Monday, February 3, 2014

Dylan Farrow's Letter to Woody Allen: Facing Your Tormentor

[Disclaimer: Woody Allen has never been convicted of child molestation, and probably, never will]

With the Super Bowl and the tragic death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, this past weekend was swarming with headline news. Unfortunately, one story was pushed to the side, as it often has been for the past twenty years: Woody Allen’s involvement with child molestation.

Image courtesy of the Guardian
Rising to fame in the late 60s and early 70s, Woody Allen soon became a house hold name, a respected artist inside of Hollywood. A deadly and disarming mix of talent; Allen was a writer, director, and actor. Over his 50 years of filmmaking, he would bring the world some of the best love stories of all-time, influencing viewers in unparalleled ways and earning an unbelievable 4 Oscars in the process.

However, the man that built a career writing about love and relationships may have been having a secret courtship of his own, a courtship with his daughter Dylan Farrow.

Originally published in November 1992 exposé, author MaureenOrth writes, “[Allen] could not seem to keep his hands off [Dylan]. He would monopolize her totally, to the exclusion of her brothers and sisters, and spend hours whispering to her.” As time passed, Allen’s deviance grew and his acts became more and more lewd and disturbing. Later in her article, Orth chronicles a sunny afternoon at Allen’s Connecticut ranch:

There was a brief period, perhaps 15 minutes, when Woody and Dylan vanished from sight. The baby-sitter who was inside searched high and low for them through the cluttered old farmhouse, but she couldn’t find them. The outside baby-sitter, after a look at the grounds around the house, concluded the two must be inside somewhere. When Mia got home a short time later, Dylan and Woody were outside, and Dylan didn’t have any underpants on. (Allen later said that he had not been alone with Dylan. He refused to submit hair and fingerprint samples to the Connecticut state police or to cooperate unless he was assured that nothing he said would be used against him.) 
Dylan was on the sofa, wearing a dress, and Woody was kneeling on the floor holding her, with his face in her lap. The baby-sitter did not consider it “a fatherly pose,” but more like something you’d say “Oops, excuse me” to if both had been adults. She told police later that she was shocked. “It just seemed very intimate. He seemed very comfortable.”
Image courtesy of Vanity Fair
Since its original publication, Allen has claimed that all of this is untrue and that his ex-wife, Mia Farrow, was trying to slander his name and take down his reputation because of an ongoing custody battle.

Flash forward to 2014: Woody Allen’s stock in Hollywood has risen to an all-time high. Last month, at the Golden Globes, Allen was awarded with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to film. Allen, an aging and now physically decrepit man, rarely ventures out into public these days and did not attend the ceremony. But his presence can still be felt at every major Hollywood event. Next month at the Academy Awards, Allen is up for yet another Oscar (his 24th nomination in total).

All of the praise and accolades and incessant chatter has swirled around daughter Dylan the entire time, never allowing the face and memory of her tormentor to fade. Instead, his presence and reputation grows more powerful with each year and with each film. This past Saturday, it became too much. Farrow’s open letter to the New York Times was published re-iterating that everything stated in the Vanity Fair piece was 100% true. She writes, “When I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies.”  

Dylan Farrow: Image courtesy of the New York Times
In the open letter, Farrow also calls out current actors and actresses like Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, and Scarlett Johansson for turning a blind eye to Woody Allen’s assaults and continuing to work and collaborate with him. All of them have stayed in support of Allen and/or said that the issue has nothing to do with them. Unfortunately, for Dylan and the public at large, this dismissal is the hip thing to do in Hollywood. Actors, producers, and executives continue to collaborate and fund his work with no second thoughts.

I suppose that it’s not surprising.

After all, Hollywood is a business first and foremost. Being in a Woody Allen film is a guaranteed ticket to stardom and respect. He’s directed everyone from Will Ferrell to Owen Wilson, pulling out some of the best performances of their career. Nobody wants to stop that money train. This type of repudiation is not unprecedented, either. Take a look at Roman Polanski, a man that was charged with rape and sexual abuse of a minor, then fled to France and never returned. Like Allen, Polanski went on to win an Oscar after the fact. Like I said, it’s hip to let molesters (alleged*) continue on.

Of course, a common argument out there is: “Well, Allen was never convicted, and every man deserves to be tried. You know, innocent until proven guilty.” Only, that doesn’t always work in cases of rape and molestation. In today’s world, there are countless predators roaming the streets, side stepping convictions and/or jail time. There are just too many loopholes in the legal system to bring them all in. There is too much gray area to “prove” anything. Allen, interestingly, was never declared innocent; the judge’s conclusions were simply: inconclusive and that Allen was not allowed to see his child.

But the public still knows the hard evidence, some of which include:

1. At least one person (the Connecticut babysitter) that has witnessed Allen performing lewd acts on Dylan.
2. Numerous undeniable incidents of inappropriate and unexplainable behavior.
3. Dylan Farrow has and continues at age 28 to give graphic descriptions of what has happened to her.

Image courtesy of Newsleader
Some may ignore the accusations against Allen, and some may say that the courts have declared him 
innocent. Actors may continue to jump at the chance to work with him, and audiences may continue to line up to watch his movies. We may never get the full truth or conclusive evidence about Allen or any other predator out there. But it’s important to remember that sometimes there are predators, sexual deviants, that have side stepped the law. Sometimes, these are the people that are taking your money, and garnering your praise, and sometimes, these are the people teaching you about love.

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