Woody Allen’s ‘innocent’ fantasy shouldn’t be our reality

Jessica Miglio/Sony Pictures Classics/Courtesy

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What if I told you that you support a man repeatedly and credibly accused of child molestation? What if I told you that you support a man who started a public relationship with his partner’s adopted daughter? What if I told you that this man has won multiple Oscars, multiple Golden Globes and even a Grammy, and the only action he has taken to show any accountability was paying a $1 million legal fee — one that he was forced to pay — after being taken to court?

You might not believe me.

We are in the era of the #MeToo campaign and the era of denouncing inappropriate behavior across all industries, particularly the entertainment industry. But if you watch “Annie Hall,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Blue Jasmine” or dozens of other Woody Allen movies today and espouse them, then your belief, or rather, disbelief, is incorrect — you do support this man.

In 1992, an investigation was launched when Allen and Mia Farrow’s 7-year old adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, told her pediatrician about Allen’s sexual abuse. Afterward, Mia Farrow was awarded sole custody of their children, Dylan Farrow published several essays speaking out about what happened to her and Allen has continued to deny any allegations, despite the fact that three other adults present on the day of the alleged assault backed Farrow’s claims.

Throughout all of these allegations and the continuous publications written by Farrow, Hollywood has spared Woody Allen. Actresses such as Kate Winslet, who claim to support the women coming forward against Harvey Weinstein, continue to work with Allen without batting an eye. As Farrow bluntly states, “The system worked for Harvey Weinstein for decades. It works for Woody Allen still.” Allen continues to deny these allegations and shows no sign of concern or care. There has been no public apology, but there has been plenty of forgiveness.

This unapologetic attitude and self-victimization that Allen has the gall to uphold are not only present in our lived reality but also present in those Allen creates for his films. Allen’s most recent production, “Wonder Wheel,” offers a clear message that Allen feels no accountability for his daughter’s well-being, or lack thereof.

A particularly striking moment in “Wonder Wheel” occurs when Ginny (Kate Winslet) is left in a state of turmoil and runs to her husband Humpty (Jim Belushi) to argue over how to spend the family’s finances on their children. She accuses Humpty of treating his daughter like he is in love with her. Those who have watched the film know that this is not the case and that Humpty, while flawed, is simply trying to save up money for his daughter’s education.

This scene could easily be read as an echo of Allen’s life — such a scene posits him as the kind-hearted father simply looking out for his daughter and supporting female education, whereas Ginny, who could easily represent Mia or Dylan Farrow, is seen to be disillusioned and psychotic.

Jessica Miglio / Amazon Studios / Courtesy

In addition, Allen’s film glorifies affairs, a concept Allen is all too familiar with. Not only did Allen have an affair, he had one with his partner Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. The film depicts an older woman having an affair with a younger man, but this gender swap does not hide the fact that it’s still Allen writing and espousing the story on-screen. Allen cheated on his partner, and now he is cheating the “reformed” Hollywood system by continuing to work, prosper and convince the industry that moral bankruptcy is acceptable.

Ultimately, “Wonder Wheel” suggests that we are all “actors in our own lives” — that we have no control over our actions and everything is up to fate. Yet we are not “actors” as the film would like us to believe. We are accountable for our actions. And Mia and Dylan Farrow are not, in fact, the insane, envious female villains of Allen’s success story. His story is far from over, and the longer he waits to come forward, enter the conversation and apologize for his actions, the more of a villain he becomes.

It’s easy to side with someone who continues to victimize himself and garner success. We want to believe in a reality where those who commit the unspeakable have their voice taken away, and since Allen still has a voice, some of us want to believe he is innocent. Yet, his daughter’s stories have substantial evidence, while Allen’s story is substantially disturbing.

An apology from Allen should not warrant forgiveness. An apology from Allen also won’t stop sexual abusers from ruling Hollywood. But an apology from Allen will mean that we are one step closer to a Hollywood driven by morality and accountability. For now, it is our job to stop supporting Allen and living in his fantasy — it’s time we made Allen live in our reality.

Contact Samantha Banchik at [email protected].