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When to Separate the Art From the Artist
February 2, 2014 5:15 AM   Subscribe

Controversy about Woody Allen is in the news again due to an open letter by Dylan Farrow, who explicitly details sexual abuse allegedly committed by Allen when Farrow was seven. The letter appeared shortly after Allen was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement, prompting the old question, is it possible to separate the person from the art and if so, how?
posted by Brandon Blatcher (921 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
My favorite comment I've read so far on this nauseating and heartbreaking subject was this: "Thought experiment for those struggling to reconcile Allen's art and past: does the sentence 'Sandusky coached great defenses' sound good?"
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:19 AM on February 2 [123 favorites]


Only after death can an artist's work be cleanly separated from his personal life.
posted by Renoroc at 5:20 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


I'm just going to leave this here.
posted by jcterminal at 5:24 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast

Ronan Farrow: young blue eyes

Extracting meaningful conversation from this will be difficult. Give the mods a break and keep it civil, and understand that none of us have the inside scoop, or were there.
posted by panaceanot at 5:24 AM on February 2 [23 favorites]


I'm not sure what to believe. The victim's personal account, or the opinions of Woody Allen's documentarian.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:27 AM on February 2 [163 favorites]


I too, have issues with the documentarian's piece.
posted by panaceanot at 5:29 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Farrow was very brave to write this. I hope she doesn't get as much backlash for it as I'm guessing she will.
posted by chaiminda at 5:42 AM on February 2 [16 favorites]


The Sandusky comparison is apt. A lot of the blame for that falls on the football "cult" in Penn State and the cult of personality surrounding Paterno. But sometimes it seemed like people were blaming sports culture itself as if that was the source of this dynamic. The problem seems to be able to pop up any time someone or some group is extremely venerated. We see it in sports with people like Sandusky and many athletes at all levels. We see it in political and activist movements like with Assange. We see it in the entertainment industry. And of course we saw it in the Catholic Church. We also see it in family and friendship dynamics, where nobody is willing to believe someone they love and respect could commit a violation like this.

There isn't any good deed a person can do in life that should lead you to believe it is impossible they might be guilty when they are accused of sexual assault. Being good at their job whatever it is doesn't mean a thing. That doesn't mean you assume people are guilty until proven innocent, but it does mean all accusations should be taken seriously and all accusers respected. I don't know why we sometimes find that so hard.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:42 AM on February 2 [57 favorites]


I'm not sure what to believe. The victim's personal account, or the opinions of Woody Allen's documentarian.

Really? I believe Allen / Weide. But you know what, it doesn't matter what I believe.

This looks like a link, but is not clickable. Works for me.
posted by dobbs at 5:44 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


To be honest, the documentarian's piece creeped me the hell out. I didn't find it persuasive. It seemed like he was trying to imply that Mia Farrow's supposed bad deeds - having affairs, basically, in what appears to have been an open relationship - somehow delegitimized her and her children's claims about the truly monstrous thing that Woody Allen allegedly did.
posted by lunasol at 5:45 AM on February 2 [75 favorites]


[Fixed panaceanot's first link earlier]
posted by taz at 5:49 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


To answer the question, no, it is not possible for me to separate the artist from his work. I wasn't a big Woody Allen fan anyway, but I think revelations like this put an asterisk next to all of his movies/shows, etc.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:50 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


If this does affect one's evaluation of Allen's oeuvre on a greater than visceral level, how is one to judge any artist's work without first evaluating their moral/ethical state?

I agree that "there isn't any good deed a person can do in life that should lead you to believe it is impossible they might be guilty when they are accused," but what can a person be accused of that leads one to believe it is impossible for them to do a good deed?
posted by mr. digits at 5:51 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


What's my favorite Woody Allen movie? It's Match Point.

Which is about a man who commits a horrible crime, driven by sex, and who seems to get away with it. And the movie puts the viewer in an uncomfortable intimacy with the man, asking you whether you can go along with the man's view, which is: if I get away with it, leading a charmed and happy life where nobody knows what I did and what happened, it's basically the same as if I didn't do it and nothing happened.

I don't know what to do with that, but it's been bugging me, and I thought I'd put it out there.
posted by escabeche at 5:51 AM on February 2 [81 favorites]


Not a Woody Allen fan at all, but I thought the Weide article was one of the few things I've read that casts more light than heat on these issues.

Yes, I thought his relationship with Soon-Yi was creepy. I thought exactly the same thing about Sinatra's relationship with Mia Farrow.

Hell hath no fury...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:52 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


I suspect the only way Allen can avoid being convicted in the court of public opinion is to sue Dylan Farrow for libel and win.
posted by acb at 5:53 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


"Why not separate Woody Allen from his art? Take the cameras away from him. Take away the funding that allows him to make movies. Take his body of work… and all awards, accolades, and residual payments from it… and use them to fund an endowment to help exploited and abused children. Take away the art and leave Woody Allen the person with nothing to show for his life’s work.

Let’s separate the person from the art. He doesn’t deserve it."

(via blue-author)
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:54 AM on February 2 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure what to believe. The victim's personal account, or the opinions of Woody Allen's documentarian.

After having read both, I seriously have no idea. I've recently read a harrowing testimony from a young woman who was sexually abused by her father for several years, and then mistreated by the people who were supposed to care for her. In that several pages long text, there were no graphic details beyond the absolutely necessary. I had the sense, reading it, that the young woman avoided descriptions because presenting them in public would amount to further abuse.
Dylan Farrow' letter is almost pornographic in its detail. And while a lot of life-changing (some good and some very bad) things happened to me when I was 7, I don't remember one single episode of my life at that time in the detail seen in that letter. Actually, specially the very bad things that happened seem like a blur to me. Every person is different, and I do not have the professional expertise to judge something like this. But something seems off in Farrow's letter to me.

I still watch Polanski's movies, and he was definitely guilty. So I separate the artist from his works. But I do believe every child-molester should be brought to justice. So if, Allen is guilty, he should be in jail, great movies or not.
posted by mumimor at 5:54 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


Celine's novel Voyage au bout de la nuit (Journey to the End of the Night) is rightly considered one of the great novels of the 20th century. It was written by an outright anti-Semite. Be that as it may, it is still one of the great novels of the 20th century.
posted by Mister Bijou at 5:56 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


I don't think it's really an either/or proposition. You can talk about the structure and technique of the work, but discussions of its content are hard to completely sever from the artist's life and cultural context. Sometimes that takes into uncomfortable or difficult territory, of course. shiu mai baby's model sentence, for example, sounds bad without context or qualification, but it is undeniably true in some sense: "Sandusky coached bad defenses" doesn't sound right either, because we're not really talking about coaching skill or football defenses at all when we see that name-turned-trigger-word.

But the other side of the issue is that an argument that, say, Manhattan is a defense of sexual predation still needs to be an argument. It can even be an interesting, valuable one that points out examples of intersectionality, such as how a culture in which norms of sexism or ageism encourages us to turn a blind eye to certain forms of objectification or predation may also enable or encourage predations beyond even those problematic norms. (The ongoing revelations about public figures who first rose to prominence in the late 1960s and 1970s entertainment industries, one including Allen, Roman Polanski, and Jimmy Saville among others, certainly might point to what happens when a patriarchal structure reappropriates or captures sex-positivity.)

Drinky Die has a lot of this right, I think, but I wanted to expand (and hopefully not dilute) part of the point already made.
posted by kewb at 5:56 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


"Thought experiment for those struggling to reconcile Allen's art and past: does the sentence 'Sandusky coached great defenses' sound good?"

I cannot personally speak to the quality of Sandusky's defensive coaching, but I fail to see how the greatness of Sandusky-led defenses hangs upon the vileness of his pedophilia.

I myself am unaware of any particular evil in the production or message of Woody Allen films, not having seen many or any of the ones being questioned - but even if there were - making Triumph of the Will was an evil act, but it is still acclaimed as an influential work and you see visual references to it all the time e.g. Star Wars.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:02 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Woody Allen is not Polanski or Sandusky. In both these cases the evidence was overwhelming such that a court has convicted them of a crime.

The evidence surrounding Allen is not overwhelming, actually I think no-one can read anything about the case and get a better confidence level than a coin toss about it. That may change, but for the moment there is 0% chance of a fair trial, so we are getting a trial by media.

These allegations are being made in the media because there is no indication of any evidential change that would merit a new investigation into the allegations. If there is enough evidence to charge him with a crime, he should be charged, if there is not - then the presumption of innocence applies.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 6:03 AM on February 2 [50 favorites]


I began this thinking that separating art and artist is largely like separating message and messenger. However, that feels like an oversimplification. You separate message and messenger because they are not related - art and artist are intimately related, and to enjoy the one is, to some extent, to congratulate the other.

On a personal level, I think what ends up making the difference to me is whether the art and the artist have been linked - that is, it's one thing for me to watch and enjoy Rosemary's Baby and another thing entirely to be made aware that it's a Roman Polanski film. It's somewhat like having a piece of chocolate in your hand and noticing a fly embedded in it (sometimes after having already had a bite). Even if I don't think I'm qualified to judge the artist, the 'flavor' of the art is ruined by the association.
posted by Mooski at 6:04 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


The evidence surrounding Allen is not overwhelming, actually I think no-one can read anything about the case and get a better confidence level than a coin toss about it. That may change, but for the moment there is 0% chance of a fair trial, so we are getting a trial by media.

In legal terms, you're right; in cultural terms, presuming Allen legally innocent does not require that we presume Dylan Farrow a liar or a dupe.
posted by kewb at 6:05 AM on February 2 [29 favorites]


My read was that the allegations were unconvincing to pretty much everyone who investigated or was involved, with the exception of a clearly vengeful Mia and two of her children - and, of course, the people who judged him guilty on the strength of their accusations. It belies the awful tendency to blame the victim, especially when a female child, but if indeed he's innocent and this was a manipulation by a vindictive former partner, isn't that where the blame really lies? And on the topic of the reliability of memory (spoiler, it often isn't), just bumped into this (TED warning!) http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_loftus_the_fiction_of_memory.html
posted by emmet at 6:07 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


I think it's easier to separate art and artist when the art isn't so explicitly *about* the artist. So much of Allen's oeuvre is about Allen, making a constant reminder.
posted by notsnot at 6:09 AM on February 2 [35 favorites]


Since she asks. Stardust Memories. Best to leave it at that.
posted by TimTypeZed at 6:12 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


It's tough to separate this issue from, say, Manhattan, for obvious reasons.
posted by aedison at 6:14 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


I have no idea why making great art would be in any way incompatible with also being a sexual predator. The two things have nothing to do with one another.

False charges of molestation are rare. Nothing about Dylan Farrow's article strikes me as one of those rare cases. Is it possible that what she says is substantially false? I guess, in the same weak sense that I could possibly secretly be Woody Allen himself, posting under a pseudonym, but it just doesn't seem very likely.

Either way, Woody Allen as a person is super duper creepy. That is my feeling, based on the evidence before me. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe he is happy with Soon-Yi Previn, and she is happy with him, and they have as healthy a relationship as you have ever seen. I wouldn't know.

Either way, I can honestly say that it doesn't affect my opinion of his movies all that much. Some of them are great, many of them are not. The best work he ever did remains to be his prose.

NB: I once accidentally walked through a Woody Allen shoot. I didn't recognize him at all. My buddy elbowed me .5 seconds afterwards to make sure I saw what I had just walked through.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:14 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


That may change, but for the moment there is 0% chance of a fair trial, so we are getting a trial by media.

There's 0% chance of any kind of a trial at all. The allegations were investigated at the time, and found by the investigating team to be wholly without substance.

How could they possibly be reinvestigated over 20 years later with a different outcome?

presuming Allen legally innocent does not require that we presume Dylan Farrow a liar or a dupe

Another of the children who was raised in Farrow's household talks about the experience as being akin to 'brainwashing', so while you wouldn't presume her to be a dupe, it's certainly a very real possibility under the circumstances.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:15 AM on February 2 [13 favorites]


This is one of those cases where different parts of my brain pulls me in different directions, and I don't know what to believe.

On the one hand, I believe passionately that you should believe people when they tell you they've been raped. It's disgusting how many women aren't believed when they come out and tell about sexual assaults, and how many people instead chose to believe that they're only making it up to hurt the man or because they regretted consenting to sex. It's a massive and huge problem in modern society, and it's sickening.

On the other hand, one thing we've learned in these last few decades is that children can unwittingly be "coached" by adults into telling the most horrible stories that simply aren't true, and that this coaching can result in false memories (the satanic ritual scandals of the 80's is a prime example). This is especially true of memories that are incredibly specific, despite having occurred decades ago.

Personally, I think I'm leaning towards Dylan Farrow's version of events, but this case is thorny enough that anyone who feels certain about Woody's innocence or guilt is fooling themselves. In all likelihood we'll never know the objective truth of the matter.
posted by gkhan at 6:17 AM on February 2 [28 favorites]


You can talk about the structure and technique of the work, but discussions of its content are hard to completely sever from the artist's life and cultural context. Sometimes that takes into uncomfortable or difficult territory, of course. shiu mai baby's model sentence, for example, sounds bad without context or qualification, but it is undeniably true in some sense: "Sandusky coached bad defenses" doesn't sound right either, because we're not really talking about coaching skill or football defenses at all when we see that name-turned-trigger-word.

Yeah, what I wouldn't say though is that he was a good coach. Good coaches don't abuse their position of power and do irreparable damage to the lives of young people and the reputation of their team. So I guess in that sense the comparison with Allen kind of falls apart. Allen was allegedly abusing a position of parental power at the time, not of professional power. We can obviously say that this, if true, makes him a bad parent. A bad director is a separate question to me.

I can't enjoy works from artists that disgust me even if they might be objectively good because to do so I would likely have to pay for the privilege and I don't think they deserve my money. A good artist should not drive away otherwise receptive audiences with personally abhorrent behavior. I think that is where we get back into the comparison with Sandusky making sense. No matter how good he was, if you believed him guilty would you hire him to coach your team? Okay, so why would you watch a movie from someone like Polanski or (allegedly) Allen no matter how good it is? Is anybody gonna want to hire Aaron Hernandez if the case against him falls apart?
posted by Drinky Die at 6:17 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Another of the children who was raised in Farrow's household talks about the experience as being akin to 'brainwashing', so while you wouldn't presume her to be a dupe, it's certainly a very real possibility under the circumstances.

We're not going to determine once and for all the facts of the matter in this discussion, nor are anyone's suspicions one way or the other likely to be quelled or verified here. We also don't really have access to the facts and methods of the original investigation, just its outcome.
posted by kewb at 6:21 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


In the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-3, many people were found guilty of being a witch. Twenty of them were executed. We have the luxury now of knowing that witches (in the Salem Witch Trial sense) do not exist. The evidence against those found guilty at the time was almost exclusively the testimony of children. Undoubtedly, the jurors at the time thought to themselves, "Why would the children lie? They have nothing to gain." But we know that the children did lie. Not only did they lie and allow people to be convicted, but they saw that those being convicted were being executed. Yet they still lied. Why in the world would the children walk into court and lie, knowing it was ruining lives and ending others? I don't know. I don't know if anyone knows why they lied.

Sex offenses are the modern day Salem Witch Trials. The mere accusation can be enough to convict. People are so afraid of the behavior of the defendant that they find it easiest just to convict them. Additionally, the mere accusation can ruin someone's life. When a person is charged with armed robbery and later found not guilty or the charges get dismissed, general thought about the person is, "Huh. They must have got the wrong guy. That sucks for him." When someone is charged with a sex offense and is later found not guilty or the charges get dismissed, general thought about the person is, "Child molester. God will deal with him. I hope he rots in hell." It is a stark contrast.

When I try sex offense cases in front of a jury, I remind them of the Salem Witch Trials. I remind them of the dangers of blindly believing beyond a reasonable doubt the testimony of anyone -- particularly a child.

Does that mean I think that Dylan Farrow is lying? Not at all. I have no idea. I am not in a position to judge the veracity of her or Woody Allen. The right people did look at the evidence twenty years ago and decided not to charge him. If the allegations are true, then that is horrible and Woody Allen should be in jail. If the allegations are not true, then that is horrible and Woody Allen has irreparably been harmed.
posted by flarbuse at 6:22 AM on February 2 [95 favorites]


Another of the children who was raised in Farrow's household talks about the experience as being akin to 'brainwashing', so while you wouldn't presume her to be a dupe, it's certainly a very real possibility under the circumstances.

It is also the case that both stories could be substantially true. In abusive family situations, it is common for neither parent to be a perfect angel. For example, maybe Dylan's testimony is substantially accurate, but Farrow had also made sure that her children rehearsed and "clarified" their stories, and in doing so, the stories developed inaccuracies. This kind of thing happens.

It is also the case that sexual predators are really good at gaslighting their victims. Woody Allen is certainly an intelligent man with a way for words.

On that level of detail, we just don't know.

...

Either way, it still seems vanishingly unlikely to me that Dylan's testimony has been made up whole cloth.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:22 AM on February 2 [14 favorites]


I can kind of understand why someone might think that a vindictive Mia Farrow might have manipulated her daughter to make up a story in a nasty divorce, but what motivation would she have for continuing the story now?

The contortions people will go through to defend a man who admittedly fucked his step-daughter is pretty astounding to me.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on February 2 [27 favorites]


Sex offenses are the modern day Salem Witch Trials.

Wow, what? This may be the most offensive thing I have ever read on Metafilter.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:23 AM on February 2 [150 favorites]


There's nothing amazing about this man except he's rich and arrogant and he can exploit his version of events in his films. It only confirms the amount of power abusers have in our culture.
posted by what's her name at 6:23 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]


Sex offenses are the modern day Salem Witch Trials.

The Salem Witch Trials were 100% false convictions. Studies show <10% false accusations for sexual abuse. This is an amazingly not cool things to say, particularly when there are multiple survivors in this community.
posted by bfranklin at 6:27 AM on February 2 [160 favorites]


Assuming Allen's guilt... men in his position have demonstrably got away with stuff because of money, prestige and power. And he looks dodgy.

Assuming Allen's innocence... 'a women scorned' + hazy memories of a seven year old.

It's a tough New York style cheesecake, however you try and slice it.
posted by panaceanot at 6:27 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


That does it. I'm not going to have Woody Allen as a babysitter. While that might sound trivial, my point is: I don't need to judge this/him. It does not need to be on the list of things I need to do.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:27 AM on February 2 [16 favorites]


If the allegations are not true, then that is horrible and Woody Allen has irreparably been harmed.

If by 'irreparably harmed' you mean gets lifetime awards and is revered by and works with a-list actors.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:27 AM on February 2 [27 favorites]


No matter how good he was, if you believed him guilty would you hire him to coach your team? Okay, so why would you watch a movie from someone like Polanski or (allegedly) Allen no matter how good it is?

Watch, probably. Pay to watch, no. And as a viewer, I'd certainly keep myself aware of the problematic context and content of the work. It's how you read Ezra Pound, or Céline, or Heidegger.
posted by kewb at 6:28 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


I just feel bad as hell for all of the kids involved in the Allen-Farrow coupling. Somebody or bodies preyed upon them, that's clear.
posted by angrycat at 6:31 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


I can kind of understand why someone might think that a vindictive Mia Farrow might have manipulated her daughter to make up a story in a nasty divorce, but what motivation would she have for continuing the story now?

I think you misunderstand the point some of the people are making. They're not necessarily saying that Mia Farrow knowingly manipulated Dylan into lying, nor that Dylan is lying now.

It's entirely possible for adults to make children tell stories of sexual abuse without meaning to manipulate them. Pushing the child to tell more than they know and using leading questions can make children tell many stories that appear to be true, but are in fact not. And the adults aren't necessarily aware that they're doing it. One of the results of this can be that the child develops a false memory, a memory of a story they told that didn't actually happen.

This is something that does happen. I'm not saying that is what happened in this case, but you can't dismiss the possibility outright, not with the history America has with false convictions in cases of child abuse where children were coached by adults around them.
posted by gkhan at 6:31 AM on February 2 [14 favorites]


It seemed like he was trying to imply that Mia Farrow's supposed bad deeds - having affairs, basically, in what appears to have been an open relationship - somehow delegitimized her and her children's claims about the truly monstrous thing that Woody Allen allegedly did.

I didn't get that impression. Further, which relationship are you suggesting was open? Hers and Allen's or Dory and Andre Previn's?
posted by dobbs at 6:32 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


We also don't really have access to the facts and methods of the original investigation, just its outcome.

But with most crimes, that's sufficient, isn't it? We assume that the authorities have performed their job with diligence and made the decision that there's no case to answer.

This isn't a case where there seemed to be enough evidence to bring charges but the accused was acquitted -- it's a case where there wasn't even that much evidence, despite the status and influence of the mother who was pushing for prosecution.

While you'll never know one way or the other, basic fairness seems to me to dictate a presumption of innocence on the sexual abuse charges, tainted by vile creepyness for fucking his (adult) stepdaughter.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:32 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


but you can't dismiss the possibility outright, not with the history America has with false convictions in cases of child abuse where children were coached by adults around them.

How often do you really think that happens? How often are real victims of abuse not believed? Which do you think happens more often?
posted by empath at 6:33 AM on February 2 [31 favorites]


In regards to separating the art from the artist, which has been a personal struggle for me, the list of arts that I would enjoy would be very small if I tossed them out based solely on the merit of the creator's life. The history of rock is littered with neglected spouses, and a lot of fine artists and writers were not nice people. It's not a requirement for artists to be nice people. I've been to art college and can tell you of many visiting artists that made amazing art, but tended to be jerks.

The consumer of arts is left with an uncomfortable position. Do I toss my Michael Jackson CDs, Roman Polanski DVDs, burn the volume of Ted Hughes and rip up the Picasso poster? Or is keeping them a quiet endorsement?
posted by Calzephyr at 6:38 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


If this does affect one's evaluation of Allen's oeuvre on a greater than visceral level, how is one to judge any artist's work without first evaluating their moral/ethical state?

I don't know if this is insightful or what, ( probably 'what'), but I can't hear Eddie Murphy's voice without thinking about transvestite feet. The best I can say about Michael Jackson was "Before the BAD tour, he wasn't batshitinsane, I guess..."
posted by mikelieman at 6:38 AM on February 2


My read was that the allegations were unconvincing to pretty much everyone who investigated or was involved, with the exception of a clearly vengeful Mia and two of her children - and, of course, the people who judged him guilty on the strength of their accusations.

Since the public is (?) voting to decide this, seconding emmet above.

The one detail that most tilts it in favor of the allegations being coached is that the videotaped testimony of the child was made with starts and stops, over two or three days . Why the stops and starts as opposed to editing out long spaces later? Why keep at it for days? "I cheat on my stories" is a very believable child's quote (to the lead investigator).

Of course the whole thing is sad, hopefully everyone involved can find peace over it.

On preview: I can kind of understand why someone might think that a vindictive Mia Farrow might have manipulated her daughter to make up a story in a nasty divorce, but what motivation would she have for continuing the story now?

Avoiding the scandal of having planned and carried out the allegation? I don't know, it just seems plausible that might be a reason to continue the story.
posted by petebest at 6:38 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


How often do you really think that happens?

Often enough.
The idea that we should just disregard the presumption of innocence when talking about sex crimes is frankly terrifying.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 6:39 AM on February 2 [31 favorites]


How often do you really think that happens? How often are real victims of abuse not believed? Which do you think happens more often?

It ain't a contest. It doesn't matter which happens more often. The point is that it has happened and therefore it can happen and does happen. If 90% of people charged with a particular crime are guilty, that doesn't mean we should punish 100% of them.

Allen's case was examined by professionals who deemed it without merit. If the people who determine these things are incompetent, where does that leave us? And why is their competence only brought into question when you (or whoever) disagree with their findings?
posted by dobbs at 6:39 AM on February 2 [23 favorites]


How often do you really think that happens? How often are real victims of abuse not believed? Which do you think happens more often?

I think it's vastly more common that real victims of abuse aren't believed, but that doesn't mean that it never happens that children get coached into giving false accusations. In fact, it happens often enough that it should be a concern. For a specific, horrific example, see the McMartin case.
posted by gkhan at 6:39 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


As a former criminal defense lawyer, I hate the way accusations against folks often convict them in the 'court of public opinion' before any trial, and regardless of how the trial goes. Innocent until proven guilty is a great principle.

But. In cases of sexual assault, the fact that the [formal, state-initiated] case against Allen "fell apart" 20 years ago does not, of course, prove that Dylan Allen's account was false. There is just no way to *know* who is not telling the truth when only two people were involved, unless you can show that the two persons never could have been in the situation described. (Did Allen's house not have an attic? Were the two never ever alone?) And even then, we can't know if Allen the younger lied.

I am pretty sure only two people could know the truth, here, and even there, the human mind is capable of incredible feats of self-deception and confabulation.

However, I don't have to commit to the truth of either account to not be interested in Allen's films anymore. The constant emphasis on what I will charitably call "May-December" romances, and the no-longer-interesting meditations on guilt have spoiled them for me. And for all of the praise of his roles for women, I can't get past the fact that every one of his major characters sounds just like Woody Allen himself -- men and women alike -- so it feels like he is only ever trying to figure himself out.

Um. I think it's possible to evaluate art apart from the artist, but it's also possible to not want to support a living artist who seems like a creep. It's not like I owe him my money, so, I'm okay with that.
posted by allthinky at 6:39 AM on February 2 [29 favorites]


[One comment deleted. The only way we can have a discussion on this at all is if we keep away from personal attacks. Please do not make things personal. Please do not frame comments in such a way as "I guess you think / are saying / believe HORRIBLE, VILE THING." Don't paraphrase people to put words in their mouths. Just don't make it personal. ]
posted by taz at 6:40 AM on February 2 [22 favorites]


I don't know if this is insightful or what, ( probably 'what'), but I can't hear Eddie Murphy's voice without thinking about transvestite feet.

Personally, I can't listen to Tupac's sanctimonious pontificating without thinking about that woman who was raped in his hotel room.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:40 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Sex offenses are not the modern day Salem With Trials. That's ridiculous. However, it is true that testimony from children about sexual abuse must be handled with extreme care. Just ask the McMartins. Even intelligent professionals who are not acting maliciously can unwittingly create false testimony.

That said, I still don't see any reason to disbelieve Dylan Farrow.

Woody Allen has a happy and successful life and career nowadays. He has a large support network. Forgive me if I can't get too worked up about the possibility that I'm judging him too harshly.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:41 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


People act as if sexual abuse is a thing that only happens to a rare few kids, and it's not. Which means that there aren't just a handful of predators out there, there are lots of them, and they are all kinds of people in your community. The statistics are such that unless we believe that celebrities are somehow better human beings than the rest of us, there are probably a fairly large handful of living famous men who have abused kids, theirs or someone else's. If they're not morons, most of those people have also done so in ways that are unlikely to result in convictions if the victims ever told anyone.

Given that, I choose not to watch Woody Allen films because they make me uncomfortable, but I would not say this makes him a bad artist, because there's a fairly good probability that someone else whose work I quite like is also a horrible human being and I'm just never going to know about it. You can be an abuser and also a good cook, a good carpenter, why not a good filmmaker? I'm not giving him any of my money, but I'm not going to claim he's bad at what he does. It's talent, it's being known as Good Upstanding Members of the Community, that tends to make such people dangerous.

I don't necessarily believe in discarding the presumption of innocence, but the converse here is that you must presume that the accuser is lying until they're proven right in a way that it is impossible to prove for sexual abuse and rape. We have a long social history of letting men off for things like this when they are in fact guilty. It has to be admitted as a possibility.
posted by Sequence at 6:41 AM on February 2 [34 favorites]


Whatever the truth behind the allegations, a woman's life has been impacted by the events surrounding them. I suspect it's too late for Woody Allen to go to trial, but I hope that it isn't too late for Dylan Farrow to have a good life.
posted by arcticseal at 6:41 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Do I toss my Michael Jackson CDs, Roman Polanski DVDs, burn the volume of Ted Hughes and rip up the Picasso poster? Or is keeping them a quiet endorsement?

Maybe not Hughes or (arguably) Jackson, but you might consider tossing the Gary Glitter and Lostprophets records in the bin next to the Polanski films. If Allen turns out to have molested seven-year-olds, he'd end up in the latter cohort.
posted by acb at 6:43 AM on February 2


I don't know what to believe, but his relationship with Soon-Yi and in particular how it began makes me tend to not favor his account.
posted by tommasz at 6:43 AM on February 2 [12 favorites]


Also, the image of Woody Allen snuffling a 7-year-old's crotch like a randy goat is really something one would need brain bleach to get rid of. Ick.
posted by acb at 6:44 AM on February 2


How often do you really think that happens?

Often enough.


Satanic cults running daycares is about as real a thing as witches. Abuse by known friends and family members is unfortunately common. The allegations of coaching should definitely be considered in these situations, but this charge is not near as fantastic as the assertions generally made in the satanic abuse scandals.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:44 AM on February 2 [14 favorites]


Soon-Yi, "his (adult) stepdaughter"

No, that's been refuted. See panaceanot's link.
posted by surplus at 6:45 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Personally, I can't listen to Tupac's sanctimonious pontificating without thinking about that woman who was raped in his hotel room.

Very true, and of course, this brings us to R. Kelly. I have kids, and they're non-stop consumers of video at this point, so that's where I draw from, and why I'm reminded of the feet all the time.
posted by mikelieman at 6:46 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


but you might consider tossing the Gary Glitter

Don't get me started on pro-sports franchises and Rock and Roll Part 2...
posted by mikelieman at 6:47 AM on February 2


As a fan of Allen's films since childhood (especially the early, funny ones), I personally broke up with Woody after seeing Wild Man Blues when it was released in 1997. [Available in 10 parts on YouTube.] The wince-inducing documentary gives real insight into the Woody/Soon-Yi releationship as we watch a 60-something manchild have all of his needs taken care of by his new wife/ex-girlfriend's daughter/stepsister to his children.
posted by wensink at 6:48 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


The framing of this post kind of assumes he's guilty, doesn't it? If he's not, there's no need to worry about "separating the artist from the art."

But in the case of directors, this question is as much about our own approach to their work as it is about them. As a film buff who doesn't buy into much of auteur theory to begin with, I've never been very troubled by it. My favorite movies are rarely those most dominated by a single person's vision (director or anyone else) and there are so many people with major creative input in any movie, a few of them are bound to have done horrible things. How many screenwriters or lead actors or cinematographers ...

Don't get me wrong, Allen's made some great movies, but he's made more that would have been better if they were a little less dominated by his "personal vision," and I think that's true of many talented directors who work this way.

I mean, one thing that's great about a collaborative medium like film, theater, TV or (a lot of) music is that you don't have to grapple with "separating the artist from the art" as much as you do with, say, a painter or novelist. It's weird to me that it's become a mark of sophistication as a fan to look for an auteur behind any of these media -- the genius in the rock band, the "showrunner" of a TV show... and then as often as not it just encourages that person to dominate the others and trust their own instincts too much and the quality of the art declines.
posted by pete_22 at 6:48 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Can we please not go through the "false rape accusation" BS for the zillionth time? Just saying that it happens doesn't really add to the conversation, especially when we know that the public is inclined to think there are many more false accusations than there actually are.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:49 AM on February 2 [50 favorites]


I was all ready to convict Allen in the court of my own opinion until I read what the documentarian had to say. He made some really thought-provoking points:

I know I’m treading a delicate path here, and opening myself up to accusations of “blaming the victim.” However, I’m merely floating scenarios to consider, and you can think what you will. But if Mia’s account is true, it means that in the middle of custody and support negotiations, during which Woody needed to be on his best behavior, in a house belonging to his furious ex-girlfriend, and filled with people seething mad at him, Woody, who is a well-known claustrophobic, decided this would be the ideal time and place to take his daughter into an attic and molest her, quickly, before a house full of children and nannies noticed they were both missing.
posted by shivohum at 6:51 AM on February 2 [18 favorites]


"Satanic cults running daycares is about as real a thing as witches. Abuse by known friends and family members is unfortunately common. The allegations of coaching should definitely be considered in these situations, but this charge is not near as fantastic as the assertions generally made in the satanic abuse scandals."

Right. A hundred times "right".

Plus, law enforcement nationwide completely reviewed and changed their procedures when interviewing child victims of sex crimes as a result of the problems with coaching, intentional and unintentional, that were uncovered during the 80s moral panic about satanic ritual abuse.

Occasionally, mothers in divorce/custody disputes will make allegations that prove to be false. It doesn't happen as often as many claim, but it does happen. But it's much, much more unusual to have a child disclose incest and, especially, to continue to maintain their story into adulthood.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:53 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


I know I’m treading a delicate path here, and opening myself up to accusations of "blaming the victim."

The thing is, though, is that he's not just opening himself up to accusations of blaming the victim, he is literally blaming the victim.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:53 AM on February 2 [45 favorites]


Occasionally, mothers in divorce/custody disputes will make allegations that prove to be false. It doesn't happen as often as many claim, but it does happen. But it's much, much more unusual to have a child disclose incest and, especially, to continue to maintain their story into adulthood.

Fact Sheet: Child Sexual Abuse Allegations in Custody and Visitation Disputes
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:55 AM on February 2 [18 favorites]


Does appealing to the idea that people are rational actors work? I mean, MAYBE I'm a cynic but I know all sorts of people who do all sorts of really, really stupid shit that makes NO rational sense on any level other than 'It seemed like a good idea at the time..."

This is pushing my Mike Gordon buttons too hard. I'm going to the gym.
posted by mikelieman at 6:55 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Every sexual predator I ever met was otherwise a totally upstanding member of their community.

Predation is funny that way. It doesn't come in a package that screams BAD PERSON. It is your boyfriend, or your pastor, or your parent's best friend, or your coworker, or your neighbor, or your relative who you see all the time, or your teacher, or your coach, and it always comes in a package that other adults in your life will not believe because so-and-so is a good person!

That's my experience. It's why I get squicked by a lot of conversations around sexual predation. Everyone seems to want to either write off the whole person as evil or absolve the whole person as good.

What if it is harder than that? What if it is worse? What if sexual predators are anti-social AND social (in the clinical sense)? How can our society deal with that?
posted by whimsicalnymph at 6:55 AM on February 2 [69 favorites]


I think even if the relationship was not parental, my relationship with my stepdad isn't parental, either. "Daughter of the person you are in a relationship with" is, to most of the population, basically "stepdaughter" regardless of the details. Honestly, my quibble is "adult". 18 is adult for the purposes of buying cigarettes. It is not adult for the basis of whether they are an appropriate dating target for much older men. He was still in a position of power over her; she was still not functioning with fully adult judgment. A relationship can be legal and still be grossly irresponsible on the part of the more powerful party. The "Not So Fast" author seems to be under the impression that if a bunch of really technical details of the story's perception are incorrect than this means that Allen's behavior is defensible. And... no. Just no.
posted by Sequence at 6:56 AM on February 2 [37 favorites]


But if Mia’s account is true, it means that in the middle of custody and support negotiations, during which Woody needed to be on his best behavior, in a house belonging to his furious ex-girlfriend, and filled with people seething mad at him, Woody, who is a well-known claustrophobic, decided this would be the ideal time and place to take his daughter into an attic and molest her, quickly, before a house full of children and nannies noticed they were both missing.

Perhaps he molested her the because he thought it was his last shot to penetrate her before he lost the custody battle, and who'd believe Mia now? I mean, he had to want to get some benefit from the years he'd spent grooming Dylan. Sure, it was risky, but breaking the law is always risky in some way, and yet people do it for all kinds of reasons.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:56 AM on February 2 [22 favorites]


Perhaps he molested her the because he thought it was his last shot to penetrate her before he lost the custody battle, and who'd believe Mia now? I mean, he had to want to get some benefit from the years he'd spent grooming her. Sure, it was risky, but breaking the law is always risky in some way, and yet people do it for all kinds of reasons.

Yeah, this. People do risky and irrational shit ALL. THE. TIME. Besides, his "desire" (ugh) for her may not have been so literal, even for him - maybe he could not have consciously articulated, even to himself, what he wanted to do - and maybe the additional stress of impending family separation broke down those parts of him that had been holding him back. The mind is a complicated thing.

Either way, it refutes nothing to say that he chose an inopportune time to be a child molester.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:01 AM on February 2 [16 favorites]


There's 0% chance of any kind of a trial at all. The allegations were investigated at the time, and found by the investigating team to be wholly without substance.

I think it's closer to say that the allegations were found to be too difficult to prosecute, but that many members of the investigation found the allegations had substance. This article about the investigation details the problems.
posted by gladly at 7:05 AM on February 2 [24 favorites]


"Sure, it was risky, but breaking the law is always risky in some way, and yet people do it for all kinds of reasons."

To elaborate on your point for other people (not you, I know you know this stuff), what pedophiles do, even when they think they have an extreme amount of control and deniability as they do when they're fathers, is basically unbelievably foolhardy. It's immense risk. It's irrational. It's a compulsion plus rationalization plus self-delusion that pushes them past the obstacle of doing something that is fantastically risky.

So an argument built around "why would the pedophile assault the child at this risky moment" isn't really an argument, it's a non-starter. Because everything a pedophile does is risky and foolish. Even when they do it very slowly, as they do when they slowly groom the child. Because even the early stages stuff is pretty unambiguous if they were ever caught in the act. Like showing a child pornography. They go slowly for the sake of how they're trying to negotiate a relationship with the child, not because they're being cautious about being caught.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:06 AM on February 2 [28 favorites]


I think it's easier to separate art and artist when the art isn't so explicitly *about* the artist. So much of Allen's oeuvre is about Allen, making a constant reminder.

This. I've never truly loved his films, but at this point they are so tainted by his story that I'm not interested in seeing any of them again. Even if he has stayed entirely on the side of legality, he's also stayed on the side of grossness. It doesn't have to break a law to know that grooming and then hooking up with your partner's barely legal daughter is seriously gross, on top of continuing to explore that trope in your films.

I don't have any insight into the truth or falseness of this particular allegation. False charges do sometimes happen, but also gross people are going to be generally gross and inappropriate in a variety of situations. I know that I'm with the person above who said they'd never hire him as a babysitter.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:06 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


Welcome to Metafilter Conjecture Fest 2014.
posted by Caskeum at 7:07 AM on February 2 [49 favorites]


Consider that after a 6 MONTH investigation NO CHARGES were brought.

My favorite movie? "Take the Money and Run."
posted by Max Power at 7:08 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Consider that after a 6 MONTH investigation NO CHARGES were brought.

That doesn't mean he didn't rape the child.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:10 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


Weide is claiming to be fair and disinterested here, but he isn't really objective and he doesn't really give facts from the other side. Like, in her first piece for Vanity Fair about the Allen case, published in 1992, Maureen Orth had at least 25 on-the-record interviews—with sources both named and unnamed—attesting that Allen was “completely obsessed” with Dylan: “He could not seem to keep his hands off her,” Orth wrote. Moreover Allen apparently came to agree that his actions toward Dylan were inappropriate and agreed to see a therapist about them. There are a lot of anecdotes supporting Allen's weird obsession with Dylan in that article that could not all have been contrived or influenced by Farrow. Weide turns his back on all that and whistles a little tune.

