Adopted daughter causes problems for Allen

Caroline Madden, ‘Doah Staff Writer
February 26 ,2014



Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter renowned actors Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, rocked the news outlets on Feb. 1 after writing an open letter in Vanity Fair accusing Woody Allen of sexual abuse when she was a child. In her letter, she vividly details various incidents, including one with the two of them alone in an attic. Farrow was led to publish this letter after Woody Allen’s recent Golden Globe honor, the coveted Cecile B. Demile award.

Dylan’s letter states that “Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse. So imagine your seven-year-old daughter being led into an attic by Woody Allen. Imagine she spends a lifetime stricken with nausea at the mention of his name.” Her brother and Woody Allen’s estranged son, Ronan Farrow also made his distaste for the celebration known, tweeting “Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age seven before or after Annie Hall?”

Woody Allen is known for being fairly quiet in the press. Two of his supporters, a former girlfriend and Moses Farrow released statements rushing to his defense. Moses Farrow, estranged son of Mia Farrow, accuses Mia of brainwashing and coaching Dylan Farrow to say all this as a child. Woody Allen’s letter, of course, vehemently denies that any abuse took place. He uses his well-spoken vernacular to his advantage, eloquently defending himself.

“Now, suddenly, when I had driven up to her house in Connecticut one afternoon to visit the kids for a few hours, when I would be on my raging adversary’s home turf, with half a dozen people present, when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry — [Soon-Yi Previn] that I would pick this moment in time to embark on a career as a child molester should seem to the most skeptical mind highly unlikely. The sheer illogic of such a crazy scenario seemed to me dispositive.” His letter mostly goes on to attack Mia Farrow. Most media outlets choose to frame Mia Farrow as an embittered woman, vengeful because Woody Allen fell in love with her younger adopted daughter.

These allegations were first brought to light back in 1992. There were exhaustive debates and court battles. A team of experts made the conclusion that Dylan was not abused. Woody Allen frequently mentions in his letter the The Yale-New Haven Hospital Child Sex Abuse Clinic’s findings, that Dylan had not been sexually molested.

Judge Wilk, who presided over the case, did not cite these as reliable. Allen refused to take a polygraph administered by the Connecticut state police. Instead, he took one from someone hired by his legal team. Woody Allen was not found guilty of any sexual abuse, but still lost custody of his children.

The case is a convoluted mess, made no better by the large Farrow family taking sides.  Countless articles have been published, defending either Woody Allen or Dylan Farrow. One article combs over Woody Allen’s past work, finding in his work mentions of child molestation, including a play with an extremely off-color and graphic joke about sexual abuse.

This is not the first time Hollywood has shrugged off sexual abuse, such as the Roman Polanski case. Dylan Farrow mentions the shadiness of Hollywood in her statement “That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.”

Dylan Farrow ends her article asking us to imagine a world that celebrates your tormenter. She says, “Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?”

Some accuse Dylan Farrow of trying to bring Woody Allen down from his success. This is a ludicrous idea, why not last year when “Midnight In Paris” won the Oscar? Or when “Match Point” was praised for Allen’s new dramatic turn? You can take your pick; Woody Allen has had a long successful career. And he most likely will continue to be successful after this.

I do not think that Dylan Farrow would make this up, open herself up to criticism and hatred from so many people.

Do I enjoy Woody Allen movies? Yes, many of them are some of my favorite movies. Whether or not it happened, we have to take this as a lesson of if we should separate the art from the artist? Can I continue to enjoy these films if I know a child molester made them? How should Hollywood handle someone who has committed such egregious crimes? They gave Polanski an Oscar.

We should not follow Hollywood’s lead and sweep things under the rug. We need to be open about sexual abuse and stop victim blaming.

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