Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown

I took this screen shot at 6:50 PM on Sunday, February 2, 2014. It had been announced a few hours earlier that Phillip Seymour Hoffman had died.

Dylan Farrow's open letter in which she charges Allen with molestation was posted online by the NYTimes Saturday night. Normally the New Yorker would be all over that celebrity tragedy crap - as can be attested by the speed with which they got one of their staff writers to do a piece about Hoffman within hours. They have yet to acknowledge Dylan Farrow's unique contribution to American celebrity history.

I saw the Hoffman news pop up on Facebook while I was arguing with fans of Woody Allen over their belief that Mia Farrow had attempted to destroy their idol through a conspiracy involving her daughter, Allen's therapist and the judge who refused to grant Allen custody of Dylan and the other kids. It's pretty clear that Allen, who could not tell the judge during the custody case the birthdays of the other children and who was pretty well known not to care much about children generally only cared about getting custody of Dylan.

I am inclined to believe Dylan Farrow, considering that prior to the incident in question Allen had been seeing a therapist, at Farrow's insistence, to try to end his compulsive habit of shoving his thumb into the little girl's mouth. This is covered in Farrow's autobiography What Falls Away, published 17 years ago.

But whether you believe Dylan Farrow or not, it's on the public record that Woody Allen is a grotesque human being. Farrow included the ruling of the custody battle with Allen, in which the judge said concerning custody, in part:
None of the witnesses who testified on Mr. Allen's behalf provided credible evidence that he is an appropriate custodial parent. Indeed, none would venture an opinion that he should be granted custody. When asked, even Mr. Allen could not provide an acceptable reason for a change in custody.
And concerning visitation he said:
The common theme of the testimony by the mental health witnesses is that Mr. Allen has inflicted serious damage on the children and that healing is necessary. Because as Dr. Brodzinsky and Dr. Herman observed, this family is in an uncharted therapeutic area, where the course is uncertain and the benefits unknown, the visitation structure that will best promote the healing process and safeguard the children is elusive. What is clear is that Mr. Allen's lack of judgment, insight, and impulse control make normal noncustodial visitation with Dylan and Satchel too risky to the children's well-being to be permitted at this time. 
It is unclear whether Mr. Allen will ever develop the insight and judgment necessary for him to relate to Dylan appropriately. My causation is the product of mr Allen's demonstrated inability to understand the impact that his words and deeds have upon the emotional well being of his children.
I believe that Mr. Allen will use Satchel in an attempt to gain information about Dylan and to insinuate himself in her good graces. I believe that Mr. Allen will, if unsupervised, attempt to turn Satchel against the other members of his family. I believe Mr. Allen to be desirous of of introducing Soon-Yi into the visitation arrangement without concern for the effect on Satchel, Soon-Yi, or the other members of the Farrow family. In short, I believe Mr. Allen to be so self-absorbed, untrustworthy, and insensitive, that he should not be permitted to see Satchel without appropriate professional supervision until Mr. Allen demonstrates that supervision is no longer necessary.
Allen may not have been tried for child molestation but it's clear that based on what the judge has heard, including the refusal of Allen's own witnesses to commit to claiming he would be a good custodial parent, he did not trust Allen with Dylan.

It's not entirely surprising that the New Yorker has refused to acknowledge Dylan Farrow's existence, since the New Yorker adores Woody Allen and publishes occasional pieces by him. A search of the New Yorker web site reveals that Allen has contributed a piece to the New Yorker each year for the past four years, and is mentioned in the New Yorker at least several times a month besides. Dylan Farrow is mentioned in passing in an affectionate profile of Allen from 1996, and that's it. Even more interesting, Ronan Farrow is not mentioned a single time. Farrow now has a job with MSNBC, as this Guardian article mentions. Both the Guardian and MSNBC no doubt share a big chunk of reader/viewer demographic with the New Yorker. That the New Yorker has never seen fit to mention Ronan Farrow once cannot possibly be just a coincidence.

It seems Ronan and Dylan Farrow are Soviet dissidents to the New Yorker's PRAVDA.

One of the fascinating aspects of Facebook is that it's very possible to end up talking to - and especially in my case arguing with - celebrities with whom, in a previous technology age you would never have access to.  This weekend I have been arguing with the Allen partisans, notably in a discussion started by Letty Cottin Pogrebin. She's a feminist celebrity, which means she's not exactly a household word, but she is a celebrity in my book.

Pogrebin and I are on the same page actually, Pogrebin's comment was:
Dylan was 7-years-old when Woody Allen started violating her. He has never been punished for this horrific abuse of his little girl. Not only has he gotten away with it all these years but he continues to win awards with impunity. When will the law catch up with him? Check out Nick Kristoff's blog.
But then I got into it with a lesser celebrity, Sheila Weller. OK, she's not exactly a celebrity but I own a book by her, Girls Like Us, which I blogged about last March, although I didn't know the same Sheila Weller was that author until I googled her, well into the debate. Since I rather enjoyed the book I would normally have been favorably inclined towards Weller, but when I commented it was odd that The New Yorker hadn't mentioned Dylan Farrow's piece, Weller defended the New Yorker, as you can see here:

Apparently Weller has a problem with my defending my position by providing evidence that in fact the New Yorker often does consider celebrity scandals worthy of mention and by the fact that Allen has contributed to the New Yorker in the past year. And for my efforts Weller decided to retaliate by psycho-analyzing me, suggesting I'm "unusually angry and sarcastic."

Her viciousness was not at all unusual in Allen partisans, I found. On the same thread, those of us who believed Dylan Farrow were informed we were part of an hysterical witch hunt, and Allen's plight was compared to - and I kid you not - black men who have been lynched.

A big issue with Allen partisans is the presumption of innocence. They had to be continually reminded that a comments thread on Facebook is not the same as a court of law, and that some people stating that they believed Dylan Farrow was telling the truth was not, actually, the equivalent of a rampaging lynch mob.

I think it's very likely that Woody Allen did molest Dylan and got away with it, and even if he didn't molest Dylan in the attic there's plenty of evidence in the public record that he's a loathsome person who has nevertheless lived a wonderful life of wealth and critical adoration. Much like the Noah Cross character in Chinatown, directed by Woody Allen's soul-twin Roman Polanski. Although Noah Cross was not adored, just wealthy. 

And the take-away of the whole affair, for those of us who do believe Dylan, is portrayed by Jack Nicholson's dazed character as he's led away in the last scene of the movie and somebody says to him: "forget it Jake, it's Chinatown."