September 10, 2014

'What's Your Favourite Woody Allen Movie?'

The title of this post is taken from an open letter written by Dylan Farrow - the daughter of Mia Farrow and adopted daughter of Woody Allen - about the sexual abuse she went through at his hands.

Her letter is just another reminder of the storm - or non-storm - created by her first admissions of sexual assault. Hollywood - the heroes of her memory, which included the likes of Diane Keaton and Cate Blanchett - remained silent in the face of her claims, and now, the entire world follows suit.

Here is a choice quote from her letter:
I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.
As far as I know, her open letter - which must have been difficult to write - had no effect on the media, aside from a comment referring to her writing as 'passive-aggressive' and in the league of all open-letter writers. Scarlett Johannson's defence of her former director largely overshadowed any possible reality of the abused victim.

The star called her out because she dropped "name[s of stars] into a situation that none of [them] could possibly knowingly comment on", and said it was 'irresponsible' of her. She even goes on to say that there is no reason to assume that Dylan was telling the truth because he was never convicted. And this is what Dylan says haunts her about the abuse till this day.

It is true that one cannot make assumptions, but after so many years and so much ridicule, why would Dylan be lying? Is this just an extension of the societal rape culture, that the victim, in attempting to be honest and revealing the possible truth about people who should supposedly be respected, is ignored and rebuffed at the very hands of people who should be at the very least questioning the possibility that she is telling the truth?

Dylan's final sentence rings hard and true:
Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
After Dylan made her letter public, Woody Allen hit back soon, accusing her of being coached by his former flame Mia Farrow, and of being stripped of a "loving father" and "exploited" by a mother steeped in her own "festering anger". The scenario involving the attic he dismissed out of hand because he was a claustrophobe. He even  passed a lie detector test.

Dylan wrote again, claiming nothing he said or wrote would change the facts of what he had done to her.

Regardless of the mudslinging, nothing has been proven either way. There are some questionable facts, however, as outlined by this article.

With Allen due to release Magic in the Moonlight soon he is in the spotlight again, but said he has never "agonised for a second" over the molestation allegations. Tell me, who would not? If I cared for someone as much as he claims to have cared about Dylan, the fact that they believed I had abused them if I had not would be top of mind. I would never be able to get over it, and would do everything in my power to help that person. But that's just me.

Comments he made recently when asked about the tragic death of Robin Williams may give us some insight into his above statement - though they are taken out of context:
You need to tell yourself a couple of lies to get through life. Otherwise it’s too grisly. If you don’t have a strong denial mechanism, try waking up in your bed at 3am when there are no distractions. You get a cold chill
{Image source: Wikimedia Commons\Strassengalerie}

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