Op Ed

Everybody Says “I’m Innocent”: Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors

[This includes content regarding sexual assault of a child and links to articles that include details of aforementioned sexual abuse.]

Last month’s Golden Globes included a lifetime achievement award tribute for director Woody Allen. And then this happened:

A twet from Ronan Farrow that reads, "Missed the Woody Allen tribute - did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?"

In 1992, it became public that Allen had a sexual relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the daughter of his partner of twelve years, Mia Farrow (Allen and Previn have been married since 1997). In subsequent years, the controversy surrounding him had become somewhat dormant. The dust had settled. Until recently.

In recent months, the details surrounding what went on at that time have resurfaced. In November, Vanity Fair published an extensive story (a follow-up to a previous story from 1992, when news of Allen’s sexual relationship with Soon-Yi became public knowledge) including interviews with the family and people involved, and facts regarding the custody case more than twenty years ago in which this first came to light. It describes testimony regarding Allen’s documented bizarre obsessive behavior towards Dylan, and his abuse of others, particularly his son Ronan. It also gives insight into the events surrounding the custody hearings and the outcome. The NYT published an open letter from Dylan Farrow describing her sexual assault at the hands of her father at the age of 7. She has since opened up to People magazine about her family and her experience as a sex abuse victim. This week, The Daily Beast published a piece by Robert Weide that favors Allen. It paints a picture of a vengeful ex-wife who fabricated the molestation allegations during the custody trial as revenge for Allen running off with the teenage daughter of his longtime partner. He goes so far as to use Mia Farrow’s sexual history (including Rowan’s ambiguous paternity) to discredit her daughter’s allegations, and repeatedly insists on stating that most of the children are adopted, including Dylan and Soon-Yi, as if he is suggesting that it is understandable to carry on sexual relations with your partner’s daughter as long as you are not legally married to her and said children are adopted. He also insists on bringing up the irrelevant fact that Farrow was involved with a married man when she was 24 (her now ex-husband, André Previn), while failing to mention the relevant fact that Allen has married a teenage girl more than once.

As it becomes more and more clear that Allen is not just an ephebophile but a pedophile, people have taken a closer look at his much-lauded work. A joke from a 2009 play in which Allen jests about molestation disturbingly echoes Dylan’s accusations. There’s also the 1976 People magazine interview in which Allen states, “I’m open-minded about sex. I’m not above reproach; if anything, I’m below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him.” Allen pauses. “Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone,” he ventures helplessly. “I admit to it all.”

Weide asked the question:“Is it possible to separate the art from the artist?” or “Is America ready to forgive Woody Allen?” The very phrasing of these questions presumed that Woody had done something terrible, and we had to decide how much we would let it bother us.” Separate the art from the artist? How can the public be expected not to think of Allen’s sordid past when viewing his films, which happen to be meditations on love and relationships? Why should we? Is America ready to forgive Woody Allen? Why should anyone? Why is there so much concern for the perpetrator and not the victims of his abuse? Why are so many people willing to stand up for this man who is, at best, an abusive pervert, and at worst, a sexual predator? One who was allowed to adopt two daughters after being ruled an unfit parent after abusing his son during a supervised visit. Why are people so willing to turn away from facts, evidence, and allegations because they like his films? Why does being an artist ostensiby protect someone from being subject to the same code as everyone else? What does it say about celebrities who give a standing ovation to a pedophile (I’m looking at you, Diane Keaton). Why are people like Barbara Walters attempting to confuse the public that he’s a loving family man?

This is not a private family matter. An accusation of sexual assault is a matter of public record. It’s a crime. It is not a private family matter. It never was.

5 replies on “Everybody Says “I’m Innocent”: Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors”

This situation shows how amazing people are in denying what they don’t want to hear. People who say “Oh she makes it up” so they don’t have to feel uncomfortable about liking something. A seven year old making THAT up? Gaslighting her and her mother? And somehow the people who bring this up, are the hysteric ones? Humankind, you disappoint me.

Someone recently wrote a piece about how transparent much of the defense of Woody Allen appears. People want to be able to enjoy his movies and actors want the clout in the business without guilt, so to resolve that dissonance, they either ignore the situation or throw Dylan under the bus. It’s disgusting and quite sad.

I read the Weide piece and was appalled at how eagerly he parroted every single allegation made by the Allen camp, and at how breathlessly he described his relationship with the great man himself, even while painting himself as a documentarian and therefore unbiased.

Would it be too little to ask people to just admit some of them defend Allen because it’s too disillusioning to believe anyone is really capable of raping a child? How about asking someone to admit they like Allen’s films too much to quit them cold turkey even though find the allegations deplorable.

Apparently it’s too much. Instead the defenders jump immediately to his innocence because it’s more comfortable to condition yourself that the victim is always lying rather than admitting a crime is possible. It’s more comfortable to say you believe Woody Allen or Michael Jackson is innocent than have an image shattered. It’s more comfortable to victim-shame away the possible guilty they’ll feel by continuing to enjoy the “art”.

It’s easier to believe the victim is lying instead of something being” wrong with us” for going to/renting a movie or dancing to/buying music.

We rather lie to ourselves than consider the possibilities.

Was there this much outcry to defend Paula Deen? Were we asked to separate the woman from the recipes and kitchen products? There was a little, yes… but nothing like this. Why? Because we all have learned how much certain words can hurt.

But there are some who haven’t learned how much a touch can hurt… and then we forget how much other words can hurt.

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