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.

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