I’ve been baffled by Woody Allen for most of my adult life. In 1996, as I watched Everyone Says I Love You, my stomach turned at the sight of Woody Allen getting it on with Julia Roberts. I was only nineteen at a time, and not especially critical of any film that entertained me, but this didn’t strike me as high art, or even effective comedy. It seemed more like the wet dream of an aging man who had the money and the clout to bring such dreams to life.
Two years later I wasted my money again when I went to see Celebrity. In this film Allen enlists a younger and better-looking doppelganger—in this case played by Kenneth Branagh—to go through the same tired routine, but this is little consolation. And then a year ago, I couldn’t escape the publicity campaign for To Rome with Love. Every preview and interview contained the same clip, where Greta Gerwig’s character attempts to convince Jesse Eisenberg’s character that he will like her old friend from college:
Is there a woman in the world who would reference her friend’s “sexual vibe” as a selling point when talking to her boyfriend? After over half a century of screenwriting is this the best dialogue that Woody Allen can write?
Don’t even get me started on all of the friendly prostitutes who populate Woody Allen’s films.
And yet it seems that no matter how many times Woody Allen has written the same tired story, which is at best clueless and at worst misogynistic, Hollywood actors happily sign on, and critics offer mild praise, shrugging their shoulders and saying “well, it’s not his best.”
And then today I read Dylan Farrow’s open letter which details her sexual abuse, at the age of seven, at the hands of her adoptive father. As an American, I suppose, I should give Woody Allen the benefit of a doubt. But as a woman and a mother, I’ve seen plenty from this man, and I am ready to say: enough. I don’t need to see his face anymore, or to spend my money or hours of my life on his stories. Even without these allegations, his films on their own have given me enough reasons to boycott his future endeavors.
It strikes me that the world has done plenty for Woody Allen, and to cut him off now—even without a judge and jury—would be no great crime. If we all get fifteen minutes of fame, then Woody Allen has had hours of it. He’s had his chance to leave his mark and then some. While I don’t presume that the amount of fame in the world is finite, I do wonder what other stories might have been told, what other voices might have been heard with the money that’s gone to fund Woody Allen’s filmography in the last three decades.
So when Dylan Farrow describes the panic she’s felt reliving her abuse every time she sees Woody Allen’s face “on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television” I feel like, as a country, can’t we get together and offer her a little solace? Can’t we make him go away, or at the very least let him fade a bit?
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