Sexual assault has been under the spotlight recently in Hollywood. With iconic movement’s such as Time’s Up, a campaign built to aid victims of inequality, sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, it’s easy to fall into the progressive Hollywood narrative. However, in an industry built upon actors, whose sole job is pretending, it’s hard to tell genuine intentions from hypocrisy.
Don’t get me wrong, Time’s Up is an amazing movement pioneered by amazing women with good ideas, and most actor’s #MeToo stories nearly brought me to tears. However, as I looked at the picture feeds of actors showing solidarity with their pins, their black dresses, and their statements, I couldn't help but dig further. In the process, I uncovered the nasty underside to the seemingly pretty picture Hollywood insists on painting.
Woody Allen is a household name. We’ve heard of his “amazing” movies and director skills. Movie buffs and critics praise Allen everywhere, even awarding him one of the most prominent awards for directors, the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award in 2014. This praise turns disturbing when looking into who exactly Woody Allen is. By just typing the name Woody Allen onto a browser, one can find common topics: artistic praise, movie reviews, and sexual assault allegations… One of these things is clearly not like the others.
In 2014, Allen’s ex-stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow, brought her assaulter (Woody Allen) and sexual assault story to light in an interview with awarded writer Nicholas Kristof on The New York Times. In it, Farrow describes disturbing experiences she lived through as a child where Allen was definitely inappropriate along with a more detailed version of how she was sexually assaulted by Allen when she was seven. This second story was published on Kristof’s blog rather than on the New York Times.
After having read both essays, one does not need anything else to believe the truth: There is plenty of significant evidence to suggest that Woody Allen exhibits a pattern of pedophilia and sexual assault tendencies. However, say you wanted to play Devil’s advocate and still claim the benefit of the doubt, allow me to provide more facts:
- Woody Allen has gone to therapy for inappropriate behavior towards Dylan. This happened before the abuse allegation was made.
- Dylan’s sexual abuse allegation wasn’t initially made by herself or her mother, rather a pediatrician who was bound by law to report it.
- In a 33-page decision, the judge in charge of Allen’s custody suit described Allen’s behavior toward Dylan as “grossly inappropriate” and determined that “measures must be taken to protect her”.
- Dylan’s sexual assault claim was consistent with three adult’s testimonies.
- The babysitters at the Allen household were not allowed to leave Woody Allen alone with Dylan.
Not convinced yet? Let’s look at present facts like whom his spouse is. Woody Allen is married to Soon-Yi Previn. He is 35 years older than her, started dating her when he was still married to Dylan’s mother, Mia Farrow. Farrow was also “coincidentally” Soon-Yi’s adoptive mother.
Woody Allen started dating his Mia Farrow’s adopted underage 19-year old daughter when he was still married to the aforementioned Mia Farrow.
Now that we’ve proved Woody Allen’s sick past (and present), is filled with horrific allegations, you’re probably wondering what this all has to do with Hollywood.
With all the progress being made, surely no one will want to work with him, right?
Remember when I mentioned the nasty underside of the pretty picture that Hollywood was painting? This is it.
When we look at current Hollywood-related news, for instance, the Women’s March speakers, we find a variety of iconic actresses’ speeches, like Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, and Scarlett Johansson. In fact, Scarlett Johansson’s speech caused quite the uproar when she indirectly called out actor James Franco on his hypocritical support of the Time’s Up movement considering that five sexual assault allegations have been made against him.
“My mind baffles ― how could a person publicly stand by an organization that helps to provide support for victims of sexual assault while privately preying on people who have no power.” Scarlett spoke out. “I want my pin back, by the way.”
It is iconic to have a woman known for her lead roles use her voice to bring attention to the abuse of power and victims.
Except for the fact that this same woman has started in several multiple Woody Allen films, and when prompted to speak out on why she continues to do so in an interview with The Guardian in 2014, Johansson said “I think he’ll continue to know what he knows about the situation, and I’m sure the other people involved have their own experience with it. It’s not like this is somebody that’s been prosecuted and found guilty of something, and you can then go, ‘I don’t support this lifestyle or whatever.’ I mean, it’s all guesswork.”
It’s not like this is somebody that’s been prosecuted and found guilty? But he has, Scarlett! The judge in his custody case concluded “You look at her [Dylan] in a sexual way. You fondled her . . . You don’t give her any breathing room. You look at her when she’s naked”. In fact, the judge agreed with a psychiatrist who evaluated Dylan and Allen prior to the trial concluded that “it was unclear whether Mr. Allen could ever develop the insight and judgment necessary for him to relate to Dylan appropriately.“ Allen’s behavior towards Dylan, a child, was so disturbing, that a psychiatrist and judge couldn’t tell if it could ever be fixed! Additionally, the prosecutor who evaluated the assault case concluded that there was enough evidence for a criminal case, but that he wouldn’t proceed in order to spare Dylan of having to deal with the situation again.
What more proof do you need, Scarlett?
Oh, but it was so long ago. How could we possibly hold her to that?
Actors that have worked with him in the past, even prior to Farrow’s essay, have recently apologized for having worked with Allen. Ellen Page, who appeared on Allen’s 2012 film “To Rome with Love” wrote a lengthy Facebook post where she apologized and expressed her regret for working with Allen.
“I did a Woody Allen movie and it is the biggest regret of my career. I am ashamed I did this. I had yet to find my voice and was not who I am now and felt pressured, because ‘f course you have to say yes to this Woody Allen film.’ Ultimately, however, it is my choice what films I decide to do and I made the wrong choice. I made an awful mistake.”
Let’s get the facts clear. Ellen Page apologized five years after working with Allen, but she apologized nonetheless.
I’m not saying that Scarlett Johansson should go up in arms and declare war on Woody Allen. I’m saying that, as one of the prominent faces of the Time’s Up movement, she should acknowledge and apologize for her mistakes.
But surely, with so much progress going on, no one wants to work with him anymore.
Most recently, singer and actress Selena Gomez was under fire for accepting a role on Woody Allen’s upcoming film. Selena, who was awarded Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2017, and said “I want people to know I respect the platform that I have so deeply," during her speech. This line is coated in bitter irony when considering her platform’s followers, her impact and reach, and her collaboration with Allen.
Maybe she didn't know? Maybe she regrets it?
These questions might ring true if it weren't for the fact that even Selena’s mom recently addressed her daughter’s collaboration when fans asked her to make Selena post an apology. “Sorry, no one can make Selena do anything she doesn't want to. I had a long talk with her about not working with him and it didn't click.”
Finally, after being prompted and forced to explain her reasoning, she single-handedly blew it by saying:
“To be honest, I’m not sure how to answer — not because I’m trying to back away from it,” she said. “[The Weinstein allegations] actually happened right after I had started [on the movie]. They popped up in the midst of it. And that’s something, yes, I had to face and discuss. I stepped back and thought, ‘Wow, the universe works in interesting ways.’
Let’s rephrase that. Selena Gomez knowingly went into a collaboration with Woody Allen. She was warned by her team and family not to do it because of the repercussions and his past. She ignored them all, and when given the chance to explain herself, she proceeded to ignore and diminish the weight of the victim’s words and assault only to respond with a cheap rendition of “Everything happens for a reason”.
Look, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes and celebrities have it worse because they do so under the public eye.
However, if we’re going to hold them to higher standards, and build pedestals in their names for doing the bare minimum, let’s at least pick people who are decent enough to acknowledge their wrongdoings instead of trying to cover the sky with their hands.