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A Personal Note on Allen/Farrow and a Plea For Sanity

I'm about to pull a Hannah Horvath and make something that's not about me entirely about me for a moment but... I had a really difficult week. As long time readers undoubtedly now, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow as artists and as a unit were largely responsible for making me the cinephile that I am today. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) was a major turning point in my life, the moment that I realized innately if not quite in a self-aware way, how much the movies meant to me.

Woody & Mia in the 80s

I will never be able to thank either of them enough for that gift. Were it not for them, and over the rest of the 80s an actress we should probably just call "Michellyl Glenn Turnstreepfer", I would not be the person I am and you would never have read The Film Experience as it would not exist.

So Allen and Farrow were a superhero duo to wee Nathaniel and their movies, events. To this day, I'd rather think of them that way. I turned up every year from 1984 (Broadway Danny Rose, my older brother drove me because he said "it looks funny") through 1992 (Husbands and Wives, their last film together) even when I had to drag reluctant family or friends. The catatrosphic end of their relationship -- there's no other word for it -- drove Farrow away from Hollywood and thus tarnished her justified place in film history (I hate how often I've had to explain her career/celebrity/talent to people over the years) and permanently tarnished Woody's own reputation; no one who has ever been accused of child molestation, whether or not they are convicted (and Woody was never even charged), is ever presumed innocent again. [more...]

As for me, I will always opt for separating the art from the artist. I wish more people could take the advice of Roman Polanski's victim Samantha Geimer, who urged us to do this when speaking out on the Woody Allen topic very recently to Huffington Post 

Either you’re going to say you separate the art from the artist or you’re not. If you don’t like his movies and they creep you out, don’t see them. If you don’t like him, don’t see his movies.
I think it’s kind of a personal choice, what you spend your money on. I don’t think anybody has a place to forgive him but his own family. As far as a public boycott, I think we should save that for public corporations that are doing harm, not artists who make movies.

I have to separate the art from the artist in the case of both Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, neither of whom have (to me) ever come off well in regards to the subject of Dylan Farrow, but who have made indelible contributions to the world of cinema and comedy and cinema and humanitarian endeavors, respectively. I've heard people on the internet boasting on various websites and on twitter that they can't even think of the name of a Woody Allen movie, as if cultural ignorance is a badge of pride, or that they'll never watch one of his movies again, as if boycotting a huge swath of modern cinema will somehow ease Dylan's pain.

This is glibber than I feel but there is truth to it:



 And here is how to donate to RAINN if you'd like to... which is undoubtedly a better use of your resources than condemning Woody Allen or Mia Farrow (whichever "side" you're on, if you've felt the need to choose one).

I was publicly attacked on twitter recently by someone I was once online-friendly-with for merely suggesting that people ought to know facts before they passed judgment. I was concerned that people were forgetting that "innocent until proven guilty" is the backbone of our whole judicial system and as much as I may feel for Dylan Farrow, I have to admit that the health of our entire nation's legal system is more important to me than her personal journey. I was very aware of this case back when it first reared up and read about it voraciously. "Reading about it voraciously" back in the early-mid 90s was much less time consuming and produced more rational responses since the internet did not provide an instant feedback loop and you had to wait it out between articles. I don't think it makes me a bad person (though some obviously do think so) to admit that I'm far more comfortable with our legal system sorting these gordian knots out than the court of public opinion.

Or as @jazzt put it recently on twitter: "are twitter and open letters the new judiciary?" If so we're all doomed. The internet doesn't really encourage nuanced thinking at least not in 140 character increments and in anything written very quickly (as the bulk of internet articles are). Binary thinking is just terrible for complex situations. 

In case you missed any of they key statements articles that people have been discussing they are like so:


  • Vanity Fair -the original Mia Farrow article... published during Husbands and Wives release in 1992
  • The New York Times - Dylan's Open Letter about her abuse. This was published on Nicolas Krystof's blog. He is friends with Mia Farrow and Ronan Farrow. 
  • The Daily Beast - Robert Weide attempts to clear up some misperceptions of what originally went down with the investigation and lack of legal proceedings. He is friends with (and a documentarian of) Woody Allen. (I have seen many attack on this article but I would like to note that most of the issues that people seem to take with this piece, apart from its tone, is with its opening gambit of 10 falsehoods about Woody's relationships to both Mia Farrow and Soon-Yi Farrow Previn. This saddens me because these are all verifiable and people would do well to know of what they speak. The only non-facts listed, if you want to get technical are points #5 (how could he know about the last sentence?) and points #9 which is more of an observation of perception... but as someone who lived through the first media war, I can also attest it is basically true since I heard people saing awful and racist things about SoonYi back then. 
  • CNN Woody's Legal Team Statement
  • The Guardian -Michael Wolff claims that the Farrow family is in the Anti-Woody business and stand to benefit from his downfall
  • Hollywood Elsewhere Cate Blanchett's Statement to Jeffrey Wells at the Santa Barbara Film Festival

What still might be coming? Some people suspect Moses Farrow, estranged from his mother Mia and friendly with Woody Allen again, might weigh in but I personally doubt it*. Woody Allen's team says Woody himself will soon make a public statement.

*UPDATE (2/5/14): Wrong. Moses has come forward saying that Woody is innocent and that Mia poisoned the children against him and also beat him as a child. Dylan denies her older brother's new claims. 

Naturally most of those articles are condemned by some as being "garbage" or agenda-laden, particularly since the people writing them are friendly with either Allen or Farrow and thus have career-interest in making them look good. Yet even in the "balanced" articles there is the whiff of judgement. Take Catherine Shoard's recap article on all of this in The Guardian. It's mostly just journalistic news-sharing but for the brilliantly sly way she describes the plot of Blue Jasmine at the end of the article.

 The film tells the story of a wealthy New York socialite and pathological liar whose inability to control her rage on learning of her husband's infidelity leads to the whole family's downfall.

That is a skillfull and funny "Guilty!" verdict right there* cause you could just as easily describe the plot like so, i'll illustrate.

"the film tells the story of a wealthy New York socialite who is driven to madness by her husband's infidelity and criminal behavior which leads to the whole family's downfall."

...which redirects the anger at Woody as if it were written by Mia. It's also equally true.

*UPDATE (2/4/14): I have since received clarification about this from Ms. Shoard who did not intend it the way I read it. Which only further underlines the point that phrasing and multiple possible interpretations make talking about this incident and the articles surrounding it very challenging. 

When I was suggesting that people think about the entire history of this case and not just one open letter 20 years later, I was told that this meant I was advocating silencing the victims. Which is a strange charge. Shouldn't we want more than one voice in any complicated situation where whole lives and reputations, and several of them, too, hang in the balance? I understand the passionate advocacy yet even here I find the rhetoric overblown. How is anyone silencing the former Dylan Farrow or even advocating silence? I don't mean to joke, but I kinda have to: If an Open Letter in the New York Times is considered silence, what is shouting? 

More disheartening (at least at this very moment) than any facts -- especially since you and I will never be fully privvy to most of them -- is the angry overheated rhetoric on the internet which seems, by and large, to be arguing that the presumption of innocence until someone is proven guilty is an outdated notion that we simply have no use for. Or as Mark Harris so succinctly and smartly tweeted... 


Naturally someone took offense to his sensible balancing act as well calling it 'cut from rape cloth'.

But here is the current 100% most tragic aspect of all of this given that it requires no proof of any sort and applies to any perceived truth on either side of what transpired. Whether Dylan Farrow's recollection of events from her childhood is a) 100% accurate, b) a mix of fantasy, misunderstandings, and agenda-laden misdirection/brainwashing  or 3) some mix of the two... and certainly one of those three options must be true... they're all totally traumatizing. So it's impossible not to feel for her or deny that she's the victim in all of this.

Still and all, I wish that Farrow, in her personal grief, hadn't begun lashing out at blameless people who had nothing to do with her victimization. There is no need to compound the tragedy by dragging other faultless people into it. Apart from Diane Keaton none of the other people name-checked had ever even met Woody or Mia or Dylan at the time. Unfortunately the internet, in its bottomless need for drama and people, in their bottomless need to feel superior to other people, have focused on this part of her letter in which Dylan calls out Diane Keaton, Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett (and other celebrities who have worked with Woody Allen) and we start to get pieces like 'Ethical Dilemmas hang over the Oscars' or a wave of tasteless punditry pieces like 'Does this hurt Cate Blanchett's Oscar chances' (and no I will not link to any of those tacky articles). Dylan also (indirectly) calls out all people who have ever loved a Woody Allen movie, which is really just a step way too far.

FACT: Diane Keaton, Alec Baldwin, and Cate Blanchett, and You (if you've ever loved a Woody Allen movie) and I have nothing at all to do with Dylan Farrow's abuse as a child. Let's just stop with that nonsense, even though it's born from a place of understandable grief. 

Many people on the internet this week have been, even possibly without realizing it, asking for a world in which we accept that all allegations are true (no need for laws, investigations, courts, professionals to determine veracity) and for which the result should be banishment from society and/or imprisonment. But this scorched earth desire would result in an ugly world that I think none of us would be comfortable living in and it would most certainly be bereft of a healthy artistic culture. Let me explain. Do we really want to go back to the McCarthy era mentality of the blacklist? Once you begin to banish or shame artists because of professional relationships, friendships, biological relations, associations and belief systems including "innocent until proven guilty", who is ever going to escape the all consuming fire of it? Do we also have to condemn their fans as Dylan indirectly suggests? I mean, I'm not going to suddenly start pretending I don't love The Purple Rose of Cairo, Manhattan, Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters and to anybody who thinks that makes me a bad person - 'nice knowing ya!' 

If Diane Keaton and Cate Blanchett should be publicly dissed for being friends or professional colleagues with Woody Allen and if Mia Farrow should be publicly shamed for staying friends with Roman Polanski and for having a brother who is in jail for child molestation, where do we stop? Where do we draw the line? When do we stop compounding the tragedy? Do we really want a world where no one who has ever been accused of a crime is allowed to have any friends or colleagues or family who can risk being associated with them. I don't even want that for hardened criminals since everyone needs people to love them unconditionally no matter what heinous things they've done.

