Mild trigger warning: Discussion of Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow but no specific details about the abuse.
When the Woody Allen scandal broke the first time around, I wasn’t a parent and I didn’t care. All I needed to know? Woody Allen was never charged with a crime. That was good enough for me.
I barely read anything about Dylan Farrow. It was all about Woody, Mia and Soon Yi. While that whole mess certainly seemed weird to me, everything about Woody Allen and Mia Farrow seemed weird. They weren’t married, lived in separate apartments and had about eight gazillion kids.
Besides, I had always loved Woody Allen movies. Sleeper, Bananas, Manhattan, Annie Hall (of course), Crimes and Misdemeanors…I was never that girl who knew The Princess Bride by heart and I didn’t really get those Chevy Chase Vacation movies. I was kind of a weird, funny Jewish kid, and I liked that Woody Allen movies were weird, funny and Jewish too.
But everything seems different now. Dylan is an adult and a mother, and so am I. I feel connected to her and not to him. Woody Allen turned forty in the 1970s. He doesn’t know what Twitter is. I get it, Woody and Woody’s friends, Frank Sinatra had a magic dick that Mia just could not quit, but that does nothing to address Dylan’s allegations. All of these sordid and strange details — the stabby Valentine, scorned Mia, Roman Polanski — are just background noise. Today, all I need to know is this: Dylan’s account has remained the same, false claims of sexual assault are rare, and the investigation would never be handled in the same way if it happened today.
I’m just not experiencing any sort of intellectual meltdown over separating Woody Allen the artist from Woody Allen the sick, fucked up creep. If you’ve ever hung around any funny people, you know that fucked up is a pretty common denominator. But, wait, you’re thinking, fucked up doesn’t mean you molest kids. Of course not. But sometimes it does. Like, for example, Woody Allen. I was wrong about him. But I’m a parent now, and everything seems different.
Manhattan was the point at which I decided I couldn’t stomach Woody Allen any more. The idea of him having a sexual relationship with someone under 18 and him old enough to be her father (if not grandfather) just squicked me. FWIW, it struck me that she came across as a lot more mature than him. I assume his line, “my wife left me for another woman” was supposed to be a put-down, but all I could think of was, I can’t blame her! His hooking up with Soon-Yi didn’t sit well with me, either, maybe because I’d always seen myself as a future parent (I’ve always felt protective of kids) and could imagine how I’d feel if my SO ran off with my daughter (adopted or not.)
I’ve noticed that a lot of people like to assume things are better than they seem. I’ve always figured that was a large part of the reason people don’t want to believe that someone they know, especially a “nice, funny guy,” might be doing awful things to children. My life has somehow led me to assume that things are usually worse than they seem, so I didn’t have any trouble accepting the idea that a Famous Film Director might also be in the habit of molesting children. (Roman Polanski, anyone?)
It would be interesting to go back and watch Manhattan now. I don’t know. I have to admit that I don’t really get too bothered by big age disparities in relationships because I just figure, eh, to each their own. As long as we’re talking consenting adults, of course, and that is somewhat tricky since the “age of consent” is obviously arbitrary. I think my basic reaction to a dude who always dates or is with much younger women is just total disinterest. It’s such a cliche.
I don’t know if it’s that people assume things are better than they are or if it’s just difficult to accept that someone who looks nice and is charming or funny might be a pedophile. It’s such a disconnect in our minds.