I thought Dylan's piece was very powerful, and I believe her.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:11 AM on February 2 [61 favorites]


The appeal to the fact that Allen is a well known claustrophobic sounds like such fucking bullshit to me. As are the technical nuances to the nature of his relationship to Soon-Yi. I hope that if I ever get accused of molesting my 7year old daughter, I don't have to rely on the preposterousness of the notion that a claustrophobe would do it in the attic to make the situation sound unlikely and invented.
posted by leopard at 7:14 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]



Sex offenses are the modern day Salem Witch Trials.

Wow, what? This may be the most offensive thing I have ever read on Metafilter
.


Fair enough. Allow me to be a bit more specific about that statement. You may well still feel the same, but I just want to clarify what my claim was.

The mere accusation of being a witch was enough to destroy a person's life. Just the accusation. There is no accusation that destroys a person's life today that being accused of being a child molester. Before the trial, before charges get filed, and certainly before conviction, if you are charged with being a child molester your life is damaged in a way it is not damaged if you are charged with any other crime. So I am saying that sex offenses are like the Salem Witch Trials in that simply being accused ruins a person's life in a way that being charged with other criminal offenses simply does not.

Also, the verdicts in the Salem Witch Trials were reached almost exclusively based on the testimony of children that was not corroborated by any other offenses. Verdicts in sex offenses today (right or wrong) are often reached after a jury hears the uncorroborated testimony of a child. I can't think of another case I have ever seen where the DA goes forward with a case solely on the testimony of a child. So I am saying that sex offenses are like the Salem Witch Trials in that juries are willing to convict on the uncorroborated testimony of children.

What I am clearly not saying is that sex offenses are like witchcraft with respect to the reality of their content. Sex offenses exist. They are horrible. Witchcraft did not exist. I am not comparing the two in that respect. I realize most people first think of the fact that people were convicted of something that did not exist when they think of the Salem Witch Trials. As a criminal defense attorney, I am more interested in the process of the trials and how the juries were able to convict those people based on the evidence they had before them.

If you still find that to be offensive, then I apologize. I just thought you might have been offended because I wasn't clear enough. Perhaps I have offended offended you further. That is not my intent.
posted by flarbuse at 7:14 AM on February 2 [60 favorites]


Max Power: Consider that after a 6 MONTH investigation NO CHARGES were brought.

Consider that Woody Allen is a rich and famous white male in America who is idolized by many due to the fact that he makes movies.

The statistics regarding sexual molestation accusations vs. % that go to trial vs % of convictions are abysmal, and contribute to the "false accusations are so common" belief because so many people are sexually abused, and so few cases are actually prosecuted/pursued, for a myriad of reasons -- almost none of which have to do with guilt/innocence.

I don't know what happened; you don't know what happened. But "no charges were brought" means exactly nothing.
posted by tzikeh at 7:16 AM on February 2 [24 favorites]


SLYT: Woody Allen on 60 Minutes in 1992, discussing the case.
posted by wensink at 7:17 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


There is no such thing as witchcraft, flarbuse. That's sort of fundamental to the story of the Salem Witch Trials. It's not just that the accused were innocent of consorting with Satan to make their neighbors' cows get sick. It's that the crime is a fantasy that never happens. When you compare sex abuse allegations to the Salem trials, you suggest that child sex abuse is also a fantasy that never happens. If that is not your intent, then you need to find another metaphor immediately, because your current metaphor is profoundly reprehensible.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:18 AM on February 2 [49 favorites]


There is no such thing as witchcraft, flarbuse. That's sort of fundamental to the story of the Salem Witch Trials. It's not just that the accused were innocent of consorting with Satan to make their neighbors' cows get sick. It's that the crime is a fantasy that never happens. When you compare sex abuse allegations to the Salem trials, you suggest that child sex abuse is also a fantasy that never happens. If that is not your intent, then you need to find another metaphor immediately, because your current metaphor is profoundly reprehensible.

Did you actually read his comment?
posted by eugenen at 7:23 AM on February 2 [75 favorites]


If Woody Allen and Mia Farrow weren't married and didn't even live together, how did they adopt two kids together? I guess it was a private adoption?
posted by amro at 7:24 AM on February 2


I'm not sure whose story to believe but I do know this: an article by someone with a professional (and thus financial) reason for keeping PERSON X in a position of power and acclaim does not strike me as a fair-and-balanced source.

(PS I used to do work on Ezra Pound's poetry - it's hard to separate the art from the artist but it can be done .. as long as the art stands apart from the artist. Pound's early work manages to do so but I was never ever comfortable delving into The Cantos.)
posted by kariebookish at 7:24 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


No, that's been refuted. See panaceanot's link.

Yeah, I read the article and broadly agree with its positions -- but if you're fucking the daughter of a woman that you're in a relationship -- adopted or not, while she might not be your stepdaugher in strictly legal terms, she's as close to it as the distinction makes no difference to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:24 AM on February 2 [17 favorites]


Huh. So I was the only person who studied The Crucible in high school and was explicitly asked to draw the parallels between witch-hunts and not only Communism, but also more recent child abuse allegations? In that even if you were cleared of all charges people still tended to think 'there's no smoke without fire' and 'they were accused for a reason'?
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:27 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


Honestly, after reading the documentarian's article, I have come away with a much different view of events than I was led to believe, and there seems there was clearly good reason why no charges were ever brought.
posted by sutt at 7:27 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


My grandfather molested multiple children and was accused but never charged. No one did anything even after he was reported (my mom's childhood friend later changed her mind).

Another person in my family was molested by her grandfather, it was reported, but they said that there wasn't much they could do about these "groping incidents" especially since it was out of state.

Life destroyed? Less often than you think. Most often what happens is that a few people are livid at the abuser and everyone else stands around defending them and pointing out no one else can know for sure and the courts can't prove anything because it's one persons word against another so when no charges are filed communities can heave a sigh of relief and pressume innocence-- which also pressumes guilt or mentally instability/delusion on the part of the accuser and thus destroys THEIR relationship with their community which is sacraficed in order to allow everyone to go on pretending nothing happened.

In short, in saying "innocent until proven guilty" they assume the reporter is guilty of lying or being deluded-- also without trial.

The court of public opinion is and should be handled differently than courts.

There is no right for the accused's words to be considered more valid than those of the accusers. People are allowed to make their own opinions and handle the matter accordingly. The most common response to abuse is not anger but disbelief-- EVEN WHEN YOU SAW IT HAPPEN YOURSELF OR IT HAPPENED TO YOU.

Part of why dissociation is so strong in sexual abuse victims, people don't even want to believe it could be true when they saw it happen to them.
posted by xarnop at 7:28 AM on February 2 [94 favorites]


Did you actually read his comment?
Yes, and I think it's utter bullshit. You can't treat it as some sort of incidental, not-that-important fact that witchcraft is a fantasy that doesn't exist. It's not incidental. It's a fundamental fact of the story that he's alluding to, and it's built in to the metaphor, whether he admits it or not. It's a metaphor that equates accusations of sexual abuse with a hysterical fantasy, and I suspect that's intentional, because it calls upon the prejudices of jurors.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:29 AM on February 2 [38 favorites]


I can kind of understand why someone might think that a vindictive Mia Farrow might have manipulated her daughter to make up a story in a nasty divorce, but what motivation would she have for continuing the story now?

Manipulation isn't always intentional. I heard a story a few weeks ago - maybe on TAL? - about a cop who unwittingly coached a suspect into a statement that she committed a crime. Without realizing, he fed her the details of the crime and kept questioning her until she "confessed."

So it's possible that Mia was understandably horrified and furious at Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi, and it made sense to her to wonder whether Allen would also have been interested in her other daughter. So perhaps she asks her daughter "Did he touch you?" and the kid, not thinking of touching the way that the adult is thinking of touching, says yes. And then a longer conversation ensues and eventually you have a story that the adult believes, without realizing that they created the story. And then child comes to believe it too.

And then you have a scenario in which no one is lying, but no one is telling the truth, because they don't know the truth.

Naturally, that's just speculation.

I've read both Dylan's piece and the Daily Beast Piece. I have no idea what to think and as dances with sneetches points out, forming an opinion is not something I need to do, and it's a good thing because to form a good opinion I would need a lot more information.

There are a couple of things that really bugged me about the NYT piece - Dylan's photo makes me incredibly uncomfortable for reasons I can't articulate. And the calling out of other actors is inappropriate. There's no need to suggest that just because someone made a film with Allen that their doing so is an act against Dylan. Or that in order for justice to prevail, he should be professionally ostracized. Those things don't make her a liar, but they squick me out.
posted by bunderful at 7:30 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


i think one of the things that needs to be spoken of again, is that the police, after a number of interviews, over weeks have said their is not enough evidence. Maybe it is a polite fiction, and I know all of the problems with cops, but something our culture is precipitated on, is that evidence of sufficient quantity and quality needs to be presented in order to charge or convict someone.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:30 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


There is no such thing as witchcraft, flarbuse.

That is sort of part of my point.

If the uncorroborated testimony of children is powerful enough to convict people of something that is imaginary, then shouldn't we be worried about the power of uncorroborated testimony of children with respect to offenses that do exist? How can we trust something (using the corroborated testimony of children) that has been shown to have such an effect on jurors?

It's a metaphor that equates accusations of sexual abuse with a hysterical fantasy, and I suspect that's intentional, because it calls upon the prejudices of jurors.

Sure. In trial, it helps me if the jurors equate accusations of sexual abuse with an hysterical fantasy. That is my job. But here in this thread I am not trying to put that idea in people's heads. I am trying to illustrate how the similar reliance on a particular form of evidence has led to factually incorrect verdicts in the past. We should be reluctant to rely too heavily on that sort of evidence in sex offense cases because we know unreliable it can be.
posted by flarbuse at 7:36 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]


One can make all sorts of speculations about what might have happened. But in an actual trial, evidence is required, and without further information, the evidence is this:

Mia’s own testimony, ... which she recalled taking the child to a doctor on the same day as the alleged incident. Farrow recalled, “I think (Dylan) said (Allen) touched her, but when asked where, she just looked around and went like this,” at which point Mia patted her shoulders. Farrow recalls she took Dylan to another doctor, four days later. On the stand, Allen’s attorney asked Mia about the second doctor’s findings: “There was no evidence of injury to the anal or vaginal area, is that correct?” Farrow answered, “Yes.”

While only a video recording of the even could exonerate Allen from possible improper acts, it does seem to meet the standard of reasonable doubt.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:36 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Pinkmoose- this is why childhood molestation is so rarely actually charged even when it happens. There is frequently no evidence whatsoever but the victims testimony and our justice system requires more proof than that.

We are not effective at handling child abuse cases.
posted by xarnop at 7:37 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


PinkMoose, I'm wondering if evidence were lacking where one would expect to find evidence in normal circumstances, or whether there was no evidence but the lack of evidence was not particularly telling.

Like the difference between 1) an allegation that Bob stole a plant from Pete's garden, when Pete's garden shows no missing plants and no disturbed ground, and there's no plant in Bob's house or yard vs 2) an allegation that Bob called Pete an asshole, when no one else was there to hear it, no one recorded the conversation, Bob insists he did not say any such thing and Pete insists that he did.
posted by bunderful at 7:40 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


this is why childhood molestation is so rarely actually charged even when it happens. There is frequently no evidence whatsoever but the victims testimony and our justice system requires more proof than that.

We are not effective at handling child abuse cases.


What should we do differently? Should the rules be changed?

(I hope that's not too much of a tangent. I think it's an interesting question that's begged by a lot of comments in this thread.)
posted by pete_22 at 7:41 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Yes, and I think it's utter bullshit. You can't treat it as some sort of incidental, not-that-important fact that witchcraft is a fantasy that doesn't exist. It's not incidental. It's a fundamental fact of the story that he's alluding to, and it's built in to the metaphor, whether he admits it or not. It's a metaphor that equates accusations of sexual abuse with a hysterical fantasy, and I suspect that's intentional, because it calls upon the prejudices of jurors.

The power of the human brain to reason and apprehend nuance often permits us to compare certain aspects of certain things to certain aspects of other things without suggesting that the two sets of things are precisely alike in every respect.

And I think parts of this thread pretty aptly demonstrate the strength of the analogy.

I don't know whether Woody Allen molested Dylan Farrow, and neither do you, and a reasonable person could be inclined to believe or disbelieve Farrow's account, and as far as I can see that's about all there is to it given the facts in evidence.
posted by eugenen at 7:42 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


i think one of the things that needs to be spoken of again, is that the police, after a number of interviews, over weeks have said their is not enough evidence.

Is this true, though? The earlier Vanity Fair article linked above quotes several sources who believe that there was indeed compelling evidence, and the sticking point was Dylan's fragility as a witness. Which is hardly surprising when it comes to a scared seven-year-old. The DA was pretty clear in saying that he thought Allen was guilty but that he didn't think he could win the case. It's more nuanced than "they looked into and decided nothing happened."
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:43 AM on February 2 [29 favorites]


It's not a matter of what we do or don't do. It's a matter of not having enough evidence and when there is not enough evidence you can't convict.

People misunderstand that a lack of evidence to convict is not the same thing as proof of innocence and communities shouldn't see it as such.

My abuser when I was in high-school had been accused of molesting his brother but the brother took back the story. I should have believed he did it because he was abusing me at the time as well but the power of disbelief can be very strong.

I do think there could be ways we could get better at this but my point is not "we should be doing better at this in the coursts" (though that would be great) it's simply pointing out the reality that we are currently not effective at handling this with courts andcommunities and individuals should be aware of that reality when handling accusations within their communities, peer groups and families. Lack of charges/conviction is not proof of innocence.

If your most trusted friend said her husband cheated on her but he says he didn't would you base the way you handle that information on whether the courts verify that is the case? Would you accuse your friend of lying if the courts said they did not have enough information to make a decision either way?
posted by xarnop at 7:48 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


If the uncorroborated testimony of children is powerful enough to convict people of something that is imaginary, then shouldn't we be worried about the power of uncorroborated testimony of children with respect to offenses that do exist?
Because everyone in the society believed that it existed, because the culture was in a profound sense built on irrational premises. It was also a society that fundamentally oppressed and discounted little girls (and women more generally, but little girls most of all), and the only way that girls could get any power at all was to play into really potent cultural narratives like the ones surrounding witchcraft. Salem was not, at heart, a story about people believing irrational things because they listened to little girls. It's a story about people listening to little girls because the little girls confirmed the irrational things that the people already believed. There are no similar forces at work in most modern allegations of sexual abuse. There are no powerful cultural narratives that tell people to believe a bunch of troubled teen boys rather than the well-liked, well-connected, powerful football coach. There are no powerful cultural forces that tell people to believe a seven-year-old girl rather than her world-famous film-director father.

I don't think you're actually as ignorant as you're claiming to be, but if you would like to understand Salem better, I would be happy to give you a reading list. I think I still have my syllabi from the Colonial American Religious History and Gender in Colonial America classes that I took in grad school.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:48 AM on February 2 [42 favorites]


The power of the human brain to reason and apprehend nuance often permits us to compare certain aspects of certain things to certain aspects of other things without suggesting that the two sets of things are precisely alike in every respect.

Dude, he already said he knows very well saying what he did convinces juries child abuse accusations are hysterical fantasies. He sends that message here when he uses it whether that is his intent or not. I accept the clarification that this was not his intent, but at the same time he can find a better metaphor or just say plainly what he is trying to argue in the future. If you stand by a phrasing that you know sends the wrong message, the fault for the miscommunication is your own.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:51 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


It's not just that the accused were innocent of consorting with Satan to make their neighbors' cows get sick. It's that the crime is a fantasy that never happens. When you compare sex abuse allegations to the Salem trials, you suggest that child sex abuse is also a fantasy that never happens

No, you're pointing out that people can become deeply invested in the "reality" of a grave accusation even when nothing, in fact, happened. You're pointing out that witnesses can allege that certain events occurred with absolute, genuine conviction, even when we know, in fact, that those events did not occur. The "witch trials" are a limit case that prove that a certain machinery of recrimination and self-reinforcing suspicion can, in fact, operate even when there is no actual originating event to precipitate them.

No one who calls the HUAC hearings a "witch trial" is claiming that communism doesn't exist or that spies don't exist or what have you. By the same token, no one who talks about parallels between child molestation hysteria and the witch trials is suggesting that child abuse doesn't exist or isn't a serious problem. But the fact remains that decades of research have now firmly established just how easy it is to implant false beliefs of molestation events in a child's mind through careless or tendentious questioning. And the fact also remains that the lives of innocent people have been destroyed as a result of a "witch trial" like atmosphere surrounding those implanted memories.
posted by yoink at 7:54 AM on February 2 [22 favorites]


The decision not to bring charges doesn't mean that Allen is "innocent" in the colloquial sense, it just means that the DA didn't feel that they had the right evidence to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt. Huge difference.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:56 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


The DA always thinks the person is guilty. In our system this is kind of the DA's job. In my time as a criminal defense attorney I never saw a DA voluntarily dismiss a case once, even when the judge was rolling her eyes so hard that you could hear them from the defense table.

I have no opinion on Allen's actual guilt or innocence. I don't know any of the people involved in this mess and neither, I suspect, does anyone else here. Yes, his current wife was much younger than he was when they became romantically involved. But trying to suggest that being sexually attracted to an 18 year old makes one more likely to be attracted to a seven year old? I think that goes too far.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:00 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


Man, that Connecticut Magazine article about the investigation makes me very angry at what Yale did to a 7 year old Dylan:

The nine interviews were “excessive,” Schetky says. “The danger is the child feels like she’s not believed if she’s asked the same question over and over.”

Leventhal himself later admitted, in sworn testimony in the custody case, that he made several mistakes during the course of the investigation. One of those was his false characterization of Dylan’s active imagination as a thought disorder.

In the Yale report, Leventhal cited what he called “loose associations” by the child. He said she talked about looking in a trunk and seeing “dead heads.” When advised that Mia Farrow had a trunk in her attic in which she kept wigs from her movies on wig blocks, Leventhal acknowledged this was not evidence of a fantasy problem or a thought disorder.

The pediatrician also attempted to categorize Dylan’s banter as “magical thinking,” citing her vivid description of a sunset. However, after being advised that Mia Farrow described the dark sky upon leaving New Haven in the evening as “the magic hour,” Leventhal said he was “less concerned” about the incident as an example of “loose thinking.”

“This guy Leventhal never left his office, never talked to the child, but he gave a wonderful account and said, ‘I exonerate you, Woody,’” D’Amico says. “Boy, I wouldn’t want to carry that flag around—‘Leventhal says I’m OK.’”


And there is more in there about why they decided not to prosecute out of consideration for Dylan:

Maco, D’Amico, and state police Lt. Charles McIntyre looked on as Farleakas, Dylan and Prindle finished their play session. Maco then got down on the floor and played and talked with Dylan for about half an hour.

“We talked about kid stuff,” Maco says. “It was like being with my own kid. We were having fun—until the button was pushed. I tried to discuss the incident. I saw her saying to me with her blank stare, ‘This is the last place I want to be. I can’t deal with this. Is this Yale? What are they doing to me?’”

Maco backed off. “I saw complete withdrawal any time I tried to discuss the incident. This was complete withdrawal and regression. At the time she was so fragile and damaged I knew she would not be a good witness. I knew she needed healing. I was not going to interfere with her recovery.”


I would be surprised if anyone who says they believe Allen comes out the same way after reading both the Connecticut Magazine piece and the 1994 Vanity Fair piece. Maybe not surprised, really, more sad than anything.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:09 AM on February 2 [26 favorites]


The article in Connecticut Today about Frank Maco, the state's attorney in charge of the investigation in this case, that gladly linked to above, states:
Maco held a press conference in which he said state police had compiled enough evidence to charge Allen with a crime, but that he’d decided not to approve an arrest warrant in order to spare Dylan the trauma of a trial.
So, the reason the investigators gave for not pursuing charges was not lack of evidence. They explicitly stated they had sufficient evidence to bring charges, but decided not to pursue the case because of concern for how a potential trial would affect the alleged victim.

'Sufficient evidence to file charges' is, of course, not the same thing as saying Allen was guilty or that he would have been found guilty if there had been a trrial, but repeated assertions here that the investigators decided not to file charges 'due to lack of evidence' are false.
posted by nangar at 8:12 AM on February 2 [34 favorites]


No one who calls the HUAC hearings a "witch trial" is claiming that communism doesn't exist or that spies don't exist or what have you.

I would certainly claim that communist conspiracy by American citizens at the highest levels of government was largely paranoid fantasy especially in the context of comparing it to common, frequent crimes like child abuse. I have not generally seen the term frequently used to simply mean too much reliance on one witness. It is used when that is combined with unlikely or impossible accusations in a context of mass hysteria. Witch trials are a problem with the town of Salem, not the individual accusers.

By the same token, no one who talks about parallels between child molestation hysteria and the witch trials is suggesting that child abuse doesn't exist or isn't a serious problem.

Nobody aside from the guy who brought it up in this thread when he is talking to juries. Like he just said he does, because that is the obvious conclusion someone not splitting legal hairs makes from the comparison.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:13 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


"Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse."
posted by sfts2 at 8:13 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]


To answer a question in the OP, I do not watch Woody Allen movies, nor do I watch Polanski movies. I believe that we, as a society should not reward these people. I still don't buy Nike products and I don't drink Coke. I've never had a Jimmy John sandwich, and to this day I refuse to use Ciba products. I hold a grudge like a mofo.

I am not compelled to presume Allen as innocent, nor does the law compel me to do so. I do not equate a court of law with truth.

I wish bad things upon Woody Allen. And having seen part of one of his movies, many years ago, I do not understand why he is considered a great artist.
posted by valentinepig at 8:15 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


as someone who was sexually assulated, i want the person who did to be prosecuted. But, I also know that because the crime is so severe, that the burden of proof must be that much higher. I just don't think Allen reaches it. I think he's hinky, and i think what he did with Mia's daughter is unethical at best, but considering what we know about Mia...
posted by PinkMoose at 8:16 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


"Maco held a press conference in which he said state police had compiled enough evidence to charge Allen with a crime, but that he’d decided not to approve an arrest warrant in order to spare Dylan the trauma of a trial."

Which in itself got Maco rebuke by a disciplinary panel.
posted by sutt at 8:18 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Personally I think we need to make prisons nice places to be and focus prisons on being one of two things-
1- Rehabilitation, personal accountability (that permits a persons understanding of their own disabilities/culture/childhood abuse/mental illness into that self understanding), and growth/support
2- Long term care for people who have done dangerous things and can no longer be trusted without supervision- which might include more means of working and participating in society in supervised ways if possible.

In a sense, make it a place that even if we get it wrong, people will still be treated humanly and given a decent quality of life.

And then we need to actually use the system to protect people from abusers better.
That's my personal opinion.
posted by xarnop at 8:19 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


This is difficult for me, so please bear with me. I have never had the courage to admit this publicly, but Dylan has inspired me to speak out.

I have never seen a Woody Allen movie that I enjoyed. Absurdist humor which seems not nearly absurd enough to be you know, funny. Impossibly self-absorbed beautiful people whom I find completely unsympathetic. Like, I think it's a problem that Woody Allen films exist.

There, I said it and I feel better. Yes, it is possible to separate the art from the artist. Both are problematic for different reasons. Fortunately, I'm not the one who thinks he needs lifetime achievement awards. I can accept his technical innocence, but there's enough "ick" surrounding him personally and his professional work, that I feel very comfortable personally not giving him any money or awards.
posted by Random Person at 8:19 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


I have never seen a Woody Allen movie that I enjoyed. Absurdist humor which seems not nearly absurd enough to be you know, funny. Impossibly self-absorbed beautiful people whom I find completely unsympathetic. Like, I think it's a problem that Woody Allen films exist.

You might like this article.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:21 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


The decision not to bring charges doesn't mean that Allen is "innocent" in the colloquial sense, it just means that the DA didn't feel that they had the right evidence to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt. Huge difference.

no - it actually tells you nothing. Nothing at all. There is nothing to be learned from a DA choosing not to press charges. That's basic logic.
posted by JPD at 8:23 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


no - it actually tells you nothing. Nothing at all. There is nothing to be learned from a DA choosing not to press charges. That's basic logic.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not, but there are lots of reasons a DA wouldn't press charges against a famous white man.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:24 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Yeah just skimming that Vanity Fair article I feel sick to my stomach. The people in here comparing this to Salem really need to take a step back and read about this before saying these things.
At that point Coates didn’t know that, according to several sources, Woody, wearing just underwear, would take Dylan to bed with him and entwine his body around hers; or that he would have her suck his thumb; or that often when Dylan went over to his apartment he would head straight for the bedroom with her so that they could get into bed and play.

One summer day in Connecticut, when Dylan was four and Woody was applying suntan lotion to her nude body, he alarmed Mia’s mother, actress Maureen O’Sullivan, and sister Tisa Farrow when he began rubbing his finger in the crack between her buttocks.

Casey’s baby-sitter had been in the house looking for one of the three Pascal children and had been startled when she walked into the TV room. Dylan was on the sofa, wearing a dress, and Woody was kneeling on the floor holding her, with his face in her lap. The baby-sitter did not consider it “a fatherly pose,” but more like something you’d say “Oops, excuse me” to if both had been adults. She told police later that she was shocked. “It just seemed very intimate. He seemed very comfortable.”
I mean you've got a significant number of different people reporting the same sort of extremely inappropriate conduct happening again and again, and Woody Allen denying everything. And then everything else we know about Woody Allen. Regardless of a legal burden of proof, I'm having a really hard time understanding how people truly doubt that this young girl was seriously mistreated by this man. Whether you want to keep enjoying his movies can be a separate matter.
posted by crayz at 8:24 AM on February 2 [61 favorites]


The thing is, I think the reasin there is such hand-wringing over "oh geez let's be fair now could Woody Allen really have done it" (I mean, besides the victim blaming rape culture that we as Americans are soaking in) is that looking at Woody Allen forces people to have to confront the idea that an abuser can be a "regular person" who doesn't act like an obvious monster.
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:27 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not, but there are lots of reasons a DA wouldn't press charges against a famous white man.

Seriously? The other side of the table was a famous Actress. I appreciate that power differentials matter but in so much as any case between a man and a woman presents inequality, there isn't much of a differential here in terms of prominence or financial power.

But my real point was that in general saying "The DA not pressing charges just means there wasn't a good enough case" is bullshit. The DA not pressing charges may be because the DA thinks there was no crime, it may be because of any of multiple reason. There is just simply no information.
posted by JPD at 8:28 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


The other side of the table was a famous Actress.

No, the other side of the table was a seven year old child.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:29 AM on February 2 [28 favorites]


Don't know what happened, but both the 60 Minutes interview and the DB article evidence a distinct lack of class with the 'bitch be crazy' narrative.

Particularly gag-worth was Allen's moment in the 60 mins interview where he uses the words of Farrow's daughter as evidence that 'bitch be crazy'

You have to be some kind of scum to be taking pictures to wack off to of the daughter or the woman you're sleeping with. Maybe Allen thinks that if he acknowledges this at all he'll be damning himself with further incest charges.

That Valentine though. That's crazy.
posted by angrycat at 8:29 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


As someone who was abused by a priest, I've always felt fortunate, if that's the right word, that there was a documented paper trail of Father Dick's (yeah, that was his name) past behavior. I can only imagine the pain and difficulty of a child having to prove to mom/attorneys/the public that something happened in an attic.
posted by wensink at 8:30 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]


Connecticut Today article quoted by nangar:"Maco held a press conference in which he said state police had compiled enough evidence to charge Allen with a crime, but that he’d decided not to approve an arrest warrant in order to spare Dylan the trauma of a trial."

sutt: "Which in itself got Maco rebuke by a disciplinary panel."

... which rebuke was itself overturned, according to the documentarian's piece in the Daily Beast ("Two years later, the reprimand was overturned").
posted by koeselitz at 8:30 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


No, the other side of the table was a seven year old child.

with her famous actress mother advocating for her. The narrative you want to put forth here just isn't valid.
posted by JPD at 8:31 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Aaron Brady has a thoughtful piece on the assumptions behind epistemic neutrality, suspending judgment about the accusations, etc. Two notable excerpts:

One of them must be saying something that is not true. But “he said, she said” doesn’t resolve to “let’s start by assume she’s lying,” except in a rape culture, and if you are presuming his innocence by presuming her mendacity, you are rape cultured...Woody Allen cannot be presumed to be innocent of molesting a child unless she is presumed to be lying to us. His presumption of innocence can only be built on the presumption that her words have no credibility, independent of other (real) evidence, which is to say, the presumption that her words are not evidence. If you want to vigorously claim ignorance–to assert that we can never know what happened, in that attic–then you must ground that lack of knowledge in the presumption that what she has said doesn’t count, and we cannot believe her story.

We are in the midst of an ongoing, quiet epidemic of sexual violence, now as always. We are not in the midst of an epidemic of false rape charges, and that fact is important here.

posted by Beardman at 8:36 AM on February 2 [32 favorites]


ShawnStruck: "The thing is, I think the reasin there is such hand-wringing over "oh geez let's be fair now could Woody Allen really have done it" (I mean, besides the victim blaming rape culture that we as Americans are soaking in) is that looking at Woody Allen forces people to have to confront the idea that an abuser can be a "regular person" who doesn't act like an obvious monster."

Most rapists are not obvious monsters. Most child molesters aren't, either. They tend to be ordinary people with access to and who can exert some degree of power over their victims. See David Lisak's paper, The Undetected Rapist. More.
posted by zarq at 8:36 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


The contortions people will go through to defend a man who admittedly fucked his step-daughter is pretty astounding to me.

-- empath

You might want to brush up on the facts, chief.
posted by jayder at 8:37 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


I adore early Woody Allen films and still laugh out loud at jokes from his stand up recordings that I listened to more than 20 years ago. I have no idea if his newer movies stand up: I haven't given the motherfucker a dime since I found out he was fucking his step daughter.

There is literally no way for anyone here to know if he also molested his other step children, but for me fucking your step daughter is enough.

It's not about whether he's a good artist or not: I avoid giving money to companies that abuse their workers, why should I give money to a dude who abuses his family?
posted by latkes at 8:39 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


I can only imagine the pain and difficulty of a child having to prove to mom/attorneys/the public that something happened in an attic.

Especially if it may not have actually happened.

I for one am extremely thankful for Weide's piece. I hope you have all read it and not just ignored it because you have decided it's all bullshit. Take a deep breath, calm your nerves and read it. I'm so sick of this mob mentality. This is a complex world full of complex people. Woody's no saint but Mia isn't either. Continued her affair with Ol' Blue Eyes long after their divorce. When she was 24 and became pregnant with Andre Previn's kid while he was still married to Dory, Dory became so despondent that she had to be committed, and never forgave Mia. It's entirely within the realm of possibility that Mia had a very strong influence on her children and their memories. There are indeed two sides to every story.

And separately, this changes absolutely nothing about Allen's stature as one of the great respected American filmmakers of his time.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:41 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


You might want to brush up on the facts, chief.

I'm not sure what facts you're talking about. Mia Farrow and Woody Allen were long time partners. Legal marriage and cohabitation are not requirements for a committed relationship. If you're fucking your long-time partner's daughter, a daughter who you watched grow up, you are doing what is functionally indistinguishable from fucking your step daughter.
posted by latkes at 8:42 AM on February 2 [44 favorites]


There is literally no way for anyone here to know if he also molested his other step children, but for me fucking your step daughter is enough.

Please read the Weide article, or you know, open up a Wiki page. Soon-Yi was not his step-daughter.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:43 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


And separately, this changes absolutely nothing about Allen's stature as one of the great respected American filmmakers of his time.

Which is exactly the problem.
posted by edeezy at 8:43 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


which rebuke was itself overturned, according to the documentarian's piece in the Daily Beast ("Two years later, the reprimand was overturned").

Its sort of a weird phrasing - Here is an article from when the final decision was made.

When Maco announced that he would not prosecute, he explained that he did not want to put Dylan through the stress of a criminal trial. Maco referred to Dylan as a ``victim'' during the press conference -- a word Allen's lawyers said implied a crime had been committed.

Maco also directed his secretary to fax copies of his statement to two judges in New York. The judges were ruling on Allen's visitation rights with Dylan, and on a motion filed by Farrow to annul Allen's adoption of Dylan and one of her other children.

Those statements and faxes became the focal point of Allen's complaint before the Statewide Grievance Committee. In briefs and hearings that spanned this past year, Allen's attorneys argued that Maco could have prejudiced the cases pending in New York, a violation of Connecticut's code of conduct for lawyers.

The panel concluded it could find no evidence that Maco intended to influence the New York judges. Nor did it find clear evidence that Maco knew or should have known that his actions could prejudice the court proceedings in New York.

posted by JPD at 8:44 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The children of a serious romantic partner, particular who you have spent a significant amount of time with as a family where they are underage and you are the adult should probably carry a label similar to that if not that. Your partners or ex partners recently legal young adult child who is less than half your age should not really be on the radar for sexual relations. That is absolutely an exploitation of the exact same position of power that makes having sex with a step child so wrong.

It probably would help if people would change their terminology- but that's the only correction they need to make while still maintaining the same position about how abusive his actions were.
posted by xarnop at 8:49 AM on February 2 [33 favorites]


I'd like to quote a comment the young rope-rider made over in the related MeTa, because it seems more appropriate to this thread:

... sexual assault is not something that has only happened to this one person. The way people handle these stories teaches us what to expect and how to behave. That is culture. It is inescapable. We do not live in vacuums, untouched by the experiences of others.

Dismissing allegations of sexual assault or molestation out of hand, just because they're allegations of sexual assault or molestation, does send a signal and reinforces the idea that we will always presume allegations of sexual assault are false and not worthy of consideration and that we will never take sexual assault seriously as problem. This not the same as saying anyone accused of a sex crime is automatically guilty, sometimes they're not. Taking sexual assault seriously is not inconsistent with insisting that people be given a fair trial.
posted by nangar at 8:50 AM on February 2 [22 favorites]


I guess what I was trying to get at with my comment above is that, while he may not have technically been Soon Yi's stepfather, he was adopting children with her mother. I think that's close enough.
posted by amro at 8:53 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


I for one am extremely thankful for Weide's piece.

I read it. It's extremely manipulative and gross.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:53 AM on February 2 [43 favorites]


I found the tone in the Daily Beast piece disgustingly winking, reeking of lying with selective truth. People who find themselves swayed by it, who think they now know all the pertinent facts of the matter and are now ready to jump into a contrarian role, should stop and think twice.
posted by bleep-blop at 8:54 AM on February 2 [25 favorites]


Please read the Weide article, or you know, open up a Wiki page. Soon-Yi was not his step-daughter.

I read the Weide article (gag) and I also followed the whole thing closely at the time and also knew about their idiosyncratic relationship before they broke up. Yup, I know they weren't legally married. Yup, I know they didn't live together - they were famous for it! As I recall they could wave to each other from their windows across the park.

You can try to dismiss Allen's morally repellent behavior by focusing on some linguistic and legal technicalities, or you can look at the actual content and structure of the relationships involved and ask yourself, is it right for a middle aged man to have sex with the adopted daughter of his long-time partner, a daughter who he watched grow up, a daughter who's siblings he was helping raise?
posted by latkes at 8:54 AM on February 2 [26 favorites]


Maybe it's because I'm queer and until like, last year, I couldn't be legally defined as a step parent, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to refer to someone as a step parent when they functionally serve as one, even if they don't choose to go through the legal system to do so.

There are plenty of biological dads who are less involved than he was.
posted by latkes at 8:56 AM on February 2 [27 favorites]


This short letter is powerful to me because it is something the likes of which I've never seen before. There have been many, many accusations and incidents of celebrities committing sexual assaults against children and adults. But never before have I seen a survivor come forward publicly, with a blunt and specific telling of their story and with an explicit call-out of the Hollywood culture that puts too many sexual predators on a pedestal. Shame, secrecy and the understandable desire to move on to other things in life are the responses I'm used to and it's what Hollywood, the media and society in general usually get. What especially struck me about this is the focus on helping other survivors. I got chills from the final paragraphs.

This makes me think of Corey Feldman who is still tirelessly fighting to be heard on the extensive sexual abuse he and Corey Haim suffered at the hands of Hollywood executives. It's really inconvenient for him to keep speaking up about this and he's often dismissed as kooky and fame-seeking but I've been impressed by how he hasn't given up. Not every sexual assault survivor can do what Dylan Farrow did. She really seemed to be writing from a position of strength.

After the extensive details on the R. Kelly victims came out a few months ago he released an album that in two months has already tripled the sales of his previous one. It's not just that celebrity culture covers up or glosses over these crimes, but actively celebrates these guys and puts them on a pedestal. Maybe Dylan Farrow is deluded or lying, but what she says about living in a world that celebrates her tormenter could truly be said by quite a few assault survivors but hasn't really been before.
posted by Danila at 8:58 AM on February 2 [43 favorites]


So often when this conversation comes up in IRL, I get the impression that people are angrily defending Allen not so much because they think he's innocent or because they have concerns about due process, but because they resent the repeated intrusion of these accusations upon their enjoyment of Woody Allen films.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:06 AM on February 2 [26 favorites]


I think what I hate most about all this is every conversation about this whole family is always about Woody Allen. And whether he's a sexual monster who preys on his* children, or is merely a creepy-but-barely-legal guy who married a girl he helped raise.

In the meantime, Mia Farrow is still a real person, but last time she came up on MeFi all we talked about is Woody Allen. And the relative degree of her former husband's* sexual predation.

I hope we hear more from Dylan Farrow in the future, about her herself, and not about her father's* sexual predation. Because it's a great letter, and very brave, and I hope the young woman has a rich and successful career of her own. I imagine for her getting this letter out there was a big step to moving on.
posted by Nelson at 9:14 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


[Comment with photo nixed at poster's request, photo was not of what commenter thought.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:17 AM on February 2


There are some serious problems with the director and documentarian Robert Weide's article in the Daily Beast defending Woody, and it seems worthwhile to go through a few of them for the benefit of those who read his piece as measured and factual.

To begin with: he didn't help himself by closing with a discussion of Roman Polanski, even if that discussion was apparently aimed at showing Mia to be a hypocrite. It appears to me that this was a cynical appeal to Hollywood's general (and despicable) admiration for Polanski, and a suggestion that we ought to adore Woody even more. I am not moved by such appeals, for reasons which ought to be obvious.

And by his own admission he disagrees with the facts as they were described by the lead investigator, disagreements he glosses over by pointing out that the investigator was reprimanded (though the reprimand was later withdrawn) and generally trying to paint the investigator as uncredible. Does Weide truly know more about what happened than a man who interviewed all the people involved over the course of many months?

There are also some logical inconsistencies. For example: he goes to great lengths to indicate that adoption vetting processes are incredibly thorough and would have uncovered any actual abuse; but he also points out that Mia and Woody never lived together during their relationship. The unanswered question, as someone here has noted, is: how in the world were they able to adopt two children together if they never lived together? How did this supposedly extremely rigorous adoption process fail to account for that issue, which frankly would have prevented many people from adopting? The answer, of course, is that money changes the reality of the adoption process radically - which pretty much invalidates (or at least casts into question) his indication that adoption vetting processes will uncover sexual abuse if it is happening in the home of a would-be parent.

Another problem is a general ignorance of the way child rapists tend to work. He points out that they were in the midst of an acrimonious divorce and custody battle when the molestation is supposed to have occurred:

"But if Mia’s account is true, it means that in the middle of custody and support negotiations, during which Woody needed to be on his best behavior, in a house belonging to his furious ex-girlfriend, and filled with people seething mad at him, Woody, who is a well-known claustrophobic, decided this would be the ideal time and place to take his daughter into an attic and molest her, quickly, before a house full of children and nannies noticed they were both missing."

This is established as the pattern followed by most child rapists. In nearly every single established case of child rape, it is how they have operated, partially out of apparent confidence that their innocence will be affirmed. People keep bringing up Jerry Sandusky, for example; remember that his child rape ramped up precisely after he was confronted by a parent in private and tearfully told her he was "so sorry" whilst being a bit vague on the details of what exactly had happened. This was the moment at which he could assume that he was being watched and that any slip-ups would lead to prosecution (as indeed they should have already.) But this was the moment at which he not only continued but increased his grooming and raping of children.

And even just in general, honestly it makes no sense to defend a person from criminal charges by saying "surely no one would be so stupid as to do this - they'd surely get caught!" - particularly when that person has not been caught or convicted or punished.
posted by koeselitz at 9:17 AM on February 2 [55 favorites]


But my real point was that in general saying "The DA not pressing charges just means there wasn't a good enough case" is bullshit. The DA not pressing charges may be because the DA thinks there was no crime, it may be because of any of multiple reason. There is just simply no information.

Fair enough, but that doesn't affect my real point: declining to press charges does not mean that somebody is "innocent" in the colloquial sense.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:18 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Oh God, my sincerest apologies. This is not a photo of Soon-Yi, but rather of Soon-Yi and Woody's adopted daughter Bechet. I have asked the mods to take my comment down, and I am walking away from this thread, because I am horrified that I let my emotional investment in this situation overpower my usual nigh-obsessive need to triple-fact-check photo sources and subjects before posting them.

There's too much shit going on in this thread for me to engage rationally; the only thing I can do is apologize.
posted by tzikeh at 9:18 AM on February 2 [13 favorites]


Fair enough, but that doesn't affect my real point: declining to press charges does not mean that somebody is "innocent" in the colloquial sense.

of course of course
posted by JPD at 9:21 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Underestimating Mia Farrow's clout at the time seems really foolish - especially with her strong ties to Sinatra (and his alleged ties to organized crime and other fixers). She had every reason for people to believe her - including Woody's own actions with Soon-Yi - and they still couldn't get enough evidence to make the case. I'm not saying he didn't do it, and I do believe that if it's true it would be wrong to support his films. But I think there's real murk here. And as Weide said, no matter what is true, Dylan herself clearly believes it - so there is a huge tragedy here. I am generally always on the side of "when someone says they are raped, believe it." I am generally always on the side of "when someone accuses rape, law enforcement will bend over backwards to not convict." And yet this particular case, with these particular people -- I think it just as possible that Mia was angry and planted the story to help her case. Or maybe she believed it herself and coaxed the right words out without meaning to. I don't know. I can't know. And I don't see how anyone who is 100% convinced of this based on this handful of news articles is able to make that call. And I don't think that the fact that sexual crime is very real and under-prosecuted is enough to therefore automatically make him guilty.

Having said that, I think it's weird that the merit of the "art" can be brought into question based on this. Every work of art should be judged on its own merits -- but that doesn't mean that you have to buy it. It doesn't mean that you should in any way patronize the artist, no matter how good the work. 100 years from now, if it's genuinely great, it will still be appreciated. Plenty of great artists died poor and obscure, but their work survived. I am appalled at John Galliano (which was just a case of words, not actions, and as such not anywhere near this level of reprehensible) and I will never, ever buy anything that might give him a dime, barring a level of apology and contrition that I can't imagine him making. But I can appreciate that the man could cut a dress. Doesn't make him less reprehensible in my eyes - maybe it makes him more so, because I secretly want him to fail and die impoverished despite his tremendous talent. Clearly this is what Farrow and her son are hoping will happen with Allen.

My heart goes out to (the former) Dylan. Nothing will make this right for her -- as far as her emotional well-being is concerned it makes no difference whether she was sexually assaulted or not - mentally and emotionally she's clearly a survivor of sexual trauma. Even if the truth came out tomorrow that the whole story was a fabrication, it would mean an egregious violation on the part of her mother. She can't win.
posted by Mchelly at 9:27 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


So often when this conversation comes up in IRL, I get the impression that people are angrily defending Allen not so much because they think he's innocent or because they have concerns about due process, but because they resent the repeated intrusion of these accusations upon their enjoyment of Woody Allen films.

When these conversations come up on the internet, I get the impression that people are angrily attacking Allen because they see him as a convenient proxy for their own abuser, or their general feeling that rich white guys get away with stuff, and are willing to handwave away the evidence.

It's worth noting that if the police's conclusions– the conclusions of people who may or may not have been right, but sure as hell knew more than anyone in this thread– were right, then Mia Farrow is the abuser. She brainwashed her daughter (a verb that comes up repeatedly in descriptions of being raised by Farrow) with stories that a 7-year-old shouldn't hear. Unfortunately, that's not something you can really prosecute, so the investigation wouldn't have looked into it.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:27 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


For me, it's a little harder to separate the work on from the artist when the artistic output is so personal and concerned with the identity of the artists themselves. Allen's central creative product is often his own idiosyncratic, lightly fictionalized personal POV. His work is so intimately bound up with Allen himself as a public figure that I personally don't feel you can separate them out. These charges definitely change the way Allen's work resonates for me--it makes his work read like some long, neurotic attempt to justify his actions and present himself as a sympathetic figure, sort of just an extension of the socially manipulative narrative-making sociopaths use to justify their abuses, only for a much larger audience. I wish it wasn't so, as I don't feel like I can know with any certainty what actually happened, but Dylan's side of the story shouldn't be lightly dismissed or trigger a blowback just because Allen has made some elegant, seemingly sophisticated comedies about his own social milieu.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:32 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Stacy Nelkin.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:36 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


DirtyOldTown: "So often when this conversation comes up in IRL, I get the impression that people are angrily defending Allen not so much because they think he's innocent or because they have concerns about due process, but because they resent the repeated intrusion of these accusations upon their enjoyment of Woody Allen films."

ThatFuzzyBastard: " When these conversations come up on the internet, I get the impression that people are angrily attacking Allen because they see him as a convenient proxy for their own abuser, or their general feeling that rich white guys get away with stuff, and are willing to handwave away the evidence.

It's worth noting that if the police's conclusions– the conclusions of people who may or may not have been right, but sure as hell knew more than anyone in this thread– were right, then Mia Farrow is the abuser. She brainwashed her daughter (a verb that comes up repeatedly in descriptions of being raised by Farrow) with stories that a 7-year-old shouldn't hear. Unfortunately, that's not something you can really prosecute, so the investigation wouldn't have looked into it.
"

Children who have been raped and/or abused often discover that one or more adults do not believe them and instead defend the people they have accused. For a variety of reasons, which I think mostly boil down to fear. Adults may try to dismiss child victims as being brainwashed or manipulated by other adults, or point to a child's confusion during questioning or even recanted testimony (which tends to manifest because they've been pushed or bullied into secrecy by an adult with authority and power over them) as evidence that the accused adult could not possibly be guilty.

The unique path most abused children take in understanding, processing and talking about what has happened to them is not fully understood from a psychological standpoint. Theories like CSAAS can be helpful in understanding why a child may act a particular way (why would a victim who has been raped recant their testimony or delay disclosure, for example,) but are clearly incomplete. They can be used to increase our understanding but not be used to establish set-in-stone guidelines. Every case is different, and assuming we as outsiders can incontrovertibly understand a given case is a fool's errand.

Dylan Farrow's testimony struck me as very true to life, and similar to some of my own experiences at that age. I prefer to give self-identifying victims the benefit of the doubt -- in part because of the above, but also because I know firsthand how incredibly hard it can be, how demeaning and degrading, to speak up and re-live what you've already been through only to have perfect strangers call you a liar.
posted by zarq at 9:37 AM on February 2 [37 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "It's worth noting that if the police's conclusions– the conclusions of people who may or may not have been right, but sure as hell knew more than anyone in this thread– were right, then Mia Farrow is the abuser. She brainwashed her daughter (a verb that comes up repeatedly in descriptions of being raised by Farrow) with stories that a 7-year-old shouldn't hear. Unfortunately, that's not something you can really prosecute, so the investigation wouldn't have looked into it."

A few people here have made this mistake of taking Weide's claims in the Daily Beast article at face value and have stated here definitively that the investigation didn't find enough evidence to bring charges.

Please understand that this is Weide's opinion, and that it is not borne out by the statement of the lead investigator on the case at the time, who said publicly that he was discontinuing the investigation not because he lacked evidence but because he wanted to spare the kid further grief. Weide went to great length to discredit this claim in his article, but it remains, and we should take it into account, particularly since that investigator clearly was more familiar with the case than Weide.

The police emphatically did not "conclude" that Mia Farrow put Dylan up to this.
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 AM on February 2 [37 favorites]


Weide's piece is actually disgusting. Interested in learning his perspective, I tried my best to read it with an open mind, but the subtle sarcasm used throughout is reprehensible considering the seriousness of the topic.

Did this event actually occur? If we’re inclined to give it a second thought, we can each believe what we want, but none of us know. [...] Her brother Ronan believes it happened, so good for him for sticking up for his sister in 140 characters or less.

I'm in utter disbelief that he felt this was an appropriate thing to write.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:40 AM on February 2 [44 favorites]


That Valentine though. That's crazy.

What do you mean?

I hadn't seen the first Vanity Fair article (or the second) until a few minutes ago. It certainly makes it much harder to try to maintain any sort of neutrality. The polaroids of Soon-Yi, the way observers characterize Woody's unusually physical relationship with Dylan ... Ugh.

I hated Annie Hall when I first saw it about 10 years ago. The Woody character was so damn needy.
posted by bunderful at 9:42 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Quoted in shivohum's comment:
I know I’m treading a delicate path here, and opening myself up to accusations of “blaming the victim.” However, I’m merely floating scenarios to consider, and you can think what you will. But if Mia’s account is true, it means that in the middle of custody and support negotiations, during which Woody needed to be on his best behavior, in a house belonging to his furious ex-girlfriend, and filled with people seething mad at him, Woody, who is a well-known claustrophobic, decided this would be the ideal time and place to take his daughter into an attic and molest her, quickly, before a house full of children and nannies noticed they were both missing.
This is an interesting point, but cast your mind back to Allen's movie Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex..., in which in one of the vignettes Allen plays an Italian man who marries a beautiful blonde young Italian woman whom he can't satisfy sexually at all until they discover that she can reach orgasm only when they have hit and run sex in very public places where there is a very high risk of being discovered.

They have sex on the balcony of a restaurant in full view of any patron who might happen to glance up, for example, and the vignette ends with a scene in a furniture store where they disappear behind a row of armoires(?), there is a tremendous clattering of wood rocking back and forth for a few seconds, and they emerge refusing to meet anyone's eyes and begin to hurriedly leave-- until she turns and dashes back only to reemerge carrying her panties in front of her with a triumphant look on her face.

The scene in the attic could practically have been an outtake, only with Dylan in the role of the Italian woman.
posted by jamjam at 9:48 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The Woody character was so damn needy.

Don't watch the Wild Man Blues doc. Or do. The Woody person is so damn needy.
posted by wensink at 9:49 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


There is plenty of other cinematic art to view in this world.I can and will have no problem doing without Woody Allen.



I believe Dylan.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:50 AM on February 2 [11 favorites]


angrycat: "That Valentine though. That's crazy."

bunderful: "What do you mean?"

At about 7:55 in the 60 Minutes interview that angrycat mentioned, Woody describes and shows a valentine he claims to have received from Mia in which pins and knives are stuck through pictures of their family.
posted by koeselitz at 9:54 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


"angrily attacking Allen because they see him as a convenient proxy for their own abuser"

You think every person expressing anger at him is angry that their own childhood sexual abuser got away with it?

In that case, it sounds like we have an epidemic of child sexual abusers getting away with it and that maybe we need to start taking accusations more seriously.
posted by xarnop at 9:54 AM on February 2 [45 favorites]


That Valentine though. That's crazy

In the 60 minutes interview, Allen holds up this elaborate valentine he claims Farrow gave him after she discovered the naked photos of Soon-yi. It's a family photo and a variety of needles and knives are stuck into it.

I threw a college boyfriend's expensive calculator out the window when he was in the process of dumping me, so I feel like I am not a good person to judge said Valentine, just note that wow, that's a lot of elaborate hate.
posted by angrycat at 9:55 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


xarnop: "...it sounds like we have an epidemic of child sexual abusers getting away with it and that maybe we need to start taking accusations more seriously."

Seconding this.
posted by zarq at 9:58 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


The Woody Allen "can you separate art from artist" angle on all this? Meh.

What nauseates me is the PR meeting the Farrow family had in order to plan this media blitz.

I feel so much for Dylan Farrow. The rest of her family can burn for all I care.
posted by Sara C. at 10:00 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


[...] It's Match Point. Which is about a man who commits a horrible crime, driven by sex, and who seems to get away with it. And the movie puts the viewer in an uncomfortable intimacy with the man, asking you whether you can go along with the man's view, which is: if I get away with it, leading a charmed and happy life where nobody knows what I did and what happened, it's basically the same as if I didn't do it and nothing happened.

Interesting to realize after reading the above comment that this is exactly what the main character struggled with in Crimes and Misdemeanors, as well.
------------------
I believe Dylan.
posted by marimeko at 10:01 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


I have more personal background with molestation victims than most people who were not themselves victims, including one person I believed for years before her story fell apart as she developed the patterns of a pathological liar (a heartbreaking experience). This situation is nothing like that.

In fact, when I read Dylan Farrow's Open Letter, I didn't get a feel for an insight into a victim's experience years later, certainly not any of the victims I have gotten to know; I got mostly a rehashing of things that were already common knowledge from news coverage years ago, and easy armchair psychoanalysis of someone NOT the victim herself. I got less of the voice of a victim than the voice of mediocre New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff playing editor, if not ghost writer. It was all oddly non-compelling to me, considering the compelling subject matter.

The fact that it appears not even in the (less credible than it used to be) NYT itself, but in Kristoff's "personal blog" makes a case for the credibility of this harsh and embittered criticism (which I already linked in the MetaTalk that preceded this but is oddly ignored here, not even refuted).

I am no fan of Woody Allen or his movies, do not feel he deserves any Lifetime Achievement Awards, and am frankly disdainful of a Hollywood establishment that keeps financing more movies from him because they are 'prestige projects'. But seeing him as using the usually-reprehensible characters, played by himself and others, as a format to 'justify his own actions' is an equally ridiculous judgment. Even if guilty of the accusations, Woody Allen is not the biggest asshole in show business, nor even the one with the most power and friends, not by a longshot.

Of course, I never considered this whole topic, even with the "words of the victim", more than a deletable 'outrage filter'. Still, I wish the original intent of the thread to discuss "the separation of the artist and his art" had been more discussed. Celebrities doing terrible things should not be news, and celebrity crimes are almost never 'typical' of the category of crime involved and should never be extrapolated to judgments about perpetrators or victims at large. O.J. Simpson was a typical murderer? No. Did prosecutors use his acquittal to put innocent men behind bars? Probably.

MetaFilter has wasted too much time, words, brain cycles and emotions on this story. I know I have. But hey, at least it's not Super Bowl shit!!
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:03 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


What nauseates me is the PR meeting the Farrow family had in order to plan this media blitz.

I don't know that there's anything particularly damning about a large, but tight knit media-savvy family of famous rich people circling the wagons and strategizing in advance of one member coming forth with a personal story of abuse.

Also, Ronan Farrow (college grad at 15, Rhodes scholar, advocate for the women and children of Darfur since he was 15, outspoken advocate for income equality, etc.) seems kinda great. (Though I wince even adding that as I wouldn't want to start a debating the merits of the other Farrows derail.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:05 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


[Please take metacommentary about whether this thread should exist over to MetaTalk. If you want to discuss the "can we separate the artist from the art" aspect, feel free to do so. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:10 AM on February 2


A lot of the comments trying to pin this on Dylan's mother seem to assume that Dylan has no agency. She couldn't have made her own decisions about coming out, no. Obviously she was pushed into it because she's a weakling!

Wtf.

I believe Dylan.
posted by divabat at 10:12 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


The thing is, though, is that he's not just opening himself up to accusations of blaming the victim, he is literally blaming the victim.

If you actually read the piece, he blames Mia Farrow.

Who, well, regardless of the actual events that allegedly took place between Woody and Dylan, Mia Farrow is one of the less victim-like players in this story. And part of what burns me up over the Farrow And Allen Divorce 20th Anniversary Reunion Tour is the role Mia and the rest of the family are playing here.

Mia Farrow is not the victim in this case. She has literally ZERO standing to be talking about it in the media at all. If this felt like something initiated by Dylan herself, I would feel much less icky about it. But, I don't know, the way that it started as a bunch of tweets from the victim's mother and brother? Something doesn't add up there.
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


Some have talked about "separating the artist from their art" here. I think escabeche made a very good observation regardin Match Point up above; and this was also indicated by Brandon Blatcher's perspicacious linking of this case with the R Kelly debacles.

Sometimes it's possible to see that an artist who did execrable things in private is also responsible for laudable work in public that is unrelated. But this is not such a simple case. Many of Woody Allen's movies are themselves morally execrable, and seem to offer public defenses of his actions in the spirit of his blithe quotation of Emily Dickinson: "the heart wants what it wants" - for instance, of course, Manhattan and Deconstructing Harry.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I think the allegation "I was mugged at 52nd and 3rd" should be treated exactly the same as the allegation "I was raped in my mother's attic."

I am generally always on the side of "when someone says they are raped, believe it."

Is not the same.
posted by Trochanter at 10:14 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure I've ever seen a Woody Allen movie other than his segment of New York Stories. His segment was the one I remembered because Mae Questel (Olive Oyl's voice) was his mother. In retrospect, Allen's life story puts the parental interest in his character's sex/romantic life in an entirely different and creepy light. Or maybe I always knew it was creepy and that's why I avoided Allen movies.

I believe Dylan but you don't have to to think Allen and his movies are creepy.
posted by immlass at 10:14 AM on February 2


It's important not to conflate the artist with the art because that's the point of art. Artists get to say and do things that escape the censors because art is a symbolic medium that is true to life. The artist does not get to dictate their interpretation onto the art itself, no more than they can dictate its success. Bad art typically panders to cultural expectations, so any great artist often lives outside of that. Also, there is the subconscious to consider. If, for example, an artist was sexually aroused by children, then they may have struggled with it, and that struggle informed their art without being the subject of the art. To really complicate matters, there is a need to separate our disaffection for either the artist or the art medium from the artist's civil rights. It's been a human stumbling block for most of our history. This double separation allows us to dislike an artist personally, and dislike everything they stand for, yet be free and able to enjoy their art. There is no contradiction in it. In fact, by honoring civil rights and artistic license, we may finally allow ourselves to be repulsed by someone for personal reasons and not have it be confused for injustice or entitlement.
posted by Brian B. at 10:15 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


I believe Dylan but you don't have to to think Allen and his movies are creepy

Maybe not, but you don't have to give him your money or attention, either. And you can think that anyone doing so is creepy.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:16 AM on February 2


this harsh and embittered criticism...is oddly ignored here, not even refuted

I'm sorry, but it's ridiculous. Yikes that Roger Friedman column. It's not Kristoff's words that matter, it's Dylan's words. Why does it matter whose blog it is on?

I am pretty disturbed by the efforts to silence Dylan's voice here and to paint those who made it possible for her to come forward as crazy and manipulative (while framing Dylan as without agency). I don't see anything unhinged or strange in her letter at all. Her words are from the perspective of a survivor, not a daughter out for vengeance. I don't know what Mia Farrow has to say and I really don't care.
posted by Danila at 10:17 AM on February 2 [15 favorites]


The fact that it appears not even in the (less credible than it used to be) NYT itself, but in Kristoff's "personal blog" makes a case for the credibility of this harsh and embittered criticism (which I already linked in the MetaTalk that preceded this but is oddly ignored here, not even refuted).

There's nothing to be refuted in that link; Kristof discloses his friendship with Mia Farrow and Ronan in his own post. Coming from a former Fox News journalist who has no other sources or new information, I don't know why Roger Friedman's opinion is owed any consideration at all.
posted by gladly at 10:18 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


One of them must be saying something that is not true. But “he said, she said” doesn’t resolve to “let’s start by assume she’s lying,” except in a rape culture, and if you are presuming his innocence by presuming her mendacity, you are rape cultured...Woody Allen cannot be presumed to be innocent of molesting a child unless she is presumed to be lying to us.

If that's the case, then the defendants in the McMartin Pre-School cases cannot be presumed to be innocent of molesting children unless the children are presumed to be lying to us. But I don't know anyone who considers the testimony of the children in that case to be mendacious; my understanding is that children came to believe things that were not true, and testified to that mistaken belief. That's not mendacity.

One of them must be saying something that is not true is obviously not the same thing as "one of them must be lying."
posted by layceepee at 10:19 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


Police 'culture of disbelief' over rape claims - "New figures reveal that police forces are writing off up to one third of all allegations reported to them"
posted by Ardiril at 10:19 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


and this was also indicated by Brandon Blatcher's perspicacious linking of this case with the R Kelly debacles.

Holy crap, someone clicked on the links.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:23 AM on February 2 [17 favorites]


immlass: "I believe Dylan but you don't have to to think Allen and his movies are creepy."

In Manhattan, a film from 1979, Woody Allen's character (he was 44 years old at the time) dates a 17-year-old girl. That's the central plot point of the film. This is not treated as scandalous; his friends think it's slightly odd, and tell him so, with the same tone you might use if you were telling a buddy that he should reconsider marrying someone he met a month ago. In general, the movie treats it as the kind of thing most people wouldn't want, but, it seems to say, people want all kinds of things, and who are we to judge them?

I agree that you don't have to find Woody Allen's films creepy, but Manhattan at least directly dealt with this exact subject more than ten years before he is supposed to have gotten involved with Soon-Yi. I don't think it's a stretch to say that there is something uncanny about this, in the same way that there's something uncanny about the way that Roman Polanski made a film about the horrifying escape from justice of a child rapist (Chinatown) just three years before raping a child and escaping from justice.
posted by koeselitz at 10:31 AM on February 2 [28 favorites]


“I can still listen to Led Zeppelin and take joy in Led Zeppelin or James Brown,” he told Hopper. “I condemn the things they did. I’m not reminded constantly in the art, because the art is not about it."

From the R. Kelly article. If underage sex in the 60s and 70s is going to make an impact on the entertainment market, we may as well create a bonfire of most everything produced in those decades.
posted by Ardiril at 10:31 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


If it's art that encourages an accepting attitude about child rape, then a bonfire may be in order, Ardiril, no matter how much "art" it means we throw away.
posted by koeselitz at 10:34 AM on February 2 [10 favorites]


Separating the artist from the art. At first I thought this was a no-brainer: I stopped really liking Woody Allen's movies after "Manhattan" because I couldn't relate to it. So it seemed to me that the personality of the author influenced how I felt about the work, and I would never have a conflict. Ayn Rand: terrible person, terrible thinker, terrible writer, right? The problem for me is not my feelings but what to do living in a world that *does* value Ayn Rand or Woody Allen. I can be insulting about it, I can stretch my empathy to try to understand what other people are responding to. Or recommend books and movies that mean something positive to me.

Wagner, though. I love the "Ring Cycle".
posted by acrasis at 10:34 AM on February 2


Mia Farrow is not the victim in this case. She has literally ZERO standing to be talking about it in the media at all.

If Allen actually molested Dylan, which I tend to believe, and actually took naked pictures of Farrow's 18 year old daughter etc., which he has actually admitted, then I do think of Farrow as a victim in this event as well.

I mean, if I thought I loved someone who was a little eccentric but said he loved me, but actually he was using me to get access to my underage children so that he could molest and/or have sex with and/or take dirty pictures of them, I would have to reevaluate a great deal of my life that had gotten me to that point. I don't see how that sort of shit wouldn't mess you up.

Finally, again, if my daughter had been sexually abused by a prominent person and went through trauma every time that prominent person was mentioned in the media, which was often, I'm not sure how I could stop myself from acting as my daughter's surrogate with the media, to try to prevent her further pain. I mean, I understand that people are concerned that Farrow influenced Dylan's version of things, but what if she didn't and everything Dylan says is true? In that case, I totally feel for Farrow and Dylan both.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:37 AM on February 2 [34 favorites]


i respect dylan's voice, i watch and read media from people i find morally disastrous, woody's rship with soon yi is intensely problematic, he was not charged.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:38 AM on February 2


I agree that you don't have to find Woody Allen's films creepy

You are not agreeing with me on this point. What I wrote, and you quoted, was "I believe Dylan but you don't have to to think Allen and his movies are creepy." I.e., you don't have to believe Dylan to think Allen and his films are creepy.
posted by immlass at 10:40 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Aha! I'm sorry, immlass - I didn't see the second "to," and read "but you don't have to to think..." as "but you don't have to think..." which changes the meaning entirely. My apologies.
posted by koeselitz at 10:44 AM on February 2


Witchcraft was not imaginary to the people who adjudicated the Salem Witch Trials. They believed, to the bottom of their very souls, that it was a very real threat and a danger to them and their society. It was as real as milk to them. I've studied the Salem trials to some depth - some of my ancestors were judges and/or advised the colony leadership on the matter. I can assure you, they believed very sincerely that the charges brought by the girls were very serious and very real.

WE know that witchcraft is and was imaginary, but in the context of the time, it was considered fact.

Please take historical context into consideration, folks.
posted by disclaimer at 10:44 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


No offense taken, koeselitz. I should have expressed what I had to say more clearly.
posted by immlass at 10:46 AM on February 2


From upthread:

If Woody Allen and Mia Farrow weren't married and didn't even live together, how did they adopt two kids together? I guess it was a private adoption?

From Maureen Orth's 1992 Vanity Fair piece:
One of the great ironies of this story is that Woody Allen, by virtue of his vaunted reputation, was able to adopt Dylan and Moses, who had already been legally adopted by Mia in 1985 and 1978, respectively. Never before in New York, it seems, had two single people separately adopted the same children—unmarried couples have not been able to adopt at all—and in fact, had the case been taken to family court, the usual venue for adoptions, such an exception would probably not have been allowed. But their lawyer Paul Martin Weltz put the adoption of Dylan and Moses before Judge Renee Roth in the surrogate court in Manhattan. “Surrogate court is less hectic. I felt the two judges there were both very humane and forward-looking,” says Weltz. “In family court you never know who you’re going to get. I didn’t want some clerk to say, ‘The statute doesn’t permit it. Go away.’ ” But, adds Weltz, “to have a second parent of the intellectual ability and the financial ability of a Woody Allen—how could anybody at that point think of a single negative?”

Given the status of the father, the home study was waived, and the court presumably knew nothing about Woody’s sessions with Dr. Coates.
Dr. Coates was the therapist who was working with the family to address Allen's inappropriate behavior with Dylan, which had been acknowledged well before Allen and Farrow split up:
Dr. Coates, who just happened to be in Mia’s apartment to work with one of her other children, had only to witness a brief greeting between Woody and Dylan before she began a discussion with Mia that resulted in Woody’s agreeing to address the issue through counseling. At that point Coates didn’t know that, according to several sources, Woody, wearing just underwear, would take Dylan to bed with him and entwine his body around hers; or that he would have her suck his thumb; or that often when Dylan went over to his apartment he would head straight for the bedroom with her so that they could get into bed and play. He called Mia a “spoilsport” when she objected to what she referred to as “wooing.” Mia has told people that he said that her concerns were her own sickness, and that he was just being warm.
posted by scody at 10:49 AM on February 2 [35 favorites]


In trial, it helps me if the jurors equate accusations of sexual abuse with an hysterical fantasy.

So you acknowledge deliberately planting that image in jurors' minds and yet are arguing that's not what you're doing here? Gross.

Also, I wonder how effective it is as a tactic. If I were on a jury and that comparison was made I'd tend to discount everything else you said.
posted by winna at 10:56 AM on February 2 [13 favorites]


This:
Sex offenses are the modern day Salem Witch Trials.

Wow, what? This may be the most offensive thing I have ever read on Metafilter.
--posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:23 AM on February 2 [57 favorites]



Dylan Farrow, I believe you.

Sexual violence, sexual abuse, gross abuses of power, are global public health epidemics. Epidemics. Decimated? No, that's just one in 10. This is on the level of orders of magnitude that statisticians see perhaps once in their lifetime.

If there were a Sonic Youth song called "Youth Against Fascism" that mentioned Dylan Farrow, it would instead of saying, "I believe Anita Hill" say "I believe Anita Hill, I believe Dylan Farrow, I believe [name here]," and this would go on for eternity.

Eternity.



Here's a cogent excerpt from another Kristof NY Times blog post from 11 Jan. 2014:
In the United Nations survey, by far the most common reason men cited for raping women and girls was a sense of male entitlement, with explanations like “I wanted her.” Another factor was impunity, for more than two-thirds of men who acknowledged raping said that they had faced no legal consequences.

Attitudes like entitlement are hard to change. Reducing impunity is somewhat easier, and if we need evidence that imposing penalties can reduce the incidence of rape, just look at the United States.

Few people realize that rape has fallen by three-quarters over the last four decades in the United States, according to Justice Department statistics. It’s true that underreporting makes the data not fully reliable, but underreporting is unlikely to be more serious now than in the 1970s.

The reason for the decline in American rape is simple. Most rapes are acquaintance rapes, and a generation ago police often shrugged. (“You were drinking. You were making out with him. You still call it rape?”)

These attitudes still exist in America, rape kits often aren’t tested even after evidence has been properly collected, and plenty of date rapists get away with their crimes. But punishment is still far more likely today than it once was — and that danger restrains men even when they’re tipsy and lusting. If ending the impunity worked to reduce sexual violence in America, it can do the same in other countries.


This is important:
In the United Nations survey, by far the most common reason men cited for raping women and girls was a sense of male entitlement, with explanations like “I wanted her.” Another factor was impunity, for more than two-thirds of men who acknowledged raping said that they had faced no legal consequences.
...

The reason for the decline in [reported] American rape is simple. Most rapes are acquaintance rapes, and a generation ago police often shrugged. (“You were drinking. You were making out with him. You still call it rape?”)




Let's turn to Marianne Kirby's xoJane.com piece from 23 Jan. 2013:
To be as blunt as possible: People who have been sexually assaulted do not owe other people shit. Their only responsibility is to take care of themselves in the best way that they are able. Hopefully, they have actually supportive people around to help take care of them. Hopefully, they have the resources, whatever those resources might be, available to feel safe again.


This is why I am angry with what is happening in the response to Dylan Farrow, and to so many like her who report (or do not), who share what happened (or do not):
People who report rape -- especially women who belong to vulnerable populations (women of color, poor women, disabled women, trans women, very young women -- not to mention people who live at the intersections of these identities) -- are scrutinized in our courts and in our popular media. To report a rape can mean being further victimized by not just the victim-blaming system but also by the support structures we thought we had in place, like friends and family and school social circles. It can mean losing a job along with a reputation. It can mean being called a liar and it can mean being accused of ruining young men's lives.



Beyond that, only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail. If your rapist is someone known to you (and it's likely that they are), reporting can actively endanger your life. Even if your rapist is not known to you, reporting means making yourself vulnerable in a way that many people cannot handle after an already life-changing violation, especially when there is so little hope of justice
.


Read that again:
Beyond that, only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail. If your rapist is someone known to you (and it's likely that they are), reporting can actively endanger your life. Even if your rapist is not known to you, reporting means making yourself vulnerable in a way that many people cannot handle after an already life-changing violation, especially when there is so little hope of justice



I still believe that a person's art comes from the best part of who they are. That said, people are not vacuums. That said, I'm not saying that the person from which art comes is any more whole, any less disagreeable. This is like saying that there is such a thing as "objective journalism" or "objective anthropology".



This is a comment from the NYTimes blog post that originally published D. Farrow's letter:
rayspace
Chicago, IL 3 hours ago

But isn't separating the art from the artist impossible? The art doesn't create itself. It's an act of madness to pretend that there is no creator behind the art that we favor. All art has a vision, a point of view, that reflects the artist's experiences, desires, and outlook, and to deny it, to see the art as a disembodied Art, is to take part in exactly the denial and willful blindness that Ms. Farrow says has gone on in her case. I too stopped watching Woody Allen's movies once these accusations came out, not wanting to put any dollar in his unremorseful pocket. This isn't much of a protest, but for those of us without a platform, it may represent the entirety of what we can do.'



Nuance, complication, the difficult, the obscure, the often-Byzantine contradictions of reality, let them not die on the altar of Science, Power, Fucked Up Power Tripping.

It is a particularly sick commentary on the status of "law" to appropriate and absolutely strip the Salem Witch Trials of their real context: rampant, virulent, vigilante misogyny and anything that was Other, Different, Feminine, Intelligent, True, Intuitive, Nature-based (take your pick) was killed. Made to disappear, and in most violent fashion. To bulldoze into the new way, the unilaterally dictated way.

This is not a new story.



Finally, fuck all rapists, sexual predators, those known to the people they hurt, those who abused their power in the most intimate, interpersonal ways, those who hurt those known to them the most and for no reason other than the ones the people they violate are left to make up and twist against themselves no longer because fuck this world and who set things up like this?

Stronger words do not exist.



I think it's all quite simple: Woody Allen fucked up. And people are holding him accountable. Strength, brave, painful, and thank you Dylan Farrow, and for all of the other people heard and not, seen and not.
Rape is the responsibility of the rapist -- no matter what any given person was wearing, no matter how drunk that person might be, no matter what party that person might be at. The person who was raped does not bear the responsibility for preventing their own rape.
--Marianne Kirby

Lest we forget the absolutely deleterious effects of violation on young people's bodies, selves, psyches, lives, those who grow up into adults: http://metatalk.metafilter.com/20205/RIP-Bill-Zeller


His letter:
There's no point in identifying who molested me, so I'm just going to leave it at that. I doubt the word of a dead guy with no evidence about something that happened over twenty years ago would have much sway.

You may wonder why I didn't just talk to a professional about this. I've seen a number of doctors since I was a teenager to talk about other issues and I'm positive that another doctor would not have helped. I was never given one piece of actionable advice, ever. More than a few spent a large part of the session reading their notes to remember who I was. And I have no interest in talking about being raped as a child, both because I know it wouldn't help and because I have no confidence it would remain secret. I know the legal and practical limits of doctor/patient confidentiality, growing up in a house where we'd hear stories about the various mental illnesses of famous people, stories that were passed down through generations. All it takes is one doctor who thinks my story is interesting enough to share or a doctor who thinks it's her right or responsibility to contact the authorities and have me identify the molestor (justifying her decision by telling herself that someone else might be in danger). All it takes is a single doctor who violates my trust, just like the "friends" who I told I was gay did, and everything would be made public and I'd be forced to live in a world where people would know how fucked up I am. And yes, I realize this indicates that I have severe trust issues, but they're based on a large number of experiences with people who have shown a profound disrepect for their word and the privacy of others.
...
If you choose to follow a religion where, for example, devout Catholics who are trying to be good people are all going to Hell but child molestors go to Heaven (as long as they were "saved" at some point), that's your choice, but it's fucked up. Maybe a God who operates by those rules does exist. If so, fuck Him.
—Theodore Porter, Trust in Numbers
posted by simulacra at 10:56 AM on February 2 [27 favorites]


I have no idea what justice could look like here.

I wish Dylan peace.
posted by mazola at 11:00 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Should read:

[End of Bill Zeller last letter excerpt]

"Quantification is a powerful agency of standardization because it imposes order on hazy thinking, but this depends on the license it provides to ignore or reconfigure much of what is difficult or obscure."
—Theodore Porter, Trust in Numbers
posted by simulacra at 11:03 AM on February 2


You think every person expressing anger at him is angry that their own childhood sexual abuser got away with it?

Every? No. But a whole lot of people are posting "I believe Dylan because my abuser _______," which is nonsense. Similarly, the posts saying "Sure the investigators who actually met and talked to everyone for month say Mia is the abuser, but I don't believe them because those people [rich white guys] get away with stuff," seem intensely problematic. Or the ridiculous "Well he's sleep with an 18-year-old, so he's probably attracted to 7-year-olds." And worst of all, people saying "I believe Dylan because there's a lot of sexual abuse in the world," which is just horrible, like saying "I believe George Zimmerman because there were a lot of break-ins in that neighborhood."

Obviously, no one here knows what happened. But if I have to choose who to believe, I'm going to believe the people who are specifically trained with investigating these claims, spent months doing so, and had no pecuniary or emotional commitments.

I think Dylan was abused. By her mother, who by multiple accounts spends long nights telling her children stories and demanding they repeat them back, then loses interest in her many adoptees when they are no longer part of her narrative of sainthood. If I had to guess what happened, it would be that the investigation was correct, that Dylan's mother spent many hours telling her 7-year-old horrible stories, and making her repeat them until she believed they happened to her. It's a monstrous thing to do, and it fits with what we know.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:04 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: see Ardiril and simulacra's comments about how the police force can be horrifically inefficient at dealing with rape cases, then reconsider that the people investigating have the best story at hand.
posted by divabat at 11:06 AM on February 2


Well they certainly have better stories than we do, 20 years later and looking only at publicly available information.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:08 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


"But if I have to choose who to believe, I'm going to believe the people who are specifically trained with investigating these claims, spent months doing so, and had no pecuniary or emotional commitments."

Have you read the parts where the actual people investigating the claims felt there was enough to press charges but claimed they didn't to spare the victim further harm? How are you processing that aspect of this in your head, or do you not believe that?
posted by xarnop at 11:09 AM on February 2 [16 favorites]


I think Dylan was abused. By her mother, who by multiple accounts spends long nights telling her children stories and demanding they repeat them back,

So the psychologist and multiple family friends who reported at the time that Woody Allen "could not keep his hands off Dylan" before the couple even split up -- those were all just false memories planted by Mia Farrow too, were they?
posted by scody at 11:10 AM on February 2 [44 favorites]


So the psychologist and multiple family friends who reported at the time that Woody Allen "could not keep his hands off Dylan" before the couple even split up -- those were all just false memories planted by Mia Farrow too, were they?

The impression I get is that if you farted in that family, you'd be sentenced to a week of therapy to discuss the implications, so I don't set a whole lot of store in that. Also, surely the psychotherapist wouldn't have said anything to anybody, because it would have been a severe ethical breach of her responsibility to Allen -- who was actually her patient -- to go talking about the contents of their therapy sessions to Vanity Fair.

Which leaves us with Mia's friends and publicity machine, which has been pushing this line the whole time, so yeah.

If Farrow et. al. really believed Allen was being sexually inappropriate with her seven year old daughter, wouldn't/shouldn't she have stopped all access immediately? That's certainly the way it works here when such an allegation gets brought to the attention of the responsible authorities. Either man or child is immediately removed from further risk of offence.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:23 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


"wouldn't/shouldn't she have stopped all access immediately?"

