“It is tragic that after 20 years, a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan’s distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.”
There it is. That’s Woody Allen’s statement about adopted daughter Dylan Farrow’s recent, public allegations of sexual molestation.
It’s Mia’s fault. A mother was so angry about her boyfriend of 10 years having sex with her adopted teenage daughter that she decided to destroy another daughter’s life by engineering a story about sexual molestation.
That either makes Mia Farrow one of the most evil women on the planet or it makes Woody Allen (the guy who actually admitted that he had sex with his girlfriend’s teen daughter) guilty.
I’m not sure when it first dawned on me that Woody Allen might not be the amazing man we all supposed him to be. I guess it was when I learned he had an affair with Soon-Yi, Mia Farrow’s teenage daughter. A girl who was in Allen’s life from the age of 10. Farrow famously discovered nude photographs of Soon-Yi in Allen’s possession. The jig was up, of course, as it can only be after discovering your boyfriend of 10 years is having sex with your teenager, a girl 34 years his junior. However, it wasn’t Mia’s first clue that something was wrong with Woody Allen. As she details in her autobiography, he was overly obsessed with their adopted daughter, Dylan. Vanity Fair noted at the time:
“Woody, wearing just underwear, would take Dylan to bed with him and entwine his body around hers; or that he would have her suck his thumb; or that often when Dylan went over to his apartment he would head straight for the bedroom with her so that they could get into bed and play. He called Mia a “spoilsport” when she objected to what she referred to as “wooing.” Mia has told people that he said that her concerns were her own sickness, and that he was just being warm. For a long time, Mia backed down. Her love for Woody had always been mixed with fear. He could reduce her to a pulp when he gave vent to his temper, but she was also in awe of him, because he always presented himself as “a morally superior person.”
A wife/girlfriend can have uncomfortable suspicions about her mate’s questionable behavior, but it wasn’t until Allen’s affair with Soon Yi was discovered that the extent of his predilection for young girls was ultimately revealed. A 7-year-old Dylan was able to tell her mom what Woody Allen had been doing to her over the years. While the case has been documented in courtrooms and we’ve heard Mia’s story, we had not heard from Dylan herself until now. In an open-letter to The New York Times posted online Saturday, Dylan Farrow, now a 28-year-old woman living in Florida under another name, made her first public comments about the 1992 incident. In a letter to op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof, she said she needed to speak out because of Hollywood’s continued embrace of Allen.
“When I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. 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.”
Perhaps we were all able to brush off the creepy affair with Soon Yi because of the brilliance of Allen’s movies and pesky technicalities relating to his relationship with Soon Yi: She wasn’t really his adopted daughter (even though he was in her life from the age of 10 and was the father to her siblings). Technically she was an adult when the affair started … or was she? We’ll never know. All we do know is that the affair was discovered when she was 18. How long had the weirdness been going on? Who knows? If Soon Yi doesn’t have a problem then I guess we shouldn’t either.
The same can’t be said for Dylan Farrow. She’s not a child anymore, that scared girl who some accused of having contradictory statements and being influenced by her mother is all grown up now. Dylan is an intelligent, adult woman with nothing to gain by outlining the worst time of her life in a detailed, powerful letter precipitated by Allen being honored with the lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes. Something her brother, Woody Allen’s only (alleged) biological child with Mia Farrow, acknowledged with a tweet: “Missed the Woody Allen tribute — did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
It comes down to a case of he said/she said, but what she says is very powerful, and somewhat substantiated by the observations of numerous others who saw Allen interact with Dylan as a child. So where do we draw the line? As movie-goers but, more importantly, as mothers of children who we’d give our lives to protect. Where do we draw the line? I hear you, we don’t know for sure what happened, but as Nicholas Kristof points out in the New York Times:
“Look, none of us can be certain what happened. The standard to send someone to prison is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but shouldn’t the standard to honor someone be that they are unimpeachably, well, honorable? Yet the Golden Globes sided with Allen, in effect accusing Dylan either of lying or of not mattering. That’s the message that celebrities in film, music and sports too often send to abuse victims. ‘I know it’s he said, she said,” Dylan told me. ‘But, to me, it’s black and white, because I was there.’”
At the very least, don’t we owe it to Dylan Farrow to not drool all over Woody Allen like he’s a living legend? Shouldn’t our standard of “celebrating” someone include the caveat that they not be accused of molesting children? I’ve had “Blue Jasmine” sitting on my countertop for two days as I’ve tried to find time, between mopping up after sick kids, to watch it. I choose not to watch it. Not now, not ever. If watching a Woody Allen movie somehow steals another chunk from Dylan Farrow’s already tortured soul I proclaim here and now that I will never watch another Woody Allen movie ever again, starting with the Red Box DVD of “Blue Jasmine” sitting in my kitchen right now.
Dylan Farrow, I support you. More people, especially Hollywood celebrities, should do the same by — at the very least — not tripping all over themselves to kiss the ass of a man who is accused by his daughter of molestation. The cards are all on the table now, and this year’s Academy Awards will be interesting. It’s important that we don’t sweep Dylan Farrow’s accusations under the rug as we have in the past because, guess what Cate Blanchett? Dylan is watching. Yet this time she won’t let Diane Keaton’s silly fan girl antics hurt her. As she tells Nicholas Kristoff in the Times:
“This time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me — to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories — have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.”
The message I’d like to send as the mother of a beautiful 5-year-old girl is this: Enjoying a Woody Allen movie isn’t more important to me than Dylan Farrow. Technicalities are not more important than the thousands of other child abuse victims who might be afraid to come forward because they’re scared no one will believe them. If Hollywood doesn’t have the balls to call Allen to the carpet then it has to start with us, the people who watch the movies he makes, and the moms who raise daughters who deserve so much better than the treatment Dylan described in her letter.
Dylan Farrow’s first sentence in her open letter is: What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? As Babble’s Sunny Chanel notes, that question is difficult for people to answer. Not for me. To answer Dylan’s question, I don’t have a favorite Woody Allen movie anymore, and I’ll never watch another one. But my favorite Woody Allen story is the one where Dylan Farrow triumphs over the man, the father, who almost ruined her. Her brave letter has already ignited a broader conversation about how we treat children and adults who come forward to tell their stories of sexual assault. I want them all to know that we are listening.
** And yes, before you inundate me with links, I have read Robert Weide’s piece in The Daily Beast. At best it’s a sentimentalized Woody Allen fan boy love letter (he still uses a typewriter and doesn’t know what Twitter is!) from an admitted friend of Allen’s who made a documentary about him that did not include the sexual molestation allegations. The article is disrespectful to a grown woman with absolutely nothing to gain by coming forward to outline in painful detail exactly what happened to her at the hands of her adopted father. Weide side-steps that issue at every turn or condescends to Dylan Farrow by saying he believes that she believes what happened to her but that she changed her story several times as a child when questioned over and over again. Weide chooses to split hairs by focusing on irrelevant facts like Soon Yi technically isn’t Allen’s stepdaughter or Mia and Ronan Farrow and their tweets about Allen. Weide’s piece is embarrassing and shameful and, as mentioned, condescending to a woman who was courageous enough to come forward in the face of so many like Weide who unquestionably laud Woody Allen and tell her story. Shame on him.
Related Reading: You, Me and Woody Allen
Read more from Monica on Babble: