Tuesday, February 4, 2014

My response to "What Should Happen to Woody Allen?" by Leonard Jacobs

Thank you so much for writing this important article:


As somebody who (in this situation) feels something of an investment in both Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow for different reasons, and who does not think that any of us have enough knowledge to definitively “take a side” at this point (unless it’s the side of two people embroiled in very tragic and maddening circumstances), here is what I want.

1) If Woody Allen abused Dylan Farrow, I want him to admit it publicly, to publicly validate her claims, and to apologize to her. Because if she was abused by Allen, it must feel terrible to have your traumatic experiences publicly invalidated constantly in various ways, from all of the honors that go to Woody, to people saying that Dylan’s letter is “over-dramatic” and “bitchy,” that her memories are “false,” and that she is the victim of her mother’s anger at Woody Allen. I want this to happen both for Dylan’s sake, and because–if Woody Allen did abuse Dylan–his admission would be a very public counteraction of a trend in our society in which people sweep abuse under the rug and side with the perpetrator.

2) I don’t believe that Dylan came up with these memories out of nowhere. I just don’t believe that people make up sexual abuse histories out of nowhere. If her memories are, indeed, false (and I will be frank, I think that the notion of “false” or “implanted” memories is really problematic, and maybe impossible), then I suspect that Mia Farrow, or litigators, or *somebody* other than Woody Allen, knows that he did not abuse Dylan, and I would like for them to admit it publicly and apologize to both Dylan and Woody Allen. Because if Woody Allen is innocent, then it must be horrible to live with having these accusations made against you all the time. And, selfishly, I would like to be able to watch some of my most beloved, comforting movies of all time without feeling disgust. Without having to question whether I should feel disgust.

3) If Woody Allen did not abuse her, but Dylan Farrow believes he abused her, then I hope that somehow, they can both find peace–publicly or not.

4) If the situation is going to remain ambiguous forever, and if nobody other than Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow know what happened, and if Dylan Farrow’s memories of abuse might be real or might have formed out of nowhere, then what can I want to happen? What can happen? I guess if that is the situation, I hope that Woody Allen is not guilty, and I still hope that eventually he and Dylan Farrow can find peace.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

On Woody Allen and being horrified by the artists who we need.

Today Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter for The New York Times blog about her alleged sexual abuse by Woody Allen:


Much of my work is devoted to the idea that sexual abuse needs to not be swept under the rug. Especially because there are powerful social structures in place that want to sweep it under the rug, badly, and they usually succeed. Especially when a beloved man is the perpetrator.

I almost lost my mind over the Penn state scandal. So it's basically torture for me to be aware of myself not wanting to believe Dylan Farrow, wanting to look away, wanting to rationalize, wanting to think that somebody made her lie. Because I love and value Woody Allen's work so much. Because it speaks to me and makes me so happy. Because I've looked up to him as a writer and director. I feel like I need his work. It's easy for me to fiercely bitch about people overlooking the rape of boys because of sports, which I hate anyway. To call for change. But what about when the question arises about one of my five favorite filmmakers?

The Soon-Yi situation always struck me as pretty tasteless and offensive but also, in the end, consensual. This--which I guess I was too young to know about when the Woody/Mia scandal went down--is something else. I always make the choice to believe somebody who claims that she was sexually abused over a perpetrator and the endless powerful people who take his side and who want to invalidate what happened. I don't think that most people lie about being abused, no matter what certain mainstream discourse would like us to think. Most people don't *want* that shame and stigma. I read this open letter and it all rings true.

People defensively say that you need to separate a man from his work. I've done it with Roman Polanski who, ironically, understands the subjective experience of sexual trauma more than practically any mainstream filmmaker I can think of. But honestly, I don't know if it's right. I think it's an easy knee-jerk reaction because me need their work, like sports fans need to worship their coaches. I think that loving these filmmakers and buying their films does probably make me somewhat complicit in a system that I absolutely abhor, and that I've done a fair amount to work towards destroying.

It all breaks my heart. It really, really, really breaks my heart.