You need a legal conviction or CPS involvement to prevent court ordered visitations with a father. There would have had to have been proof.

She did not have the power to remove a man's custody of his daughter and using that lack of power as proof there was not abuse is a really sinister accusation a lot of parents trying to protect their children from abuse get attacked with. It's sneaky and it's harmful and bears very little understanding of the reality of how hard it is to actually bar a parent from any contact with their own child without proof of abuse.
posted by xarnop at 11:29 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: " But a whole lot of people are posting "I believe Dylan because my abuser _______," which is nonsense."

When you spend time in group therapy sessions with other victims of sexual assault, you may find that they had similar experiences to your own, before, during and in the aftermath. This can be a profound revelation to some -- a realization that what you went through happened to someone else. Sometimes, it's little details. Like your abuser resting their head in your naked lap, sniffing your crotch, or various descriptions of post-abuse trauma. I suspect that people who have been through sexual assault as a child are more likely to resonate with similarities in someone else's experience -- like an attempt to disassociate oneself from what is being done to them during a rape by concentrating on something else, like a toy train.

Whether you feel this is all nonsense is your prerogative. But my own sense of that resonance with Dylan's description isn't as simplistic as you're implying.
posted by zarq at 11:29 AM on February 2 [13 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: There are plenty of cases of childhood sexual abuse, particularly when it happens to family members, where the abuser remains in close contact with the victim. This is getting into victim-blaming territory: "Oh, it can't have been that bad if he was still around!"

I'm having a hard time trying to find specific sources for this - the closest I have are these essays about child sexual abuse that talk about familial relationships.
posted by divabat at 11:30 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


Also, surely the psychotherapist wouldn't have said anything to anybody, because it would have been a severe ethical breach of her responsibility to Allen -- who was actually her patient -- to go talking about the contents of their therapy sessions to Vanity Fair.

Dr. Coates did not talk to Vanity Fair. If you RTFA there are no quotes directly from Coates.

If Farrow et. al. really believed Allen was being sexually inappropriate with her seven year old daughter, wouldn't/shouldn't she have stopped all access immediately?


"Mia believed Woody’s sessions with Dr. Coates had definitely improved his demeanor with Dylan, but because of her concern about Woody’s past history, she had insisted that he not have unsupervised visitation until Dylan and Satchel were through the sixth grade, and that he no longer be able to sleep over at her country house, as he had so far insisted on doing, but stay in a guest cottage across the pond."
posted by oneirodynia at 11:33 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


If Farrow et. al. really believed Allen was being sexually inappropriate with her seven year old daughter, wouldn't/shouldn't she have stopped all access immediately?

So you're saying if Woody Allen did rape Dylan, that's still Mia Farrow's fault, too?
posted by scody at 11:35 AM on February 2 [23 favorites]


This is getting into victim-blaming territory: "Oh, it can't have been that bad if he was still around!"

That's absolutely not how it works in the UK. Here, if such an offence is reported to anybody in any official position -- a teacher, a policeman, a medical professional, etc. -- the case is immediately reported to Social Services for investigation. The adult male is given the opportunity to remove themselves during that investigation, but if they don't, and the child is deemed to be at risk, then the child will be removed for their own protection.

Does it work differently in the USA?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:35 AM on February 2


"Does it work differently in the USA?" - 50 different ways.
posted by Ardiril at 11:37 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


divabat: "I'm having a hard time trying to find specific sources for this - the closest I have are these essays about child sexual abuse that talk about familial relationships."

Thanks for this link. Bookmarking to read later.
posted by zarq at 11:38 AM on February 2


I sincerely doubt that that's the way it worked in the UK in 1992. That was not how it worked in the US in 1992.
posted by koeselitz at 11:38 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


So you're saying if Woody Allen did rape Dylan, that's still Mia Farrow's fault, too?

No, I'm saying her attitudes and behaviour post discovery of the stuff between Allen and Soon-Yi seems very different to her attitude and behaviour prior to that point.

And perhaps that's not surprising. I'm sure it'd be enough to raise questions in my mind as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:38 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


If you RTFA there are no quotes directly from Coates.

Yeah, that was my point, really. That this is Mia Farrow's PR machine at work again, rather than an actual quote by the therapist (as Scody was claiming.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:40 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


That's also assuming that the people in the official positions really want to do anything - see previous comments about law enforcement being particularly shitty in cases of sexual assault.

Also isn't discussing Mia Farrow's attitudes towards the thing somewhat derailing? It kind of smacks of slut-shaming, though not about sluttery in the specific - more "true rape victims would never do X! She did X! Therefore THEY'RE ALL LYING!" kinda deals.
posted by divabat at 11:40 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


"Does it work differently in the USA?" - 50 different ways.

More appropriately then, does it work differently in New York?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:41 AM on February 2


That's absolutely not how it works in the UK. Here, if such an offence is reported to anybody in any official position -- a teacher, a policeman, a medical professional, etc. -- the case is immediately reported to Social Services for investigation.

Oh good grief. The Orth article says that Dr. Coates told Mia she would have to report the extra-disturbing incident of Woody putting his face in Dylan's lap and Dylan's story of what went on in the attic to the authorities. That is when everything became public. Read the article, maybe?
posted by oneirodynia at 11:41 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


It's entirely possible for an adult to behave in ways that are creepy, inappropriate, and harmful to a child without committing a crime for which they can be prosecuted and convicted. The publicly available information strongly suggests that, at minimum, that's what happened here. You can debate standards of evidence and prosecutors' strategies all day, but clearly Dylan Farrow feels she has been hurt, and she says Allen did the hurting. The specifics beyond that don't matter all that much to me.

It's also possible that Allen may have harmed Dylan Farrow, and her mother subsequently has done things to make it worse, then and now. The two are not mutually exclusive.

On being able to separate the artist from the art - for me, in this case the difference is whether or not Allen stars in the film. "Manhattan" is pretty much unwatchable now, "Annie Hall" nearly so, and any other film that asks us to see Woody as a likeable-but-neurotic nebbish is tainted to one degree or another.

If he's not on screen, I find myself still able to enjoy certain of his movies - I still like "Alice" and "Purple Rose of Cairo" as much as I did when I first saw them, and I thought "Midnight In Paris" was quite good. I haven't seen that many of his other recent films, but that's been more a lack of interest in the particular stories being told than because I'm specifically avoiding him as a writer/director.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:42 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


There is plenty of other cinematic art to view in this world.I can and will have no problem doing without Woody Allen.

See, this is where I am too, with pretty much all artists that I find morally repugnant-- there's just so much art out there that I'll never have a chance to see it all, and cutting a few people out because they're child molesters/likely child molesters/rapists (or just have morally repugnant views, such as the raging homophobes and misogynists) doesn't really affect the quality of the media I consume and takes away the nasty aftertaste.

If it were true that an accusation of the sexual abuse of children was enough to ruin someone's life-- especially someone in such a position of wealth and privilege as Allen-- he wouldn't have just gotten another award.
posted by NoraReed at 11:43 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


That is when everything became public. Read the article, maybe?

I've read the article. But I'm confused. Scody's claim was that these reports were made prior to the discovery of Allen's relationship with Soon-Yi.

As far as I can tell, nothing much at all happened until Farrow discovered that relationship?

Am I wrong?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:44 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


"Allen may have harmed Dylan Farrow, and her mother subsequently has done things to make it worse, then and now." - That is the position I favor.
posted by Ardiril at 11:45 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


50 different ways.

And not only that -- this happened 22 years ago. So a number of the laws, procedures, etc. at the time are different from today. But by all means, please keep arguing from a perspective of UK law in 2014 what "should have" happened in New York State in 1992.

That this is Mia Farrow's PR machine at work again, rather than an actual quote by the therapist (as Scody was claiming.)

I never claimed there were any quotes from the therapist in the article. That's something you're making up to try to sidestep the fact that Woody Allen was in therapy for inappropriate behavior with Dylan. It doesn't require any direct quotes from the therapist for that to be a factual statement.
posted by scody at 11:46 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


"Some myths deserve to be broken apart out of respect for the human intellect."
--Neil deGrasse Tyson
posted by simulacra at 11:50 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Similarly, the posts saying "Sure the investigators who actually met and talked to everyone for month say Mia is the abuser, but I don't believe them because those people [rich white guys] get away with stuff," seem intensely problematic.

I don't know what you are basing this on, but it is not based on any of the accounts of events that I have read linked in these threads. Seriously, have you read both the 1992 Vanity Fair article discussing the details of the alleged weird obsession Allen had with Dylan and the Connecticut Today article describing the details of the actual police investigation?

There was a time in my life when I supported Allen because I thought, yeah, the heart wants what it wants and he just fell in love with this college student. Then I read about the naked pictures, and then I read his affair with a seventeen year old high school student Stacey Nelkin during the filming of Annie Hall, whose scenes were all cut from the film, and then I read about his weird obsession with Dylan, and then I read about the actual police investigation. I'm not 100 percent certain, but I do think he molested Dylan. I don't see how you can be familiar with all of this information and not have real concerns about his behavior. Given all this, I'm also concerned that he and Soon-Yi adopted two girls, one of whom looks a bit like Dylan. One or two facts by themselves you can dismiss as eccentricity or circumstance, but all of it together, to me, is pretty damning. I can't help but wonder whether people who are on Allen's side in this just haven't read as much.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:50 AM on February 2 [17 favorites]


This is one of those cases where different parts of my brain pulls me in different directions, and I don't know what to believe.

I came into this thread thinking this way. Nothing has changed. And I thank all for finding a way to discuss the issues without making me feeling forced to take a side.

fascinating stuff.
posted by philip-random at 11:52 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


That's something you're making up to try to sidestep the fact that Woody Allen was in therapy for inappropriate behavior with Dylan. It doesn't require any direct quotes from the therapist for that to be a factual statement.

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that you were claiming it as a direct quote, I was really just suggesting that it wasn't as unproblematic as you were suggesting. It may be true, it may not. I'd contend that you'd have no more idea than I do.

But by all means, please keep arguing from a perspective of UK law in 2014 what "should have" happened in New York State in 1992.

Yeah. Thing is, whenever I look at this stuff. Most places, while the actual detail might differ slightly, in practice, the basics tend to be much the same. As someone already pointed out, if an allegation of child sexual abuse was made to said therapist, she'd be obliged to report.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:53 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Mia discovered the photos about a month after Allen adopted Dylan and Moses, January 1992. The day Dylan says Allan molested her in the attic was August 5th, 1992. However Allen had been seeing Coates for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan for two years previously.

There was a time in my life when I supported Allen because I thought, yeah, the heart wants what it wants and he just fell in love with this college student. Then I read about the naked pictures, and then I read his affair with a seventeen year old high school student Stacey Nelkin during the filming of Annie Hall, whose scenes were all cut from the film, and then I read about his weird obsession with Dylan, and then I read about the actual police investigation.

This is pretty much the arc of my feelings from the time the affair with Soon-Yi came out. I think it's very clear that Allen has boundary issues. That doesn't make him guilty of child molestation, but it makes him not someone I would want any young female of my acquaintance spending time with.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:05 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


If it's art that encourages an accepting attitude about child rape, then a bonfire may be in order, Ardiril, no matter how much "art" it means we throw away.

At the risk of derail ... art should not be burned. EVER. Except maybe by its creator. I can see an argument there.

The whole point of art is that it allows us to go places that no other form of communication allows. It allows us to give form to various angels, monsters, whatever that just couldn't live in any other way ... and thus to have discussions that couldn't happen in any other way. Art is the opposite of suppression. Suppression causes world wars.

I never doubted Anita Hill
posted by philip-random at 12:10 PM on February 2 [8 favorites]


I'm just going to point out again that Robert Weide, in an attempt to defend Allen from the charge that he sexually abused his seven year old daughter, points to the fact that Allen is claustrophobic and the abuse is alleged to have happened in an attic.

That some people read that Daily Beast piece and walked away thinking that there really isn't any reason to think Allen did anything wrong is mind blowing. "Did I molest my seven year old daughter in the attic? Fuck no, don't you know how scared I am of enclosed spaces? That story makes no sense! Use your brain!"
posted by leopard at 12:12 PM on February 2 [7 favorites]


peter mcdermott, I would like to gently suggest you appear to be arguing with very little knowledge of these matters? How much have you really read about the reality of reporting? Even in this very thread it is discussed that in the UK up to a third of reports in some areas are discarded before any charges filed.

I think you have completely unfounded, uneducated, counter-factual, and blind faith in the way your own criminal justice system works.

Yes it's totally common for reports to result in no charges. That is the case in the US and I suspect also in the UK. It sounds like you're making things up or do you actually have some facts you're basing your presumptions on?
posted by xarnop at 12:20 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


However Allen had been seeing Coates for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan for two years previously.

From the Vanity Fair thing:

The charges will never go forward. Woody will be cleared of all that, he’ll see his kids, they’ll come to some settlement,” says Letty Aronson, Woody Allen’s sister, who categorically denies that Woody was ever in therapy for inappropriate behavior toward Dylan, or that he ever favored Dylan over Satchel. “He’ll be the giant in the industry he is,” she continues, “and she’ll be exactly what she is—in my opinion, Woody notwithstanding—a second-rate actress, a bad mother, a completely dishonest person, and someone who is operating completely out of vindictiveness.
posted by Trochanter at 12:24 PM on February 2


Chomos get stabbed in prison. Even convicts have standards about who they'll associate with.

I'm not recommending violence against the man. Only pointing out that there are cultures that take his actions quite seriously and don't give a rat's ass how clever the Marshal McLuhan scene is.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:24 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Oooog that Vanity Fair piece paints a damning and nasty picture. Such an awful affair, sad for everyone involved, and to some extent, all of us.

Returning to the original question, I think we can't separate them. Art is "about" being alive, our value derives from the insight or meaning about this existence stuff - and who we are. So it's impossible to divorce that from our knowledge of the creator(s), however full, correct, or little that knowledge might be. And to some extent, that's the point: it's about being here, in all of its glory, inconsistency, trivia, etc. etc.

Another way to put the point I'm trying to make is that in some sense I think it might be a mistake to even ask the question "how should we look at art?" Art is about all of it, about how we do look at it, and ourselves.
posted by emmet at 12:27 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I think you have completely unfounded, uneducated, counter-factual, and blind faith in the way your own criminal justice system works.

Yeah, I'm not talking about the criminal justice system. I'm talking about the child protection system. They're two seperate entities, albeit with some overlap.

Yes it's totally common for reports to result in no charges. That is the case in the US and I suspect also in the UK. It sounds like you're making things up or do you actually have some facts you're basing your presumptions on?

Firstly, I'm not arguing that there would necessarily have been charges. Perhaps in most cases where a claim is made, charges might not be brought.

But that doesn't stop social workers coming in and making an assessment. The evidential standards are very different to those in a criminal case. All that has to be determined is whether the child is at risk or not. If the social workers make that determination, either the man stops contact with that child, or the child is removed from the family.

There's a fairly concise account of the process here:

http://www.fassit.co.uk/child_protection_advice.htm#_Government
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:32 PM on February 2


Returning to the original question,

I have friends who are not perfect people in terms of some of the choices they've made (continue to make), and yet they are capable of creating genuinely beautiful stuff. I believe that in encouraging the continued creation of beauty, I am encouraging the best part of them.
posted by philip-random at 12:36 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


RE: Art from artist.

"Art should never be held above our decency to each other. And when an artist commits a crime, especially a sex crime and especially against a child, we do art no favor by giving artists a break we would never give to anyone else."
--Allison Anders, North American film and television director

Ergo: never. ;-)
posted by simulacra at 12:40 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Maureen Orth is a hack and it's disturbing that she's considered the perennial journalist reporting on this whole affair.
posted by girlmightlive at 12:42 PM on February 2


What comes to mind is that one might phrase the question
"If X > 0, how many little girls going up to the attic does it take before you can't enjoy the art any more?"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:46 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Peter McDermott- the government stated process is very different from how it works in actuality. If that's what your basing your knowledge on all of this from I can see why you have a black and white cookie cutter understanding that doesn't match up with my experience working in human services with many friends who have worked for CPS. You're not really exploring this issues at all, you haven't even got your feet wet. It's ok to not understand a subject, but it's hard to learn more when you dig your heels in and say that you understand it really well since you read about it on a government website. But I'm not sure it's worth going back and forth with you at this point since I'm not sure you actually want to learn more, I hope you do at some point because in a world where too few people want a complex understanding of this issue, it results in bad policy and harmful victim blaming. Which sucks. But we all start out not knowing things, you know? It's all good, I guess?
posted by xarnop at 12:46 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


girlmightlive: I swear to god, I'm trying to read the piece and my jaw is hanging open. She's using every cheat in the book. "Woody's minions"?
posted by Trochanter at 12:54 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Peter McDermott- the government stated process is very different from how it works in actuality.

xarnop, for the last three years, until last November, I was employed by a local social services department and I'm married to a family lawyer.

Trust me, I know how the system works here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:02 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


Also, you know, if I'm making errors in my argument, you should point out the errors. Simply telling me I'm just some noob who has no understanding of the issues is just plain bollocks. You have no idea what I know or don't know. Making this about me does a disservice to any other reader who comes afterwards.

If I'm wrong about some issues, then educate me. Tell me how and why. The fact that sometimes, some people don't always do what they should isn't news to anybody.

Here though, given the huge range of child protection scandals we've had over the last few years, there are few parts of local government as carefully scrutinized and as meticulously overseen as child protection.

Obviously, it doesn't always mean they'll get it right. But my fundamental point was limited to just this: if someone (ie the therapist) reported the issue, surely it would have at least triggered an investigation? Yet there's no mention of it.

But when I brought it up, I wasn't aware that the incident was supposed to have happened six months after Farrow discovered the photographs of Soon-Yi.

Mia discovered the photos about a month after Allen adopted Dylan and Moses, January 1992. The day Dylan says Allan molested her in the attic was August 5th, 1992.


So yeah, my mind boggles a bit after reading that? What the fuck were they all doing for six months after they discovered Allen was taking pornographic pics of his stepdaughter?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:17 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


"And when an artist commits a crime, especially a sex crime and especially against a child, we do art no favor by giving artists a break we would never give to anyone else."

I totally agree with this, and yet I don't see that it dictates that we no longer watch Allen's films. It dictates that Allen should be in prison like any other criminal. I don't think I'm giving Allen a break if I celebrate Annie Hall.
posted by chrchr at 1:18 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


I don't understand your lack of understanding that the system often functions in a less than ideal way. Your argument that "things should have worked x way) when they clearly don't, just doesn't make sense to me. I'm still not sure how much direct experience it sounds like you have supporting families coping with these issues because you still sound rather unfamiliar with how things work. Then again, maybe UK really is radically different than the US. Or maybe you're more familiar with the technical aspects of charges already filed than families in crisis trying to handle abuse that never gets charged?

I find it concerning if you ARE part of the system that your statements seem so unaware, sometimes this is part of the problem when professionals handling these matters really don't actually have an in depth education about the patterns and difficulties facing families in these situations.

However I could see how if you're involved with the legal aspect, in your mind you might want to cling to "innocent until proven guilty, if there's not enough for a case let's drop it"

Which again works in a legal sense, but not on the interpersonal, community and social level. Believing victims and if nothing else, giving them a space where their truth can be validated (even if not legally) is kind of a MAJOR aspect of abuse support, and activism around the subject. Unfortunately there are plenty of professionals involved in this process who do not have a victim support oriented mentality, as we can see by the amount if dismissed reports even if they do make it to the police or CPS-- much less that get dismissed even by mandated reporters who deal with gray area situations (given the evidence they can see) all the time and are not perfect in their decision making. You don't have to put the stated victim on trial, you can know that you DO NOT know the details and can't be sure and still have a focus on victim support. From a legal perspective, I think I can maybe see why for you, the accusations mean that the one making them, and their credibility and their families credibility should all be put on trial-- I just don't think that way of thinking is necessary. We can not know, and refrain from persecuting the accused while supporting the victims story and not actively celebrating someone who we can reasonably think might have committed the assault.
posted by xarnop at 1:19 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


By the way-- I think maybe the problem is just that is mind boggling and messed up and you're trying to make sense of it as if the people involved would be behaving in a way that makes sense. Mia's behavior is EXTREMELY problematic as well, and it's a common thing abuse to start small and get bigger and bigger before getting reported- due to people disbelieving it could REALLY be abuse and fear of reporting and many other factors. I agree, that it is all rather mind boggling and non-sensical. And yes, in a court situation it can definately be held against a reporting parent that they delayed reporting for any length of time, even though they can also be advised NOT to report if they don't have enough evidence and just to journal the problematic behavior.

Reporting these things can be really tricky when there's not a lot of evidence involved.
posted by xarnop at 1:33 PM on February 2


[Let's keep the extended-dialog-between-two-users to a minimum in the thread, thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:38 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


But seeing him as using the usually-reprehensible characters, played by himself and others, as a format to 'justify his own actions' is an equally ridiculous judgment. 

As someone who's been around artistic and creative people a lot, I wish I could share your skepticism, but it's very true that artists tend to put a lot of themselves--especially the deeper issues they've dealt with in life--into their work. I'd say, for my part, it's not so much a judgment as a visceral reaction. Just knowing their might be this horrific subtext to the work makes it uncomfortable to me now. I was never a huge fan before anyway, so that little bit of involuntary discomfort is probably enough to keep me away from his stuff, whether that's fair or not.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:40 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


But a whole lot of people are posting "I believe Dylan because my abuser _______," which is nonsense.

Have you ever listened to the radio show Car Talk? It's two guys who listen to people's description of their car problems and then think about what the problem might be. It's wild because a lot of the time, people give the most meager, generic-seeming, or weird descriptions that seems like they could be anything. Things like "there's just this noise when I accelerate that goes BRRR! BRRR!!"

It's pretty amazing how many specific issues these guys can recognize from those kinds of explanations. But that is what happens when you have been obsessed with cars for decades.

When they believe that a car is having a certain problem, based on nothing more than a meager-sounding description, which they think they recognize from their decades of experience, is it nonsense?

Here's another example. When Susan Boyle appeared on television for the first time, within the first 5 minutes of her appearance, many parents/teachers/friends of people with Aspergers said, "Whoa, is Susan an Aspie?" For years, her quirks were explained as a brain damage suffered at birth. Well... guess who just went public as an Aspie?

Even though her condition went over 50 years without being properly diagnosed, people familiar with Aspergers were able to recognize it immediately. Was their recognition "nonsense?"

If there is something that you are very familiar with, that you have spent an immense of time thinking about, or working with, or experiencing, you can sometimes recognize it more readily and reliably than other people can. You can sometimes recognize it readily and reliable based on things that seem arbitrary or meaningless to others.

If you have a great deal of experience with child abuse, I think that your ability to recognize child abuse can be enhanced.

If you have spent a great deal of time observing people who are lying and people who are telling the truth - paying attention to the content, delivery, characteristics of the stories they tell, in your conscious mind or subconsciously - I believe that you may be able to develop a better ability to recognize the truth, based on subtler things, some things you may not even be able to entirely articulate.

Familiarity with a thing can often lead to a better ability to recognize it. That is just plain old simple common sense and it's weird to me that it should be some kind of controversial thing to think. It is pretty far away, in my mind, from "nonsense."

---

I'm really fascinated by lies and people who lie and pathological liars. It's impacted my life in some pretty major ways over the years, and I get really fascinated by observing them.

In general, I think it is important to listen to people who say they have been sexually assaulted and take them seriously, and treat them with respect. That doesn't mean it is out of the realm of possibility that I would hear someone's story and think, in my private thoughts, "This is very weird, this person really seems like they are lying, why?"

In this case, count me among the people who are very, very deeply struck by how utterly focused and truthful and realistic Dylan's entire piece appears to be.
posted by cairdeas at 1:41 PM on February 2 [29 favorites]


I have never seen a Woody Allen film - they have never seemed like my cuppa tea. But I am fucking appalled at this line in that Daily Beast piece:

Did this event actually occur? If we’re inclined to give it a second thought, we can each believe what we want

We should always give an allegation of child sexual abuse "a second thought". Always. Even if there are embittered and enraged parents involved, even if we greatly admire or greatly dislike one of the people involved. Maybe it's just careless phrasing but to me the implication of that sentence is that "we" should dismiss Dylan's testimony out of hand, put it out of our minds without considering it, and that's really disturbing.
posted by andraste at 1:45 PM on February 2 [10 favorites]


But something seems off in Farrow's letter to me.

I can give you an intimate colour/texture description of the penis of the man who exposed himself to me as a child. I can tell you I thought, at the time, that it resembled a "hot dog", and that I was too young to know the difference between erect/un-erect so I guessed, although it made me uncomfortable, that he was simply unaware that he was visible in the leg of his shorts.

I can tell you about the middle school classmate who pressed himself against me in the hallway, about the dim light and the orange tint of the bricks, about the texture of how it felt with the pressure of being held and humped. I burst into tears afterwards, unsure why I felt so awful but feeling a helpless disgust for even that superficial level of violation of my physical dignity and boundaries.

Having the 'right' reaction to sexual assault is a dangerous way to measure these things. Please don't think I invalidate the nature of your experience because of how you remember it, but also understand that human memory works differently for different people- I remember texture and colour and feeling because that's how I remember most things, but my relatively crisp memories don't make me a pathological liar anymore than your blurred ones mean that you were having a fantasy.
posted by Phalene at 1:47 PM on February 2 [37 favorites]


I don't understand your lack of understanding that the system often functions in a less than ideal way.

I completely do understand that. However, it's notable that Dylan had a very vocal and influential advocate in the form of her mother, Mia. If things didn't go the way they were supposed to, I'm guessing that she could and would have raised holy shit at the time.

She's certainly done so since.

However I could see how if you're involved with the legal aspect, in your mind you might want to cling to "innocent until proven guilty, if there's not enough for a case let's drop it"

That really isn't how it works here. Here, the test is if there's any chance at all that the child is at risk, there's a legal obligation on the local authority to remove that child. Either the man leaves, or the state takes the child. It doesn't require any high evidential standard -- just a couple of social workers saying that on the balance of probabilities, they think the child is at risk.

The system falls down in all kinds of places. Social workers are overstretched, underqualified, often poorly trained. Yet my own experience of supporting people caught up in the system is that when it comes to allegations of sexual abuse, they'll tend to err on the side of caution once the process has been initiated.

The choice the family gets usually goes like this: either the man moves out and can only have supervised access in a family centre, or we'll remove all the children. Most women, quite sensibly, opt for removal of the men -- even when they don't believe he's actually guilty.

Believing victims and if nothing else, giving them a space where their truth can be validated (even if not legally) is kind of a MAJOR aspect of abuse support, and activism around the subject.

Sure, but that's not actually what this thread is about, is it? If there's a reason why Dylan and Mia's arguments shouldn't be subjected to the same kind of scrutiny here as we'd subject any other claims to, I'm not aware of it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:49 PM on February 2


Which leaves us with Mia's friends and publicity machine, which has been pushing this line the whole time, so yeah.

As others have said, insisting that a grown-up woman who accuses her father of sexual abuse in a public letter is lying because her mother, her mother's friends, and PR machine put her up to it, is massively insulting. And also rather a feature of many attacks on those who report child and sexual abuse. I'm not saying that we should necessarily believe every accusation of abuse, but at least give the complainant the dignity of believing that this is their accusation when they're a grown person and not reducing them to a tool of others.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:49 PM on February 2 [16 favorites]


Let's keep the extended-dialog-between-two-users to a minimum in the thread, thanks.

Sorry. I'll shut up. Promise.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:51 PM on February 2


And while a lot of life-changing (some good and some very bad) things happened to me when I was 7, I don't remember one single episode of my life at that time in the detail seen in that letter. Actually, specially the very bad things that happened seem like a blur to me. Every person is different, and I do not have the professional expertise to judge something like this. But something seems off in Farrow's letter to me.


Indeed, everyone is different. I remember (and had confirmed by my parents after years of denial) witnessing my mother's miscarriage in a public bathroom when I was about 4, being on a transatlantic flight that had to make an emergency landing when I was 6 and the neighborhood "funny uncle" trying to coax me into going to his house when I was 7. Some details are hazy, some are startlingly sharp; the overall takeaway for me is that at the very least my bare bones memories of these events are accurate.
posted by echolalia67 at 1:53 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


I can give you an intimate colour/texture description of the penis of the man who exposed himself to me as a child. ...

Having the 'right' reaction to sexual assault is a dangerous way to measure these things. Please don't think I invalidate the nature of your experience because of how you remember it, but also understand that human memory works differently for different people- I remember texture and colour and feeling because that's how I remember most things, but my relatively crisp memories don't make me a pathological liar anymore than your blurred ones mean that you were having a fantasy.


Completely agreed. I have tons of very clear memories from very young ages that have absolutely nothing to do with anything bad. Super clear and distinct ones from the ages of 3, 4, 5 - can remember verbatim what was said, who was there, the location, the time of day, where we were all standing in the room, in color. I remember my lifelong friend's first day of school, when she was 5 and I was 4, after which I assumed she was full of knowledge and started asking her all these tough arithmetic questions in my living room, while I was standing by the TV and she was standing by the doorway. After the age of 5, I have a LOT of very very clear and detailed memories. There is no question at all that I could have remembered something from the age of 7 in extremely clear detail - in fact, I have a lot of memories exactly like that.
posted by cairdeas at 1:57 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]



Which leaves us with Mia's friends and publicity machine, which has been pushing this line the whole time, so yeah.


And Allen's friends and publicity machine have just been sitting on their hands? Before the breakup he was lauding Mia as an excellent mother, and afterward she's an hysterical dingbat that should have her kids taken away from her. He's on public record as saying both things. It's disingenuous to pretend that Allen was on his own trembling in the face of an onslaught by some publicity army mustered by Farrow. He has, and had, far more money, influence and power than Mia Farrow. I don't see how anyone can debate that.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:01 PM on February 2 [17 favorites]


I'm always amazed at how people use rational thought and logic to come to conclusions about sexual abuse allegations.

The person who sexually abused me for 5-6 years as a child (starting at age 8) always did so when other people were in the next room. Is that logical? Is that rational?

In my head, I can still hear him saying, "If you tell, I'll say you're lying. CPS will come and take you away from your mom and dad, they'll put you in one foster home after another, and then strangers will rape you over and over again and do way worse than I could ever do to you, because they don't love you like I do. Strangers will put things inside you that will eat their way out and then they'll burn your corpse so nobody will know the truth about how you died. This way's better, trust me."


Shit like that? Is why nobody who survives wants to talk about it. Ever. I'm luckier than some; my abuser's long dead and the physical and emotional scars have (mostly) faded.


Still, I had incredibly vivid and violent dreams about him until I was well into my thirties. Because of him, if a boy I liked got close enough to my face to try and kiss me, I'd start shivering all over and my teeth would start chattering involuntarily until I was ~22 years old. It was so embarrassing, and I could never dare explain to them why intimacy and sex was so terrifying to me; to this day I feel that fight-or-flight rush of adrenaline kick in when I notice someone male staring at me. Most of the time when I'm out and walking in public, I just look at the ground. It's safer than accidentally making eye contact with someone ogling me.

Because of my own experiences, reading the descriptions of Dylan's physical reaction to seeing Woody Allen's image and/or hearing his name as a young adult ring especially true to me, and they're not the behaviors of someone who was "coached" to lie as a child by her then-distraught mother:

"One time, the sight of a boy at school wearing a Woody Allen T-shirt sent Dylan into a fit of vomiting. She still fears that he might phone her. “I’ve had physical breakdowns because I opened a magazine to the wrong page. Once I was at Madame Tussauds, and I got separated from my friend. There was a bench, and I sat down on it to look around for her. I noticed a wax replica next to me. Him! It was the only time I screamed in public.” She called her fears “crippling” and said, “I’m scared of him, his image. Nobody wants to think this legendary filmmaker is my worst nightmare. That’s what scares me, when I picture things chasing me or happening—I think it’s him after me. It’s hard to explain how terrifying that is.”

I believe Dylan, but I don't know if I am capable of feeling any other way.

The only Woody Allen film I've ever watched was Radio Days, and it wasn't by choice. I will never consciously watch any of his films, and plan to maintain that stance for life.

Just typing this made me feel sick to my stomach and I kind of hope nobody who grew up with me ever reads this comment. What happened to me changed my life forever, and that feeling of being less than human and utterly helpless in the face of a monster is always there, lurking just under the surface. The worst part is, I couldn't stop it. And that, maybe more than anything, is what I'm ashamed of - that I didn't find a way to tell someone, or to protect myself. And that when I finally did tell someone, years later, that they might think I was lying because he couldn't tell his side of the story. (Even though there were other victims, I still couldn't bring myself to tell anyone...until my therapist encouraged me to tell my parents for reasons that I won't go into here.)

What enviable qualities are conferred to sex abuse survivors, exactly? What difference does it make if those survivors are famous by proxy? Or wealthy? Or powerful? Answer: none. At best, you're pitied and sometimes regarded as weak-willed and/or mentally ill; at worst, you're considered to be an attention-seeking piece of human garbage trying to destroy an innocent person's life.

I mean yeah, you might get a book deal out of it. Can you imagine people stopping you on the street and recognizing you because they know you're an incest survivor? What would that promotional book tour be like, I wonder? *shudder*

It's completely understandable to me why Mia Farrow didn't continue to press the court to follow up on the abuse allegations. It's obvious to me why Dylan didn't want to testify as a child. It's painfully clear to me why Ronan Farrow is speaking out now, and with such vitriol.

My heart goes out to Dylan, and I hope she and the other family members affected by this ongoing public debate are eventually able to find some sense of peace.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:06 PM on February 2 [58 favorites]


For everyone recounting their perfect memories, it's worth keeping in mind that of course there's no way to know that those memories are actually accurate rather than fabricated. Many people have memories that are simply not true, but feel very real. For instance, sometimes people think they have memories until they notice that they take place in 3rd person - which of course could not be an actual memory.

I'm not saying your memories are not real, but just that it's impossible to know, and created memories are very common. Created memories can accurately represent the truth, but that's a whole separate issue.
posted by mdn at 2:07 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


layceepee: One of them must be saying something that is not true is obviously not the same thing as "one of them must be lying."

Yes. The author you're referring to should have said that presuming that Allen is telling the truth means presuming that Dylan isn't--for whatever reason, including false belief. But if we revise that, the article still provides a useful perspective on what it says about us if we find the imputation of false belief here to be more reasonable than the alternative.
posted by Beardman at 2:07 PM on February 2


reading the descriptions of Dylan's physical reaction to seeing Woody Allen's image and/or hearing his name as a young adult ring especially true to me, and they're not the behaviors of someone who was "coached" to lie as a child by her then-distraught mother:

Yes. Yes. Yes.

The entire process of developing a severe anxiety disorder and eating disorder as a result of psychological distress or trauma rang very, very true to me.

I think it would be the sort of thing that would be hard to convincingly describe, for someone who had not actually experienced it, like for example a parent trying to implant false memories.
posted by cairdeas at 2:11 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


Bottom line: nobody, outside of Dylan and Woody know the truth. Every opinion, every tweet, every op-ed, otherwise is just people coming down on the side they are inclined (or want to) believe.
posted by Vibrissae at 2:14 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I guess we will see what happens when his current minor daughters reach the age of majority and/or financial independence.
posted by cairdeas at 2:18 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


mdn: "For everyone recounting their perfect memories, it's worth keeping in mind that of course there's no way to know that those memories are actually accurate rather than fabricated."

Ugh. This is such deeply offensive bullshit. Can we please not blithely dismiss the experiences of every survivor in this thread and elsewhere with, "We can never know what happened to you or any other rape victim because let's face it, you'll never remember it properly"?
posted by zarq at 2:25 PM on February 2 [56 favorites]


I always knew there was something funny about this guy. And not "funny" in the way that people always pretend his films are.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:35 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Consider that after a 6 MONTH investigation NO CHARGES were brought.

i think one of the things that needs to be spoken of again, is that the police, after a number of interviews, over weeks have said their is not enough evidence. Maybe it is a polite fiction, and I know all of the problems with cops, but something our culture is precipitated on, is that evidence of sufficient quantity and quality needs to be presented in order to charge or convict someone.


I really don't like to talk about this, but I was sexually assaulted in school at age five. The school would not cooperate with the investigation. The doctors collected forensic evidence, and I was interviewed by a psychiatrist and a lawyer. Their conclusion was that without the cooperation of the school, they could go to trial but that they didn't stand a chance of conviction*. They convinced my mother that going to trial without a conviction would be worse for me than sweeping the whole thing under the rug. (They turned out to be wrong, of course, but they were "experts" and so my mother believed them and just pulled me out of that school.) And this wasn't even some multimillionaire Hollywood power broker, it was just the good-old-boy upper crust school board of a podunk town in the middle of nowhere.

So, the next time anyone's tempted to assume the fact that a case wasn't brought to trial means that sexual abuse never happened, should stop and think twice about how things work in the real world where real little girls have to live.

*DA's do NOT like to bring charges unless they're pretty sure they can convict.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:37 PM on February 2 [40 favorites]


Every opinion, every tweet, every op-ed, otherwise is just people coming down on the side they are inclined (or want to) believe.

That's a bit insulting and condescending isn't it?

Well, it's not true for me anyway. I used to think very highly of Allen and his work. But watching his films after the news about these accusations first broke, it seemed to me there was nothing in them that still appealed to me. I even stuck up for Allen occasionally, at first, but it's just not so clear to me there's anything especially noble about sticking up for the guy. It's not like his art is particularly transcendent anyway. It seems primarily concerned with Allen's neuroticism anyway, which gets tedious after a while anyway, to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:40 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


PinkMoose: "i think one of the things that needs to be spoken of again, is that the police, after a number of interviews, over weeks have said their is not enough evidence."

We went over this a few times - I'm only addressing it because The Underpants Monster mentioned it in her eloquent comment above - but:

This is factually incorrect. The police did not say there was not enough evidence. The police explicitly said there was enough evidence to secure a conviction. They said they wouldn't try because it would hurt the "victim" - their word.
posted by koeselitz at 2:43 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


It's interesting how this debate in a sense recapitulates one of the earliest struggles in the history of psychology. In the 1890s, Freud thought that he had discovered an infallible link: that hysteria always led back to some act of childhood molestation. He thought this because every time he'd talk to his patients, their associations would eventually lead them to some description of that sort.

But when he followed the logic to its final result, he realized this implied an outrageous incidence of father-child sexual abuse. He thought that highly implausible. He turned on a dime and hypothesized instead that while there were a few genuine cases, most of these reports must instead be unconscious fantasies surfacing. And thus was born the Oedipus complex.

It is today still a matter of debate what the real incidence of childhood sex abuse during that period of the late 19th century in Vienna was, so it's unclear whether Freud couldn't accept the plain truth, or whether he in fact made the right interpretive move and saw how easily reported memories could be fabricated wholesale, totally unconsciously, when it served other psychological purposes.

And here we are, still wrestling with many of the same issues of memory, desire, hatred, and the strangeness that happens in the original love triangle.
posted by shivohum at 2:43 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


mdn: "For everyone recounting their perfect memories, it's worth keeping in mind that of course there's no way to know that those memories are actually accurate rather than fabricated."

