Erasing the Line between Woody Allen’s Work and Dylan Farrow’s Suffering
Now is the time for Hollywood, the Academy and the casual movie goer to acknowledge the heinous acts committed by Woody Allen, to stand up for children’s rights and to stand against sexual assault.
For decades expert apologetics have dominated discourse concerning allegations against him, but hopefully Dylan Farrow’s incredibly brave open letter which details Allen’s crimes against her as a child, and calls out the public for respecting a child molester will be a game changer.
I understand that the entire concept of appreciating art in relation to someone’s “personal life” is complex and nuanced and I’m not sure exactly what the universal line should be when it comes to the faults of artists and whether its “okay” to still praise them, but I do believe that drawing the line at child molestation is not only completely fair, but that not drawing that line is extremely unethical and a plague on this society.
Woody Allen is not a dead man who is acknowledged by all to be a child molester, and whose work is studied and viewed through a lense which takes into account that fact. This is a man who is still revered in his own industry and whose victims are also still alive. For them, the respect, accolades, and nominations he receives have been a “torment.”
Part of what makes Dylan Farrow’s open letter so amazing is that it not only calls out those in her personal life who didn’t believe her and specific artists willing to work with Allen, but it criticizes an entire culture which silences victims of abuse and which apologizes for horrific acts of violence in order to preserve a positive view of someone’s art or the artist. Her letter opens and closes with the question “What is your favorite Woody Allen movie?” in order to drive this essential point home.
It is time we stop pretending that society’s reverence for his work has nothing to do with Farrow’s further victimization, subsequent panic attacks, eating disorder and PTSD.
This letter should result in the collective shame and embarrassment of a public and an Academy which has forced a brave woman to open up decades later, in part to come to the defense of her mother, who many would sooner believe brainwashed her own child and imprinted false memories into her than accept that their favorite filmmaker is a child molester.
Rather than be asking ourselves whether it’s “okay” to still watch and enjoy his movies, whether it’s “okay” to continue supporting his work, or whether its “okay” to think he is a brilliant artist, we should be angry at our own audacity to raise such a man up on any kind of pedestal and be more concerned with how we could ever correct such a wrong.
This is not the first time that Dylan Farrow has spoken up. Last year she told Vanity Fair that she remembered the assault, and yet Hollywood was virtually silent. It didn’t stop them from nominating Blue Jasmine in the upcoming Oscars either. Hopefully this letter changes all of that. After all, how much farther can Hollywood even go to protect the reputation of a child molester in their midst?
Daniella Lollie is a contributor from USC.