A still from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977). Image source.
This week I watched on in horror as another young actress agreed to work with certified creep Woody Allen. Selena Gomez will be joining Elle Fanning in Woody Allen’s next movie and why, in god’s name why? Selena is the latest in a string of young actresses who continue to collaborate with the director despite his shady history. Others who’ve recently worked with Allen include Kristen Stewart and Miley Cyrus.
In a nutshell: Woody Allen is currently married to his kind-of-stepdaughter Soon-Yi and has been accused of sexually assaulting his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. Allen’s relationship with actress Mia Farrow came to an end in 1992 when she learned that he was having an affair with her 21-year-old adopted daughter Soon-Yi. Allen and Soon-Yi were married in 1997, since which time he insists that he’s “changed her” for the better. Yuck. Serious allegations were made against Allen in 2014 when Mia’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow published a letter accusing him of sexually assaulting her as a child.
In light of this series of events one would expect the industry to boycott, or at least question, Allen but quite the opposite is true. The allegations are swept aside while Allen’s artistic genius is foregrounded. Society’s tendency to focus on the artistic achievements of men over the content of their character is probably the reason that people still think Woody Allen is a good director — let’s be real, he’s still getting by on the cult status of Annie Hall and Manhattan and approximately no one enjoyed his latest effort Café Society (a movie about a young woman falling in love with an old dude). It’s also the reason that young actresses continue to work with him. By elevating Allen to the status of an “artistic genius” his alleged sexual conduct becomes secondary and, for the most part, invisible. This means news of young actresses like Selena signing on to star in one of his movies is met with celebration rather than critique. Although fans did speak out against Selena’s decision this week, saying that it contradicts her recent support of Netflix’s 13 Reason’s Why, which she co-produced.
ok but how is selena gomez gonna produce a tv series shedding light on rape and sexual assault only to work w/ a known rapist? https://t.co/8xtjnsFFzJ
— rei (@sadcrisis) August 8, 2017
Another example of the disturbing tendency to ignore certain aspects of a male artist’s past while glorifying others can be found in recent reviews of Casey Affleck’s latest film. Called A Ghost Story, the movie follows Rooney Mara as she deals with the loss of her partner (played by Casey Affleck in a sheet). A Dazed interview with the film’s director David Lowery focuses on Casey’s status as an A-list actor, with no mention of the sexual harassment allegations that have been levelled against him in the past. In 2010, two women accused Affleck of sexually harassing them on the set of I’m Still Here. One woman said he pressured her to stay in his hotel room and employed force when she refused. The other said he crawled into her bed while she was sleeping and thus unable to consent. Both claims were settled out of court. None of the reviews I’ve come across raise this information.
Neither Allen nor Affleck have been found guilty of the accusations made against them but does that mean we should ignore them entirely? I can only speak for myself when I say no. In a society that will never stop putting male artistic genius first, change isn’t going to come easily or quickly. But, by boycotting the art of gross dudes, it is possible to exert power over a crap culture that can, in turn, effect change.
From the horse’s mouth: