Woody Allen’s misconduct has been long ignored by Hollywood, his fans, and the people who continue to profit from his work. People use his talent and his contributions to the world of film and literature as a reason to excuse his actions as a rapist; something that the world has been doing with more celebrities than him.
The idea that a successful man is incapable of raping or abusing someone is what protected Bill Cosby for so long. The first few women to come forward were said to be lying in order to make money off of his success and what’s happening with Woody Allen is no different. When Dylan Farrow started to talk about the sexual abuse she went through at the hands of her adopted father, her accusations went unheard. They were graphic and heart-breaking, and the world was determined to ignore them. When the case was opened in 1992, Allen argued that his ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow had made the claim out of jealousy over his affair with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi. The charges were dropped and Allen’s life went back to normal.
Dylan’s outspokenness didn’t do much to change the public’s opinion on her father. She was seven at the time when the case first opened and since then she has talked about what happened to her. She said that the abuse took place in the attic of her home and that Allen whispered to her as he assaulted her. In her article she also stated that the aftermath of what had happened stayed with her, causing her to develop and eating disorder and begin cutting herself. The things that hurt the most she said, was that “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.”
Allen has been protected by the good things that he’s done and in that we’ve given power to him and other rapists who walk free not because they’re innocent but because they’re presumed to be great, upstanding men. The public has always paid more attention to protecting the men the accusations are made about instead of to the women and children that make them. The men are the victims and the accusers are the monsters in the situation. They are called liars, fame-seekers, or labeled as being jealous after learning of an affair but what does a child have to gain from an eating disorder? What good would it do for a Dylan Farrow to come out to the world with her story and have to deal with it being ignored?
Ronan Farrow, Dylan’s brother and Allen’s son wrote from his perspective about his sister’s abuse. In the article he makes it plain that choosing to not ask questions is just as bad as ignoring the answers. He mentioned that most people wouldn’t have anything to do with his sister’s story– they ignored her and her accusation. She had to jump through near impossible hoops before someone would pick the story up (and it wasn’t until 2014 that it got published in NY Times). Ronan stated that soon after her piece was published, her accused attacker received, “[…] twice the space — and prime position in the print edition, with no caveats or surrounding context. It was a stark reminder of how differently our press treats vulnerable accusers and powerful men who stand accused.” Ronan isn’t wrong, the vulnerability of the accuser is never taken into account by the media. They choose to protect their relationships with their A- list clients instead of outing them as the terrible men that they are. This in itself was extremely damaging to Dylan, who grew up surrounded by these people. Not only did she suffer abuse from her father, but also from the thousands of people who wrote her off as a conspiracy theory.
Dealing with rape and assault accusations can be difficult, especially if you’re in the business world, but surprisingly the businesses you’d expect to have the hardest time, don’t. Adult film star James Deen found himself quickly blacklisted after having just three of his co-stars accuse him of overstepping their boundaries during scenes as well as assault in their relationships. The porn industry dealt wit these claims faster than Hollywood did with Cosby, and both of these cases were dealt with much faster than anything involving Woody Allen. The industry realized that the wellbeing of the many actors who had worked with Deen was worth losing a popular face. Viewers would get over Deen’a absence, those women might not get over their assault. If some of the major porn companies can handle rape accusations in a timely and sensitive manner, why can’t elite Hollywood?
Hollywood needs to make a mental note of the fact that success does not equal innocence. Whenever a successful man is accused of rape or sexual assault no one is surprised that they could commit such heinous crimes simply because rape and sexual assault are heinous crimes, but because those men are successful and successful men don’t rape. The act of raping someone isn’t limited to people who are in prison for it: it extends to athletes, movie directors, husbands, wives, family members– anyone who violates someone else’s personal boundaries in a sexual manner. That is rape, and no amount of money or success will ever change that definition.
Allen’s entourage needs to be held just as accountable as he should; including the plethora of news outlets, A-listers, and directors who continue to shrug their shoulders and say ‘Who knows what happened’. Imagine your idols siding with the man who attacked you, the man you used to call your father. It must a terrible feeling for Dylan to live with, knowing that because of his success few will ever believe her story.