You, Me, and Woody AllenSerge Bielanko
These things hardly ever end with any kind of poetry, really, and dirty mid-town pigeons, despite their brilliant track record at judging character, they just don’t ever seem to have the juice or the street muscle they need to throw the bodies off the bridge, so to speak.
He knows though. He knows that even the pigeons have changed their tune about him now.
Woody Allen, wherever he might be this morning, or this evening, or whatever, looking out some window down like 33 stories to the grey wintery Manhattan streets below, or sipping some rich cup of coffee on the balcony of his Parisian rental, wherever the hell he finds himself now, wherever on Earth the man is, in this exact moment, in this one and only lifetime, the fact of the matter is, the dude now knows that the winds have shifted hard and fast.
And that they ain’t ever shifting back.
The next few days will give birth to the expected weeks and months, and probably years, of discussion and opinion, and even debate, about the throat-punch open letter that 28-year-old Dylan Farrow has just had published in the New York Times. It will be called courageous and vile and shocking and illuminating and it will be all of those things and many many more each and every time someone even glances down through it with their modern media eye, tossing entire paragraphs aside like Godzilla on a bender, just to string together some of the keywords and phrases that will haunt each and every eyeball that hits it up.
Really, in all honesty, you only need one chunk of the thing to make up your mind about the whole question you need to ask yourself now.
“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. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.”
Five short sentences, nothing fancy, no emotional flourishes or any of that stuff. Just five sentences written by the adopted daughter of one of the most successful and revered Hollywood filmmakers of the last hundred years.
Five little sentences that will open up a can of whoop-ass like we haven’t seen in a while.
I traveled a lot for a long time, and on airplanes over the nighttime Atlantic, I’d get excited if Annie Hall or Manhattan or even one of his lesser known flicks was on one of the video channels.
The first time I saw Midnight in Paris, I was on my way back from a long tour in Europe with my band, and I was exhausted and broke and I would’ve gladly eaten the entire insides of a horse if anybody had asked me if I wanted that, in addition to the two spoonfuls of Chicken Tikka Marsala that they were handing out that day. Back then, I didn’t have the money to rent the headphones for the movies and so I just watched the whole film without any sound, drinking my small free wine straight from the little bottle.
Still, the film blew my mind. And I loved it.
Brutal honesty calls for review and revision though, and so I have to admit now, as weird as I feel about it, that I remember thinking to myself, the same thing I always thought to myself in the two or three seconds in which my brain had settled on the reality that I was getting ready to watch a Woody Allen flick … God, he’s gross/start the movie.
This was a man who was on my weirdo radar already. There were things I had heard about him, things that were hard to not hear if you were living in the modern world and paying any kind of attention at all. Still, I considered those things only in passing, on my way into his art.
That is the extent to which, until now, until Dylan Farrow’s heartbreaking piece, I ever bothered or allowed myself to process or even remotely consider the charges that people who had known him, and loved him, and lived with him for many years, had ultimately leveled against him.
Now, gimme my movie.
I’m a little ashamed of that this morning, sitting here in my bed, typing this thing as I listen to my kids thumping the floorboards downstairs. They’re running around like wild animals down there, all jacked up on pancake syrup, all stoned on Sunday morning Peppa Pig.
If anyone ever hurt either of them, even just a little bit, I wouldn’t be me anymore; I would be someone else. I would be something else altogether.
After thinking about this whole thing all night long, since yesterday afternoon, when I first read the thing in the New York Times, I’m ashamed and freaked out by the fact that I was able to just zip right by something as absurd and offensive as the billboard for the legend or possible monster, just so I could get to the seat I wanted in the theater where I was paying him my money.
You know: yes, there must always be a separation of art and artist; that much is undeniable.
But how much separation?
I mean, sitting here in the middle of my bedroom in the middle of my town in the middle of my life, I can’t help but feel as if I’ve played some kind of bizzarre but real role in allowing this guy to do what he allegedly did, not so much by feasting on the films, but by ignoring the other stuff.
A decade and change, lobbing popcorn comets into my mouth, watching stuff that Woody Allen came up with, created, and sold to the world, most of my adult life spent listening for his precious 1920’s Tin Pan Alley opening sequence songs, and all along I have ignored the holy hell out of the tiny voices standing in the shadows of his vast empire, begging to be heard.
It makes me sad and sick, this notion that I have spent a lot of my hard-earned mind and intellect on digesting the words and ideas of a man who, it so appears, was kind of lying to us every single step of the way. For some people, I guess, that doesn’t really matter when it comes to the art, but not for me. For me, it destroys the art wholly and completely; every storyline, every character, every plot/scene/and playful clarinet, all of it now just some late-night advertisement for the darkest closets, the darkest kind of souls known to mankind.
Woody must know it now.
I mean, you can only run from these things for so long.
You can only pretend that you’re someone other than who you really, truly are for so long before the jig is up. You live long enough, like he has, and you hurt and destroy viciously enough, like a young lady, with little reason to lie as far as I can tell, says that he did, and eventually every street smart pigeon from the Brooklyn to London to Beijing is gonna start looking at you cross-eyed, with a certain sort of wince in their eye.
Woody Allen, cinematic legend, will stand alone this week, looking down at the world below him, a man who knows Hollywood endings as good as the next guy. And, quite possibly, if yesterday’s news holds any truth at all, an outlaw whose years and years of running from his dark shadow has probably come to an end.
If that’s the case, then all that’s left now isn’t some idiotic pointless lifetime achievement award or some smoke-blowing up the butt of a catalog of greatness.
All that’s left now are the badly broken hearts.
All that’s left now is the bitter acrid whiff of a legacy burning like hell.
Image: The Rumpus
Info: The New York Times
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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