Once people calm down -- I fear Woody Allen's impending statement will only reignite fury on both sides -- I hope I will be less lonely in the place of choosing to reserve judgment and leave the legal system and the families involved to sort this all out privately (not that some of them don't want it to be public) without the ignorant chorus of people (including me) who weren't there and who know much less about everything to interpet anything they don't like as "garbage" and the rest as "perfect truth" adding more fuel to this very sad bonfire. 

As per usual Cate Blanchett seems the wisest person in the room. Her response, via Jeffrey Wells:

It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some sort of resolution and peace.

What she said. And only that. 

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Reader Comments (127)

Amen Blanchett's response.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Very sharp and well-reasoned response, Nat. The amount of venom and certainty getting spewed from both "sides" of the Allen/Farrow debate is so disheartening. I appreciate, as always, your level-headed view.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Real Robert A.

Excellent, rational take on the situation.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWHM

Well said, Nathaniel. I feel similarly to you - both because Woody's films (and especially those with Mia) helped form my love of film and because I agree that we can't condemn filmmakers for things they have done (or not done) in their private lives, because where does it stop?

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Unbelievable! You have to be ashamed of yourself Nathaniel. How dare you be reasonable?

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Thank you for this post - I am so glad that someone is articulating this. I share your love of Woody's films, and especially the run he had in the 1980s with Mia, and I have also always identified with his philosophy and looked up to him as a cultural icon. I barely dare to think about the possibility that the accusations are true, but like you, I can't in good conscience act like I know them to be false. I don't and that we will probably never know for sure is saddening - as well as the fact that Dylan has been terribly victimised either way, of course.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErik

Nathaniel, thank you so much for writing this. This totally encapsulates my feelings of the whole situation, and I echo the sentiment that this mob mentality group syndrome is totally frightening and the disregard of facts in lieu of a witch hunt is beyond disheartening.

It's unfortunate that this bit of news has coalesced with the Alone Yet Not Alone "scandal" in which people are, predictably, now calling the disqualification an attack against Christians. Nevermind the shady and frankly, shitty, way Broughton elicited votes and the people who blatantly ignore the Academy's history of honoring faith-based films (The Mission, The Passion of the Christ, and The Blind Side are just a few that spring to mind). Couple that with some of the repulsive things commentators have said about Philip Seymour Hoffman's death who obviously have no grasp (or compassion) about the physical and psychological horrors of addiction.

It's unfortunate and frightening that we now live in an age of rush to judgment, where accusations are held as truths, and where people post and profess things as ways to divide, rather than to invoke discussion and understanding. I wish Dylan Farrow and everyone involved in this situation some form of peace.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Purple Rose was my first Woody ever and it also had a deep impact on me. Basically, I was Cecilia. I've been passing around Weide's article because I just can't stand most of the things I'm reading online.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Nathaniel - thanks for being a rational voice of reason. This is why I have loved TFE for years.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

An excellent post. You touched on all the things I feel and expressed them much better than I could.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Bless Mark Harris, and bless you for a measured, sane, and honest piece in a mire of bias, clickbait, and misguided fingerpointing.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

The open letter is pretty much designed to bring out the ugliest sides of the online echo chamber. If you convince yourself that Woody's guilty, then you're ignoring the results of the investigation, and you shouldn't do that. But if you pay attention to those facts and convince yourself that Mia is the monster, then you're calling the victim a liar, and you can't do that either. And so you have two online sides shouting at each other about what they're doing wrong.
It's hard to refrain from judgment on the matter, since I've had those sides in my head since Sunday and have really had a hard time thinking about much else. But I pretty much have to remind myself that wherever the monster lies, I will surely never know, and I'm too much of a fan of their work together and apart (Rosemary! Bullets Over Broadway!) to let my brain trust one of them only to demonize the other.
I do wish that someone close to Dylan Farrow had talked her out of the open letter, though. I can't relate in any way, but I can't help feeling that any positive feeling that could have come from speaking her truth has got to disappear fast when half the Internet is calling her a liar, trying to make her doubt her memories, and the world and the movies eventually move on as if it was never published. And that future is very predictable.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Honey get OVER IT!!!! Sick of hearing your family problems aired in public especially stuff that happened over 20 or 30 years and by the way stop letting your mothers utter hatred of your father overwhelm you. Form your own thoughts and not hers. What is done is done and move the hell on...Grow up and get some help and keep the public out of it. We are sick of hearing about it. After an extensive investigation well over 20 years ago the police and social service found nothing. Did you ever think it might be something going on in your own little brain? And, stop blaming other actors regarding your own problems. Did you ever confide in them? I doubt it, so leave them out of it. Really shame on you. GET A LIFE!!!!!!!!!!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermalibujd44

Amir - LOL. I love you.

Robert, Erik, Margaret, etcetera - thank you for taking it as it was intended. naturally i lost some followers by speaking out on this but i couldn't in good conscience not do it. I am just so disheartened by the furious cheering on both sides -- especially from people who know as little of the truth as I do (which is everyone but Woody and Mia and maybe Dylan)

The only (original) victim in all of this was Dylan Farrow (and Woody if he's innocent) but with all the fury people are clearly aching for a blood bath and they want be satiated until there's more collateral damage. They want be satisfied until Mia and Ronan and Dylan are exposed as fame-grubbing liars OR Woody is hanged and everyone who has ever starred in his movies (half of hollywood - lol!) is driven out of Hollywood and Cate loses her rightful Oscar. It's all just shameful if you ask me. Needless hatred.

I wish Dylan Farrow could get the healing and successful therapy that Samantha Geimer got because she's always so calm in interviews and doesn't seem to want anyone's head (an really, when has anyone's head ever erased grief?). She's clearly worked through her trauma.

February 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Thank you for this post. You may have lost a few followers, but you've also gained one. You are a much needed voice of reason. And there are others like you, we just know how futile it is to engage in the debates at this time when everyone's emotions are so irrational and everyone is ignoring facts for the sake of sensation.

You have a forum and I thank you for using it to say something intelligent.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

As always, TFE is an oasis of calm in the storm of the Internet.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

I ve been dying for you to comment on this and Amen to all you've said. You speak for all of us who love cinema but in better words!

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

I'm not going to lie...it took me a little while to pick apart that portmanteau.

And I agree, which will seem odd given my (ahem) slightly embarrassing screed against Madonna on this very blog. I just think in this case we don't know what happened and I'd rather not speculate on what should really be left as a private matter between this family who is very splintered and is suffering enough, without everyone and their brother weighing in on the situation.

TPKIA -- portmanteau haha. so that nickname is not going to catch on. it is such a mouthful :)

February 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Since I've been publicly very supportive of Dylan on FB, I want to explain a little why.

1) Innocent until proven guilty is an instruction to a jury, not to a court of public opinion.

2) As Aaron Bady so brilliantly said in New Inquiry (http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/zunguzungu/woody-allens-good-name/), every assumption of the innocence of Woody Allen is also an assumption of guilt of Dylan and/or Mia: Because lying about a felony is, itself, a crime. Doesn't Dylan deserve to be presumed innocent?

3) Who does it benefit? It benefits the many thousands of abuse survivors who take the temperature of the world and how it reacts to such accusations, and decide it's not safe to tell.

4) I am such a survivor. One who didn't tell.

I don't "boycott" Woody Allen movies or Roman Polanski movies. I choose not to give my money to people who are probably sexual abusers/rapists. I have the right to make my choice with my money. Vincent Scarpa doesn't know what I do with my money. I have contributed quite a lot to those who help survivors.

Since it's not a "boycott," I am okay with anyone making a different decision about their money, and I understand separating the art from the artist. I love T.S. Elliot, after all.

That said, I think any forum that publicly lauds Woody Allen as a person (rather than as an artist), the way that, for example, Diane Keaton did, is making a questionable decision at best.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

We continue to elect people to public office who have been proven to do morally reprehensible things, yet that doesn't seem to bother some of us nearly as much as the mere suggestion of a celebrity's supposed wrongdoings. That is the type of hypocrisy that really gets under my skin. I personally give no thought to Allen's personal life when I sit down to view his movies because, to put it simply, I'm not here for that.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Best article I've read on this issue so far — thank you writing it.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Very well said, Nathaniel. Dealing with all of this is like grabbing random pieces of yarn from an afghan and pulling; very shortly, all you're left with is a torn, tangled mess that has no resemblance to whatever it's "supposed" to be. I express my sympathies to Dylan for whatever wrongs (real, imagined, or half-remembered) she endured, express my admiration to Farrow for her brilliant film and charitable work, and to Allen for his incomparable artistry. I do not presume to offer an opinion or judgement on any and all other topics, sordid or not. Everything else is, as Woody once titled a film, Shadows and Fog.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDback

yeah, I don't even know what to say.

is it too hard not to group everyone who thinks polanski and allen aren't 'amazing' as people as some sort of right-wing dumbfucks who don't go for facts? (it's the feeling I get from this and previous comments on the matter) I mean, everytime I hear I should separate the artist from his movies, is it hard to understand that there are some of us that like to have opinions about artists as people (and EVERYONE has a personal view) AND still like to watch their movies (and love some of them)? it's tiring to say the same thing over and over again -- for you, for me...
the innocent until proven guilty doesn't even apply to polanski yet people still felt the need to defend him and sign petitions declaring movie festivals "special sacred places where everyone can be themselves and get together"... ok. and clearly polanski and allen are well-off and will never be 'taken down'. why cry about this? isn't this controversy one of the of bad sides to fame/celebrity? (I seen to remember you didn't mind that much that kristen stewart was trashed by the media, because she was famous and already received good money to compensate for that).
also, to say this doesn't matter to me (or affects me) the reader personally... first, do you know to what readers are you talking too? and can you imagine all the news events this 'impartial' instance can be applied to and it would not be a fantastic outcome?

(excuse my english but this is the best I could come up with... and sorry for the tone too, as I might regret this comment later... lol it's the topic, actually the analysis of the reaction to the topic that bothered me)

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Thanks for the article, this confirms once more why I read your website every single day.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTomas

Deborah - I agree with the general sentiment of your connect and that New Inquiry article is a very good read, but re: your first point, there's a reason they instruct that to the jury, and that's because it's the reasonable thing to do. Obviously, as you mentioned, it's tricky here, because the presumption of one party's innocence is the presumption of the other's guilt.
But if the court of public opinion doesn't assume an accused is innocent until proven guilty, then all we have is a mob mentality and all it takes to bring someone down is an accusation. I might be wrong, but I'd like you to explain to me why the court of people opinion is exempt from that rule. In what way is it different from a real court when it comes to this?

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Very Off Topic but I think "Michellyl Glenn Turnstreepfer" is genius (and I am way too happy seeing Ms Close included in your mythic 80's actress)

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermatt

Once again, thank you Nathan for bringing clarity to an overwrought situation. Allen and Farrow both deeply influenced my love of film. That will never change. This whole "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists," type of mentality began after 9/11 and has frighteningly exploded with the internet. Thanks for articulating this for many of us.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

I agree with Deborah Lipp. I am not a survivor of abuse, but , at the age of seventeen, I was date-raped by a "friend" on the backseat of his car when he gave me a ride Home after a party. My parents dont know till This day. I was never strong enough to tell. I'd be too embarassed, ashamed and afraid of hurting them.

I'm now 31, have been happily married for 8 years to a wonderful man who I've been with for the past 11 years and II'm the proud mother of a little girl soon to be 3 years old. My girl is and will always be my greatest accomplishment, my greatest achiement, my greatest joy.

Yes, woody should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. But What about Dylan? Shouldnt she be given the same respect? Shouldnt she be presumed innocent as well? What has she done to be treated like a liar? Why cant people give her the benefit of doubt as well?

What does she gain by exposing herself like this? She has people around the globe discussing her abuse, dissecting What did or did not happen, discussing whether he penetrated or fingered her, discussing results of forensic exams made on her vagina, calling her a liar. She gets pain, shame, humiliation.

Victim blaming is a major part of our culture. It intensifies when the alleged accused has money and influence. We should never,ever, ever, blame the victim and point fingers at her/him. Specially when said victim was a child. A seven year old. Its very hard to be mother of a girl and not get sensitive on This matter. It could have been my girl. My baby, who I carried, bore, clothed, fed, cared for, played with and love more than life itself. Thinking of it keeps me from sleeping at night.

We may never know the truth, probably never will. But I wish people showed Dylan the same goodwill they are showing towards Allen. She has done nothing wrong.

Maybe the reason we are so quick to dismiss the allegations and forgive Allen is because of ourselves. Our conscience. We dont want to think-let alone face the fact-that we have been, for decades, worshipping a man capable of such acts. We dont want to think that may e we've been worshipping a monster.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Nathaniel - a brilliant, thoughtful post on an horrendously difficult issue. Thank you for writing it (and for TFE generally).

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErko

Another thing that bothers me deeply is now people are treating Mia Farrow. Calling her a resentful, vindictive, scorned wife, dumped and traded for a younger piece-which Woody himself never did, he never broke up with Mia to be with Soon-Yi-a jealous, bitter, unloved old maid out for revenge?

Could we BE any more misoginistic? Reducing a woman as Mia, with her artistic legacy and humanitarian history to a bitter dumped rejected lonely old maid is a bit too much. Women have inner lives, personalities, issues, questions and demons apart from their husbands/boyfriends/lovers/companions,

Mia is her entire person apart from Woody, Frank,Priven. Taking from her very busy, agitated, conplicated romantic life, a rejected old maid was not something she ever was. Finding Male companion was never a problem for her. Whether these were sane, healthy relationships its another matter entirely. But reducing a subject This serious, conplicated and deep to emale bitterness and rejection is too much for me to handle.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

The most sensible article out of al of these you didn't even mention.


It shows both sides equally.

My personal take on this is that anyone who marries someone young enough to be your granddaughter is more than likely a pedophile. It's called common sense, but that is thrown out the window for celebrities. I don't care how many R. Kelly fans defend him or how the court say he is innocent. I know for a damn fact that growing up in Chicago he tried to pick me up when I was 15.

Also since were being so sensible here can we also be sensible to the many everyday people who are accused of such things and not just famous people bc we love their work. Let's separate the teacher who is accused of Molestation from his work. How about that. Michael Jackson was proved to be innocent, but when he passed you said some not so nice things bc of those allegations But I guess you are only biased and objective to those you like. I''m sorry, but your sensibility would hold more weight if you carried those same thoughts for everyone.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRahul

And This Daily Beast article is slut-shaming and victim-blaming of the highest order.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

"Maybe the reason we are so quick to dismiss the allegations and forgive Allen is because of ourselves. Our conscience. We dont want to think-let alone face the fact-that we have been, for decades, worshipping a man capable of such acts. We dont want to think that may e we've been worshipping a monster." -Amanda

No. We're dismissing the allegations because they were completely investigated by experts in 1992-1993. The result of that investigation was that the experts thought Dylan was an emotionally disturbed child who had trouble separating fantasy from reality, and/or was coached by Mia Farrow to make those accusations. The video Mia made of Dylan seemed rehearsed, phony, planned, and was heavily edited during 2 or 3 different days. Woody Allen also submitted to a lie detector test and passed. Mia Farrow refuse to take one. As a result, no charges were filed. These are facts. We are not people automatically taking Woody's side, or Dylan's side. We have looked at the facts and timeline of the case and made our conclusion based on those facts.

