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Woody Allen and the great equalizer: Part 3 of 3

Mother and Daughter
Mother and Daughter
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In my previous two articles I proclaimed that Woody Allen violated a social contract in regards to his behavior back in the early 90s. Despite the controversy Hollywood continued to indulge Allen with nominations for prestigious awards of which if he won would never accept in person. In this article I want to bring home that Allen has finally come across an institution (loosely defined though it may be) which is finally willing to hold his feet to the fire…or at least give rigorous debate. I present the voices of the Internet.

For all of the good and bad that the world experiences with the World Wide Web at no time in human history has it ever been so certain that people in positions of prestige and power will be called out for their bulls**t in such a swift and forceful manner. Even we peons with crumbs down our blouses cannot escape the might of the word if our actions inspire comment…and make no mistake, those comments can be sharper than any knife. I am sure as I type this that there is some evolutionary process taking place within the human genome that is toughening the skin on our otherwise fragile egos.

The reality is that Woody Allen can win a dozen Oscars or a thousand lifetime achievement awards but he is never going to live down that Dylan Farrow posted an open letter for the world to see.

Allen argues that Dylan is a victim of her mother’s wrath; a rage so powerful that as if by magic it has implanted false memories into Dylan’s psyche. He is backed up by his son Moses who confessed that his mother’s (Mia Farrow) ire of Woody Allen created an environment which nurtured and rewarded disparagement of his father. To take Moses’ testimony at face value, one can conclude that he spoke his truth; however his truth should not supersede that of his sister’s especially when he wrote “of course the abuse didn’t happen.” It is the “of course” in his statement that rings a little too much as a prepared PR statement.

If Woody Allen didn’t foresee that Dylan Farrow would openly address the allegations he should have. I contend that on some psychological level he must have wanted a form of confrontation because otherwise why pursue a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Golden Globes no less? These things just don’t spring from a committee of Hollywood Foreign Press members without the recipient giving their blessing on the bestowment. At a specific point Allen acquiesced the use of his films in the honorific montage. One of Allen’s talking points against Mia Farrow was that she signed off on the use of her image from various films they had made together.

In reference to the episodes of over twenty years ago, metaphorical shots had been fired over Allen’s bow in the form of Ronan Farrow’s tweets along with a Vanity Fair article where Dylan made reference to unwanted correspondence he sent her back in her college days. For a man who has shied away from doing publicity, a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award seems like a pretty forward step, one that might have been made to debunk recent bad publicity. As standard Allen was M.I.A. for the appearance, to present the award was his former lover and collaborator Diane Keaton who went on to give a speech about what great roles he gives women – a message that added fuel to the fire.

What Dylan Farrow did brilliantly was call out names in her open letter which drew a theoretical line. She claimed her truth and noted that by ignoring her words the famous were either calling her a liar or shyly acknowledging that Allen’s actions toward her were okay. I imagine there is nothing Hollywood insiders hate more than dirty laundry (the type that bites into profit margins) drug out of the linen closet. Though the entertainment industry thrives on gossip, when specific allegations are made careers can be lost and showbiz barons have not been shy about shooting the messenger (see Mia Farrow’s career). Yet we live in a world, for now at least, where the power elite cannot control the message in the same manner they have for several generations through traditional media of print, television, and radio. Whereas twenty years ago Allen’s actions were noted he didn’t suffer the brunt of public outrage – especially not like he has recently.

After the Farrow’s open letter there was concern that Academy Award Best Actress front runner, Cate Blanchett, might lose the Oscar because of the controversy, but in the end she triumphed. However her speech, compared to the one she made at the Golden Globes, seemed to curb her vocal gratitude in regards to Allen. In its place was praise for female centered films while noting that they do make money. She will broker no argument from me, however I think for theatrical female recognition to progress the powers that be in Hollywood need to start patronizing women screenwriters, producers, and directors. Overall, her speech accomplished a deflection of the Allen molestation controversy.

As for Allen’s future in entertainment, one thing is for certain for the 78 year old, he will always be considered a controversial figure. What had become somewhat a footnote twenty years ago is now being weighed and measured by an new vocal majority.

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