1. We began mentioning our "perfect memories" because another user upthread said that something seemed off about Dylan's piece because, in part, she recalled things in such detail. So we were talking about whether or not remembering things from a young age in detail is common or not common, we weren't debating whether the memories are true or not.

2. Current experimentation on the topic of false memory includes things like, "let me show you a list of 15 words like "bed, pajamas, nighttime, dreams" and see if you falsely remember "sleep" being on the list."

Nobody is projecting that to say, none of us have memories that ever really work and you can't trust any of your memories ever and always need to doubt all of them!
posted by cairdeas at 2:44 PM on February 2


Bottom line: nobody, outside of Dylan and Woody know the truth. Every opinion, every tweet, every op-ed, otherwise is just people coming down on the side they are inclined (or want to) believe.

Given that it's two siblings lining up against the career creepster w/ boundary issues, I'm inclined to come down on the side of the brother defending his sister.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:51 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I agree that you don't have to find Woody Allen's films creepy, but Manhattan at least directly dealt with this exact subject more than ten years before he is supposed to have gotten involved with Soon-Yi. I don't think it's a stretch to say that there is something uncanny about this, in the same way that there's something uncanny about the way that Roman Polanski made a film about the horrifying escape from justice of a child rapist (Chinatown) just three years before raping a child and escaping from justice.

Woody Allen wrote Manhattan (with Brickman). Roman Polanski did not write Chinatown. It's ridiculous to equate the two by implying that both are the result of pedo interests. Chinatown is a work of fiction written by someone else. Yes, Polanski directed it, but Polanski also directed Macbeth. Maybe he murdered someone? It's as stupid.

I have no idea - none at all - whether WA did what he's accused of. I do believe Polanski was/is guilty, absolutely, based on what I've read (though it is a private conviction, not something I can prove, obviously). And while I may have zero idea or intuition about WA, I do know that trolling through the work of an artist looking for evidence of their criminal nature is idiotic.
posted by VikingSword at 3:00 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Are there any publically accessible documents with details about how Woody succeeded in adopting two more children? Those kids are going to have a hell of a time when they get access to the internet.

Defenders of Woody seem to be dug in pretty good. I see two camps that are not going to let go. Camp one are fans of his from Annie Hall and Hannah and her Sisters days when a Woody Allen movie was about the only thing in your local mall all year long that actually made you think while you were watching it. That was a long time ago and everybody has a thousand other choices now. I haven't seen an Allen movie since Husbands and Wives over twenty years ago mainly because there is so much other good stuff to see. In 1980 an Allen movie was almost in a class by itself.

The other camp are movie business people who will defend all in the tribe from any outside attack no matter what. If O. J. Simpson had started out as an actor instead of an athlete they would defend him too.
posted by bukvich at 3:04 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Completely agreed. I have tons of very clear memories from very young ages that have absolutely nothing to do with anything bad. Super clear and distinct ones from the ages of 3, 4, 5 - can remember verbatim what was said, who was there, the location, the time of day, where we were all standing in the room, in color. I remember my lifelong friend's first day of school, when she was 5 and I was 4, after which I assumed she was full of knowledge and started asking her all these tough arithmetic questions in my living room, while I was standing by the TV and she was standing by the doorway. After the age of 5, I have a LOT of very very clear and detailed memories. There is no question at all that I could have remembered something from the age of 7 in extremely clear detail - in fact, I have a lot of memories exactly like that.

I'm not commenting on this case at all.

But Cairdeas, the latest science on human memory indicates that you should be very, very skeptical about your "super clear and distinct", "very clear and detailed memories from 3, 4 and 5". False memories aren't just created by coaching or repressed-memory-therapy. They can be induced by photos, conversations, or merely just imagining situations. And once they're laid down, they feel indistinguishable from real memories.

Here's neuroscientist and skeptic Steve Novella on why human memory needs to be treated with skepticism:

We tend to equate vividness and details with high confidence in the accuracy of a memory. Yet, high confidence is not a predictor of accuracy.

When you think about it, though, it makes sense. When we imagine something or remember an experience, the same pattern of brain activation occurs as when we actively experience the same thing. A memory is a memory – there is (apparently) no tag that lets us know which memories are of events we actually experienced, and which are things we imagined. All memories feel the same to us, regardless of how accurate or real they are.

A recent study highlights this fact. Researchers exposed subjects to a fake commercial for a fake new popcorn product. In one group the ad images were very vivid. In another group they were not. In yet another group subject were actually given popcorn to taste, and were told it was the new fake brand.

One week later the subjects were quizzed on whether or not they had every tried various products, including the fake one, how confident they were in their memory, and what their attitudes were toward the product. The high imagery group had the same rate of reporting that they actually tried the popcorn as the group that was given the popcorn to eat. They also reported an equally high confidence in their memory. The low-imagery group did not show this effect.

Further, the attitude of the high-imagery group toward the fake product was more positive than the low imagery group.

What this study suggests is that vivid imagery can create a false memory of actual experience. This is in line with other false memory research. Further (and this is why the study was published in the Journal of Consumer Research) this “false experience” effect can be used to increase attitudes towards a brand (even one that doesn’t exist).

The implications of this and other research is clear – false memories can be manufactured. This is precisely why when subjects, sometimes under hypnosis, are invited by a therapist or investigator to imagine themselves experiencing a standard alien abduction scenario, or an episode of childhood physical abuse, or a past life – the experience is not revealing hidden memories, it’s manufacturing false memories.

This is also why, in more everyday examples, it is important to be skeptical of your own memories, no matter how vivid they are or confident you are in their accuracy.

posted by dontjumplarry at 3:07 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


I still listen to Wagner and he has a lot more to answer for.
posted by humanfont at 3:07 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Because of my own experiences, reading the descriptions of Dylan's physical reaction to seeing Woody Allen's image and/or hearing his name as a young adult ring especially true to me

That's another weird thing! My father was never sexually inappropriate with me, but he had a lot of anger issues, and a lot of other abusive behaviors, b0th physical and emotional, went on before he left.

He also bore an uncanny resemblance to a popular Hollywood actor of his generation. They seriously could have been brothers - same hair, teeth, voice, eyebrows, mannerisms, personality tics, down to the last detail. This actor is famous for having a certain "persona" he brings to all his roles, that's very similar to my Dad's everyday manner. Whenever I see one of his movies, it's with morbid fascination and a barely-suppressed sense of dread, and catching sight of him by surprise, while nothing like Dylan's panic attacks, certainly makes me jump.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:08 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Can Dylan sue Woody?
posted by goethean at 3:15 PM on February 2


dontjumplarry, i'm not seeing any "vividness and details" in the example you've given. It says that these people were "confident" in their memories, but there is absolutely no description of what their memories actually were. Are they all saying, "Yes! I remember Lisa and I ate that popcorn while sitting in the blue chair as Elton John played on the radio." Or are they saying things like, "Ya I remember eating it" with no details. It seems like a whole lot is being extrapolated from very little.
posted by cairdeas at 3:17 PM on February 2


It's also striking that nobody who supposedly believes all our memory is unreliable actually acts as if they believe that in everyday life. You find the car you remember owning in the parking lot, you drive it to the address you remember living in, you kiss the person you remember marrying. You don't carry a cheat sheet with you going, "No! All memories could be fabricated! I can't risk it!" It's pretty much only when it comes time to tell someone else what they believe can't be true, that this comes up.
posted by cairdeas at 3:19 PM on February 2 [24 favorites]


Back when this happened, I was so disgusted and shocked by Allen's relationship with Soon Yi, I easily believed the allegations of molestation of Dylan. I haven't seen one of his films since then, even as I still see him as a great artist. In -92, I read the first VF article, and was even more shocked (and believed it) - but even then, part of the horror was reading about Mia Farrow and her family arrangements.
Today, I have begun to doubt it all. Mainly because of Dylan's letter. As said, it does not ring true in my ears. I certainly see and acknowledge that others have clear memories from their youngest days, and I can personally relate to your stories - I was raped at 17, and vividly remember every detail, though I haven't ever talked with anyone about it. I understand how we develop in many different ways, and I may have been a slow child, for many reasons. But reading the links here on the blue, my doubts have been confirmed: re-reading the VF article made me aware that some of Dylan's sentences are almost directly copied from that article.

In 1992, I was young and childless, I was also pregnant and had seen my husband have an affair with a much younger woman. I strongly identified with Mia Farrow. I still do in a way: if my 20-year old daughter got involved with a much older man, I'd be very worried. If he was my boyfriend,I'd be incensed. And I would begin thinking about his conduct with the younger child, because I would be blind with both fury and fear. My ex-husband is an artist. When I discovered his infidelity, I cut 80+ of his works into 2x2 mm squares. Very soothing.
We divorced, and during custody with our child, he acted in ways that were and still are clearly strange and obsessive. I was very uncomfortable with it, but before calling the police, I had a leading child psychiatrist examine her, and the verdict was basically: your ex is crazy, you need to take charge and make sure your child has a safe environment at all times, but your ex is not a child molester. I believed the doctor, and everything since then has confirmed her judgement.

In my view, most (not all) elder men pretending to have equal relationships with young girls are disgusting, but I say that because I was in such a relationship - young women have their own reasons for getting involved with elder men. And either way, it has little or nothing to do with pedophilia.

At this point in my life, I think everyone in this story who was an adult in 1992 were really self-absorbed, un-healthy and unfit to take care of a family. Only their immense riches protected them and the children from something really crazy - they had nannies and probably cooks and other servants, and the children went to private schools where there would have been less discussion about unhappy or even dysfunctional children. However, the same immense riches that protected the children from going hungry or missing school also protected the parents from common sense, from normal life, from hearing what the psychiatrist told me when I was unable to see the obvious. Fame and fortune let them make their divorce-row and their child abuse public.

Since -92, I have been involved both professionally and privately with several troubled children and young people. (Children privately, 18-22 year-old students at my work) One of the most constant issues of these young people is that they have troubles navigating between real life and something else. In some cases that something else is imposed upon them by abusers (not necessarily sexual), in others, imagination has been their way of handling chaos. Actually, I have been told at courses (to learn how to deal with this) that this is a main issue for those who are struggling to get beyond childhood trauma: as a victim, you have no idea what is real and what is not.
For privacy reasons I cannot go deeper into cases, but one example is of a seven-year old girl who has suffered severe trauma, and uses "stories" to cope with in her mind uncaring surroundings (no abuse involved here). Another was a young woman who consistently accused her father of incest till she didn't (and at this point, I am 100% certain her accusations were groundless).
When the seven-year old mentioned above created stories, she rather obviously used words, images and even events she had heard in her family environment. If her teachers had been less professional, this could have led to a very difficult situation. Because her equally traumatized family used words and described images that were not appropriate for a seven-year old. And people who are desperate are not always sensible.

None of us can ever know what really happened. But I do note that Dylan was examined by a doctor twice, and there was no sign of rape. So there is clearly no rape, but still a suspicion of misconduct. What she describes - always quoting from the -92 VF article - can point that way, but there is no real evidence. There is no doubt that the whole family was severely troubled. In that sense, Ronan Farrow's anger is both accurate and appropriate: how can Dad run of with my sister? that makes no sense at all, and it is disgusting. He is right. And right to be angry.
After todays readings, I lean towards believing Allen did not break the law. But that both he and Farrow broke all rules of parenting.
posted by mumimor at 3:20 PM on February 2 [16 favorites]


I have, for many years, claimed that Woody Allen may be my favorite director. I was somewhat young when the initial scandal happened, and somehow the accusations about Dylan escaped my attention, and I spent my entire life only knowing about everyone's disgust at the relationship with Soon-Yi. What can I say, except that I was young and stupid enough not to pay attention to the news and got most of my current events information from whatever idiotic Leno joke was being repeated or what some cartoon like The Critic made reference to.

So I guess I am one of those people being directly told about this for the first time by Dylan in her open letter. And I'm being asked what I think of Woody Allen's films now, and everyone's asking if we "forgive" him or if he did it and who do we believe and all that et cetera.

I believe the woman who says her father sexually assaulted her. Every time. I don't care if someone hands me a million reasons why it might not have happened. I will never care about that. I believe the woman who says she has been sexually assaulted.

Fuck his films. I will never watch them again. They don't matter. What Dylan Farrow has experienced, and what she has said is what matters.
posted by shmegegge at 3:33 PM on February 2 [7 favorites]


Please note, I'm not suggesting Allen's work is evidence of anything, either, only that its meaning has been recontextualized for me in the aftermath of these accusations, and for me at least, his work was never universal or important enough to get past the influence these accusations have had on my experience of the subtext of his work.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:34 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


> Ugh. This is such deeply offensive bullshit. Can we please not blithely dismiss the experiences of every survivor
> in this thread and elsewhere with, "We can never know what happened to you or any other rape victim because
> let's face it, you'll never remember it properly"?

That's not what it says, z. It says we can never know what happened to you because we can't know if you remember it properly. You may very well remember the event perfectly. Lacking additional evidence or ESP, no one else can know that you do.

In cases where there is only A's story against B's story and no objective corroboration of either, we can't know. That's why we must require some form of corroboration before we bring out the tar and feathers.
posted by jfuller at 3:40 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing I don't get - none of us actually has tar and feathers. None of us has pitchforks, either, or the ability to throw Woody Allen into a pond to see if he floats or sinks, or to tie him to a pyre. None of us has the power or authority to get Woody Allen into serious trouble of any kind. We certainly can't put him in prison. All we can do is have our opinions, type them on the internet, gossip about them to our friends, and, as this article points out, choose whether or not we see his movies in a different light as a result of this.

This is not a courtroom and we will probably never have certainty beyond a reasonable doubt in this situation, and millions other situations just like it. All we have are our own experiences, memories, opinions, and consciences to abide by. That's it.

Unless the family choose to press some kind of suit, I doubt Allen will ever see the inside of an actual courtroom over this. The most likely outcome is that his reputation will be tarnished, different people may choose to see or not see his movies than previously, and he will be remembered differently than he would have been had these scandals not occurred - just like any other public figure embroiled in any other scandal that doesn't make it to the courtroom.

No corroboration necessary.
posted by Ouisch at 3:56 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Here's the thing I don't get - none of us actually has tar and feathers. None of us has pitchforks, either, or the ability to throw Woody Allen into a pond to see if he floats or sinks, or to tie him to a pyre. None of us has the power or authority to get Woody Allen into serious trouble of any kind. We certainly can't put him in prison. All we can do is have our opinions, type them on the internet, gossip about them to our friends, and, as this article points out, choose whether or not we see his movies in a different light as a result of this.

What we are engaging in is less about Woody Allen and more about who are we.

What do we value, how do we come to those judgements, and how do our opinions get tested in hard, edge cases. If the discussion of art and artists is about culture, what kind of society are we, what kind of culture?

The Farrow/Allen family tragedy is in many ways just a sadly public vehicle for the discussion.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:04 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


So will Nancy Jo Slaes, the Vanity Fair writer who was pen-pals with Woody when she was 13, have some opinions on this?
posted by Ideefixe at 4:09 PM on February 2


But I do note that Dylan was examined by a doctor twice, and there was no sign of rape. So there is clearly no rape, but still a suspicion of misconduct.

It's kind of a myth that child sexual abuse would result in physical corroboration. Normal findings are the norm in cases where there is a conviction. It is not at all difficult to sexually assault a child without leaving a mark, especially since, as in this case, they don't often resist.

That's why we must require some form of corroboration before we bring out the tar and feathers.

Not only has Woody Allen not been tarred and feathered, he has gone on to additional success, wealth and acclaim, winning multiple Academy Awards since the accusation was first made public. Not even a metaphorical tar and feathering. But to the other point, I believe we can each gauge someone's credibility and in fact we do it regularly. We don't have to throw our hands up crying "he said she said". Although if people want to they can. But don't claim that's the only legitimate response. All I would say is that when gauging credibility try not to use myths.
posted by Danila at 4:11 PM on February 2 [21 favorites]


It's kind of a myth that child sexual abuse would result in physical corroboration
I know, and I agree this could easily be the case - but given that every single allegation of abuse in Dylan's letter is verbatim taken from the -92 VF article, and that she states no individual recollection of abuse beyond this, medical evidence seems to me to be important.
The individual experiences she does describe - such as anxiety and disgust when being confronted with Allen in the media - would be just as plausible if there were a suggestive atmosphere in her home, which in no doubt there was.
posted by mumimor at 4:32 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


And Allen's friends and publicity machine have just been sitting on their hands? Before the breakup he was lauding Mia as an excellent mother, and afterward she's an hysterical dingbat that should have her kids taken away from her.

This is what it's like when your parents go through a messy divorce/breakup/custody battle, and it's one of the main reason that my overarching stance on this is "why is this news right now?" and my immediate thought is to trace the PR trail and see where that starts. Oh, it starts with one of the vindictive parents, not the actual victim. Surprise surprise.

I feel so bad for the Farrow kids that their parents had to split up under intense media scrutiny. It was bad enough just being That One Weird Family in our small town.
posted by Sara C. at 4:37 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


One of the most disgusting things about the Daily Beast article -- for me, anyway -- is that the writer uses Dylan's current first name. Why would you do that?
posted by pxe2000 at 4:46 PM on February 2 [7 favorites]


every single allegation of abuse in Dylan's letter is verbatim taken from the -92 VF article, and that she states no individual recollection of abuse beyond this

Not to personally interrogate you, mumimor, and I have definitely appreciated your participation this thread even though we disagree in quite a few ways.

My thoughts on this - it seems no-win. Her story is the same as in '92, it seems like she's just cribbing from the VF article. (Although, she'd be cribbing from ... herself.) Her story is different than it was in '92, she's unreliable and a story-changer. She adds things we didn't hear about in '92 -- if that really happened then why didn't she say so at the time?

It seemed like any of the possibilities could be criticized.
posted by cairdeas at 4:48 PM on February 2 [22 favorites]


One of the most disgusting things about the Daily Beast article -- for me, anyway -- is that the writer uses Dylan's current first name. Why would you do that?

Sheer unfettered bullying, IMO.
posted by cairdeas at 4:49 PM on February 2 [13 favorites]


I'm still really confused by whose name used to be what, and whose name is currently what. Can't justify the naming choices in the Daily Beast article, but because the children's names were changed, it makes the story incredibly difficult to report in a way that makes sense.
posted by Sara C. at 4:57 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Of the three children born to/adopted by Allen and Farrow: Ronan used to be known as Satchel or Seamus; Moses is also called Misha; no comment on Dylan's other names. Farrow's 3 older girls were Lark, Daisy, and Soon-Yi.
posted by cairdeas at 5:06 PM on February 2


Dylan's previous names are a matter of very well known public record. So I don't think this is a matter of outing a secret identity. Mia Farrow herself is on record as talking about the various names.
posted by Justinian at 5:32 PM on February 2


Maybe it's just me, but I find it utterly damning that the rather lengthy Daily Beast article never once makes the claim that Woody Allen is a fundamentally decent human being who would never abuse another person, much less a 7-year-old, much less a 7-year-old daughter. I mean, the possibility that Rowan Farrow's dad is Frank Sinatra is fascinating, but seems a bit tangential to the question of whether Woody Allen is a freaking child molester or not.

Personally, I would find it very difficult to have my reputation associated with child molestation in any way. Allen's defenders seem mainly worried about the line at which it becomes socially unacceptable to be a Woody Allen fan. Yeah, he's incredibly creepy, but as long as there is some reasonable doubt people can still work with him and pay to see his movies and it's OK. Lawyerly technical arguments are fine for court but why should the public opinion work in this way? Why don't the people defending this man actually vouch for his character, instead of technically laying out how his partner's adopted daughter isn't actually his stepdaughter?
posted by leopard at 5:36 PM on February 2 [13 favorites]


dontjumplarry, i'm not seeing any "vividness and details" in the example you've given. It says that these people were "confident" in their memories, but there is absolutely no description of what their memories actually were. Are they all saying, "Yes! I remember Lisa and I ate that popcorn while sitting in the blue chair as Elton John played on the radio." Or are they saying things like, "Ya I remember eating it" with no details. It seems like a whole lot is being extrapolated from very little.

cairdeas, no-one is extrapolating anything from that one study. Neuroscientist Steve Novella was basing that on a mountain of evidence that show that people's sincerely believed memories can be wrong.

The folk understanding of memory is really out of step with the science. That does not by any means imply that any particular victim's testimony is false, or should be disbelieved or not pursued.
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:51 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


[Do not post graphic descriptions of sexual assault to prove a rhetorical point. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 5:53 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Woody Allen is a fundamentally decent human being who would never abuse another person

A few problems here.

1. Woody Allen is pretty obviously not a fundamentally decent human being. If you know anything about him, you know he is at best a petulant manchild and at worst a complete waste of space. There's no way anybody could convince me he was an OK guy, and I'm a fan of some of his work.

2. You can be a bad person and not be a child rapist. In fact in my reading of the article, that's basically what's being asserted. Yeah, Woody Allen left his long-term age-appropriate girlfriend -- with whom he had adopted children -- for said girlfriend's college aged daughter. That's fucked. That's an awful, awful thing to do and a sign that he is a Bad Person. Does that mean he's a child rapist? No.

3. Even if the article tried to assert Allen's bonafides as a good person who could never possibly do such a thing, that's basically he-said-she-said. I say Woody Allen is a great guy and could NEVER be a pedophile. You say Woody Allen is a terrible human being and DEFINITELY a pedophile. OK. That leaves us where, exactly?

4. How can one even know whether one's friends are "the type of person who would be a pedophile" or not? I think it's damning that the article doesn't mention Allen's history with much younger women, lack of boundaries, and previous concerns about his relationship with his daughter. I don't have a problem with his failure to mention that there's just no way Allen could be a pedophile, since, I don't know, do any of us know that with any certainty, about any of our friends? The reason it's so difficult to convict people like Woody Allen is that they are surrounded by people who will say, "Oh, that just couldn't be true!" Because nobody wants to believe that of an upstanding member of the community, who's very successful, has a lot of important friends, provides for his family, etc.

5. I do think it's interesting that he mentions that he knows Allen's children with Soon-Yi, and that they're normal well adjusted girls who don't seem to be abused. I'd be much more worried if they were never mentioned in the article, by someone who has the proximity to know what things are like at the Allen-Previn house. (I'm also interested in the facts of his and Soon-Yi's adoptions, considering, you know, It's Woody Allen And Soon-Yi Previn Gasp Gasp. This is like if OJ had another ex turn up dead of murder, and nobody even suggested that he could be a suspect.
posted by Sara C. at 5:53 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Sexual assault is not the same as eating popcorn.

Also bullshit to "if it's remembered as being from the third person it's not a real memory". A lot of my most significant memories are recalled by me as though I'm out of my body, because they feel like that - so emotionally overwhelming. These are incidents that I can back up with evidence.

I feel like the people who are going "ZOMG FALSE MEMORIES" are people who have never had such an emotionally traumatic or overwhelming incident that sticks to your memory like nothing else. And it's not just mental - it's somatic, it's physical, it's in your body even if you don't really consciously notice it. It's the smell, the voice, the mannerism, the song that played at the same time, the snippets of words you hear, the exact placement of the hands...
posted by divabat at 5:56 PM on February 2 [7 favorites]


"That does not by any means imply that any particular victim's testimony is false"

It appears to be stated to do exactly that, disprove the victims account.
posted by xarnop at 6:10 PM on February 2



"That does not by any means imply that any particular victim's testimony is false"

It appears to be stated to do exactly that, disprove the victims account.


it implies that anybody's memory/testimony could be false. It throws doubt into the equation as opposed to negation.
posted by philip-random at 6:16 PM on February 2


it implies that anybody's memory/testimony could be false. It throws doubt into the equation as opposed to negation.

I know it probably came across as a coded defence of Woody Allen, but that wasn't my intention.

My instinct is that this victim's testimony should be taken really seriously, and it should be investigated strenuously, because it well might be true.
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:27 PM on February 2


The psychiatrists who examined Dylan Yale–New Haven Hospital Child Sexual Abuse Clinic reported directly to Allen instead of to the stat attorney. They used psychologists on Allen's payroll and destroyed all their notes. I'm not inclined to believe too strongly in the impartiality of their investigation.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:33 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Anyway, that's why I really love those ancient works of art by "Anonymous." "Anonymous" could have been the biggest piece of sh** the world has ever known, but I can enjoy his or her work in blissful ignorance. I'm off to enjoy some tapestries and plainchant.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:38 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


This, too:
[People need] stop and think twice about how things work in the real world where real little girls have to live.
--posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:37 PM on February 2 [18 favorites]


What is probably worst (not that there's some sort of comparison game happening) is the sense of utter powerlessness a person will feel, child, adult, otherwise. And, hello? Children feel totally powerless anyway because you're a fucking child.

For all of the little girls in the real world. For all of the children in the real world. For all of the people in the real world.

At least speak truth. At least acknowledge what the fuck is.

And do not fuck over Dylan Farrow and others who speak out by injuring them with the tired [damn it, can't think of the word for tired ... synonymous with "argument" and "saw", but neither word. not "trope" ... ah, hell, I can't remember. Chestnut? Maybe chestnut. But I love chestnuts too much to get them involved or even associated. ;-) ] "your memories are fucked", "but his MOVIES!", "he made nebbish sexy", bla bla bla.

This is the dynamic that needs to be pointed out: further disempowering people who have experienced violence by another person. Why, why, why would anybody want to add to another person's feeling of deep powerlessness? Have we truly learned nothing?

Because, honestly? They don't need you to believe them. They know what happened. But in a world where humans are born altricial and not precocial, it is still a huge, huge shock to the system when young people learn how those who are meant to protect and help their synapses grow and connect end up short-circuiting and fucking them up so that instead we have the amygdala in constant self-re-traumatizing mode.

See Dr. Richard Rockefeller's many talks on MDMDA-assisted psychotherapy as a model for treatment-resistant PTSD:
1) highly detailed recall of trauma in a setting of extreme safety (can then take trauma and move out of amygdala; reconsolidation)

"the brain is insanely complex..."
Let's not forget that in trauma, a person will invariably reprocess what happened in different ages/decades of life. I cannot imagine seeing someone plastered all over the media like that. To never have a break. To never feel reprieve.

***No, I am not diagnosing Dylan Farrow (keep wanting to write Dylan Thomas, sorry) with PTSD. Duh.

Okay, off to watch a film. Because Philip Seymour Hoffman died. :-(
posted by simulacra at 6:47 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Sara C, I agree that cases of child sexual abuse often come down to he-said-she-said. And Woody Allen doesn't seem likely to end up in jail. And I don't know for sure what happened.

But the Daily Beast piece isn't a thoughtful essay on the limits of knowledge. It is a one-sided polemic on behalf of a man whose character is so weak that his friends won't come out and say that he'd never molest his own daughter. Personally, "reasonable doubt" is too low a standard to get me to defend someone who may very well have abused a 7-year-old. And that's the whole problem: somehow Allen is playing a game where as long as there is the slightest doubt about what happened, he wins. He can keep on making movies and gathering awards and people will defend him.
posted by leopard at 6:50 PM on February 2 [16 favorites]


I do think it's interesting that he mentions that he knows Allen's children with Soon-Yi, and that they're normal well adjusted girls who don't seem to be abused. I'd be much more worried if they were never mentioned in the article, by someone who has the proximity to know what things are like at the Allen-Previn house.

Really? Oh man. I feel like I've been disagreeing with you left and right recently, but I left this basic comment earlier in the MetaTalk thread that I hated this paragraph from the Weide article:

On more than one occasion, when I was planning to interview Woody, I found I had to schedule around mornings when he’d walk his kids to school, or attend parent-teacher conferences. The normalcy of his domestic life was somehow surprising to me. I’ve not spent a lot of time with his kids, but I’ve met them on a few occasions where I’ve received the cursory “hello,” as they went about their business doing girl stuff with their friends. The only parent-child tensions I’ve been privy to are that his girls think their father’s mean for not letting them have a dog, and that he’s an idiot for not knowing how to work a computer. Lest anyone accuse me of being in Woody’s pocket, I’ll confess that I side with his kids on both counts.

This paragraph -- the assumptions that Weide is clearly making from it based on people's outward behavior and what it all means -- really upset me. I don't want to elaborate more out of respect for the daughters, but Weide is so, so wrong to assume that he knows anything about them or their lives from the "normal" encounters that he, a complete outsider, has had with them that it makes me think he is rather an idiot. I think Weide is one of those guys who thinks he can know the heart and soul of someone because they both feel passionately about film or cars or art or something, but he really doesn't know a thing. He thinks he can see into the inner lives of these girls because of the "cursory 'hello'" he has occasionally received and hearing complaints about dogs and computers? I mean, really? Who does he think he is? And this:

During an unsupervised moment, Woody allegedly took Dylan into the attic and, shall we say, “touched her inappropriately.”

Hey Robert B. Weide, with your weird mockery and inappropriate sarcasm toward molestation accusations, you seem to lack any sense of, shall we say, "human decency."
posted by onlyconnect at 6:52 PM on February 2 [32 favorites]


I agree that cases of child sexual abuse often come down to he-said-she-said.

That's not what I said, at all. I'm talking about a rhetorical device, not the molestation case. I'm saying that it would be pointless for Weide to spend his time trying to explain that Woody Allen could never be a child molester.

I don't entirely agree with the Daily Beast article (and I had to hold my nose to agree with the parts that were sensible), but I don't think it would have been smart for the author to have simply said, "Woody Allen is a great guy! He could never have done such a thing!" The first sentence is an obvious lie, and the second is an irrelevant hypothetical.
posted by Sara C. at 6:55 PM on February 2


MDMDA MDMA-assisted
posted by simulacra at 6:55 PM on February 2


his friends won't come out and say that he'd never molest his own daughter

Who can possibly know such a thing, and how could it be in any way useful for friends to do that?

Imagine that my father molested me as a child. My father is a pediatrician, a scion of the community, well off, successful, kind, intelligent, generous, etc. Everybody we knew would have said, "Oh, but he could never do such a thing!"

That wouldn't change the truth.
posted by Sara C. at 6:56 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Weide is so, so wrong to assume that he knows anything about them or their lives from the "normal" encounters that he, a complete outsider, has had with them that it makes me think he is rather an idiot.

Oh, for sure. Another reason it would have been ludicrous for him to frame the piece around "BUT HE COULD NEVER!"

I wasn't reassured by that passage, but I was reassured that he would mention that Allen is a good father to his daughters. To omit that would be rather glaring.
posted by Sara C. at 6:59 PM on February 2


So it is pointless for Weide to say that Allen isn't a depraved monster who would prey on an innocent child, but it makes sense for him to spend time writing about how Allen is claustrophobic and would never molest someone in an attic?
posted by leopard at 7:00 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]


Again, I'm not saying I fully agreed with the article.

I can just see why, in this particular case, you wouldn't want to build your argument around "But Woody Allen is such a nice, normal guy who would never hurt anybody!"

I mean, this is Woody Allen we're talking about.
posted by Sara C. at 7:06 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I thought the claustrophobia thing was weak. I'm watching a documentary about Allen right now and he's sitting in a car. He presumably rides in elevators. It's not like the man lives on the prairie.
posted by Sara C. at 7:07 PM on February 2 [12 favorites]


Yeah, it's totally weak. The man lives in NYC for crying out loud! NYC is not for the claustrophobic. He's afraid of attics?? In NYC people live in closets as a way of life!

The sex drive is a funny thing. I have plenty of neuroses and fears. I've had times when they were so bad I could barely leave the house. Despite that, I have begun long term relationships, twice, during my worst periods of anxiety. One time, friend of a friend asked me out. I said, "Well, alright, but I can't really handle a regular date right now, out on the town. Can we just hang out in your house?" So we hung out in his garage and played ping pong as our first date.

There are certain drives that push people to do things even when they might be otherwise terrified. I think the sex drive can very often be one of those things.
posted by cairdeas at 7:15 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I'll try this in a less-upsetting way: I have physical scars that corroborate some bad memories of childhood abuse.

However, there are many, many ways to abuse a person that leave no physical and/or medical evidence whatsoever.

Sadists are smart, and can be very creative when it comes to hurting other people. Often, they choose the less-visible options specifically in order to avoid prosecution, which I believe is what Allen did to Dylan as a child. He is a very intelligent man with a lot to lose if prosecuted successfully over such allegations, and it's those very qualities that his defenders will cling to when pressed and presented with the known facts.

It's illogical for him to have done anything he's accused of, sure -- but a person's sexual compulsions are typically the byproduct of emotion and brain chemistry, not logic or rational thought.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:15 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Woody Allen’s Good Name

Brings up these interesting piece to ponder:
But “he said, she said” doesn’t resolve to “let’s start by assume she’s lying,” except in a rape culture, and if you are presuming his innocence by presuming her mendacity, you are rape cultured...If you want to vigorously claim ignorance–to assert that we can never know what happened, in that attic–then you must ground that lack of knowledge in the presumption that what she has said doesn’t count, and we cannot believe her story...

We are in the midst of an ongoing, quiet epidemic of sexual violence, now as always. We are not in the midst of an epidemic of false rape charges, and that fact is important here.
posted by redbeard at 7:31 PM on February 2 [12 favorites]


The Daily Beast article was just the writer trying really, really hard to justify himself for being Allen's documentarian and for dedicating his time and energy to him. It's muddled, it's victim-blaming, it does some weird shit with Mia Farrow's sexual history for no apparent reason, and it is 100% an act of self-defense by someone who is emotionally tied up in Woody Allen and whose career and reputation are tied to Woody Allen.
posted by NoraReed at 7:48 PM on February 2 [34 favorites]


I feel very hesitant to post about this at all, given the emotional responses to the letters and essays and articles and to the apparently strongly-held opinions one way or another. I guess what I'd really like to address is memory and facts, and I'd like to talk about those things because they and sexual assault and abuse have personally affected me.

By the way, this is something I rarely, rarely talk about. I have close family members who do not know these things. For reference, I am 40 years old now.

Things I know right now to be definitely true that have been independently corroborated:
A family member "inappropriately touched" me when I was very young. When I was a freshman in college, I was sexually assaulted, in a single event, by at least one person.

Some things I thought at various points to be true but almost certainly are not true:
That the events with the family member took place over the course of a long time. That a particular other family member was present. That a particular young man participated in the event in college. That it happened on the same day as a particular milestone. That I spoke about it the following day.

Some things I really have no idea about but actually have pictures in my head that some would call "memories" but which actually have changed over the years, sometimes several times, and sometimes very soon after the events in question:
What I was wearing on each of these occasions. What room I was in during the childhood incident. The duration of that event. Who I was socializing with before the college incident. How I got home after it. Whether I cried or pretended to be tough. How vigorously I protested. What the campus police said to me when I told them a little bit about it. Which campus police officer I actually spoke to. Other than one person that I am certain of, the other party or parties involved.

For the childhood incident, I have a number of ideas about why my memories are so strange. Childhood is a dreamy, weird time. I also distinctly remember being bored in first grade and staring out the window on a foggy day, feeling certain that if I wished hard enough, I'd become a witch and fly outside. Back then, a school year felt like foreeever. Now, ten months feels like nothing at all. And I can't discount the element of sexual fantasy, too. Few people want to address that children have sexual feelings, but they do. I did. I had "tinglies" when flirted with and when on a swing. Not with that adult, but I didn't have enough information and experience to put things in their proper compartments. I do now, but my brain has had decades since that incident to manipulate thoughts and memories and sensations into something I can live with.

For a long time, I didn't remember it at all. Then my body remembered; I had the usual litany of eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and the rest. Finally, actual memories -- but they were like Polaroid pictures, a little bit blurry and not at all continuous. My brain filled in the rest, some of it improperly. All in all, my brain did an okay job.

For the college incident, I know exactly what happened to my memory. By that time, I was well practiced in dissociation, "going away in my head" like I used to when things got too horrible OR too wonderful. Simply, I missed part of it even though my body was there. When I decided to talk to someone about it, I internalized a lot of the questions I was asked: Was I sure I wasn't a real participant? What was I doing there after drinking, anyway? Why was I drinking at 17? Didn't I know that was illegal? How could I be sure those particular boys were there? Maybe I wanted to think it all over and come back. And so on. I thought about it. I thought about it. I thought about it. I... made new memories. They didn't overwrite the old memories. They just exist together, in constant contradiction. I can't earnestly tell many of them apart anymore. They feel equally real. I'm no longer sure which memories came first.

Had someone given me different things to think about, I might have solidified memories of what had actually happened. Or, I might have made different memories entirely -- not only were those two boys there, but the marching band, too. And the faculty of the English department knew about it. Etc. Given the right conversations at the right vulnerable time, repeated, I might have formed honest, true memories of many things that did not actually happen.

I have had a lot of therapy, and it has helped. I have had to move beyond feeling like I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED FOR SURE and move toward just becoming a person who lives with PTSD in the healthiest way possible. A decade ago, I would have told you without a doubt what I believe happened when I was a child, and many of you, in the "always believe the child" vein, would have believed it right along with me. I would not have been lying and I would have been adamant. But I know now that some of it was wrong. And while I am so grateful to people who take people like me seriously, people who have had their naivete and vulnerability taken advantage of, I really need to say that memory is mysterious and tricky and helpful and not helpful at all.

I don't know this young woman and I don't know her mother or her father or her siblings. I do not believe that she is lying, whether or not those events actually took place. I don't know if she has been manipulated via her memories, but if she has, she deserves a lot of compassion. And if the accused party is innocent, as he just may be, he has paid a heavy price -- as she has, for the loss of her childhood and for her relationships. I do know that several "facts" have been bandied about that are absolutely untrue. Given that, and given my own painful and humbling experiences, it makes me horribly, horribly, beyond description anxious to see people vehemently defending and attacking and expressing outrage at others' views on this. This is really a lot more complicated than he-said, she-said.

And now I need a tea or a Xanax or a teddy bear or something.
posted by houseofdanie at 9:03 PM on February 2 [27 favorites]


Take a look at the second paragraph in this article which describes how Woody and Soon-Yi's then toddler aged kids behaved with strangers(you can read it for free if you have a library card). This does NOT sound "well adjusted" to me.
posted by brujita at 9:23 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


On our way upstairs, we ran into Manzie, 2, and Bechet, 3, the two children he adopted with his wife, Soon-Yi Previn. They cowered behind their nanny as I squatted down to say hello. ''They've been taught to trust no one,'' Allen explained as we rode to the sixth floor.

I dunno, sounds reasonable for kids to be scared of strangers. Sounds reasonable for celebrity (or average) parents to warn kids off from strangers.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:37 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Scared of strangers/shyness as being part of one's personality is one thing, taught to trust NO ONE (even when accompanied by caregivers, parents or bodyguards) isn't healthy.
posted by brujita at 10:00 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


I'd teach a stringent standard for trust if things like paparazzi where a part of my family's life. Just based on that paragraph and what is available for free, I can't make an informed call here.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:33 PM on February 2


''They've been taught to trust no one,'' Allen explained as we rode to the sixth floor.

Yes, you could take that literally, or you could take it as an off-hand joke. Even though I think it's highly likely that Dylan's story is substantially or totally true, I think that quoted statement from that article was a joke.
posted by maudlin at 10:37 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I dunno, sounds reasonable for kids to be scared of strangers. Sounds reasonable for celebrity (or average) parents to warn kids off from strangers.