Now as far as my opinion. This case seems fishy. Mia found out about Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi, then months later, during a visitation session he drove to Mia's house, a house full of enemies, and at that moment, in the midst of a custody hearing, he THEN decides to molest his 7 year old adopted daughter? Give me a break. Every part of the timeline suggests Mia Farrow as being a woman scorned.

I think you're giving women way too much credit and men far too little. Molestation claims are often made during bitter divorce/custody hearings (not that Woody and Mia were married).

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSeymore Butts

"My personal take on this is that anyone who marries someone young enough to be your granddaughter is more than likely a pedophile. It's called common sense, but that is thrown out the window for celebrities." -Melissa

Oh yeah? Then how do you feel about Frank Sinatra marrying Mia Farrow when he was 56 and she was 21. Is Frank Sinatra a pedophile? Does Mia Farrow deserve any blame in marrying a 56 year old? Or is it always the man's fault, taking advantage of these young, pure, perfect, innocent women?

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSeymore Butts

"Innocent until proven guilty" is very frustrating in this instance because there won't be a court date or trial due to the decision by the parties not to have one when the allegations first came up. The statute of limitations has passed if I remember correctly and enough time has passed for all parties that their entire collective memory can be called into question, and memory is a faulty enough thing as it is even when it's fresh. For better or in all probability for much worse, this is in the court of public opinion, terribly and undeservedly so for those intimately involved, and that's where this opinion war will be waged. Being Switzerland, which is where I fall into as well, will be a very difficult position here.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

To me, Nat, I think you're also hinting at something I've been thinking myself for quite some time: The so-called "court of public opinion" is arbitrary and doesn't matter. As Deborah says above, in her idea of this so-called court, innocent until proven guilty is not an ideal.

Well, call me crazy, but this isn't any court that I seek approval from. In fact, I would take it as a compliment in this day and age NOT to be accepted in the "court of public opinion."

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

As a Cate Blanchett fan, it's disheartening that she is somehow being dragged into another fisaco. I was thrown out of the loop when I saw a sentence that Dylan mentioned Cate Blanchett before following with other actors. Why? Because she's in the hunt for the Oscar, therefore She's guilty by association?
Then, I have read the comments people have made after Cate Blanchett's rational neutralized response. Now they all want her to lose the Oscar because of her unsupportive comment to Dylan.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Infamous

Deborah -- i appreciate your comment. But presuming Dylan's innocence (I do) does not mean that Woody is guilty or that Mia is guilty but it means someone is or some combination of people are in terms of what she believed or was told or what actually happened as a child.

Amanda -- but dismissing everything in the article because it's easy to dismiss as "slut-shaming" and "victim blaming" (which is what i keep hearing) is a too easy way to pretend that the facts related are not facts. I have come to the conclusion that I can't trust any article or opinion on this topic because of just this binary thinking. Even if this Robert Weide person is a wild misogynist who hates Mia, it does not explain away facts that he relates.

But i love what you say about Mia being a full person without Woody. That is so true and people would do well to remember it.

Melissa -- I hadn't seen the Jezebel article. I shall read it. But I can't join you in the age gap thing. This would also suggest that Frank Sinatra (and any other man who married a much younger woman or the less common woman who married a younger man) was a pedophile since the age span between he and Mia (50/ 21) is not much different between the age span between Woody and Soon-Yi (55/19-21 depending on who you believe about Soon-Yi's birthdate). And, really, do we want to paint all intergenerational consensual adult relationships with this brush? It's the scorched earth problem I was talking about. No one comes out of it alive. I personally don't understand people who date people in entirely different generations then themselves but who am I to judge when they're both consenting adults?

Marcelo -- well the Polanski thing is a different situation entirely for a number of reasons but even so, public reaction to that one is also just as insane. Even the victim in that situation wants it dropped. There was a clear abuse of the justice system in that case on the attention-hungry judges part. The victim knows it and speaks about it. Polanski knows it and speaks about it. Lots of people know it. There have been documentaries about it. But the court of public opinion (the same unreasonable irrational feverish totally not involved but think they know best court) prevents it from ever be a resolveable situation

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

And also, If I may on two more things:

1) The whole Statue of Limitations thing is really irrelevant because this case could have been tried in the 1990s but it was dropped due to lack of evidence. I'm not saying this DEFINITIVELY means it didn't happen, but what the hell else should we go by? Especially when another human being's reputation and livelihood is at stake. God forbid one of your family members is ever accused of something terrible. I don't follow sex abuse allegations and I can't claim to know how often alleged victims keep at this sort of thing, but something tells me that if you try once in a court of law and fail, you kind of just have to find a way to move on. Maybe that's tough but people do have rights.

2) For many reasons, it's not always best to simply believe a victim's testimony. I think we should take it seriously and look into it and investigate it in every way, but we should never do this with the absolute assumption that the testimony is true. When Dylan claimed that Woody molested her in the 1990s, it was taken VERY seriously. It's not like the Farrows alleged this back in the day and investigators turned a blind eye. They did everything they could and found that the claim was unfounded.

I really do sometimes wonder how we got here considering how long ago the Salem Witch Trials were.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

but I'd like you to explain to me why the court of people opinion is exempt from that rule. In what way is it different from a real court when it comes to this?

Fair question, Amir. The difference is the consequences. A jury is instructed to convict beyond all reasonable doubt. The Michael Jackson jurors, for example, said they believed he was guilty, but the prosecution did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. To send someone to jail is a grievous thing and requires extra care. The United States is founded on this principal; that it is better for the guilty to go free than for the innocent to go to jail. So often, we forget this principal.

But the court of public opinion? We may look at the evidence-such as has been presented to the public--and conclude that Woody Allen probably sexually assaulted his daughter. We may also note that it doesn't look like enough to garner an opinion. Since we are not jurors, we don't have the benefit of seeing all evidence such as might be presented in a court, and so "proof" is impossible.

On the other hand, believing him guilty doesn't deprives him of freedom. He is given awards. He makes movies. He travels. He is filthy rich. And since we do not harm him, we are not obligated to make sure our actions protect him....protect him from what? Dislike? He doesn't have that right.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Rahul -- HA! that is one of the highest compliments i have ever been paid. thanks for the gif

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Thanks for this Nathaniel; the best piece on this I've read during this firestorm. I will admit to reacting strongly to Dylan's letter as a mother and a woman (so much misogyny is swirling around this), feeling appalled and immediately upset at those that seemed to want her to just shut up. If she were my daughter I would never watch another Woody Allen movie again. But, she is not. I don't know these people, only the impact their art has had on my life, which has been overwhelmingly positive.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlexa

An estimated 2-8% of rape/abuse charges are false. Even if you inflate that for celebrities (based on no statistical evidence but hypothetical reasoning, mind), the odds are certainly in favor of the person making the accusation. So yes, some people lie, or are somehow mistaken about what transpired - though not very many - but I don't really see why we should doubt Dylan's testimony in this case. She's not exactly getting anything out of it except unpleasantness.

The problem with the reasoning as extrapolated in the above post is that there is no way to "prove" anything in these sorts of situations. Nobody was in the room with them. So, okay - it's ambiguous, people argue. But if it's always ambiguous - because when is there ever anybody else in the room? particularly when the victim is the child of the abuser? - then how can we ever bring anyone to justice, even if only in the court of public opinion, as someone said above? There was enough of a case, the police thought, to bring this case to trial and they didn't because the victim was so profoundly traumatized. And now the statute of limitations has passed. So there will never be "proof." It was always a he said-she said in the first place. The notion that the victim here is lying about her years of trauma, or has been brainwashed (deliberately or not), or whatever else - that there are all of these reasons to not believe her, and no way of ever knowing whether she is telling the truth - nullifies her agency. Because that means that there is no reason to ever believe anybody. And that means that anybody who does anything like this will always get away with it, absent physical, documented evidence. (And look where that got Chris Brown.) And that the victim will never get closure, never get validation, never be truly believed. Her reality will never be accepted as the truth.

This situation is not happening in a vacuum. It is happening within a society that is plagued by systemic rape culture, which elevates the perpetrator's innocence over the victim's testimony time and time and fucking time again. The justice system does the same thing. The system is flawed. It has always been flawed. And it's going to be particularly flawed in the case of somebody like Woody Allen, who is so beloved by so many, many people.

The fact that his films are so deeply loved only means that people are twisting themselves into knots to try to be "objective" and "even-handed" about this. If he were a nobody and we read Dylan Farrow's testimony I seriously doubt that any of us would doubt her - but he's not. He's somebody whose work many people love. And there's no reason that this should take his work away from the people who love it so much - one of my favorite films of all time is The Pianist, for Christ's sake. But people who make great art are very often capable of terrible, terrible things. It's sort of a package deal: to make great art you have to be fucked up. And fucked up people tend to go one of two routes: they wind up pretty normal in their real lives, and channel their fucked-up childhoods through their work, or their traumas bleed out everywhere. With Allen it certainly seems like it was the latter. If you love his work, that's an absolutely awful thing to have to reconcile - but it is what it is.

