Dylan Farrow and Woody Allen: There’s no justice in it, but if someone’s a big enough idol, we simply refuse to believe it when bad things are said

The fact that no dark cloud of concern or shame follows Allen is not down to his financial pull

Share

“What’s your favourite Woody Allen movie?” begins Dylan Farrow’s open letter in The New York Times. Dylan is asking the world to pay attention to her recollection that, aged seven, she was sexually assaulted by her father. It’s an unusual set of circumstances among liberal thinkers and civilised sorts, where a woman would write such a raw, unsettling formative memory only to ignite a fierce debate about whether she’s lying and whether her mother is a manipulative bitch. But this is an unusual case because her father is Woody Allen.

Allen’s a godlike figure for quirky neurotics who love popcorn and poster sales. He is the patron saint of painful states. Allen has touched the hearts of millions of cinema lovers for more than 50 years. Thus, whatever else he’s touched or hasn’t touched has been politely ignored since Dylan’s allegation surfaced in 1992.

Back then Maureen Orth produced an epic-in-length Vanity Fair feature on the Dylan Farrow case. It is a bewilderingly dark story examining Woody Allen’s obsessive behaviour towards Dylan, of astounded babysitters, intimate suncream application sessions, and an incident in “an attic” – which is more accurately a space at the back of Mia Farrow’s bedroom closet that the children would crawl inside to hide – in which Dylan says that terrible things occurred.

Woody Allen denies this claim. At this year’s Golden Globes he was feted as a shining example of a human being. The fact that no dark cloud of concern or shame follows Woody Allen as he moves between budgeting meetings and casting sessions is not purely down to his financial pull. It is more complex than this.

There is a fascinating rule at play whereby tawdry allegations towards those who have created great art leads to many otherwise sensitive, morally stalwart types refusing to engage. Woody Allen movies – for so many worldwide – are their special thing. A thing of joy. A specialist subject. They will not give them up or have them tainted.

Judd Apatow or Keenen Ivory Wayans would not have this golden touch if a seven-year-old child swore with all their heart over a 22-year period that they’d been sexually assaulted. Woody Allen’s work has never really spoken to me – which isn’t a dig at his work – I simply do not possess that heartfelt desire that Manhattan Murder Mystery is so very amusing that I will not have it spoiled for me at any cost. Annie Hall and Vicky Cristina Barcelona leave me cold, so perhaps that is why I look at the case of an old man who began an inappropriate relationship with his adoptive teenager while his own daughter claimed abuse, and an entire family vehemently screaming for justice, and I deeply sympathise.

I watched a documentary about the Dad’s Army actor John Le Mesurier the other day and was taken aback at the part where when his wife ran off with Tony Hancock, only to subsequently return because “Tony was a drinker who knocked her about”. Hang on. Tony Hancock – heralded as a God of erudite and cerebral comedy for half a century – used to knock his wife out cold? Why have I not heard about this sooner? I would have heard about it if it was Bernard Manning.

Jim Davidson won Celebrity Big Brother last week and the reaction over social media appeared to be that this was a travesty. Davidson, it seemed, was not a nice person, and no happiness or goodwill could be seen to be delivered towards the fact he had been a nice enough bloke on a reality TV show with CCTV watching him 24 hours a day for an entire month.

But then Davidson is a Tory, the sort of man who flew to the Falklands to support “our boys” during the 1980s, loved Thatcher and has never, ever been cool. No one poses the question as to whether Jim Davidson’s ex-wife made up that he was an alcoholic wife beater.

Essentially, our reaction to celebrities’ taboo behaviour seems to depend on the worthiness of their output. The pop star R Kelly has been accused of some terrible crimes against underaged women, but Lord how I love his music, so I tend to look the other way. Culturally, the way the land lies in the thinking world right now, Chris Morris, The Coen Brothers or Nile Rogers could literally get away with murder. That, kids, is showbiz.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Chancellor George Osborne got a standing ovation from the Tories for a package of tough measures  

The Conservative party would have us believe that the poor deserve to be punished

Andreas Whittam Smith
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain