Dear Media, If You’re Going to Call Out Woody Allen — You Can’t Idolize Him In The Same Breath
The season of love is upon us — and as usual online pubs are either copy and pasting the standard fare from years past or trying to give the recycled entries a refreshed spin.
Vogue.com isn’t really on my radar for many reasons — but mostly because of the round-the-clock coverage of the “super” trio (Kendall, Gigi, and Bella). Maybe I’m just a party-pooper. I’m definitely getting up there in age — perhaps that why I’m unable to appreciate the “cultural icons” of the moment. I’m still stuck on the ones that I will never let go.
That being said — I found myself clicking on the link that promises to provide the “editor approved” list of the 54 Romantic Comedies Of All Time.
The list starts off with generic pickings — and at some point there are a handful that don’t make sense.
The 2000 hit comedy — Bring It On — starring Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst — has always been a favorite of mine — but I wouldn’t categorize it in the realm of “romantic comedies.” Love Jones should’ve filled that spot. Bridesmaids — which is more of a “chick flick” than a rom-com was also out-of-place. But — How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Coming to America — made the cut!
The other three entries to the robust list (Annie Hall, Manhattan and Midnight in Paris) that stopped me in my tracks — are associated with an iconic filmmaker — who is currently embroiled in a re-activated situation that is still as shitty as it was — two decades ago.
Back in the early nineties — Woody Allen was accused by his then wife — actress Mia Farrow of sexually abusing their daughter Dylan. The charges were later dismissed but the couple still had to a weather a bitter custody battle for their biological son (Ronan) and the two kids that Farrow had adopted which Allen also later adopted. One of them was Dylan. Allen lost that fight and the judge who presided over the case didn’t hold back his disdain for the famed director:
“After considering Ms. Farrow’s position as the sole caretaker of the children, the satisfactory fashion in which she has fulfilled that function and Mr. Allen’s serious parental inadequacies, it is clear that the best interests of the children will be served by their continued custody with Ms. Farrow.”
Justice Wilk also blasted Allen for “lacking knowledge of the most basic aspects of his children’s lives” — but that was before denouncing him for “carrying on an affair with one of Ms. Farrow’s daughters.”
That daughter is Allen’s wife of twenty years — Soon-Yi Previn a native of Seoul — who was adopted by Farrow and her then husband — composer Andre Previn. The relationship between Allen and his wife’s daughter whom he met when she was in her late teens and he was — well — much older — came to Farrow’s attention when she discovered nude shots of her daughter that her husband had taken.
Things didn’t end well. And of course the sexual abuse allegations didn’t help matters and even though an extended investigation concluded that Dylan Farrow’s claims weren’t valid — she and her younger brother — TV journalist — Ronan Farrow — have never stopped being a pain in Allen’s (you know what) and of course with the current climate of intolerability and the initiation of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements — the heat is on!
Dylan Farrow’s heart-wrenching and scathing op-ed for The Los Angeles Times basically questions the validity of initiatives that are supposedly in place to support and protect victims with the encouragement of the very same celebrities who shamelessly lend their talents to a man she considers — a predator.
The mounting pressure on social media prompted some stars to step up and publicly denounce Allen by expressing regret for their association and working relationship— while others like Diane Keaton and Alec Baldwin steadfastly refuse to abandon their friend in his time of need.
The messaging in this time of urgency can get direly muddled as we navigate unfamiliar terrain with the mission of banishing those who may or may not be guilty of unforgivable behavior. But what seems to be unfolding is the incoherency and inconsistency of punishing a targeted few — while giving others that are also questionable — “the benefit of the doubt.”
Dustin Hoffman has been accused of sexual misconduct and yet somehow he was able to garner his Actor Tribute via the Gotham Awards while James Franco was shut out of an Oscar nomination. There are other examples to cite but the main issue is the disorganization that hovers over how we decide whether or not we should stay clear of those accused or still utilize them for professional purposes.
Either way — a man who chooses to sleep with his wife’s adopted daughter behind her back and then dumps the betrayed spouse so he can marry that daughter — is definitely someone who deserves heavy scrutiny.
Regardless of the fact that he was cleared of the charges against him — we can’t ignore that his accuser still insists that he’s guilty — just as she’s always done—and that should be enough reason to take cautionary measures — as members of the press.
Media outlets can’t illustrate support for victims of assault by providing a platform for their pain — and then in the same breath feature the accused in listicles about romantic movies.
Vogue.com did just that and the worst part is the way one of the more controversial films was presented. The choice of Manhattan is just fucking bad when you consider the premise of a much older man in his early forties — courting a seventeen-year-old girl.
And then the opening:
Elephant in the room: Yes, this is Woody Allen pursuing a high school student (a luminous Mariel Hemingway). It was also made in 1979, and that didn’t carry quite the same connotations as it does now.
The notion that because the movie was made back in the late seventies when mature men were allowed to freely fuck teenage girls — we should be able to accommodate the inclusion of this movie with limited judgement is outrageous. It’s also dangerous when you consider how many of us are just plain clueless when it comes to taking this shit seriously.
Whether or not you believe Allen is sexual predator doesn’t matter as much as the dignified approach to a subject that is ultra-sensitive for those who are living the nightmare. If publications are going to continue to portray men like Allen as respectable artists that should be referenced for their impeccable body of work — then you can’t also have essays written by or about victims plastered on the front page.
You can’t condemn and idolize at the same time because it doesn’t make sense. Its not progressive or effective and it creates the damning impression that “anything goes” which couldn’t be further from the truth.
The stakes are way too high and that means we have to pick a side and stick with it — even when Valentine’s Day is around the corner and we need to get that number to “54.”
Vogue should’ve stopped at “51.” That would’ve been the appropriate thing to do.