As we poured through another week of even more allegations of sexual harassment, Dylan Farrow reignited the alleged abuse case against her adoptive father, famed director Woody Allen. In an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times, Farrow wanted to know why her father is getting a free pass while other predators are finally being exposed for their crimes. While the #MeToo movement has opened up avenues for women and men to come forward and tell their stories of abuse at the hands of those with power in the entertainment, political and social arenas of life, the media and Hollywood have been eerily absent regarding Woody Allen’s haunting accusations of child molestation. Lost in the fray are the continued allegations of abuse by acclaimed film director Woody Allen towards his then 7-year-old adopted daughter Dylan Farrow. Though sex abuse experts at the New Haven Hospital found no evidence of abuse, Allen refused to take a polygraph at the time and although charges were never filed, a lead prosecutor suggested in 1993 that he had ‘probable cause’ to bring Allen to court.
What truly happened to Dylan Farrow in an attic away from the watchful eyes of other adults remains a mystery, but Allen’s former wife, Mia Farrow, has been relentless in her accusations against Allen. Dylan Farrow claims she was sexually assaulted and she has maintained that allegation for the better part of 20 years. In 2014 she detailed the abuse in a searing open letter for the world to read, and in 2016, Allen’s son, Ronan Farrow, drafted his own attack against his father on behalf of his sister. While Bill Cosby, Al Franken, Louis CK and a list of other celebrities and politicians have been ousted as predators in the past year, Woody Allen continues to be furnished with grand budgets from such mainstream corporations such as Amazon, which recently sunk millions into a new Allen project. This summer, again, we all looked on as the newest multi-million dollar Allen film received funding from corporate studios and rave reviews from a tacit entertainment industry that counts on his biannual summer flick to bring critical and commercial success. Where are the difficult questions for Allen? Why has he eluded the hawking eyes of TMZ, CNN and other media outlets determined to bring abuse into the spotlight? While a multitude of men are losing their careers due to harassment claims, Allen grabs project after project as his alleged victims are attacked for being liars.
Of all the people to receive the benefit of the doubt, Allen seems to be a dubious choice. His marriage to his adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, has only illustrated concerns over Allen’s proclivity for young submissive women. While throngs of industry starlets and power brokers have taken a definitive stand against the monstrosities of Harvey Weinstein and countless others, Allen has continued his work in relative peace and away from the watchful eyes of the media. If it weren’t for the alleged victim voicing her displeasure with Allen’s success and escape from media scorn, we might all forget about the wayward comedian whose quirky sensibilities landed him Oscar nominations and a lifetime of movie contracts. Farrow has called out some of Allen’s most recent leading ladies, including Kate Winslet, who stars in Allen’s newest film, “Wonder Wheel”. Given Allen’s postmodern comedy and high brow intellectualism, it is a wonder who his current audience even is. From a distance, it would seem that the very people voicing the loudest concerns about the abuse and harassment from men seem to be determinedly quiet on the subject of their favorite upper east side comedian. Republicans and rednecks don’t like Woody Allen – rich cultural elites that fund the Democratic National Crime Committee do. Asked for comment, Winslet played dumb and responded that she “didn’t know Allen and I don’t know anything about that family”. It’s 2017 and Kate Winslet apparently doesn’t have access to Google! For a movement so apt to empower the voices of the voiceless and keenly ready to judge anyone they wish as guilty before given a fair trial, why are actors and actresses in Allen’s films given the benefit of the doubt in relation to these stunning allegations?
In the year of “The Silence Breakers,” things have been relatively quiet for Allen. While it is difficult to play judge, I would argue that the allegations that have sunk the careers of Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, and Charlie Rose all represent a less intrusive and despicable evil. While these men appear guilty of using their power to prey on women throughout their career, the alleged accusations against Allen are of a child’s privacy and virginity. Furthermore, much of his career has been one long psychological spin on the bizarre and idiosyncratic relationships between older men (often played by Allen) and their 18 year old summer flings. If we can parallel the significance of Louis CK’s stand up masturbation material as a pathological release for his internal issues, why then should we not infer from films like Manhattan (where Allen runs dizzy in circles over a youthful blonde) that Allen has some serious psychosexual demons? Looking back at his film catalog, it reads now like a diary of the diseased. Film after film explores the pangs of guilt, desperation and loneliness as he chases young woman after young woman across cities and countries the world over.
Why do we not give the allegations of Dylan Farrow more gravity? How has his name not marched into the headlines and a slew of studios and actors stood up against this accusation of vile indecency? Oddly, given the recent climate of search and destroy, the backlash against Allen has been met with absolute indifference by most of his stars. While Ellen Page has stated she regrets working with Allen, many others seem totally unaware of the problem. Recently, Selena Gomez, another performer in Allen’s work, was asked how she dealt with the accusations against Allen she had this wonderfully thought-out response. She simply “stepped back and thought, ‘Wow, the universe works in interesting ways’.” It sure does, Selena. It sure does.
As a former film professor, I stopped showing Allen’s work altogether when I read about the claims in 2014. Unlike Winslet and other recent Allen starlets, I like to do my homework on a person before I go about screening their work and defending their honor in public. Allen’s unconventional films only grew stranger and more bizarre in my eyes after reading the harrowing account from Farrow who seems to have been quieted and shooed by a complicit entertainment complex. In the year of career ending allegations, Allen has somehow slipped through the hands of the press and Hollywood alike. Why? While the aging and reclusive Allen continues to land deal after deal and work with some of the top actors in the industry, his financiers appear happy to play coy about the allegations surrounding their beloved director. In the year of #MeToo, Allen has yet to see his date in the court of public opinion.