I’ve loved this site for years; it was the first film site I started reading in high school, I donate monthly, and your podcasts are a weekly highlight when they’re in season. I’m certainly not going to stop reading or donating or listening. But I have to tell you that as a young woman, this is really disappointing to read: we hear this kind of thing over and over and over again. I am not a radical leftist, but it seems like “objectivity” in these cases always falls in favor of the people in power – and the people in power are, needless to say, not the victims (overwhelmingly, women); they are men. I am, thank god, not a survivor of abuse or sexual assault, but it is exhausting to be told again and again that rationality and objectivity nullify you, and your people, and all sorts of things that might happen to you. If I were raped tomorrow, the chances are my rapist would never be convicted; if I were raped by a famous person, particularly a beloved famous person, the chances drop precipitously. This is demoralizing.

This isn’t objectivity. It’s emotional bias (and a reflection of a systemic problem) dressed up as objectivity. I understand that; I feel some of the same thing toward Polanski, whom I won’t ever be able to really hate or reject because his work means so much to me. But I know that I am biased – I know that is hypocrisy and sentiment, not objectivity. It’s a dangerous thing to conflate the two.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan

Yes anyone including Frank Sinatra.....there are many.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa


Bravo !!! You said everything perfectly.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

@Deborah, @Amanda--What you're saying on this site is so brave, and I just wanted to thank you for your honesty and perspective. I don't want to be trite and to just parrot Cate Blanchett, but I hope that you've been able to find closure since. As a woman, I find I am constantly overwhelmed by the bravery and resilience of other women, and this moment is no exception.

With Dylan, I think things get tricky because right now our societal discourse around rape and abuse is so deeply fucked up, and the internet has become one of the few places where survivors are able to publicly tell their stories safely, without the burden of proof weighing on top of the burden of experience. But I think it's important to consider this case as its own unique (and horrible) situation. As much as I empathize with her and as much as I truly believe her speaking out was a brave choice that probably gave many survivors comfort and strength, Dylan Farrow is not every rape victim, she is not every abuse victim, she is Dylan Farrow. In our desire to come together on these issues, I think we have to be careful not to lump all situations together, and not to assume that there is one correct way of responding to allegations of abuse. There are many great people, @NathanielR included, who have been wrongly labelled as victim-blamers or worse, for struggling with this case.

And make no mistake, this is a unique case. This is not Polanski, this is not Steubenville, this is not Sandusky, where the accused seemed to cave under the weight of the evidence. For the accused to deny allegations is hardly unusual, but this is not like what happened with Kobe Bryant or Ben Rothlesberger either. The circumstances around Woody's defense are not typical. The timeline of his separation with Mia Farrow complicates things. The many conflicting findings of the many inquiries into the case complicate things. His own impassioned defense complicates things.

But I think what complicates things the most is what no one wants to say. The fact of the matter is that for decades Woody Allen created art that put his most base flaws, his deepest fears, his most private desires on screen, and what's more, he plastered his face all over his films just in case you had doubts of his transparency. We know Woody Allen through Alvy Singer and Isaac Davis and Mickey Sachs . He devoted his life's work to showing us who he is, and nowhere in that work is there a sign that he is a pedophile. Can we see in his work that something could happen like what went down with Soon-Yi? Absolutely and everywhere, and as someone who knew of the scandals long before I saw any of his films, that is something that I have had to negotiate with in every film of his that I've seen. But even with that constant awareness, pedophilia is nowhere to be found.

Does that mean it's impossible that he did it? Of course not! But it means that his case is complicated, both for those who cry for "the separation of the artist and the art" and for those who are ready to convict him.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

Hey, I called the Daily Beast article trash, and I stand by it. He makes a cursory nod to not wanting to victim-blame, then engages in the most egregious victim-blaming tropes, as if he had just heard of this thing but couldn't be bothered to even google it. He says it 'wouldn't make sense for Allen to molest' her as somehow proof that he didnt do it, which is not even a rational point, just an intuition, and is also nonsensical b/c when would it 'make sense' for an adult to molest a child? It's at it's heart not a rational act. He conflates not finding enough evidence to prosecute with finding the molestation never happened, which is inaccurate. It's this last one that makes me doubt anything he writes that is summary or interpretation of the facts, as the piece going to print with this error indicates that either the Daily Beast didn't fact check or provide any editing in a piece partially about legal issues, written by an author with huge deficits in his understanding of the law, or (sadly more likely) didn't care about journalistic integrity at all and were just salivating at the prospect of having an article that would be such massive click bait.

I also have thoughts on separating the art and the artist! I think we all do this to some degree - I'm still a fan of both Michael Fassbender and Nate Dogg, for example, and continue to see Allen's films occassionally - but I think sometimes we rationalize our own fandoms and condemn others for doing the same, without acknowledging that we are all living with cognitive dissonance. Our failure to separate art from artist may be ultimately damaging to the victims, bc people feel they have to trash Dylan and be on #TeamWoody in order for it to be ok to watch his movies rather than living with the complexity and ambiguity of someone's artistic gift not being reconcilable with their personal life.

Thanks Nathaniel.

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

He devoted his life's work to showing us who he is, and nowhere in that work is there a sign that he is a pedophile.

This is a really silly and dangerous point to make. I get the argument that art is a reflection of the artist, but it's not a complete reflection and espouses the dangerous logic that a pedophile can somehow be sniffed out through their art. WTF?

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

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