Fame is deeply weird. It confuses everything, whether you're famous or just a fan. That's certainly been my experience of it.

I wonder if the long term postmortem on all of this might be more concerned with the "Society of the Spectacle" than any of the individuals players? Not saying Woody's guilty. Not saying he's innocent. Am wondering if that's even the question we should be asking given that we don't personally know anyone involved, haven't had unfiltered access to any of the evidence.

Are we being played? If so, by whom?
posted by philip-random at 10:39 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I wonder what Moses Farrow has to say. Still officially Woody Allen's son, I believe, and closest to Dylan in age. Though admittedly, with the name-changes and all I find it hard to keep the various children straight.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:57 PM on February 2


the best summary of this article and my favorite comment on it is this brief post over on the SA Forums
posted by maus at 12:08 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


There is no way for any of us to know the facts about this.

It is plausible that Allen is guilty. It is plausible that he is innocent. All this gut-feeling, "it sounds a bit like what happened to me so I believe Dylan", "Farrow is clearly pursuing a vicious vendetta and brainwashed her children" stuff is nasty, pitchfork-waving bullshit and I am not impressed with anyone on either side who indulges in it.

Innocent until proven guilty. We have that idea for a very, very good reason. I will now shut up, and so should everyone else. They won't, of course, because people enjoy ill-informed condemnation too much.
posted by Decani at 1:18 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]


Innocent until proven guilty. We have that idea for a very, very good reason.

Woody Allen is not being tried and this is not a court of law. Consequently no-one is under any obligation to follow the any legal principles in forming or expressing their opinions.
posted by mikelieman at 1:56 AM on February 3 [34 favorites]


I wonder what Moses Farrow has to say. Still officially Woody Allen's son, I believe, and closest to Dylan in age. Though admittedly, with the name-changes and all I find it hard to keep the various children straight.
posted by gadge emeritus Almost 7 hours ago [+]


According to the Daily Beast piece, for what that's worth, he's on Woody's side.
posted by amro at 5:55 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


"They won't, of course, because people enjoy ill-informed condemnation too much."

I really genuinely understand why you might be concerned that this is why many people are taking a survivor focused approach in believing the accusers story here. I really genuinely don't think that's why the majority of people are standing in solidarity with Dylan and/or refusing to support Woody Allen's business empire.

Many of us have spent a lot of time supporting survivors in addition to being survivors ourselves or being interested being able to support survivors if needed and therefore we have read and learned about best ways to do this as individuals and communities.

Many of us, including myself, went through periods feeling exactly like you do--- concern for the accused, wanting to protect them from harmful allegations and consequences and willingness to extend the benefit of the doubt.

In many situations these are actually very kind traits so I understand why you have them. What many of us have found in supporting survivors is that this common combination of traits that occur when people are accused results in a society that breeds and supports abusers who manage to operate without interference from the law. To counter that, on the community level, many of us have grown to take a survivor focused response to accusations-- when we can't know either way, we will support the survivors story and ensure they feel safe in their community. This counter balances the fact that the courts fail to convict many known abusers and such people live among us. So yes, the courts will favor innocent until proven guilty but I think it's healthy for communities to take into consideration accusations of abuse and take them seriously in further dealings with the accused to look out for the vulnerable and stand in support of those who may have been harmed.

I know you might not be interested in a different perspective, but I have found that I've met very few people that have spent a lot of time supporting survivors that share your values- meaning a lot of the hostility to Dylan and solidarity with Woody is really counter to how a survivor friendly community works. You don't have to work together to create communities that is more friendly to survivors than your abusers-- but that's sort of where a lot of us are coming from and it's a journey that if you haven't been on you might not have learned as much about- or the forces in our communities that literally feed abuse.

I've been where you are, to the point I defended my OWN abuser even though I knew he was abusing! I rationalized it, I made excuses, and I pretended there was a lot of doubt about his actual intentions even when I was right there seeing what he was doing.

The force of denial is strong even when you see the facts, and it's much stronger when you can find any way out-- I personally think this is because most of us love human beings and we don't want to harm another person by making a terrible accusation about them. (And also our society is trained to see the humanity of males and upstanding citizens over females, young people, vulnerable people, who are all more likely to have been harmed.)

This is also why I think we should have a kind prison system that is either rehabilitative or long term care/supervision oriented-- where people would feel safe sending their family members or loved ones who are carrying out criminally abusive behavior on others.

In general it's good to know your opponent if you want to take a stand against something- and I think you have misunderstood where those who disagree with you on this are coming from. Saying out loud that you stand in solidarity with Dylan is not really an act of taking out pitchforks or locking someone in prison. It's not even an act of saying you know with certainty her story is correct. It's acknowledging that it MIGHT be true and creating a safe space for her if so. It's balancing out a world that is often horrifically unfeeling toward survivors pain by minimizing their reality and standing behind abusers if at all possible. It doesn't mean we know for sure. And I am not at all going to badmouth Woody or try to make him suffer. Concerned and unwilling to support his brand? Yes. For many reasons beyond just this, but this is part of it. But interest in attack him on these grounds? Not at all. I'm not actually a fan of attacking people who are known criminals either, let alone someone who may or not have done something. The reasons for criminal behavior are complex and I'm really not interested in causing harm to criminals (even if I have had my own experiences with feelings of anger which are not the feelings I want to act from.)

I am aware that memories can be hard to sort through and fallible narrators, I'm also aware that in every occurrence I've seen incest of child molestation reporting there have not been charges filled when there was no evidence beyond the child saying something happened. This reality, that children are being molested in our communities and when they talk about it many are standing strong with abusers and pointing out how fallible memory can be, so who really knows--- it's harmful and I think it should change. We can't do this perfectly since we can't know the truth, but I'd rather have a survivor focus- and again- I still think people should be free to look at what facts are available for themselves and determine their own thoughts. I know someone who actually made a false accusation of child abuse of her stepfather on purpose. So I know that that also happens, and again I'm not trying to make life hell for the accused, I just think childhood abuse is actually fairly common. And we all need to make our communities a little less child abuse friendly. I actually do feel a lot of empathy and sympathy for people who are abusers, especially when they face the reality of their actions and go through a lot of suffering over it. I really don't want that for them, even though I ALSO don't want them to just ignore what they've done and continue having a great life like nothing happened while their victims suffer with trauma and in some situations life long damage to their well-being and ability to function.
posted by xarnop at 7:01 AM on February 3 [22 favorites]


Woody Allen's lawyer and publicist have both issued statements in response:

Allen's attorney Elkan Abramowitz sent Mother Jones the following statement on Sunday afternoon:

It is tragic that after 20 years a story engineered by a vengeful lover resurfaces after it was fully vetted and rejected by independent authorities. The one to blame for Dylan's distress is neither Dylan nor Woody Allen.

Update 2: Allen's publicist Leslee Dart emails the following on Sunday afternoon:

Mr. Allen has read the article and found it untrue and disgraceful. He will be responding very soon...At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court appointed independent experts. The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation; that Dylan Farrow had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality; and that Dylan Farrow had likely been coached by her mother Mia Farrow. No charges were ever filed.

I assume the publicist is referring to the evaluation of Dylan by the Yale psychologists, since the the Connecticut prosecutor Frank Maco actually did find that there was probable cause to charge Allen with molestation but chose not to do so because of the stress it would bring to Dylan.

I also think "disgraceful" is a strange and hurtful word to use in this context.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:25 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


And Thomas Jefferson bought and sold human beings. We forgive our genius's.
posted by judson at 8:26 AM on February 3


And that, maybe more than anything, is what I'm ashamed of - that I didn't find a way to tell someone, or to protect myself.

Yes, or to protect other girls... which was one of the things that rang true to me in Dylan Farrow's story, her guilt about possibly leaving other girls exposed. It is so awful that victims feel this kind of shame and guilt.

Unicorn on the cob, I'm sorry about what happened to you.

With regard to Dylan Farrow, if she was not in fact molested, she certainly bore all the hallmarks during the decade and more that followed.

I think it also should be noted that according to Farrow's report, she felt things were wrong with Allen's relationship with her long before the alleged molestation in the summer of '92. Kids of parents who are merely over-protective or smothering don't tend to hide in the bathroom from them or claim illness to avoid seeing them. None of those were things that Mia Farrow was likely to have implanted in her head (they may even have predated the Soon Yi revelation).

mumimor:
my doubts have been confirmed: re-reading the VF article made me aware that some of Dylan's sentences are almost directly copied from that article

I'm not sure why you think the "copying" went that direction. Surely it's more likely that VF reported Dylan's charges originally, and she is just affirming them now in her public statement?

Also, to me it seems silly to doubt her memories on the basis that most people as adults don't have detailed memories of childhood events. For one thing, these events were traumatic to Dylan Farrow; for another, she was repeatedly interviewed about them at the time, so of course she remembers them.

The on-and-off nature of the recording also seems like a red herring to me. I have a seven-year-old daughter, and if I knew something troubling had happened to her and were trying to get the full story, it most certainly could take a matter of days. If anything, taking time indicates a compassionate, responsible reaction, respecting the child's timetable and readiness to talk.
posted by torticat at 8:28 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


But I do note that Dylan was examined by a doctor twice, and there was no sign of rape. So there is clearly no rape, but still a suspicion of misconduct.

Oh yeah, and this. Gross. She did not claim to have been "raped" in a way that a doctor could detect. A doctor's examination could perhaps have verified that something did happen, but in no way could it have proven that she was not molested. I find it repellent that this is being brought up in the context of refuting a child's claims.
posted by torticat at 8:34 AM on February 3 [12 favorites]


Maudlin, I don't think it was a joke; the article wasn't written as humor.
posted by brujita at 8:37 AM on February 3


Doesn't matter if you've taken a side or not - I think we can all agree this is a hysterically dickish article from Michael Wolff.

I'd pull some quotes - but god there are so many.
posted by JPD at 8:49 AM on February 3


Robert Weide responded to Dylan's article with the following tweet: "Nothing new that wasn't covered in 2 prev. VF articles & nothing that contradicts anything in my @DailyBeast piece. http://tinyurl.com/pfvmoup 7:04 PM - 1 Feb 2014."

I think that tweet is so gross, dismissive, and self-promoting that it makes me want to take a shower.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:55 AM on February 3 [10 favorites]


JPD: "Doesn't matter if you've taken a side or not - I think we can all agree this is a hysterically dickish article from Michael Wolff."

He is bitter about the Farrows for some reason.
posted by zarq at 9:17 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Woody Allen is not being tried and this is not a court of law. Consequently no-one is under any obligation to follow the any legal principles in forming or expressing their opinions.

On the other hand, you have to ask yourself, considering that there's no there there, why are we talking about this? Why is this suddenly all over the media? Why did it start with tweets from the victim's mother and brother during the Golden Globes of all things?
posted by Sara C. at 10:04 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


From the Guardian piece:

The impetus seems to be to establish Mia Farrow as a celebrity activist worthy of the world stage, and, as well, to launch a public career for her son Ronan.

I absolutely agree with this 100%, and it's why I'm having trouble turning on the outrage.

It's also worth noting that Mia Farrow is a friend of Roman Polanski and stuck up for him in his recent "oh hey remember when he raped that little girl?" brouhaha.
posted by Sara C. at 10:13 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Well, I can imagine one reason why.

It's distressing to see someone who did horrifically bad, traumatizing things to you, celebrated ostentatiously and publicly for how amazing they are. We see that all the time in ordinary situations, that it causes people distress to see others outside of the situation all gushing about what a great guy their abuser is. It can be panic inducing, the feeling that you would never, ever be believed because everyone is reinforcing to each other how awesome the abuser is, they are in solidarity about it. You might fear that saying anything against the abuser keeps becoming harder because of this, you will face worse consequences for doing so.

It may be that Dylan hit a very low point upon seeing that. It may be that this was her family's way of trying to help, trying to show her that not everyone celebrates this man, that there are still some people wiling to denounce him as everyone else fetes him.
posted by cairdeas at 10:16 AM on February 3 [17 favorites]


Mia Farrow being a vengeful ex and Dylan Farrow being a survivor of sexual assault do not need to be mutually exclusive.
posted by divabat at 10:17 AM on February 3 [20 favorites]


Also, there are a million situations where one parent is overtly abusive and the other parent is an enabler, or abusive in a different way, or just kind of clueless and self-centered, or tries to help but ends up making thing worse, or is just very deeply flawed in their own way. Mia Farrow being whatever she is doesn't tell us anything about Woody Allen and what he does.
posted by cairdeas at 10:19 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


It's distressing to see someone who did horrifically bad, traumatizing things to you, celebrated ostentatiously and publicly for how amazing they are.

Sure, welcome to every single day between my acrimoniously-divorced parents. Yawn.

Mia Farrow being a vengeful ex and Dylan Farrow being a survivor of sexual assault do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Quoted for truth.

#freeDylanFarrow
posted by Sara C. at 10:23 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


cairdeas: " It can be panic inducing, the feeling that you would never, ever be believed because everyone is reinforcing to each other how awesome the abuser is, they are in solidarity about it. Saying anything against the abuser becomes harder, you will face worse consequences for doing so. "

Meanwhile, Dylan Farrow knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Woody Allen will never, ever face justice. No charges will ever be filed. She will never get a day in court. No jury of his peers will judge him. She cannot prove anything.

She doesn't have to stay silent, though.
posted by zarq at 10:26 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Sure, welcome to every single day between my acrimoniously-divorced parents. Yawn.

You have got to be kidding.
posted by scody at 10:31 AM on February 3 [18 favorites]


Handy chart to wade through all this:
                              T  |  F
Woody Allen is creepy            |			
Woody Allen is an artist         |
Dylan was molested               |
Mia Farrow is vengeful           |
Mia Farrow is crazy              |
Note, only one row really matters in this context.
posted by mazola at 10:31 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Dylan Farrow knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Woody Allen will never, ever face justice. No charges will ever be filed. She will never get a day in court. No jury of his peers will judge him. She cannot prove anything.

She doesn't have to stay silent, though.


And there is something that can give you comfort in a way, where you can tell yourself, "If he ever does this again, to anyone else, I will have been on record for twenty years as repeatedly telling everyone that he did the same thing to me. So, even if maybe if he will never face consequences for what he did to me, I can help ensure that he faces consequences if he harms someone else."
posted by cairdeas at 10:32 AM on February 3 [9 favorites]


You have got to be kidding.

Nope. My mom makes inappropriate and boundary-destroying sometimes-sexual allegations about my dad to me over the phone almost every time we talk -- and I was lucky enough to be 17 when they split up.

When my brothers were minors, we were in and out of court every couple of years about idiotic custody bullshit, where the theme (from both parents) was to tar and feather the other parent in a burnt-earth battle to the bottom which mostly had the effect of fucking us all up for life.
posted by Sara C. at 10:42 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I can only imagine what the Farrow kids went through, and my heart hurts for them. Woody Allen and Mia Farrow can fuck off as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Sara C. at 10:43 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


In regards to that Guardian piece:

from last year in NYMag - Michael Wolff’s War on Everything Is Just Viral Marketing for Himself

This is all pretty disgusting. Dylan and Ronan are people who need to be able to live their lives. Whatever the truth is, now every leach with a opinion will attempt to make a buck off them.
posted by readery at 10:45 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I can only imagine what the Farrow kids went through, and my heart hurts for themYawn
posted by onlyconnect at 10:50 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


The yawn was for Mia's antics.
posted by Sara C. at 10:51 AM on February 3


My thoughts on this - it seems no-win. Her story is the same as in '92, it seems like she's just cribbing from the VF article. (Although, she'd be cribbing from ... herself.) Her story is different than it was in '92, she's unreliable and a story-changer. She adds things we didn't hear about in '92 -- if that really happened then why didn't she say so at the time?

I'm not sure why you think the "copying" went that direction. Surely it's more likely that VF reported Dylan's charges originally, and she is just affirming them now in her public statement?

The VF article quotes a lot of people, but naturally not (directly) Dylan, who was seven at the time. The allegations in Dylan's letter are all in the VF article, and I cannot find any new angles or even new wordings. (I am just not going to quote, the texts are easily available, the matter is so offensive, and remember, I am convinced that Dylan is a victim of two grossly incapable and selfish parents. I will not contribute to her exposure). I believe a child's recollection of a horrible abuse will be substantially different than the opinion of some of that child's mother's friends, family and employees. I am definitely not suggesting she should be more graphic. I am saying that in my experience victims of abuse are less graphic and more personal in their accounts of what happened. There may be some cultural issues at work here too. Maybe victims in my neighborhood have another set of boundaries and speak of things in different ways. And some of the accusations in the letter seem absurd to me - but don't misunderstand me; if an act is seen as sexual in America, it is off-limits to American parents.

To state what I hope is obvious: I do not think Dylan is or was "lying" - that word makes no sense in this context. I think she was very confused and sad when she was a small girl and her parents separated, for good reasons, and that Farrow took advantage of her confusion and grief, and that Allen was unfit as a parent, but not criminally so.
posted by mumimor at 10:52 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I think she was very confused and sad

Any now? She's not a small girl anymore.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:53 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


mumimor- I really don't think you have enough info to make a certain stance that these allegations are fabrications-- or that they are not. That is why the kinder thing is to presume there is a chance they are correct and at least factor that into your understanding of the situation. If she comes back and says "I did some intensive therapy and realized I was wrong" I would also honor that however like the uncertainty I have about what happened now, I would still have some uncertainty about how certain she could be about being wrong. Given that we don't know, it's a good idea to at least entertain that her accusations could be true. And if so continually saying she's just a mentally altered brainwashed person and you know this for sure would be further injuring her, don't you think?

That COULD be true, and can happen, but I don't think there's any reason to continue making that insinuation with the certainty with which you're making it. It is certainly harmful if you happen to be wrong. And if your right, it won't hurt anything to have not continually made such allegations. She'll either figure that out in intensive therapy or not, you dismissing her doesn't really help anything, other than allow you to keep professing you have special knowledge of Woody's innocence, that I don't really think you have.
posted by xarnop at 11:02 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Interesting that you quote me "for truth", Sara C., because my comment was in responce to you continually bringing up Mia's actions, which to me sounded like an implicit "Dylan has no agency and therefore her story has no credibility".
posted by divabat at 11:03 AM on February 3


Handy chart to wade through all this:

... except, short of "Woody Allen is an artist", every item is either:

a. relevant to our mediated impression of the person
b. something we couldn't possibly know true or false

So yeah, it's an excellent quiz if you wish to illustrate how utterly meaningless most of the discussion is on this issue*. Because all we've got is our impressions.

*
Except, of course, where folks are reflecting on their own abuse related (and other) experiences
posted by philip-random at 11:09 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I think Dylan has total agency and her story is 100% true.

However, I think it's weird that this resurgence of the whole subject started with her mother and brother having a twitter wank during the Golden Globes.

I'm a survivor of rape and abuse. Mine wasn't within my family, which might be the big difference here. But if my mom and brother were online scoring points over my rape, that would be... strange. To say the least.
posted by Sara C. at 11:10 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


I especially hated the tone of Rowan's heavily shared tweet specifically calling out his sister's experience.

That's not your story to tell, bro.
posted by Sara C. at 11:12 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


mumimor: "The VF article quotes a lot of people, but naturally not (directly) Dylan, who was seven at the time. The allegations in Dylan's letter are all in the VF article, and I cannot find any new angles or even new wordings."

I'm going to preface this by outing myself a little more explicitly than I've done on MeFi in the past. I was sexually abused as a young child by family members. That is something I don't talk about in public anywhere but here. I don't discuss it on Facebook, or Twitter or on social media. I never spoke about it on my blog, when I had one. I don't talk about it in person unless I'm in a clinical setting. I have a certain comfort level with regard to the subject. Which is to say, I have zero comfort level. None whatsoever. So I mention my history very rarely even on MeFi, and only when I think it will add something to the conversation.

When I speak about the topic on Metafilter I am deliberately abstract. I don't give details. Even in private messages. I don't give details about the abuse itself or my abuser. I have spoken about attempting suicide exactly once in MetaTalk -- a related incident. Frankly, I don't want to relive the trauma. Nor do I particularly want people to think of me as a survivor. I'd rather they didn't bring it up at all. It happened and I've spent 30 years trying to deal with it and move on.

I mention all this because if I were to decide to talk about what happened to me publicly and/or online, I am absolutely positive that I'd do exactly what Dylan Farrow is doing. There are details an abuse survivor might feel comfortable sharing and others they might not. I'd be remarkably consistent and controlled about the words I used. Deliberately.

Dylan Farrow is also under public scrutiny and the veracity of her story has been constantly questioned for 20 years. It would not surprise me in the least to find out that she is trying to make sure that she's not contradicting anything that is already known. If the account from '92 and the account from '14 don't match, people will pounce.

I do not assume her allegations are false simply because they do not contain new revelations.
posted by zarq at 11:19 AM on February 3 [51 favorites]


Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Dylan first spoke out about this as an adult last November via Vanity Fair, well before the Golden Globes.
posted by brookedel at 11:21 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Thank you, zarq.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:28 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


That's not your story to tell, bro.

Presumably you have no first-hand knowledge of what Dylan has said Ronan can say about her story. It's entirely possible that she is fine with her brother and her mother speaking out about it.
posted by scody at 11:28 AM on February 3 [10 favorites]


My understanding was that Dylan Farrow published an open letter on Nicholas Kristof's blog. The letter does not seem to promote either her brother's or her mother's career. Rather, it basically asks Hollywood actors, actresses, and fans to consider the message sent to sexual abuse victims when people "accept the ambiguity" and offer praise and media promotion to Woody Allen.
posted by leopard at 11:32 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


I especially hated the tone of Rowan's heavily shared tweet specifically calling out his sister's experience.

I get the feeling that if he didn't tweet or mention it someway, people would be using this to point out she must be not be believed even by her close family. And there appears to be an increasing conspiracy narrative being created about her accusations being oh-so convenient for members of her family and part of some massive Farrow clan tour de vengeance and careerism that I'm incredibly uncomfortable with.

Fair enough if you don't believe the accusations or want to talk about issues with memory or whatever, but to suggest that an accusation of abuse is all conveniently part of some timed attack, and make the accusation all about that, is really problematic. It also suggests that this person has no agency, but has been sitting on this letter until at the ripe age of 28 it would come in convenient for her mother, rather than at this moment it seemed like the right time to her. It also smacks of the 'why would you ruin this man's career?' approach that is sometimes taken to accusations of sexual abuse and assault.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:33 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


Not to mention, Woody Allen premieres a movie like every freaking year. When could she say it that wouldn't be a suspiciously convenient important career moment for him?
posted by cairdeas at 11:36 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Am I alone in thinking that the whole thing with Mia Farrow is a derail and not actually relevant to Dylan's story?
posted by divabat at 11:45 AM on February 3 [10 favorites]


I don't know who is telling the truth in this media-circus. I've read the whole thread and most of the linked articles. There is no way I can say without a doubt who is telling the truth in this particular case, but I can say this: I would not want either Woody Allen or Mia Farrow to be my parents, or the co-parents of any of my children.

Can I separate the art from the media dust up that is now occurring for who knows what reason?

Yep. I can do that.

I like Mia Farrow's performance as an actress, and I like Woody Allen's performance as a writer, actor, director. My wife hates Tom Cruise because of who he is, and I can't get her to watch Oblivion. I loved Oblivion. There's no accounting for taste. The point is, she can't separate the art from the artist. I can. So what? What does it mean? Is it suspension of disbelief taken to the nth degree?

Like some of the other folks up thread, I'm suspect about the timing of this, and the vehicles. Twitter? Really? And I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned the call out of innocent folks like Cate Blanchett, and Scarlett Johansson in the open letter. Are they complicit? Does that make us complicit? Cuz I sure as shit don't want to be.

But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Midnight in Paris. I thought Woody had lost it. And I'll watch Mia again and again in Rosemary's Baby. Even if that fuck Polanski directed it.

I guess the real question I find myself asking is, does that make me a bad person?
posted by valkane at 11:50 AM on February 3


zarq, thank you for sharing your story. I really, really don't want to seem disrespectful of victims, and this will be my last comment. I feel every single comment I have written has been full of disclaimers, and acknowledgements that I am neither a victim of child molestation nor an expert in the field. But I am a person who has suffered childhood abuse and teenage rape, and a person who deals with children and young people in severe distress, both professionally and as a volunteer. I do have some experience. And to be honest, your comment exactly confirmed what I have been writing all along.

None of us can know what Dylan testified when she was seven. The only sources we have are articles from popular magazines which quoted adults with different stakes in this. It would not at all worry me if Dylan was repeating what she said when she was seven. However, this is not what she is doing: she is repeating what her mother and friends, family and employees of her mother were saying. This raised my awareness because it is not close to what a seven-year-old would say or think.

For me, even commenting on this has been a moral dilemma. Like most people here, I am appalled when victims are dismissed or even blamed by authorities or the public. I trust that most people who claim they have been abused are telling the truth. At the same time, I know a tiny minority are not. I see Woody Allen as a creep and a terrible parent, and I would never, ever have counted Dylan Farrow among that tiny minority whose allegations are not real until I read her letter. And as I wrote above, the things in her letter that triggered my disbelief might be cultural differences. But I did not believe that letter. I've tried to explain why, in my first comment and when asked. Now I think I have explained myself extensively, and I understand it if you do not agree.
posted by mumimor at 11:58 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


FWIW, the November Vanity Fair article is an interview with Mia Farrow.

As far as I can tell (having followed the story mostly casually), Dylan's piece on Kristof's blog is the last word, not the source. Her family speaking out about it isn't circling the wagons; if anything it's Dylan coming in to back all of them up, because it looks weird to pimp yourself around to all the talk shows about how a relative was abused 20 years ago.

Which, again, is just super weird. And makes the focus on Mia and Ronan very much NOT a derail in any way. They are the story in this particular media circus, which, as far as I can tell, was engineered by them in the first place.
posted by Sara C. at 11:58 AM on February 3


The impetus seems to be to establish Mia Farrow as a celebrity activist worthy of the world stage, and, as well, to launch a public career for her son Ronan.

I absolutely agree with this 100%, and it's why I'm having trouble turning on the outrage.


Sara C., I don't understand, if you think that Dylan Farrow's story is "100% true," why you are not outraged.

Even IF her mother and brother are exploiting media coverage (a huge IF--what, are Dylan herself and Kristoff supposed to be complicit in the timing of this?), that has nothing to do with our response to Dylan's allegations--which, if you believe them, should be one of outrage.

I get that the "pox on both their houses" reaction is tempting, but it doesn't clarify anything, it's just a way of letting off steam. Weide's "homewrecker" accusations about Mia Farrow, Wolff's "opportunistic drama queen" narrative--so what if they are true? They are irrelevant to the truth and significance of Dylan Farrow's claims.
posted by torticat at 12:08 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


flarbuse: "Sex offenses are the modern day Salem Witch Trials."

The objection I have to this statement is: There's no such goddamned thing as a witch, in the sense in which the circa-1700s Europeans understood them.

I understand the metaphor "witch hunt" means "fake moralized persecution for the purpose of harrassing the object", but the metaphor is at best strained when used to describe sex offences.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:16 PM on February 3


if you think that Dylan Farrow's story is "100% true," why you are not outraged.

This was heavily reported in the media at the time.

I believe her, and it's awful, and I'm incredibly sad for what happened. But it's not news. I don't really see why it's any of our business, or why we're all talking about it right now, or why Mia Farrow is all over it.
posted by Sara C. at 12:18 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Ronan Farrow has a pretty long Wikipedia page for a 26-year-old. The name Dylan does not appear on it.

So maybe the successful brother is backing up his sexually abused sister, or maybe the sexually abused sister is just trying to promote her brother's career. Like everything else in the world, we will never know for sure.

If I really cared about the idea that Dylan Farrow has agency, I might ascribe some value to what she says and does, rather than assuming that she is someone else's puppet.
posted by leopard at 12:21 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


I understand the metaphor "witch hunt" means "fake moralized persecution for the purpose of harrassing the object", but the metaphor is at best strained when used to describe sex offences.

Actually, I read this as once you put the word sex in front of offender, the offender becomes guilty as charged by the public, regardless of the trial.

Which made all the contention about the reality of witches seem kinda nitpicking.
posted by valkane at 12:23 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


But it's not news. I don't really see why it's any of our business, or why we're all talking about it right now

Because the person who claims abuse published a public letter in a major news outlet accusing her famous father of abuse and calling out people who work with her father? Going by the letter, Dylan Farrow thinks that her father's abuse of her should be many people's business and not be swept under the carpet. Either you have to create an increasingly complicated narrative of manipulation and lurking with the letter for years until Allen got a lifetime award and her mother's career needed a boost, or you can go the simpler route: that she was impelled by seeing him celebrated by Hollywood to post her side of the story.

You can think she's lying/confused/mistaken or that you shouldn't judge the artist by their actions outside of their art without reducing her to a helpless pawn at 28.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:27 PM on February 3 [9 favorites]


I might ascribe some value to what she says and does, rather than assuming that she is someone else's puppet.

I'm not, at all. In any way.

But, again, this all started with a puff piece about Mia Farrow. You have to wonder who is circling what wagons around whom.
posted by Sara C. at 12:33 PM on February 3


Also, in keeping with my main thought being "why are we talking about this?", I'm going to get out of this thread. Which I'm now just picking at like a scab, since I basically agree with ALL the sides except for Rowan's and Mia's.
posted by Sara C. at 12:34 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Actually, I read this as once you put the word sex in front of offender, the offender becomes guilty as charged by the public, regardless of the trial.

Suspicion of witchcraft is as old as human communities. The problem with witch trials is very specifically the trials, not public opinion.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:35 PM on February 3


So, when they labeled you a communist, during the Joseph McCarthy era, it was about the trial, and not when you went to get a job, and they wouldn't hire you because of the trial? Even if you were found innocent?

I guess I get the whole witch hunt metaphor thing conflated. Sorry.

In my mind, it's about someone pointing a finger, and saying "witch!"

And everybody falls into step and says, yeah, he's a witch. Because being a witch in that time iand place is the worst possible thing you can be, and yet, there's no way in hell you can defend against it.

So regardless of the trial, even if your name is cleared, people will whisper behind your back, "he's a witch."

That's what witch hunt means to me. Your mileage may vary.

Also, in a world where serial killers are heroes on tv, and communism has kinda fallen by the wayside, it seems to me that pedophile has become the only thing we can agree is worst than worse. And it's Woody Allen? Well, maybe. And whether it's true or not, once he's painted with that brush, there's no way you can separate that from his art. He's been tainted. Witch.
posted by valkane at 1:07 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


But when he followed the logic to its final result, he realized this implied an outrageous incidence of father-child sexual abuse. He thought that highly implausible. He turned on a dime and hypothesized instead that while there were a few genuine cases, most of these reports must instead be unconscious fantasies surfacing.

Now this reminds me of the excellent book Predators by psychologist Anna Salter. In the beginning she talks about starting her career as a child psychologist in the 70s and working in a small town. She was shocked by the high numbers of patients reporting sexual abuse. She talked to other psychologists at conferences and they reported the same thing, but in the 70s child sexual abuse was not a serious topic and children were generally disbelieved. What sealed the deal for her was after a couple years went by and she had new patients but they were naming the same abusers.

Anyway, the book is not just about child sexual abuse, it's about sexual predators of all kinds, but I would recommend that book for its focused look at how those who prey on children are usually able to get away with it.

Actually, I read this as once you put the word sex in front of offender, the offender becomes guilty as charged by the public, regardless of the trial.

Which made all the contention about the reality of witches seem kinda nitpicking.


One of the main points Dylan makes is how harmful it is to see the person who abused you given very public acclaim and praised, often by people who used to care for the victim too (i.e. Diane Keaton). He's not being burned at the stake, not even metaphorically. When it comes to these types of accusations, as is also seen with R. Kelly, putting "sex" in front of the offense actually minimizes it in the eyes of many. It's one of the artifacts from confusing rape with some kind of sex. This becomes "scandal" and "tabloid fodder" equivalent to having an affair.

Satanic day care child molestation accusations were largely mythical and do compare to Salem witch trials in many ways. Very specific type of accusation in a specific, religious hysteria context.

But accusations of child molestation in general bear little resemblance, not least of which because, just as happened here, the children aren't usually believed by most and the alleged perpetrator suffers few consequences.
posted by Danila at 1:07 PM on February 3 [16 favorites]


"What is the burden of proof for assuming that a person is lying? If you are a famous film director, it turns out to be quite high. You don’t have to say a word in your defense, in fact, and people who have directed documentaries about you will write lengthy essays in the Daily Beast tearing down the testimony of your accusers. You can just go about your life making movie after movie, and it’s fine. But if you are a woman who has accused a great film director of molesting you when you were seven, the starting point is the presumption that, without real evidence, you are not telling the truth. In the court of public opinion, a woman accusing a great film director of raping her has no credibility which his fans are bound to respect. He has something to lose, his good name. She does not, because she does not have a good name. She is living in hiding, under an assumed name. And when she is silent, the Daily Beast does not rise to her defense.

In a rape culture, there is no burden on us to presume that she is not a liar, no necessary imperative to treat her like a person whose account of herself can be taken seriously. It is important that we presume he is innocent. It is not important that we presume she is not making it all up out of female malice. In a rape culture, you can say things like “We can’t really know what really happened, so let’s all act as if Woody Allen is innocent (and she is lying).” In a rape culture, you can use your ignorance to cast doubt on her knowledge; you can admit that you have no basis for casting doubt on Dylan’s statement, and then you can ignore her account of herself. A famous man is not speaking, so her testimony is not admissible evidence. His name is Woody Allen, and in a rape culture, that good name must be shielded and protected. What is her name?"

posted by zarq at 1:09 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Tangentially, there's a really sharp, powerful, difficult movie out on DVD right now about a child abuse allegation that tears apart a community and a man's life: The Hunt by Thomas Vinterberg (of Celebration and Dogme 95 fame). Mads Mikkelsen is excellent as the accused man, and the movie is a tightly directed gem that opens up a lot of tough questions without providing clear answers.

Highly recommended for those interested in an exploration of the "wait, what if this accusation is false?" idea, regardless of how you feel about the current case. It's a very, very thoughtful and interesting movie.
posted by mediareport at 1:15 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


mumimor: " But I am a person who has suffered childhood abuse and teenage rape,

I am very, very sorry. :( And I appreciate your sharing that with me... with us.

...and a person who deals with children and young people in severe distress, both professionally and as a volunteer. I do have some experience. And to be honest, your comment exactly confirmed what I have been writing all along.

None of us can know what Dylan testified when she was seven. The only sources we have are articles from popular magazines which quoted adults with different stakes in this. It would not at all worry me if Dylan was repeating what she said when she was seven. However, this is not what she is doing: she is repeating what her mother and friends, family and employees of her mother were saying. This raised my awareness because it is not close to what a seven-year-old would say or think.


Okay.

I guess the questions I have are:
She's not seven now. Why can't she also be interpreting what's happened to her as an adult? And... why can't we simply assume she herself is expressing what was done to her?

I understand if you don't feel comfortable responding. It's okay. I'm okay with disagreeing as well, and agreeing to let it go.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on February 3


mumimor, we don't come out with the same opinion on this issue, but you believe differently than me based on your own experiences and training and I think that's okay. We don't all have to come out the same way. You've qualified your statements with reasons why you could be wrong and even worries you have about simply stating your POV. I disagree with you, but that's okay and I'm glad you contributed to this thread. I definitely found your point of view interesting.

For what it's worth, I might be wrong in what I believe, obviously, there's no way of knowing. I know we agree in hoping that Dylan gets some peace and clarity out of her letter.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:18 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Maybe a broken link up there, zarq. Was this it?
posted by jfuller at 1:19 PM on February 3


But accusations of child molestation in general bear little resemblance, not least of which because, just as happened here, the children aren't usually believed by most and the alleged perpetrator suffers few consequences.

Again, I'm not defending either side, and I do appreciate what you are saying. I throw out the whole memory thingy along with the witch hunt thingy. I guess what I'm saying is, if these people have truth, they would spend the money on the courts. Instead, they have have decided, indeed made a conscious decision to plead their case in public, using the media as their courtroom.

Perhaps that's what we've evolved into. Maybe twitter and Facebook have become the modern day courtroom. It seems a little unseemly to me. As well as unfair.

But I certainly see, and understand your point. And I appreciate the conversation.
posted by valkane at 1:21 PM on February 3


This was heavily reported in the media at the time.
I believe her, and it's awful, and I'm incredibly sad for what happened. But it's not news.


Of course it was heavily reported; but that was in the midst of an acrimonious custody fight, and if anything the public reaction leaned toward "there's no way to know what really happened" and/or "Mia Farrow is a woman spurned so who knows." Dylan Farrow was too young at the time to respond, but she called out that reaction specifically, as an adult, in her letter, and her feeling of betrayal over the years at having her allegations ignored in the public sphere.

Now we have an adult woman affirming that what was alleged at the time actually happened. That is news. Why is it our business? Obviously, because Woody Allen is a public figure still receiving accolades. Unlike most of the people in this thread (it seems), I adore Allen's movies. I don't like considering never viewing them again, but even less do I like the idea of watching them through the lens given to me by a woman's first-person account of how she was traumatized by this man.

To you it might feel like all of this is old news. It doesn't seem like Dylan Farrow sees it that way.
posted by torticat at 1:22 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


In a rape culture, there is no burden on us to presume that she is not a liar, no necessary imperative to treat her like a person whose account of herself can be taken seriously. It is important that we presume he is innocent.

That's just ridiculous and offensive. That's not "rape culture" that's "fundamental principle of law culture." It doesn't matter what crime you're accused of, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If Allen had been accused of making a racist slur or of tax fraud or of graffiti or of murder or of stealing money from his local synagogue or any other crime you care to name people, like me, who believe that "innocent until proven guilty" is an important principle would still say "o.k., where is the compelling evidence" rather than saying "oh, is the person making the accusation equipped with a penis? Oh, then it must be true."

It is certainly true that part of "rape culture" that makes these cases especially fraught and distressing is that making the accusation of rape involves exposing yourself to a kind of a priori negative judgment (at its least pejorative end, the judgment of being somehow "damaged goods"--at its more pejorative end, the judgment of being somehow morally stained by the actions of another) even if your claim is ultimately vindicated. So in that way it isn't like most of the other kinds of crimes you might accuse someone of. That, certainly, is unjust and infuriating. But the solution to that isn't to say "o.k., everyone who accuses somebody of rape gets a priori belief."
posted by yoink at 1:26 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


jfuller: "Maybe a broken link up there, zarq. Was this it?"

Crap! Yes, thank you.
posted by zarq at 1:27 PM on February 3


Ronan Farrow has a pretty long Wikipedia page for a 26-year-old.

Why does every Rhodes Scholar resume look exactly the same, like they are all carbon-copy nasty careerist little shits flitting from one plum public policy or media sinecure to another?
posted by jayder at 1:28 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


yoink: "That's not "rape culture" that's "fundamental principle of law culture." It"

The assumption of innocence because the accuser is male is part of rape culture.
The assumption that we should not take victims' testimonies seriously (in this example,) because they are women is a feature of rape culture.
posted by zarq at 1:30 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Also, in a world where serial killers are heroes on tv, and communism has kinda fallen by the wayside, it seems to me that pedophile has become the only thing we can agree is worst than worse. And it's Woody Allen? Well, maybe. And whether it's true or not, once he's painted with that brush, there's no way you can separate that from his art. He's been tainted. Witch.

