by Roger Seifritz, Director Gstaad-Sanenland Tourism.
Adapted & translated from the article in Anzeiger von Saanen 09.10.09. Interesting words considering Polanski was this week released on bail from Swiss jail and, pending further developments in his extradition case, remanded to the custody of his Gstaad home monitored by electronic tag...
The arrest of Roman Polanski has made waves. An outcry of appall went through the country. Many could not understand why Polanski was arrested for an offense he had supposedly committed 32 years ago and besides that, he had been allowed to go in and out of the Saanenland for many years. Our region experienced an invasion of journalists in search of people-stories. Not only were the official sources interviewed, but also locals and visitors who in some cases clearly enjoyed giving out information. In the meantime, everybody knows where Polanski’s chalet is, what a wonderful father he is to his children, how often he skies, how well he dresses, what his preferences are and that Saanenland regrets his arrest. Gstaad is once more a showcase to the world as a favorite destination for the famed. In principal this is not a bad thing.
Even though of benefit, it can cause jealousy amongst some people. Problematic on the other hand is the showcasing of the candor. Such openness can have a boomerang effect and bring the sympathetic vote to a tipping point due to new insights. In the Polanski case such indications are visible. Furthermore, what I judge as even more of a problem, is that we project an image that may appear unsafe to our longstanding visitors. When someone is exposed to the public eye, their whole persona is exposed in all its facets to the media. We talk about discretion, but don’t adhere to it. This behavior is questionable. Is it correct to readily answer all journalists’ questions? Or would it be more appropriate to think twice and then reply: I’m sorry I can’t speak about it. Or, I wouldn’t like to comment in public, please address the official spokesperson. How would you feel if suddenly everybody shares private information about you, which in no time could be found on the internet, television, radio and newspapers for the whole world to view? The case of Polanski is a great opportunity to review our values about the privacy of each individual and their worth. I don’t intend to limit your freedom of opinion - but I would like to appeal that thought and responsibility be applied when dealing with information. Our visitors and fellow citizens would appreciate more sensibility and security.