Mia is not lookin' good in this, not one bit.
Allen's right to question Ronan's paternity
Bitterness and retribution, regret and anger are things that poison you; they do not heal you. We are surrounded by people who may have suffered less or have suffered in ways we cannot imagine. Accept yourself, accept what has happened and how you have handled it. Give no one the authority to judge you and do not judge others in how they have chosen to recover. The last and perhaps most difficult thing: Refrain from jumping to conclusions about the guilt of a person who is accused but not charged with or convicted of a crime. I think we all have a lot of work to do.
(A note from Nicholas Kristof: In 1993, accusations that Woody Allen had abused his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow, filled the headlines, part of a sensational story about the celebrity split between Allen and his girlfriend, Mia Farrow. This is a case that has been written about endlessly, but this is the first time that Dylan Farrow herself has written about it in public. It’s important to note that Woody Allen was never prosecuted in this case and has consistently denied wrongdoing; he deserves the presumption of innocence. So why publish an account of an old case on my blog? Partly because the Golden Globe lifetime achievement award to Allen ignited a debate about the propriety of the award. Partly because the root issue here isn’t celebrity but sex abuse. And partly because countless people on all sides have written passionately about these events, but we haven’t fully heard from the young woman who was at the heart of them. I’ve written a column about this, but it’s time for the world to hear Dylan’s story in her own words.)
February 1, 2014
An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow
By DYLAN FARROW
What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.
For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.
When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly did not know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.
After a custody hearing denied my father visitation rights, my mother declined to pursue criminal charges, despite findings of probable cause by the State of Connecticut – due to, in the words of the prosecutor, the fragility of the “child victim.” Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. 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.
Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.
Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.
But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.
What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?
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. Imagine a world that celebrates her tormenter.
Are you imagining that? Now, what’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?
I just find the whole thing really strangely timely after a NY Times article on Ronan, who is going to host a show on MSNBC. His mother let it slip (sure, sure, keep claiming that) that he might be Sinatra's kid.
My choosing between the likelihood of whether 28-year-old Dylan Farrow is a deeply disturbed victim of false memories implanted by a vengeful woman, or a victim of an entitled, narcissistic man who was unable to control his desire to seduce and bully a child has no real consequence. I choose to believe Dylan Farrow.
I do not, however, share Dylan’s extension of the responsibility for punishing Woody Allen to filmmakers. Actors, writers, and producers are not cops, judges, or jurors. In the work they choose to do, writers, actors, producers, and directors can be held accountable solely for its quality and its ideas.
When I first spoke to Roman Polanski about writing an adaptation for him of Death and the Maiden, I told him I would only write it if we could make two significant alterations. In the play, Paulina never says exactly what was done to her and she is never able to prove to her husband, the one person in the play who doesn’t know whether she is right, that she has correctly identified her rapist. I told Polanski that Paulina would want to tell her husband precisely what had happened to her and now would be the occasion for her to be detailed about her rape. “Of course,” Polanski said. “She should say what he did to her.” The second change I wanted to make was to write a final, truthful confession by the rapist, confirming that Paulina had correctly identified him. The play had been praised for its “ambiguity” in this regard. I told Polanski I thought that given the heroine’s final act, letting her rapist go, ambiguity made her mercy meaningless. Also, I said, it was a cheat. The rapist and the heroine know the truth—why are we deprived of it? “Of course,” Polanski said. “Not telling the audience whether or not he is guilty is bullshit.” Working with a rapist is not the same as condoning rape.
I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with Dylan Farrow that I should not honor a man’s so-called life achievement because I enjoy his movies. By his own account of himself, Woody Allen is not an example of an admirable life, including when it comes to the thematic content of his films. “The heart wants what it wants,” he is fond of stating. As all who have been raped, sexually assaulted, abused, and molested know, the heart’s desire is not always admirable.
ALL of her Farrow/Alan war "reporting" has been extremely anti Allen, which is a pretty good reason to discount all of her work.