Thursday, February 06, 2014

Woody Allen's precious reputation

In another chapter in the New Yorker's quest to ignore the existence of both Dylan and Ronan Farrow,  New Yorker staff writer Emily Nussbaum has been getting attention in New York Magazine thanks to her tweets about a recent Woody Allen play which contains a light-hearted reference to child molestation.

I was ready to believe that the reason for the silence is that none of the New Yorker staff writers are interested in Dylan and Ronan Farrow and so that's why neither of their names have come up in the New Yorker since 1996 in Dylan's case and never in Ronan's case.

But boy oh boy they sure like to talk about poor dead drug addict Phillip Seymour Hoffman. By my count they have 5 think pieces about Hoffman so far since he turned up dead three days ago. They even called the loathsome Daphne Merkin in from her exile out there with the makeup tips and the horoscopes at Elle magazine to contribute something: it's quite a talent to write a think piece completely devoid of any ideas.


While reviewing the New Yorker I saw they have finally posted something about the case, Listening to Dylan Farrow by Sasha Weiss. The piece ends with this:
These things are difficult to talk about, which is why they are worth talking about. While taking seriously that we don’t know all the facts—that this public discussion must be traumatic for Dylan Farrow and could utterly, and possibly unfairly, ruin Allen’s reputation—our talking about it, with sensitivity and care and journalistic rigor, is not simply prurient. It reinforces Phyllis Rose’s insight that the mysteries of family life are where politics begin. We shouldn’t look away from those mysteries.
What I have to wonder is how Allen has any reputation left to ruin. Between the fact that Allen was seeing a therapist for his weird behavior towards Dylan, including a compulsion to shove his thumb into her mouth - and his behavior was characterized by the many people who witnessed it as "obsessive" - and the fact that a judge refused to grant Allen custody of Dylan on the grounds that the judge, in essence, did not trust Allen with her, what exactly is Allen's reputation? 

And then of course there is his blatant predilection, as the New York Magazine I linked to says, for "being creepy about young girls."

Now it may be true that his admirers don't know about these things, or don't want to know, but there's also the possibility that they don't care.

Roman Polanski is a convicted child rapist and seems to have suffered from it not at all. A long list of people in the entertainment industry, including Woody Allen, signed a letter of support for Polanski a few years ago.

The fact that a certain percentage of people consider Polanski a monster is more than remediated by his continuing career, his wealth and his sweet life in France. 

What Woody Allen and Roman Polanski demonstrate is that there is nothing at all that will ruin the reputation, sufficiently to hurt him in the slightest, of a canonized Great Man of the Arts.