In her disturbing and heartbreaking open letter in The New York Times, Dylan Farrow opens her missive with a question:
“What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?”
Before any of her readers can think of any titles, Farrow opens up and offers a voice in the long and tragic saga of the Farrow family, but this one important because we finally hear the voice of the victim. When Farrow was seven years old, Allen sexually assaulted her. The abuse wasn’t one-time instance, but a series of abuses that left Farrow “terrified of being touched by men” as well as being plagued by eating disorders and Farrow admitted to cutting herself.
And it was much more difficult for Farrow because her dad was one of the most famous and celebrated men in Hollywood. Farrow writes so eloquently, “That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, ‘who can say what happened,’ to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards show. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.”
I can’t imagine Farrow’s sorry and the torture she faces – imagine having someone violate you so terribly, and then not only get away with it, but regularly feted as a legend and a genius. It’s a difficult lot in Farrow’s life.
This controversy was freshly renewed because Allen was honored by the Golden Globes with a lifetime achievement trophy, and his latest Blue Jasmine netted him another Oscar nomination for best screenplay. During the Golden Globes, Allen’s close friend and longtime collaborator, actress Diane Keaton gave a speech that not only celebrated the director, but the man. It’s terrible for Farrow to hear someone go on about a man who has caused so much damage in her life.
So, while I was always aware of Mia Farrow’s allegations of sexual abuse against Dylan, like too many, I was always willing to look the other and parrot “who can say what happened.” I did the same with Roman Polanski, too. Why? Because Allen is a brilliant artist and one of the greatest film directors and screenwriters working today. But that’s not enough.
I stopped watching Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond because both Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton are political conservatives. If I can be turned off by Grammar and Heaton because of mere political affiliation, then why do I give a wider berth to Allen, a man whose daughter not only accuses him of abuse, but he was a man who single-handedly destroyed a family by squiring the daughter of his romantic partner.
So, I will no longer watch Woody Allen movies. It’s no big sacrifice – and it won’t help Farrow – but hopefully more people like I – Woodyphiles – will take it upon themselves to follow suit and try to alleviate even a notch of Farrow’s pain. If we all stop watching Allen’s films, then maybe Hollywood will lose interest in hoisting him on its collective shoulders and parading him around as a great man. It’s not much, but may when Farrow’s watching television or reading the paper, she won’t have to see his face again – or if she does, it isn’t followed or attached by yet another stream of heavy, puffy, praise.