give them back as requested. I can invent no good excuses for his behaviour, nor can I see the long-term results of the current situation, if he persists in his behaviour, profiting anyone (Rappaport, Carney, film scholarship, etc). 

On the other hand, there are statements in the petition which I find it very difficult to sign off on. For instance, the unequivocal, factual claim that "Carney has no rights to these films nor was he ever granted ownership of them." That may well be the case, but I have no way of KNOWING this, nor does anyone else who was not party to the initial agreement between Rappaport and Carney. Without either side having an agreement in writing, we have only two different versions of events - a contract dispute between two parties, one side of which dispute is largely known, the other side of which is largely not. NOTHING Rappaport may have said to Carney, when transferring possession of these materials to him, would justify, in my mind, Carney's current course of action - I'm not defending what he's doing - but all the same, I feel strange about signing off claiming I know something for a fact, when I don't. 

Maybe I should get over my discomfort here and just sign the damn thing. If it seemed likely that adding my name to the list would matter, I probably would. But to be honest, I'm more inclined to see if I can renew contact with Ray Carney. Who knows what he's experiencing through all this? He's been an object of ridicule for some years in certain quarters, often most unfarily, but its nothing compared to the current levels of vilification and abuse. I don't know what the hell he thinks he's accomplishing. Of course, he'll doubtlessly just ignore me, like everyone else who has written to him, but... I might as well give it a try.


jon jost said...

Having myself experienced a similar "say nothing" event - a lot more serious, having to do with the kidnapping of my daughter Clara by her mother, Portuguese film director Teresa Villaverde, I must say as a tactic it produces much what you are saying. Kind of like our news media of he said/she said. And if one side says nothing it somehow cancels out the other side. BS. Carney not speaking up is a tactic. Unfortunately for him, unlike Cassavetes, Rappaport is alive to counter the "it was a gift" crap.
Take Roger Ebert's line - "Rappaport gave him his life's work - yeah, sure."
jon jost

Allan MacInnis said...

Yeah, probably it IS a tactic.

I've sent my own email to Carney. Think that's where I'll leave my involvement, for now.

Paul Couture said...

Hi, Allan,

I appreciate your feedback.

For the latest you might want to take a look at the discussion that has been going on here:

Best regards, -Paul Couture