2017 and 2018 have been interesting years for Hollywood. With dozens and dozens of women speaking out about sexual assault within the industry and people finally condemning the producers and directors that committed the crimes, it feels like a slow but real turning point for women everywhere. However, there is one filmmaker that seems to be excused over and over again: Woody Allen.
Woody Allen is unarguably an incredible director who has made extremely influential and important films. Unfortunately, in 1992 allegations came out against him that he had sexually assaulted his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. Although he wasn’t prosecuted (the State Attorney didn’t want to traumatise Farrow even further) the judge said that Allen’s behaviour towards Farrow was grossly inappropriate and he denied him all visiting rights.
So, it would be quite safe to say Woody Allen’s actions have been downright disgraceful and when you look at the contents of his films it shouldn’t even have come to his surprise. Many of his films focus on a relationship between an older man and a barely legal woman (in Manhattan not even legal). When knowing what we do about his personal life, these stories become in the least… questionable. Of course, Allen is not the only male director having made stories about relationships with a large age gap, but in Allen’s case, it hits a little bit too close to home.
Yet, Woody Allen gets barely mentioned when it comes to #metoo-discussions and continues to get praised and celebrated for his work. Although many argue that the art should be separated from the artist, Dylan Farrow explains in an open letter exactly how harmful this can be for victims of assault. She explains that “For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me.” By praising abusers for their work, we are indirectly saying to their victims: “It does not matter what he did to you, what pain he has caused, because we like his work and that is more important.”
We can acknowledge his films and appreciate them for their cultural importance, but I think it’s time we stop celebrating the person that made them. When someone’s incredibly troubled personal life can so obviously be seen in their work, we are indirectly justifying his behaviour.
Finally, though, after much backlash, some actors have seen the light and are slowly turning their backs to Woody Allen. They are donating their salaries from their latest films, apologising for ever working with him and calling out their own ignorance. And if we, as the audience, do the same, we are collectively saying ‘no’ to every single abuser within this industry. And that is the only way we will truly change ‘good’ old Hollywood.