I don't know. If anything this and the Roman Polanski case show that if you're talented and feted enough you can manage to still have a massively successful career despite such accusations; the Polanski case even shows you can be convicted and still not terribly affected by it. It's people who aren't considered pillars of the community or especially celebrated who seem more likely to suffer any 'burn him/her at the stake' reaction - something that was a feature of witchcraft trials in places like England but, ironically for the comparison, not in the Salem trials.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:30 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Why does every Rhodes Scholar resume look exactly the same, like they are all carbon-copy nasty careerist little shits flitting from one plum public policy or media sinecure to another?

Because that's the way it works?

I kid. Wasn't Kris Kristofferson a Rhodes Scholar? He's cool, right? Right?
posted by valkane at 1:32 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I see that 'The Hunt' is streaming on Netflix, by the by.
posted by mr. digits at 1:35 PM on February 3


I don't know. If anything this and the Roman Polanski case show that if you're talented and feted enough you can manage to still have a massively successful career despite such accusations; the Polanski case even shows you can be convicted and still not terribly affected by it. It's people who aren't considered pillars of the community or especially celebrated who seem more likely to suffer any 'burn him/her at the stake' reaction - something that was a feature of witchcraft trials in places like England but, ironically for the comparison, not in the Salem trials.

Excellent point, but I don't like where it's headed. Will Woody Allen be the Dexter of the 23rd century?
posted by valkane at 1:38 PM on February 3


And whether it's true or not, once he's painted with that brush, there's no way you can separate that from his art. He's been tainted. Witch.

Yes, poor Woody Allen, shunned by all! Unable to get anyone to work with him or promote his films! Look how few he's been able to make in the years since these terrible accusations. That poor man, whose life has so obviously been destroyed. Clearly, we must be so goddamn careful about these accusations, because lives are instantly ruined! Why, look at Jerry Sandusky, who was immediately fired after the first hint of inappropriate behavior around children! Look at all those scoutmasters who were made pariahs just based on the slightest hint!

This is an absolutely appropriate comparison to the women and one man who were murdered based on the suspicion of their neighbors.
posted by insufficient data at 1:38 PM on February 3 [14 favorites]


This is an absolutely appropriate comparison to the women and one man who were murdered based on the suspicion of their neighbors.

I'm completely sorry as this was not meant as a comparison to anyone. This was a sentence designed to make a point about the metaphor of witch hunts, it was in no way meant to defend or compare the human known as Woody Allen to anyone else in the real world. I'm sorry if there was confusion.
posted by valkane at 1:43 PM on February 3


I never thought about this before, but since abuse accusations get compared to witch hunts so often, I wonder why we never consider the comparison the other way.

The people responsible for administrating "justice" are the powerful of that society. In the end, they are the final decision-makers of who should be believed and who should not, and they are also the ones who enforce the consequences. The people on the receiving end of the consequences are people who were relatively powerless in that society. There was no way for them to prove that they were telling the truth, the requirements to be believed were impossible to fulfill. The people in power were disinclined to accuse or disbelieve others who were also in powerful positions.

Another way of looking at it.
posted by cairdeas at 1:49 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I'm not confused. I understand your point perfectly. I just think it's completely wrong. Child abusers, *especially* powerful men, get away with abuse over and over again, suffering little to no consequences. It's the same way with adult rape accusations.

There is an overwhelming fear that the alleged abuser's life will be ruined, so we have to be so careful, even with the suggestion! But the truth is most of the time they get away with it, and the person that has to deal with it is the victim. It's like if the accusers in the Salem Witch trials were the ones put to death. *That's* why it's an inappropriate comparison.
posted by insufficient data at 1:49 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


The Best Reason To Stop Watching Woody Allen’s Movies
In December, when former music journalist Jim DeRogatis sat for an interview with the Village Voice’s Jessica Hopper about his reporting on R. Kelly’s history of sexual assaults of very young Chicago-area girls, he made an important point. “There’s a very — I don’t know what the percentage is — some percentage of fans are liking Kelly’s music because they know,” DeRogatis explained. “And that’s really troublesome to me. There is some sort of — and this is tied up to complicated questions of racism and sexism — there is some sort of vicarious thrill to seeing this guy play this character in these songs and knowing that it’s not just a character.”

I’d take this a step further. R. Kelly’s enormous cultural power means that we hear the story of his sexual exploits, over and over again, from his perspective. And that perspective is that the kinky sex he’s having is consensual (and by extension, that everyone involved is legally and morally capable of consenting), and that’s it all good fun. There may be angst, and efforts to reconcile Kelly’s sexual compulsions with other values he holds, including belief in God, but there is not actual material harm. And if you hear that often enough, and loudly enough, and in enough settings where you’re having the right amount of fun, those ideas will stick.

Similarly, the reason I feel repulsed thinking about so much of Woody Allen’s work now, is not that I see it as a confession. Rather, the great and abiding message of so many of Allen’s movies, and his prose writing, is that the person who suffers most from Woody Allen’s neuroses is Woody Allen, not the people Allen and his characters have power over.

...

Setting himself up as a victim of his own hypochondria, sexual anxiety, mother issues, and assorted other neuroses is a clever trick for Allen, one that simultaneously anticipates nearly everything anyone could accuse him of, and renders him pathetic and sympathetic. See, so many of his movies say. Look how he suffers. But there are other people who are affected by the behavior of severely neurotic people, even if the impact on their lives doesn’t rise to the level of criminal trespass. Woody Allen’s just spent years training us to look past that damage, and to look at him instead. That’s a terrific insurance policy for the day it turns out you can’t preempt everything.

This isn’t to say that Allen hasn’t tried. Over the weekend, a friend gave me a 1976 profile of Allen that appeared in People Magazine. It ends on a disturbing note. “I’m open-minded about sex. I’m not above reproach; if anything, I’m below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him,” Allen tells Jim Jerome, the reporter. “Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone. I admit to it all.”

Not quite all of it. Without the power of the courts, we’re not in a position to resolve the conundrum that Aaron Bady laid out for us. But if we can’t lay to rest, to a legal standard of guilt or innocence, what Woody Allen may have done to Dylan Farrow, we can at least make an accounting of what his movies have done to us–and what we’ve done to others because of them.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:51 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


That's what witch hunt means to me. Your mileage may vary.

Sorry, I misread and thought we were still on witch "trial". I do disagree that witch hunt applies to child abuse charges in the general sense but the objections I was raising in reply to you do not apply to what you said.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:55 PM on February 3


The assumption of innocence because the accuser is male is part of rape culture.

It is certainly true that part of "rape culture" is a general suspicion that women are "asking for it" and that accusations of rape are often made in bad faith. That is certainly a grave problem, but it is not one to which the solution is "every woman who accuses a man of rape is automatically to be believed unless and until the man can prove his innocence."

This is particularly true of cases involving allegations made by children against adults. It is simply a well-established, irrefutable, scientific fact that false memories of abuse are astonishingly easy to implant in children, even by well-meaning and well-intentioned adults. By all accounts, Mia Farrow persistently questioned Dylan about the nature of her contacts with Allen around the time of his taking up with Soon-Yi. Having an angry and embittered ex-partner persistently question a child with a view to establishing some kind of inappropriate relationship with that person's former partner is perhaps the worst imaginable way of arriving at any clear picture of the truth. I am quite sure that Dylan Farrow genuinely believes what she alleges against Allen. I am also sure that there is not a serious scientific student of memory and child abuse investigations who would feel confident that we can rely upon the mere fact of Dylan's personal certitude in arriving at any decision about what happened or did not happen between her and Allen all those years ago.
posted by yoink at 2:05 PM on February 3


I'm not confused. I understand your point perfectly. I just think it's completely wrong. Abusers, *especially* powerful men, get away with abuse over and over again, suffering little to no consequences. It's the same way with adult rape accusations.

There is an overwhelming fear that the alleged abuser's life will be ruined, so we have to be so careful, even with the suggestion! But the truth is most of the time they get away with it, and the person that has to deal with it is the victim.


Yeah, I get it. I wish it were black and white. I wish there was video, or a truth drug, or something. I wish we could just make this whole thing be right and wrong. I really do.

I wish there were better parents in the world. I wish Woody Allen had just remained single, and Mia Farrow had found everlasting love with Frank Sinatra.

I wish humans weren't weak, or self-serving. I meant no offense, and I certainly don't intend to try and pick sides, because frankly, I think in the gray world that is our world, all these people are paying the price it is to be human, just like all the folks in this thread.

Sometimes the bad guy gets away. That hurts. I hate it. I wish we could fix it.
posted by valkane at 2:08 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


yoink: "That is certainly a grave problem, but it is not one to which the solution is "every woman who accuses a man of rape is automatically to be believed unless and until the man can prove his innocence." "

How about we just give them the benefit of the fucking doubt without assuming without evidence that they're liars, or have had false memories implanted, or by offering any number of made-up excuses why they cannot possibly be believed.
posted by zarq at 2:10 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


How about we just give [the accused] the benefit of the fucking doubt without being assholes, by assuming without evidence that they're liars, or have had false memories implanted, or by offering any number of made-up excuses why they cannot possibly be believed.

Two-way street on this one. In this case, the trackback is legitimate.
posted by Ardiril at 2:13 PM on February 3


Setting himself up as a victim of his own hypochondria, sexual anxiety, mother issues, and assorted other neuroses is a clever trick for Allen, one that simultaneously anticipates nearly everything anyone could accuse him of, and renders him pathetic and sympathetic. See, so many of his movies say. Look how he suffers. But there are other people who are affected by the behavior of severely neurotic people, even if the impact on their lives doesn’t rise to the level of criminal trespass. Woody Allen’s just spent years training us to look past that damage, and to look at him instead. That’s a terrific insurance policy for the day it turns out you can’t preempt everything.

Shit. He is the next Dexter. Okay, I'm out.
posted by valkane at 2:19 PM on February 3


Ardiril: "Two-way street on this one. "

It's not. There's a huge power imbalance in favor of the accused.

The person doing the accusing was a child. People are already discounting her testimony as "cannot possibly be true" thanks to that. The person she accused is a famous, popular, powerful man who is extremely well-liked and respected, and who recently won a lifetime achievement award. Who has people leaping to his defense in print, unasked.

And her? She's got famous parents. And her brother and mother who are willing to defend her in public.
posted by zarq at 2:22 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


How about we just give them the benefit of the fucking doubt without assuming without evidence that they're liars

You're the only one arguing that we should "assume" anything. Giving "the benefit of the doubt" to Dylan means assuming, without other evidence than her say-so, that what she says is true. I'm perfectly willing to accept that it may be true. I'm simply saying that absent other supporting evidence there are too many other perfectly plausible scenarios under which what she is saying--regardless of her personal veracity--is not true.

And when the accusation is grave then, I believe, it is essential that we demand powerful evidence of its truth before we condemn the accused person--whether legally or in the court of public opinion.
posted by yoink at 2:22 PM on February 3


People are already discounting her testimony as "cannot possibly be true"

This is a flagrant misrepresentation. No one, so far as I am aware, is saying that her testimony "cannot possible be true." They are saying "could easily have been the result of badly handled investigation at the time." It is, of course, impossible to say which is more likely without further evidence.
posted by yoink at 2:25 PM on February 3


When this all started I was sure that by the end of the weekend the entire world would have changed their FaceBook profile photos to pictures of Dylan Farrow, and everyone would be posting, one after another, "We are all Dylan Farrow!" I imagined that we were going to have a new color wristband to wear, a new ribbon magnet for our cars, that the states of both New York and Connecticut would re-open their investigations, that most of the actors and actresses named in the NYT letter would write their own letters of support for her.

I was pretty annoyed.

"Why should Dylan Farrow get all this attention, just because her molester happened to be famous?" That's what I thought. "Why is she going to get all the compassion and support? I bet her life isn't half as ruined as mine is. I bet she's going to be rich and famous forever." I was resentful, because Dylan Farrow is just like me, only I'm not rich and I'm not famous and I probably will never be either of those things. So I resented that this young woman was going to get all the attention I wanted, because sometimes the rage of being an abuse survivor ignites the urge to try to stop the world and force everyone to listen to you right this very instant, just to listen and hear you and acknowledge the truth of what happened to you. I jealously thought I wished people would listen to me the way I figured they would of course listen to her. I thought Dylan Farrow was going to be the success story here, the one lucky girl who gets a happily-ever-after, the person we all rallied around and the person after whom new legislation was named.

Well, it doesn't look that way now. I guess I was a bit too optimistic about where we as a community stand on issues of child sexual abuse. I thought we were all in agreement that abuse is not a private matter, that it's not something to be hushed up unless the survivor chooses to keep it hushed up, that it's a real and serious and genuinely life-fucking issue. I thought that we all agreed on that, here, in this place and in this age. I thought we had come to a moment in time where we treated abuse survivors who came forward with narratives with the benefit of the goddamn doubt.

What's funny is I should have expected this outcome, not the one I had worked up in my head. This is what actually happens. A survivor comes out, she tells her story, and almost everyone tells her she doesn't remember or can't possibly remember or has been brainwashed or is crazy. Wrist bands? Facebook profile pictures? Hah! Hah. Ha.
posted by brina at 2:29 PM on February 3 [20 favorites]


yoink: "No one, so far as I am aware, is saying that her testimony "cannot possible be true.""

No one has used those exact words, no. The Michael Wolff piece linked upthread said more than enough, though. Calling into question the veracity of her allegations with: "Two decades have passed but the Allen-Farrow betrayal, break-up, and molestation charges are somehow, all of a sudden, as vivid as yesterday" and referring to her "a convincing victim" among other things.

They are saying "could easily have been the result of badly handled investigation at the time." It is, of course, impossible to say which is more likely without further evidence.

Note that Wolff doesn't even bother with this line of reasoning.
posted by zarq at 2:33 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


By all accounts, Mia Farrow persistently questioned Dylan about the nature of her contacts with Allen around the time of his taking up with Soon-Yi. Having an angry and embittered ex-partner persistently question a child with a view to establishing some kind of inappropriate relationship with that person's former partner is perhaps the worst imaginable way of arriving at any clear picture of the truth.

yoink, would you mind providing links to these accounts? I've read quite a bit and haven't had the impression that Mia Farrow was interrogating Dylan before the blowup during the summer, when Dylan said she had been molested (I think the Soon Yi revelation came in Feb of that year?). But I could well have missed it with hasty reading.
posted by torticat at 2:35 PM on February 3


yoink: " And when the accusation is grave then, I believe, it is essential that we demand powerful evidence of its truth before we condemn the accused person--whether legally or in the court of public opinion."

There is no evidence. There's never going to be any evidence. Period.

I'm okay with supporting the person who says they were 7 years old and sexually assaulted by an adult, by giving them the benefit of the doubt, regardless.
posted by zarq at 2:36 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


A survivor comes out, she tells her story, and almost everyone tells her she doesn't remember or can't possibly remember or has been brainwashed or is crazy

There is a ton of memory research out there that demonstrates, conclusively, that if you set about asking a child about "inappropriate" contact with adults, and do so without exercising a great deal of caution, you can very, very easily generate false memories of sexual encounters which the child is incapable of distinguishing from their real memories.

Now, we know for a fact that this child was questioned extensively by an adult who had an interest in discovering that abuse had occurred and had absolutely no training in interrogating children so as to avoid implanting memories.

Therefore even if we assume absolute and implicit honesty on Dylan's part we have to choose which one of two things happened: that Allen molested her, or that untrained and subconsciously tendentious questioning from her mother did what we have a mountain of psychological research proving that it is perfectly capable of doing in any normal child.

Now, how do we choose between those two perfectly possible scenarios? What is it about Dylan that should make me say "oh, o.k., I will pretend that there is no research demonstrating that false memories are easily implanted in children and that those children can grow into adults who genuinely believe something happened to them which did not, in fact happen"?

Please try to understand that no one is saying "you have to opt for 'implanted memory'" because that is obviously true!" They are saying, simply, that because that is possible (and not in some kind of "well, it might have been aliens pretending to be Allen" way, but as a very real and plausible possibility) then all we can say is that in the absence of further evidence is that the accusation is unproven.
posted by yoink at 2:42 PM on February 3


> How about we just give them the benefit of the fucking doubt without assuming without evidence that they're
> liars, or have had false memories implanted

OK, what then? You've accused someone of a major crime, and that person is still alive and easy to lay hands on, and could be brought to justice. With a charge this serious we can't just leave it at "we believe you." Which do we choose:

1. We believe your charge and we're going to get the authorities to investigate (again.)
2. We believe your charge and we're to arrange extralegal redress.
3. We believe your charge but we're going to sit on our hands and do nothing.

P.S It seems to me that the person laying a true but unproveable accusation would be justified in thinking choice 3 was a deeper betrayal than "we can't tell what the truth is in the matter" ever was. I don't think believing and then doing nothing will fly. So which? What action should we take?
posted by jfuller at 2:43 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I've read quite a bit and haven't had the impression that Mia Farrow was interrogating Dylan before the blowup during the summer, when Dylan said she had been molested (I think the Soon Yi revelation came in Feb of that year?)

Sorry, I was using "around the time" to mean simply "in the wake of" not "at exactly the same moment." That is, she was interrogating Dylan about her contact with Allen while still in the period of her intense grief and anger over what she saw as his betrayal of their relationship.
posted by yoink at 2:48 PM on February 3


There is a ton of memory research out there that demonstrates, conclusively, that if you set about asking a child about "inappropriate" contact with adults, and do so without exercising a great deal of caution, you can very, very easily generate false memories of sexual encounters which the child is incapable of distinguishing from their real memories.

I am curious, and this is a sincere question, when this happens does the child go on to experience all the symptoms of PTSD that you would expect if the memories were accurate?

I understand that a person might fully believe in the truth of his or her memories and stand by them in interviews and so on. But do the effects of the false memories play out in the same way as with a victim who has truly experienced abuse?
posted by torticat at 2:50 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I'm okay with supporting the person who says they were 7 years old and sexually assaulted by an adult, by giving them the benefit of the doubt, regardless.

absolutely, we should start by believing that they're not lying, that what they're saying is what they remember. But, as yoink points out, to immediately accept it as what actually happened, that's way trickier, particularly if that acceptance could lead to the destruction of the alleged abuser's life ...

Somebody recently said it over in the meta -- this is not a situation of evident black and whites, this is a situation of greys, frustrating as that is.
posted by philip-random at 2:53 PM on February 3


I'm okay with supporting the person who says they were 7 years old and sexually assaulted by an adult, by giving them the benefit of the doubt, regardless.

You can still do that while at the same time saying "The facts of this matter are in dispute and from what we've seen and heard in the press its not possible for me to arrive at a conclusion that Woody Allen molested her." That does not make me a monster nor does it mean I'm "perpetuating rape culture".

There isn't something about sex crimes that makes the claims of the victim less impeachable than other forms of physical violence.

It doesn't need to be either or.

Besides no matter what happened here Dylan Farrow is the victim of some great tragedy.
posted by JPD at 2:53 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


jfuller: " OK, what then? You've accused someone of a major crime, and that person is still alive and easy to lay hands on, and could be brought to justice. With a charge this serious we can't just leave it at "we believe you." Which do we choose:"

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not an assumption of "we unquestioningly believe you, let's go tar and feather your accuser." It is, "we can't prove anything, but you believe you went through this and we're not going to attack you for speaking out." Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means you don't have to fucking leap to the defense of the accused with half-assed excuses, saying a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by an adult likely had false memories implanted as a child, while presenting no actual evidence of that other than a ridiculously offensive "WELL RESEARCH SAYS IT COULD HAPPEN!"

Choose? There is nothing to choose here. We can do nothing. She can't either. There is no evidence. None. There's nothing to investigate. It's his word against hers now. Woody Allen will never be investigated, brought to court, be put on trial or face a jury. That's over and done with.
posted by zarq at 2:59 PM on February 3 [12 favorites]


3. We believe your charge but we're going to sit on our hands and do nothing.

IOW, SNAFU.
posted by mikelieman at 3:01 PM on February 3


There was an investigation. The DA chose not to bring the case to trial. That's all we know.
posted by JPD at 3:03 PM on February 3


Sorry, I was using "around the time" to mean simply "in the wake of" not "at exactly the same moment."

Okay, I understand. In that case, I'll point to Dylan Farrow's account, in which she says she had been already uncomfortable with the way Allen interacted with her (and had gone to some lengths to avoid him), but that the train track incident was worse and sort of a breakthrough. Also, that Allen's behavior was reported to Mia Farrow by a babysitter and then Farrow followed up with Dylan (the topic was not initiated by MF).

I don't know. If my daughter reported she was uncomfortable with her own father, I would take it very, very seriously. If her reports were consistent with grooming--and if other observers had also noted something seemed out of whack--I would believe her absolutely.

This was a child whose father had absolutely doted on her, and yet she disliked their interactions. There was something wrong there, and it didn't start in the summer of '92.
posted by torticat at 3:04 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


JPD: "There was an investigation. "

Never be investigated, again.
posted by zarq at 3:05 PM on February 3


Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not an assumption of "we believe you, let's go tar and feather your accuser." It is, "we can't prove anything, but you believe you went through this and we're not going to attack you for speaking out."

But if you "believe she went through this" why wouldn't you "go tar and feather" the person she accuses? What kind of "belief" are you talking about? I mean if you genuinely "believe" her account and have no doubt, at all, as to the possibility that it may not be true, then it's morally abhorrent that you're not pushing for some kind of judicial or extrajudicial consequences for Allen.

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means you don't have to fucking leap to the defense of the accused with half-assed excuses, saying a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by an adult likely had false memories implanted as a child, while presenting no actual evidence of that other than a ridiculously offensive "WELL RESEARCH SAYS IT COULD HAPPEN!"

Could you please just try to understand the point that I am not saying that that this is more "likely" or not more "likely" than what Dylan alleges. I'm saying that we have no evidence on which to determine which is more "likely" and that therefore we have a moral obligation to presume innocence. I'm saying that leaping to the assumption that someone is a truly evil person simply because you think people accused of the particular crime that person is accused of too often get away with it and not because you have any strong proof that the accusation is true is wrong.
posted by yoink at 3:06 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


See, so many of his movies say. Look how he suffers.

I'm wondering if the person who wrote this has ever actually seen a Woody Allen movie.
posted by Sara C. at 3:07 PM on February 3


There is no evidence. None.

Therefore he's guilty?
posted by yoink at 3:08 PM on February 3


Never be investigated, again.

Is there some new evidence?
posted by JPD at 3:08 PM on February 3


JPD: " Is there some new evidence?"

Not that I'm aware of. However, now we have an adult making an accusation, and a case where a DA chose not to bring charges and was reprimanded for that. It's possible that she could sue to have the case re-opened. But doing so wouldn't serve a purpose. There's never been any physical evidence.
posted by zarq at 3:13 PM on February 3


yoink: Giving "the benefit of the doubt" to Dylan means assuming, without other evidence than her say-so, that what she says is true. I'm perfectly willing to accept that it may be true.

That's not what "benefit of the doubt" means. It does, in fact, mean accepting that what someone says may be true.


JPD: It doesn't need to be either or.

We obviously lean different ways on this, but I agree with you.
posted by nangar at 3:14 PM on February 3


Sara C.: " I'm wondering if the person who wrote this has ever actually seen a Woody Allen movie."

If you click through to the full piece, I think her examples support the thesis.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:15 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


no - you have the story wrong - the DA was not reprimanded for that. The DA was originally sanctioned for saying "I'm not going to bring charges because the trial would be too hard for the victim" and sending that statement to the judges ruling in the divorce and custody hearing. He was sanctioned for for prejudicing those decisions. That sanction was overturned because while the disciplinary committee found the statements problematic they did not believe that the DA thought those statements would prejudice the NY judges ruling in the other case - nor should he have reasonably been expected to believe that they would have been prejudiced.
posted by JPD at 3:17 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


we have no evidence... we have a moral obligation to presume innocence.

Sure, if we are sitting on a jury deciding if Allen is going to prison. I don't see why we have to presume innocence in other situations.

I mean, it's not like Allen is about to get the death penalty on the basis of one person's word. That might be a horrible miscarriage of justice. On the other hand, a 7-year-old girl accused her father of molesting her, and he went on to make dozens of movies and win dozens of awards. That might also be a horrible miscarriage of justice.
posted by leopard at 3:22 PM on February 3


Now, we know for a fact that this child was questioned extensively by an adult who had an interest in discovering that abuse had occurred and had absolutely no training in interrogating children so as to avoid implanting memories.

What do you mean, "had an interest"? Are you saying Mia Farrow wanted Dylan to have been molested? Just because she was hurt and angry that Allen took naked crotch shots of her daughter? Do you know this, or are you just assuming that angry bitches be crazy?

They weren't married. There wasn't going to be a divorce. Why did Mia Farrow have an interest in having her daughter molested by her boyfriend? A few people in this thread seem to think that this is a natural course for the mother of a child to take for some reason, and I'd like to know why.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:24 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Sure, if we are sitting on a jury deciding if Allen is going to prison. I don't see why we have to presume innocence in other situations.

We don't. It would be nice though that for people who are uncertain - those people who choose to presume guilt don't also assume anyone who doesn't presume guilt is somehow a bad person.

They weren't married. There wasn't going to be a divorce. Why did Mia Farrow have an interest in having her daughter molested by her boyfriend?

I agree with you that Farrow doesn't matter wrt the original investigation, and that if we assume she was acting in good faith she would have been hoping the allegations were not true. But for the sake of your comment - there was a custody trial as the children were adopted by both of them. If you thought she was acting in bad faith and wanted to prevent Woody from seeing the kids it might make sense for her to make a false accusation.
posted by JPD at 3:31 PM on February 3


From the MeTa:
The legal presumption of innocence is not the same thing as assuming all reports of crime are false, if it were, no crimes would ever be investigated or prosecuted. The idea that reporting a crime or taking any such reports seriously is automatically a violation of the rights of the accused is something that only comes up with allegations of sexual assault.

The presumption of innocence in the US court system means that person should not be punished unless they have been found guilty by a court. It does not mean that all allegations of wrong-doing are false.
posted by nangar at 11:18 AM on February 2
posted by divabat at 3:52 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Find me the comment that says Woody Allen's rights are being violated or retract that.
posted by JPD at 4:05 PM on February 3


> I mean if you genuinely "believe" her account and have no doubt, at all, as to the possibility that it may not be true, then it's morally abhorrent that you're not pushing for some kind of judicial or extrajudicial consequences for Allen.

I think Dylan's story is credible. This is not the same thing as saying I know that the allegations about Allen are true. It would be morally reprehensible for me to push for extrajudicial consequences, because I don't know that they're true.

(I think when people say "believe" something, they mean something different from "know". Our language makes a distinction between these two words for reason.)
posted by nangar at 4:12 PM on February 3


(Thanks, divabat, I probably should have posted that over here in the first place.)
posted by nangar at 4:18 PM on February 3


As I have said previously, I have absolutely no idea where the truth lies here, but there's a bit of an imbalance in the discussion so far. If people are going to talk at length about the psychology of memories and beliefs of children (Dylan Farrow), the same applies to Woody Allen. What's good for the goose, is good for the gander. Yet I don't see anyone bring this up (unless I missed it). Perpetrators are completely capable of blocking out memories, distorting memories, rationalizing and denying, even to themselves. There are documented cases where a murder was committed in full view of multiple witnesses, but the murderer manages to convince themselves that they did not commit it, and go to their grave fervently believing in their own innocence.

Perhaps WA speaks with great sincerity, and convincingly, of his innocence - but that may be so because he believes it, even if it doesn't jibe with the facts. People discount Dylan's fervent proclamations as possibly sincere but psychologically fraught and at variance with reality. However, the exact same thing applies to WA.

Again - I have no idea. But the argument about fraught psychology potentially applies not only to Dylan, but potentially to Woody too.
posted by VikingSword at 4:23 PM on February 3 [18 favorites]


I think Dylan's story is credible. This is not the same thing as saying I know that the allegations about Allen are true.

I think it's "credible" too. That and $4.50 buys me a coffee at my (excellent, but pricy) local cafe. I also think Allen's denial is "credible." So I have two "credible" accounts, which conflict. Now...why am I supposed to "believe" the one which would, as a consequence, force me to assume that one of these two people is an evil person without a shred of corroborating evidence to support that account? Surely in the case where we have two "credible" but conflicting accounts we are morally obligated to accept that the most charitable understanding of the situation--the one that preserves everyone's best intentions--may well be true.

If you don't think Allen's deniable is "credible" in precisely the limited sense that you are using the word when you say that Dylan's accusation is "credible" you should explain what evidence you're basing that judgment on. And, no, the "credibility" of Dylan's accusation doesn't count as "evidence" against Allen.
posted by yoink at 4:26 PM on February 3


Perpetrators are completely capable of blocking out memories, distorting memories, rationalizing and denying, even to themselves. There are documented cases where a murder was committed in full view of multiple witnesses, but the murderer manages to convince themselves that they did not commit it, and go to their grave fervently believing in their own innocence.

Perhaps WA speaks with great sincerity, and convincingly, of his innocence - but that may be so because he believes it, even if it doesn't jibe with the facts. People discount Dylan's fervent proclamations as possibly sincere but psychologically fraught and at variance with reality. However, the exact same thing applies to WA.

Again - I have no idea. But the argument about fraught psychology potentially applies not only to Dylan, but potentially to Woody too.


I would have thought that this goes without saying. Given that I've already acknowledged multiple times that Dylan's accusation might very well be true it would seem only a plea in mitigation on Allen's behalf to say that he might both be guilty of molesting her and yet be saying what he honestly believes to be the case when he denies it. I mean, it's something that is true, but not particularly interesting or relevant to the case in hand. (It should also be noted that while cases of adults blocking out memories that they formed as adults are certainly documented, they are by no means as common or their mechanisms as well understood as the creation of false memories through the interrogation of children.)
posted by yoink at 4:30 PM on February 3


I believe Dylan that Woody Allen is a rapist. I have no reason to NOT believe Dylan when wealth, celebrity, and patriarchy ensure that Woody Allen will never suffer any harm from my belief that he is a rapist. Statistically, the odds are on Dylan's side: Roughly speaking, out of every 1000 rapes, only 100 are reported; out of every 100 reported rapes, 2 are false accusations. It is much more likely that Allen is a rapist than that he is the most high-profile falsely accused non-rapist ever.

So! Either I potentially call a rape survivor a liar, or I potentially hurt a rich and powerful man's feelings. I choose option B and sleep okay at night.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:30 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


That's not what "benefit of the doubt" means. It does, in fact, mean accepting that what someone says may be true.

Great. Then I "give her the benefit of the doubt" and say "what she says may be true." It also "may be false" and in the absence of evidence to decide that matter one way or the other consider that we have to continue to presume Allen's innocence. Somehow that doesn't seem to me to be what zarq was meaning by "giving her the benefit of the doubt" however.
posted by yoink at 4:32 PM on February 3


yoink, "presuming Allen's innocence", is not the same thing as asserting it as a fact and attacking anyone who has any doubts about it, as you are doing here.
posted by nangar at 4:38 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Roughly speaking, out of every 1000 rapes, only 100 are reported; out of every 100 reported rapes, 2 are false accusations.

Not that statistics of this kind are actually much help in a case such as this, but even if they were, that's not the appropriate frame in which to place this case. It's not as if we don't know anything about the accusation other than that it is one of "rape." We know a great deal more. So, in order to say anything useful about the statistical "probability" of the accusation being true of not being true we would need to know something about the numbers involved in these particular cases (the probability that a random person is telling the truth when they say they can dunk a basketball is low. The probability that an NBA player is telling the truth when they say they can dunk a basketball is pretty high. If you already know that the person who made the claim is an NBA player, then that's the frame you have to use to meaningfully assess the statistical probability that they're telling the truth). So in this case the appropriate statistical frame is: "what percentage of cases where a child was extensively interviewed by an untrained person with a decided personal stake in the child's testimony that issue in the child accusing the adult of sexual assault are later found to be unreliable"? Those odds are probably not going to look as cut and dried.
posted by yoink at 4:41 PM on February 3


So! Either I potentially call a rape survivor a liar, or I potentially hurt a rich and powerful man's feelings. I choose option B and sleep okay at night.

I choose Option C -- "I don't know."

It's not like I'm judge or jury here, just another spectator.
posted by philip-random at 4:41 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


yoink, "presuming Allen's innocence", is not the same thing as asserting it as a fact and attacking anyone who has any doubts about it, as you are doing here.

I have never once "asserted Allen's innocence" and I am getting pretty fucking tired of people deliberately distorting what I am saying by pretending that I have. I have repeatedly insisted in pretty simple English sentences that this is not what I am doing. I have said on multiple occasions that we cannot know whether or not he is guilty because we do not have sufficient evidence. I have said just a few comments up from this one that what Dylan says "may be true," and then a couple of comments above that one I write: "I've already acknowledged multiple times that Dylan's accusation might very well be true." The only people who are claiming that they know what happened and that they are sure that one of the players involved in this sad story is telling the truth are those who are saying that we have some kind of ethical obligation to "believe" Dylan.
posted by yoink at 4:45 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


[Difficult thread folks, please try to have a conversation with everyone and not make it all about one person's interpretations/reactions]
posted by jessamyn at 4:47 PM on February 3


I guess what I'm saying is, if these people have truth, they would spend the money on the courts.

Because the courts are notoriously bad at making charges stick. We had physical evidence in my case, but without the school's official cooperation they couldn't guarantee a slam dunk and didn't want to risk chalking one up in the loss column. And the prevalent belief back then was that it was too traumatic to take a child into court if there was even the slightest chance of losing. In retrospect, I wish things had gone differently. If I had gotten my day in court, even without a conviction, I wouldn't have felt like I was some shameful little secret to be covered up and forgotten about.

The state attorney who worked with Dylan says he thought there was a chance of casting doubt on the Yale-New Haven Clinic's report, but noticed that she froze up whenever Allen's name was mentioned. He thought that would make her a poor witness. There are all kinds of reasons why cases don't go to trial.

I'm completely sorry as this was not meant as a comparison to anyone. This was a sentence designed to make a point about the metaphor of witch hunts, it was in no way meant to defend or compare the human known as Woody Allen to anyone else in the real world.

That only makes sense if you completely disregard the fact that witch hunts and witch trials were real things that happened to real people in the real world. If you're going to use them in metaphors, the burden of making sure they're decent analogs is just as strong as with anything else. There ought to be a Godwin's Law for witch trials.

I wish there was video, or a truth drug, or something.

There WAS video in Steubenville, for all the bloody good it did. One perp got two years in juvie, and the other was sentencved to a year but only served ten months. They might not end up on the sex offender registry. There are similar cases all over the country, usually ending with slaps on the wrist for the perpetrators and either harrassment or death for the victims. Even if you meet the standard of proof that's so much higher than it is for any other crime, it doesn't matter. Everybody is so focused on the potential harm to the suspect or perpetrator, even though that harm is usually little to nothing to laurels.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:49 PM on February 3 [12 favorites]


Maybe it would be better for her to move on. It seems that this path of open letters and attack is unlikely to provide her with any justice. She has every right to bear the grudge as long as she wants, but my experieince is that this kind of behavior just traps us in the thrall of our abusers.
posted by humanfont at 5:09 PM on February 3


humanfront: Isn't that a presumptous, judgmental, and ultimately victim-blaming statement to make? We all process trauma differently - if she needs to make statements every year for the next fifty thousand years (especially since no one seems to believe her the first twenty years she's tried) then that's what she needs.
posted by divabat at 5:17 PM on February 3 [12 favorites]


yoink, you were outraged at me because I said I thought Dylan's story was "credible", even though I made it clear that that was not the same thing as "knowing" it was true and that that was an important distinction. If you meant what you said about being "willing to accept that it may be true", then we would not be in much disagreement. You are obviously not arguing in good faith here.
posted by nangar at 5:21 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I've been delving into past articles written about Allen and Farrow during the early 90s over the last few days and figured I would post a few links here before I close the tabs.

Four links from journalists who attended the custody hearings over Dylan, Ronan and Moses: Doctor Recounts Farrow's Threats Against Allen (3/30/93); Farrow's Lawyer Takes Aim at Doctor's Judgment (3/31/93); Therapist in Allen Case Often Seem Like Family (4/4/93); Allen Loses to Farrow in Bitter Custody Battle (6/3/93).

Sort of random pages of The Unruly Life of Woody Allen available online through Google Books (I mostly read the stuff available dealing with the early nineties, thought there were lots of pages missing there that I would have liked to read).

Page 268 from Paul on Mazursky (also Google Books) which deals with how Farrow may have inadvertently pushed Allen and Soon-Yi together in 1990-91 by having them all work on a movie together in Connecticut and staying in CT herself with the kids while Allen and Soon-Yi drove home to NY.

Woody Allen Case Against Prosecutor May Be Over (6/26/96) (Hartford Courant) (about prosecutor Frank Maco getting cleared of ethics violations despite his press conference saying there was probable cause to prosecute Allen but he wouldn't do it given the stress it would cause Dylan and sending his findings to the courts involved in the custody hearings - yay!).
posted by onlyconnect at 6:32 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Isn't that a presumptous, judgmental, and ultimately victim-blaming statement to make? We all process trauma differently - if she needs to make statements every year for the next fifty thousand years (especially since no one seems to believe her the first twenty years she's tried) then that's what she needs.

If she needed to jump off a bridge or cut herself should you support the decision?

We do not process trauma differently. Human response to trauma is predictable and correlates to the scale of injury. The therapeutic options and extent of recovery possible from those options fall into fairly predictable bounds. Outliers are the exception, not the rule.
posted by humanfont at 7:26 PM on February 3


What is it with this thread and analogies that don't scale properly. sexual assault is not eating popcorn, and being public about your experience as a survivor is not jumping off a bridge. Gah!

Also I would debate your notion about response to trauma being predictable - that's used as a shaming device for people whose response to trauma didn't necessarily fit the norm. Hell even in this thread people are nitpicking over every possible way she could have responded: her story's too consistent, too inconsistent, her siblings shouldn't have jumped in, her family should have done something, etc etc.

What is the norm when it comes to recovering from sexual assault - stay quiet and frigid for years and be always softspoken? Report to the police immediately and file lawsuits? Talk about it for a little while then shut up? there have been people who were denied justice or treatment because they didn't fit the stereotype of "survivor of sexual assault". For a long time I couldn't find any resources for support because neither my assault nor my initial responses fit any of the stereotypes.

Claiming there's some predictability to responding to trauma is destructive.
posted by divabat at 7:41 PM on February 3 [14 favorites]


We do not process trauma differently. Human response to trauma is predictable and correlates to the scale of injury.

Gender differences in posttraumatic stress disorder:
One of the most consistent findings in the epidemiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the higher risk of this disorder in women. Explanations reviewed within a psychobiological model of PTSD suggest that women's higher PTSD risk may be due to the type of trauma they experience, their younger age at the time of trauma exposure, their stronger perceptions of threat and loss of control, higher levels of peritraumatic dissociation, insufficient social support resources, and greater use of alcohol to manage trauma-related symptoms like intrusive memories and dissociation, as well as gender-specific acute psychobiological reactions to trauma.
posted by scody at 7:45 PM on February 3 [9 favorites]


"The therapeutic options and extent of recovery possible from those options fall into fairly predictable bounds. Outliers are the exception, not the rule."

This is utterly unfounded in fact. And yes, seriously destructive.
posted by xarnop at 7:45 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


deals with how Farrow may have inadvertently pushed Allen and Soon-Yi together in 1990-91 by having them all work on a movie together in Connecticut and staying in CT herself with the kids while Allen and Soon-Yi drove home to NY

It's Mia's fault that Woody engaged in a sexual relationship with Soon-Yi, because this one time, they were in a car together.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:48 PM on February 3 [30 favorites]


That is one of the weirdest things I keep seeing these journalists say. Stay home while your partner and the father of your children gives his stepdaughter a car ride somewhere?? Duh, obviously you wanted them to start sexing!
posted by cairdeas at 7:56 PM on February 3


Uh, inadvertent seems a key word there to make it clear that is not a suggestion of fault. Mia suspects this is when the inappropriate relationship may have begun according to the citation in that link.

She (Mia Farrow) later surmised that...his [Woody Allen's] intimacy with Soon-Yi, if not their actual affair, began during long limo rides to and from Astoria..." (John Baxter, Woody Allen: A Biography)
posted by Drinky Die at 8:01 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I mean in the latest edition of Don't Be Mad At Woody, It's All Mia's Fault Because, they've so far busted out with:

-It's all Mia's fault because of who Mia was sleeping with or not.
-It's all Mia's fault because she was a harpy who he wanted to dump anyway.
-It's all Mia's fault because she is crazy.
-It's all Mia's fault because she is so vindictive.

With the bizarre car ride thing we can add, "It's all Mia's fault because she was such a lazy and self centered mother to just stay home while Woody drove his stepdaughter somewhere."

It's like all the classic greatest hits of rhetorical weapons that people use against women.
posted by cairdeas at 8:01 PM on February 3 [19 favorites]


Hey, guys, wait! I'm sorry! I am the one who said deals with how Farrow may have inadvertently pushed Allen and Soon-Yi together in 1990-91 and I didn't mean to be blaming Farrow for anything. I do not blame her for Allen's affair. I was just trying to quickly describe the articles (which don't blame her either, really, just describe the logistics of where the Allen/Soon-Yi intimacy began) before getting the tabs out of my browser once and for all. Sincerely, I'm sorry.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:06 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


No, I know you didn't onlyconnect!! No need to be sorry. I'm just boggled at the journalists for saying it, not at you for discussing the quote.
posted by cairdeas at 8:09 PM on February 3


It probably was my fault though -- the phrasing -- because that was mine. The article I linked really doesn't blame Farrow, just notes that she surmised that Allen and Soon-Yi probably did really start to get to know one another on those long car trips. I'm the one that said "pushed them together." So again, really, my apologies.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:13 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


"It's also striking that nobody who supposedly believes all our memory is unreliable actually acts as if they believe that in everyday life. You find the car you remember owning in the parking lot, you drive it to the address you remember living in, you kiss the person you remember marrying. You don't carry a cheat sheet with you going, 'No! All memories could be fabricated! I can't risk it!' It's pretty much only when it comes time to tell someone else what they believe can't be true, that this comes up."

That may be true — people who aren't interested in the rapidly improving science about memory but who bring this stuff up are probably motivated to do so for specific reasons.

But it is true that all memory is less reliable than we believe it to be.

I don't want to say that it's unreliable, because, as you say, we successfully rely upon it every day. But it really isn't what we think it is, it's not a photograph or a video, it's largely a reconstruction from a few details using all sorts of surrounding context and our present worldview and biases. That process can result in something that's quite accurate or something that's quite inaccurate, to the point of being entirely false.

All eyewitness testimony is relatively unreliable. There are countless studies that have demonstrated this, it's unfortunate that our legal structures haven't accommodated these changing views and still consider witness testimony the strongest evidence, rather than among the weakest.

Now, what does that have to do with this specific case? Well, as you argue, if you're going to take the position that the unreliability of human memory is reason to be skeptical in this case, then in order to be consistent, you'd need to be skeptical about human memory pretty much everywhere else. And I strongly doubt that the folk arguing on this basis are doing that, or willing to do that.

In my case, someone who's read a fair amount of the evolving science of memory over the last ten years and also as someone with a lot of experience working with sexual violence survivors and quite a bit of knowledge about incest, I find Dylan's claims to be very credible and am not particularly skeptical on the basis of her having been influenced as a child and therefore having distorted or false memories. It does happen; it certainly did happen during the 80s during the ritual satanic abuse and daycare sexual abuse moral panics, but those cases were relatively few and they all had a particular character which this case doesn't have, as well as it simply being true that the errors of those investigators and family unwittingly prompting children into fabricated memories during that period resulted in subsequent sweeping changes in the law enforcement and child-protective service procedures when interviewing children about these topics — changes that were in place by the 90s.

I was there, not in New York, but elsewhere, during the early nineties as these changes were being made; I recall a long presentation by new personnel hired by the police department for interviewing children, and taking a tour a brand-new facility especially constructed with interview rooms for the interviewing of children.

As I wrote, memories are very far from being snapshots or videos of events we've experienced. We retain a combination of some set of details, which varies, and a narrative about the situation, which we tend to plug into some larger context (we were on vacation that week, visiting the beach that day).

When we experience something, this moves through what are roughly three stages of memory: working memory, then short-term memory, and then into long-term memory. Right from the beginning, what we retain is limited to certain details that we've focused upon for some reason, and as a memory is moved from each of these to longer-term storage, more details are dropped and there's a greater reliance upon context. That doesn't mean that what goes into long-term memory is always some x percent of all information ... it's not that regular. So you can't really make categorical statements about how much detail is likely to be accurately recalled, or not, because it simply varies. Sometimes we keep a lot of detail, and sometimes we don't.

But, regardless, the really tricky thing about long-term memory is that every time we recall a memory, it is in some sense re-experienced and then is processed cognitively and then moves through memory very much like it did originally. But that means that our experience of the memory at any given time is going to be a product of all that we bring to bear on it as we recall it — meaning that every recalled memory is experienced as that recalled memory interpreted through the lens of who we are at that time as we recall it. That's true both in the largest sense — that the memory has a different meaning for us when we recall it as a thirty-year-old than as a ten-year-old, but also even in the more proximate sense, that it's influenced by our state of mind at that moment, whether we're happy or sad or stressed or whatever. And then that re-experience then becomes the memory as it is placed back into short-term and then long-term memory, with the other things happening that I've already described: some details dropped, and the memory being wrapped in a context that supplies much of its meaning.

Over time, as memories are recalled over and over again, they mutate quite a bit.

This is just the way it works. Does that mean that none of our memories are reliable at all and they are all lies? Well, of course not. This process results in memories that are in most respects reliable enough. But reliable enough should be understood as being something very different from photographs or videos, which they very much are not. And they're really not reliable enough for the legal purposes to which they're often used.

So I'll repeat myself: Dylan's memories are exactly as reliable or unreliable, in terms of probabilities, as any other memories that any of us have about events that are emotionally fraught and often revisited. That could mean that they're not that reliable. But if that's the case, it's true that each one of us has many, many memories that are similarly unreliable. Alternatively, her memories are probably about as reliable as the memories that each one of us have about emotionally fraught and frequently revisited memories. That could mean that they're pretty reliable. If you want to go to the extreme in either direction, you should ask yourself why you are not willing to do that with regard to all of your own, similar memories.

In my case, I think that her memories are as reliable as my own memories of extremely emotionally fraught events that I've recalled repeatedly over my life. Which is to say, I intellectually am aware that they're probably variously quite wrong in some respects, but I mostly trust them and, in any case, I have no way to discern which are unreliable and which are. Which is true for all of us.

More specifically, I'm very familiar with the issues surrounding memory and how memories can be fabricated during interview and under the influence of other people, and all the things I've discussed, as well as being quite familiar with these issues as they applied during the late 80s RSA/daycare moral panics (I was there, I worked with survivors during that period), as well as being quite familiar with incest and survivors of incest and their memories and how they are traumatized. And I think Dylan's memories are credible. Perfect? Of course not, because no one's memories are as accurate as we believe them to be. But there's a preponderance of reasons to think them accurate enough.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:47 AM on February 4 [18 favorites]


I find it interesting that those in this thread who are defending Woody with the "we weren't there in the attic so we can't possibly know what happened" defense don't see his inappropriate relationship with Soon Yi as being connected. Dylan's accusations are not occurring here in a clinical vacuum. And yes, you can say they didn't start dating until she was 18, but he was still in a parental role with her, with at the very least inappropriate boundaries. With all that smoke, assuming fire without a criminal conviction is perfectly reasonable.

And yes, somebody can be a great artist and still be a sexual predator, and you can separate the art from the artist. That is not the question. The question is do you want to associate yourself with their work and support these people with your dollars and your attention?

I choose not to. I don't see Woody Allen and Roman Polanski movies. I don't listen to or purchase Michael Jackson music. That's the line I have drawn for myself.
posted by prodigalsun at 5:09 AM on February 4 [6 favorites]


And yes, you can say they didn't start dating until she was 18, but he was still in a parental role with her, with at the very least inappropriate boundaries. With all that smoke, assuming fire without a criminal conviction is perfectly reasonable.
I don't think there's much question that he has a pattern of really creepy behavior with teenage girls, and nobody is ever going to convince me that hooking up with your not-quite-stepdaughter-on-a-total-technicality is anything but extraordinarily gross. But my understanding is that there's a huge difference between having sex with post-pubescent teenagers and being sexually attracted to prepubescent children, and the former isn't really evidence of the latter. Most people are capable of being attracted to teenagers, and most adults don't consider acting on it because we know it's exploitative. It takes a special kind of fucked up even to want to have sex with a seven-year-old, and the overwhelming majority of people don't have that impulse at all.

I'm definitely not saying that Allen didn't do it. But I don't think his relationship with Soon Yi is necessarily evidence that he's a child molester.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:36 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


The article supports my point. The reasons given directly associate to the nature of the injury. It doesn't say we all process trauma differently. To the contrary impacts are coorelated to the circumstances an extent of the injury.

Suppose we were taking about a physical injury, such as a broken leg. A doctor could asses the injury, and recommend a range of treatments. The degree of recovery possible and the degree of recovery acheived will be fairly predictable. Occasionally a patient might recover better than expected and some patients will not.

Xarnop are you suggesting that treatments available for conditions PTSD do not have a scientific basis? That these treatments available can not be shown to have a predictable impact? That patients can't have some reasonable expectation of recovery?
posted by humanfont at 5:41 AM on February 4


But my understanding is that there's a huge difference between having sex with post-pubescent teenagers and being sexually attracted to prepubescent children, and the former isn't really evidence of the latter. Most people are capable of being attracted to teenagers, and most adults don't consider acting on it because we know it's exploitative. It takes a special kind of fucked up even to want to have sex with a seven-year-old, and the overwhelming majority of people don't have that impulse at all.

Agreed. I am not equating being attracted to an 18 year old with pedophilia. That is not the situation here. Woody was in a parental position with Soon Yi before she was of age. That's a boundary crossed that is different than a 53 year old man hooking up with an 18 year old, which is messed up in its own right. So, given the familial and role connection with Soon Yi and Dylan's accusations, it is not unreasonable to connect the two.
posted by prodigalsun at 5:57 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Far from seeing Soon-Yi and Woody's relationship as evidence of even more appalling misconduct, it gets my back up the way people are taking these accusations as licence to unleash torrents of disgust for these people's long and apparently happy and successful marriage. I'm pretty much decided on not calling two grown adults' relationship creepy and gross, because I've heard that one before... wherever the Westboro Baptist Church park their van. I'd be tempted if there were indications that somebody in the marriage was being mistreated, or if it were a week after they went public (because it's certainly not a good idea for them to be together), but at this point? To say that 16 happy years of two people's life together, what, shouldn't have happened? Hell no, never. Who the fuck am I to talk about anybody's marriage?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:46 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Stephen King on Dylan Farrow's open letter: "There's an element of palpable bitchery there."

Goddammit, Steve. STFU. Some of us still liked you.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:17 AM on February 4 [14 favorites]


All the frothing about how his movies are evidence is crazy, and exactly what anyone would have expected from such a thread. You're not going to have an honest conversation about child abuse from a well-known celebrity case from 20 years ago.

In any case, the movies are not all about yuppies or "beautiful people." See: "Broadway Danny Rose.," "Sweet and Lowdown,""The Purple Rose of Cairo," etc.)

Another movie that might be of interest here: An doc about the Polanski case and his fleeing from justice, in which Mia Farrow appears, as a sort-of character witness for the defense.
posted by raysmj at 7:28 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


yoink: "But if you "believe she went through this" why wouldn't you "go tar and feather" the person she accuses?

There is a wide spectrum between saying to someone, "there's no way to prove what you're saying, but you say you were abused and we think that may be true" versus "there's no way to prove what you're saying, so until you can prove otherwise you're probably lying about being sexually assaulted as a child so we will attack and discredit you for saying so."

The former, what I have been describing as "giving the benefit of the doubt" in previous comments, costs us very little. It offers validation and comfort to survivors, who very often find that they are dismissed, ignored or simply disbelieved when they work up the courage to ask for help. Giving validation doesn't mean you are willing to proceed further without evidence. It simply means not calling someone a liar or instantly assuming they are lying when they ask for help.

You ask why wouldn't we "go tar and feather" the person DF accuses. On what evidence? At whose behest? To what purpose?

What kind of "belief" are you talking about? I mean if you genuinely "believe" her account and have no doubt, at all, as to the possibility that it may not be true, then it's morally abhorrent that you're not pushing for some kind of judicial or extrajudicial consequences for Allen.

You seem to be assuming that I have some sort of magical power to make Connecticut's wheels of justice turn. I do not. Based on what she has said, I believe she was sexually assaulted. I've stated why upthread. Without evidence, there's quite literally nothing more that can be done judicially. I wouldn't push for "extrajudicial consequences" and would vehemently condemn anyone who did. You'll find no cries for mob justice here. Sorry to disappoint you.

Assuming it happened, he got away with it. Assuming it didn't happen, no one other than the involved parties seems to have given the slightest shit about whether he did. On the contrary: His career hasn't suffered. People have risen to his defense. To all accounts, he's happily married. Etc., etc.

Could you please just try to understand the point that I am not saying that that this is more "likely" or not more "likely" than what Dylan alleges.

Upthread you said: "I am also sure that there is not a serious scientific student of memory and child abuse investigations who would feel confident that we can rely upon the mere fact of Dylan's personal certitude in arriving at any decision about what happened or did not happen between her and Allen all those years ago."

This seems like a rather blatant attempt to to discredit her by saying we cannot rely on her memories. Par for the course for rape victims in our society.

I'm saying that we have no evidence on which to determine which is more "likely" and that therefore we have a moral obligation to presume innocence.

Do we? I have no such moral obligation. I am not a lawyer or a judge or on a jury or empowered to condemn or infringe upon Woody Allen in any way. I am perfectly free to draw my own private conclusions. Even to speak about them on a privately-owned website
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on February 4 [11 favorites]


"I think Woody Allen probably did it, though, of course, I could be wrong. But it’s okay if I’m wrong."
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:36 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Why do we have a moral obligation to presume his innocence but not hers? Even if she had lied as a child (and yes, that is what you are saying if you believe "we can't know what happened"), aren't you explicitly saying that she is lying now as an adult? These are not "recovered memories." They were accusations made as a child, which she is still making now. She is not recanting, as the kids in the McMartin and satanic abuse cases did. She's doubling down, at great cost to herself. To say that you presume Woody's innocence is to say that you presume her guilt. That's exactly what rape culture does.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:40 AM on February 4 [12 favorites]


[A couple of comments nixed — don't put words in people's mouths please, enough to address in what they actually said.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:48 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


raysmj: “All the frothing about how his movies are evidence is crazy, and exactly what anyone would have expected from such a thread. You're not going to have an honest conversation about child abuse from a well-known celebrity case from 20 years ago.”

I guess this isn't likely about me, but since I was one of the ones who mentioned his old movies and their connection to this case, I feel like I should respond:

I didn't say his movies were evidence. I said some of them were morally abhorrent. They'd still be morally abhorrent if Saint Nicholas had made them, and they wouldn't necessarily say anything about his character. I say this as a fan of many of them; Zelig is pretty much brilliant, and says some very worthwhile things.
posted by koeselitz at 8:50 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


"Innocent until proven guilty [beyond a reasonable doubt]" is a concept used in a very narrow set of experiences, viz. being a juror for a trial. When we levy criminal penalties against people, we must using exacting standards. It is better to let the guilty go free than to imprison the innocent.

In the rest of our day-to-day existence, however, we almost never use such standards. We would go insane, otherwise. We believe (or disbelieve) most things based on much looser criteria. In that regard, there is nothing inherently problematic about having a working assumption that accusations of sexual assault are true. Following from that, it is well within the bounds of common sense to assume that people do not generally print op-eds directly accusing people of sexual assault unless they are sure and honest.

Even at trial, "innocent until proven guilty" does not mean that all accusers must be presumed to be liars. You go into the trial presuming that the defendant is innocent. However, the whole point of being a juror is that, as the evidence builds, you use your best judgment to determine how each piece of evidence affects that presumption. Understanding that false accusations of sexual assault are rare is a perfectly normal part of having good judgment.

I don't have numbers for false accusations of childhood molestation, but I do know that false accusations of rape are rare - they are no more common than false accusations of other violent crimes. They are not nonexistent, they are not extraordinarily rare, but they are rare. The FBI has determined that about 2% of rape complaints turn out to be "unfounded" - which, it should be noted, is a broader concept that falsity. Other studies find similar results, in the 2%-8% range - again, for "unfounded" accusations, with unfoundedness being a broader category than falsity. Yes, it is difficult to come up with exact numbers, but we do the best with what we have.

However, there are other reasons beside mendacity to consider evidence beyond an accuser's word.

For one, with regard to sexual assaults by strangers, victims can have the same problems identifying their attackers as victims of other crimes. There is no dishonesty in this situation, but rather broader issues of sense and memory, as well as the general ineffectiveness of police lineups as a means to identify people.

For another, many of those rape cases which actually go to trial actually hinge on extremely uncomfortable fine points of law. In law school, when you cover rape, you don't usually spend too much time on cut-and-dry rape cases, because that's unchallenging from a case law point of view. No, instead your casebook will instead present cases where a situation dances on the fine line of the law, viz. "gray consent" cases. These cases are especially painful, because the jury will be extremely uncomfortable with the idea of convicting somebody of a felony when it seems like the law could apply either way in the instant case. (One could also identify these cases as symptoms of how problematic the criminal justice system can be in general.)

Besides, sexual assault is not the only kind of issue that can wind up being largely one person's word against another. Certain cases of fraud, extortion, etc. may hinge almost entirely on one's word against another, and yet we aren't generally enraged by the idea that somebody somewhere could go to prison based on false accusations of fraud, extortion, etc.

As for the unreliability of child accusers and child witnesses, this is a known issue. We are generally aware that children's testimony can be faulty, that all memory can be faulty, and that even the adult memories of childhood experiences can be faulty.

However, none of this means that statements made about childhood experiences are categorically devoid of truth. Instead, it means that we use knowledge, experience, judgment, and professional resources to evaluate these claims as they come, using those standards of truth as respectively appropriate for jurors or random people on the internet.

One of the heuristics we would use in this case would be, do people commonly invent long, detailed, realistic accounts of childhood molestation? The answer is no, no they do not. Childhood molestation is many times more common than false accusations of childhood molestation.

Another heuristic would be the fact that, for the McMartin case, the children were much younger than Dylan was when she was molested. Preschool children are very different from 7-year-olds. Preschool children have a much more limited grasp of the concept of truth and lies.

On the other hand, is it possible that a harried mother, one who has reason to believe that a person is sexually inappropriate around children, could unwittingly coach a child to say - even to believe - things that are not true? Sure. This is absolutely possible, and it happens. No mendacity is needed for this to happen - mere pressure, or hints of a reward for giving the "right" answer, can distort a child's testimony.

The problem with making this a huge issue, however, is that testimonies are not always 100% true or 100% false. The concept of Mia Farrow coaching her children is orthogonal as to whether or not Woody Allen really did molest Dylan Farrow.

For example: for the sake of argument, let us say that the bit about Woody Allen's thumb is not true. Let us say that all of it is true, except for the thumb bit. Again, for the sake of argument, let us say that Mia had asked Dylan to describe any time Woody had touched her in a way that made her unhappy or confused. A young Dylan then described a mundane moment where Woody had wiped her mouth when she didn't expect it. Let's say that Mia had responded, "I know Woody too well, we wasn't just wiping your mouth. What did he do?" And Dylan doesn't want to talk about any of it, because Woody generally makes her uncomfortable, but Mia presses on. Dylan starts crying, but Mia says that she wants to get this all done now. Maybe they can have ice cream after they're done. Mia says that all the other bad things that Woody did mean that all the other things he does are probably bad, too, and that mommy will be very upset if she finds out that her daughter was hiding something like this from her. These are all textbook things that could get Dylan to confabulate that the thumb incident was something other than it was, and not a single one of those things came from Mia doing anything other than being a stressed-out, concerned mother who wants to get rid of a child molester. And the mere "fact" that the thumb story is false (in my story) has no direct bearing on any of the other accusations.

However, with my story, we all have the benefit of omniscience - as the narrator, I can tell you what's false and what's not. In the real world, especially outside of a courtroom, we are instead buffeted by waves of subjective testimony. We are not clairvoyants, we are not time-travelers.

And so, we are left with a situation where all we have is others' testimony and our means for more generally determining truth and falsity. We are left with a world in which honest accusations of sexual assault are many times more common than false accusations of sexual assault. We are left with a world in which we know that memory can often be faulty, and yet many more times over, it is actually very accurate - maybe not so much as to whether the man you passed this morning wore a suit or a uniform, but definitely when it comes to whether or not you were sexually assaulted as a child.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:00 AM on February 4 [9 favorites]


I don't think it was about you, but I didn't think a discussion of "Manhattan" had anything to do with this case, no matter who brought it up. That it or any discussion of the morality of his movies would come up is ridiculous, but inevitable. You're (the generic you) not encouraging a larger discussing child abuse here, but sort discussing that while delving into the world of celebrity newz, tabloid gossip, etc.
posted by raysmj at 9:02 AM on February 4


As for Soon-Yi, who knows. What if they really are a perfectly normal couple in every other respect? People claim they are. What does it matter now? Woody Allen could have molested Dylan, while also being a fine husband to his wife.

Yes, I know Soon-Yi gets brought up as further evidence of his predilection for younger women and his blatant disregard for very serious personal and cultural boundaries, but if we're talking about Dylan Farrow, then Soon-Yi is more of a red herring than she first appears. Dylan's testimony is about 400x more relevant to her case.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:10 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


My point: People who think they know much about the inner world of a director while watching a fictional movie (itself a product not just of a director, but many dozens of people, although the movies all have a seemingly personal stamp) are probably barking up the wrong tree, even if the pieces seem to fit from what we know of the celebrity presented to us in the media. The idea that they're all full of beautiful people also seemed to me to be presented as some sort of judgment, and that didn't belong in what was ostensibly a discussion of child abuse--but again, having that sort of thing talked about was inevitable, given the subject matter and the celebrity personalities, the pop culture, etc. involved.
posted by raysmj at 9:14 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


But my understanding is that there's a huge difference between having sex with post-pubescent teenagers and being sexually attracted to prepubescent children, and the former isn't really evidence of the latter.

That's true, but with Woody Allen it appears more like he has no boundaries at all. He acts utterly entitled, is what it comes down to (see here for a first-hand account of his perspective). The heart wants what it wants. Allen certainly can be attracted to women closer to his age and has sustained long-term relationships with them. He also has been attracted to teenagers. With regard to Dylan, I could believe she became an object of obsession with him (third person accounts suggest this was the case) and that he was able to justify to himself the way he treated her--that he was just cuddling, just kissing, just expressing love--in his own head.

None of that precludes the possibility that Dylan's story is true. To me the main point is that she felt boundaries were being blurred in a confusing way (six and seven-year-olds don't feel this way normally as a result of adult affection). And what happened in Connecticut crossed a line even for a confused and fearful seven-year-old mind, and she wanted it to stop.

Her reporting happened immediately (the day after?). As someone noted upthread, this wasn't a recovered memory. Was it a coached memory? It seems to have a lot of specificity for that, with long-term trauma related to the particular details. Her memory is also supported by the fact that other people observed Allen's relationship with her seemed to cross boundaries, something even his therapist noticed.
posted by torticat at 10:13 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


The FBI has determined that about 2% of rape complaints turn out to be "unfounded" - which, it should be noted, is a broader concept that falsity. Other studies find similar results, in the 2%-8% range - again, for "unfounded" accusations, with unfoundedness being a broader category than falsity.

Which is to say, a higher percentage than the number of Jews in America. A percentage somewhere around the number of gay people in the general population (depending on what study you buy). A much higher percentage than the number of people with gender dysmorphia.

Which is to say: Rare, more often not the case than the case, but not so insignificant we can just pretend it doesn't exist.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:15 AM on February 4


To say that 16 happy years of two people's life together, what, shouldn't have happened? Hell no, never. Who the fuck am I to talk about anybody's marriage?

I care less about the age disparity between Woody and Soon-Yi than I do about the fact that she was his partner's daughter. I don't much like it, but I'd shrug, snark and not give it another thought. But I think this is qualitatively different. Even if he wasn't her legal father, he had children with her mother. He was occupying that role -- if not for her, then definitely for her brothers and sisters.

Now, I don't read Ask Metafilter, because I find the moral judgements and the condemnation of other people's behaviour over there makes me somewhat nauseous. But even for someone as tolerant of bad sexual behaviour as I believe I am, I think this crosses a line -- not so much because of the betrayal of the partner. All adultery does that. But this wasn't going to effect just Woody and Soon-Yi, or even just Woody, Soon-Yi and Mia. This was inevitably going to devastate and damage relationships between the whole family. How could it possibly not?

So, while I'm not demanding that he be locked up for his bad behaviour, it's nigh on impossible for me to see him as a self-cented, destructive little shit who doesn't give a fuck about anyone else, as long as his needs get met.

Creepy is just short-hand for that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:21 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Agreed. I am not equating being attracted to an 18 year old with pedophilia. That is not the situation here. Woody was in a parental position with Soon Yi before she was of age.

For clarity, if you want a full rundown of the "truth" of the beginning of the Woody/Soon-Yi relationship, I encourage a read of the Robert Weide piece, linked above. There's no doubt to me that it's defensive of Mr. Allen, but ... relevant to Woody being in a parental position with Soon-Yi:

#7: Soon-Yi viewed Woody as a father figure. False. Soon-Yi saw Woody as her mother’s boyfriend. Her father figure was her adoptive father, André Previn.

#8: Soon-Yi was underage when she and Woody started having relations. False. She was either 19 or 21. (Her year of birth in Korea was undocumented, but believed to be either 1970 or ’72.)

#10: Woody was grooming Soon-Yi from an early age to be his child bride. Oh, come on! According to court documents and Mia’s own memoir, until 1990 (when Soon-Yi was 18 or 20), Woody “had little to do with any of the Previn children, (but) had the least to do with Soon-Yi” so Mia encouraged him to spend more time with her. Woody started taking her to basketball games, and the rest is tabloid history. So he hardly “had his eye on her” from the time she was a child.

posted by philip-random at 10:50 AM on February 4


raysmj: “I don't think it was about you, but I didn't think a discussion of "‘Manhattan’ had anything to do with this case, no matter who brought it up. That it or any discussion of the morality of his movies would come up is ridiculous, but inevitable. You're (the generic you) not encouraging a larger discussing child abuse here, but sort discussing that while delving into the world of celebrity newz, tabloid gossip, etc.”

Manhattan has something to do with the case of Allen's relationship with Soon Yi because the plot bears a striking resemblance to what happened in reality.

It seems to me that an artist's works are likely to be discussed together, and the relation they have to each other will be considered. Making a film is an act; having a relationship is an act. Manhattan is one way Woody Allen has chosen to present himself to the world, to communicate with us; his relationship with Soon Yi is another.

I don't think it's coherent to simply "separate the art from the artist" and leave it at that. Art comes from an artist. It is essentially communication, a thing we share even if the thing we share is beyond our ability to describe it in words. That doesn't mean taking a facile view of art and attempting to jettison films, paintings, books, or video games that are are in themselves good because their creators did bad things. It does mean that our attempt to understand art is an attempt to see what we share with the people who created it and with each other. Wagner's great works (for example) are still great works, and I can enjoy them happily, and can see them as important to what Germany means to a lot of people; but I do so because I have examined them and their creator and determined for myself that they were not covert attempts to introduce bigotry into art, but rather great works of value by a creator who had great flaws. There's even a sense in which this heightens their mystery and the miracle of their creates: against great odds, Wagner made things that were not tainted by the foolish hatefulness he indulged in throughout his own life.

So: yes, I think that asking people not to bring up artworks when discussing an artist's possible crimes is asking them to ignore important facts at their disposal and to blinder themselves for no good reason.
posted by koeselitz at 11:42 AM on February 4


philip-random: “For clarity, if you want a full rundown of the ‘truth’ of the beginning of the Woody/Soon-Yi relationship, I encourage a read of the Robert Weide piece, linked above.”

The Robert Weide piece is highly problematic, contradicts itself in numerous points, and has been flatly contradicted by the statements of more knowing witnesses in others. For one thing, it adduces Woody's adoptions, particularly with Mia, as proof that the home must have been safe and caring; but testimony from friends and family suggests that all vetting of the home was completely waived because of Woody's prominence and influence, which allowed him to move the venue of the adoptions in order to expedite them. See also my discussion of other problems with the Robert Weide piece above.

Also note that Soon-Yi and Dylan are not the only underage women with whom Woody Allen is supposed to have had relationships. He dated Stacey Nelkin (who is now publicly defending him, it seems) when he was 42 and she was 17, in 1976. So my claim that it was "uncanny" that Woody had made a film about dating a very young woman a few years before dating a young Soon Yi seems to be a bit incorrect. It was more biography than uncanny self-prediction.
posted by koeselitz at 11:50 AM on February 4


to be clear, I was taking issue with prodigalsun's assertion that "... Woody was in a parental position with Soon Yi before she was of age," using Weide's rebuttals of this. Which, as I've seen no one else take them on as fabricated, I accept as accurate.

It doesn't change the fact that he may have had relationships with other young teen-aged girls, or that Soon Yi was very young herself when they first hooked up, but it does tend to undermine the notion that Woody abused his parental position in her particular case.
posted by philip-random at 12:01 PM on February 4


Given all the accolades, is Weide’s Daily Beast piece actually “detailed and powerful”? It is certainly detailed. And yes, it’s powerful, in its own way. Weide’s long essay is full of sleazy innuendo, bad-faith posturing, and passive-aggressive self-promotion. Like the recent Grantland piece “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” one wonders—one hopes, actually—that smart people have been sharing the article approvingly because it was long and seemed interesting, not because they’d actually read it.
posted by scody at 12:04 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


It doesn't change the fact that he may have had relationships with other young teen-aged girls, or that Soon Yi was very young herself when they first hooked up, but it does tend to undermine the notion that Woody abused his parental position in her particular case.


Given Weide's perjorative tone and being a homer for Woody, I don't take his word at face value that his relationship with Soon Yi was on the up and up. And to start a relationship with a defacto daughter, and regardless of age he crossed a very innapropriate line. It's not a stretch to assume there was some grooming behavior going on there as well.

But I guess that's OK because they're a happy couple. Who cares how those crazy kids got together now.
posted by prodigalsun at 12:08 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Soon Yi was Allen's longtime partner's daughter, and the sister of his children. There is no way he was not a parental figure to her.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:17 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


I'm not arguing for overall validity of Weide's piece. It's clearly driven by emotion and has a more complex agenda than just providing evidence. No doubt, it would get torn to pieces in a court of law (or, as in this case, public opinion).

But it is a piece of the overall puzzle we're dealing with, and the most substantial thing I've taken from it is the nature of the Woody Allen/Soon Yi relationship -- specifically, Weide's rejection of the ten false assumptions that tend to have been made about it. I'd certainly been making some of them.

And to start a relationship with a defacto daughter

again, prodigalsun, this characterization doesn't ring true. Their relationship was obviously closer than just random strangers, or even neighbors ... but defacto daughter? Let's just say, I feel less inclined to see it that way than I would have 72 hours ago.
posted by philip-random at 12:18 PM on February 4


... but defacto daughter? Let's just say, I feel less inclined to see it that way than I would have 72 hours ago.

and honestly, that's as far as I care to go into it. Because I Don't Know. Like I said already, I'm just another spectator here.
posted by philip-random at 12:20 PM on February 4


Yeah I mean I see how such hard hitting evidence as this is just so convincing:

"#7: Soon-Yi viewed Woody as a father figure. False. Soon-Yi saw Woody as her mother’s boyfriend. Her father figure was her adoptive father, André Previn."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:21 PM on February 4


And contemporaneous accounts had their relationship starting when he took her to basketball games and she'd go to his house while she was a high school student. She was spending time with him initially ay her mother's behest. Woody was not that interested in the older children and Mia wanted help getting Soon Yi socialized more. And also to take more of a part in family life.
posted by readery at 12:23 PM on February 4


Well, Soon Yi herself says Woody was never a parental figure to her. Why not believe what she says? We've got to believe Dylan's claim prima facie, why not her's?
posted by Trochanter at 12:27 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Of course she's going to say that. She's married to him. And regardless of how she sees it, it's how He should have seen it.
posted by prodigalsun at 12:29 PM on February 4


Trochanter: “Well, Soon Yi herself says Woody was never a parental figure to her. Why not believe what she says? We've got to believe Dylan's claim prima facie, why not her's?”

Does she? I'd like to know if she does. She might have; I would just find an interview with her interesting, since I've never seen or read one.
posted by koeselitz at 12:30 PM on February 4


Believe when people tell you who they are is something I see around here all the time.

1976 People Magazine interview :
He goes on: "I'm open-minded about sex. I'm not above reproach; if anything, I'm below reproach. I mean, if I was caught in a love nest with 15 12-year-old girls tomorrow, people would think, yeah, I always knew that about him." Allen pauses. "Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone," he ventures helplessly. "I admit to it all."
via AngryBlackLady

Ok. So I'm not surprised then. Oh, and Woody, a grown man with a 12 year old girl isn't sex, it's rape. Maybe he doesn't know the difference.
posted by Danila at 12:34 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Soon-Yi Previn told Time magazine she never considered Allen a father figure in her life.

"To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable. My parents are Andre Previn and Mia, but obviously they're not even my real parents," Previn said at the time. "I came to America when I was seven. I was never remotely close to Woody. He was someone who was devoted exclusively to his own children and to his work, and we never spent a moment together."


From here.
posted by Trochanter at 12:35 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


It is so deeply misguided to attempt to excuse Allen's relationship with Soon Yi on the basis that he wasn't actually her adoptive father. Seriously, it's embarrassing. Just stop.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:45 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


Here comment Trochanter quoted really seems to be a reactive justification. Nope, never saw him as my father, heck even my mom and dad aren't my real parents anyway...so we're like totally not remotely even family.
posted by prodigalsun at 12:48 PM on February 4


It does not matter how they saw each other. It matters how old she was when it started.
posted by koeselitz at 12:50 PM on February 4


Danila: “Believe when people tell you who they are is something I see around here all the time... Ok. So I'm not surprised then. Oh, and Woody, a grown man with a 12 year old girl isn't sex, it's rape. Maybe he doesn't know the difference.”

If that bothers you, you should probably avoid the first joke in this bit from his first comedy album, which he recorded not long after an acrimonious divorce.
posted by koeselitz at 12:50 PM on February 4


Woody Allen was not Soon Yi Previn's parent. He wasn't her guardian. To all accounts, he had little to any involvement in her upbringing. He is the father to three of her siblings (two who were adopted and one conceived with her adopted mother) which must be weird as hell but isn't a crime. He didn't start a physical relationship with Previn until she was over the age of consent. It seems apparent that it's a consensual relationship, considering that they've been married for 20 years.

Soon-Yi does not say he molested her. Dylan Farrow does.
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Seriously, it's embarrassing. Just stop.

She was an adult when the relationship began. There's nothing to excuse. God Damn it, people fall in love. They've been together ever since. They have children.

Her comment Trochanter quoted really seems to be a reactive justification.

What makes her assertion any less worthy of respect than Dylan's? Why can you pass judgement on hers and Dylan's is sacrosanct?
posted by Trochanter at 12:55 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


"It does not matter how they saw each other. It matters how old she was when it started."

And it doesn't matter whether she was legally adult, either. What matters is the combination of their age difference and his relationship with her mother. The age difference alone, especially with her being not-quite fully an adult, indicates predatory behavior; and coupled with the implicit status he had as the person dating her mother, it is far on the other side of healthy boundaries. It indicates quite a bit. It is not irrelevant.

That they are happily married is of no consequence.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:58 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Like I said, It's not her stance at issue here, it's how Woody should have viewed the relationship. And if it was on the up and up, why keep it secret from the girls mother. If there's totally nothing wrong with it.

And if woody was making a joke, it was an interesting choice of words. Love nest juxtaposed with 12 year olds...
posted by prodigalsun at 12:59 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


it's how Woody should have viewed the relationship

In order to what? Qualify for Sainthood? Is that the standard?
posted by Trochanter at 1:07 PM on February 4


qualify as a responsible adult, I would think. She was a teenager.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:09 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


What makes her assertion any less worthy of respect than Dylan's?

The relevant part of Soon Yi Farrow's assertion has to do with her perspective on her relationship with Woody Allen. That they had a sexual relationship at the time wasn't disputed.

The relevant part of Dylan Farrow's assertion has to do with the details of Woody Allen's inappropriate physical relationship with her. Her perspective on this was actually confused, as she was only seven. The important thing is that it's obvious from an adult perspective that the physical relationship she reported was wrong and abusive.

There is plenty of reason to doubt that Soon Yi's perspective was that of an independent adult. Yes, she was a legal adult. She was also a young adult who was very dependent on the people around her. It seems likely she was heavily influenced by the powerful and charismatic people she interacted with. At any rate, this debate is about a much more subjective matter than the one having to do with Dylan Farrow's accusations. They are not the same at all.
posted by torticat at 1:16 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The Robert Weide piece is highly problematic, contradicts itself in numerous points, and has been flatly contradicted by the statements of more knowing witnesses in others.

Also, what kind of "journalist" uses tha phrase, "Oh, come on!" and then expects to have the rest of his article taken seriously? I expect he won't be asked back to be editor of the eighth grade newspaper next semester.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:17 PM on February 4


"In order to what? Qualify for Sainthood? Is that the standard?"

So, let me get this straight because I think I must be misunderstanding you...

Your argument is that only a saint would not have sex with the eighteen year-old daughter of the woman he's dating when he's fifty-six?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:17 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


In order to what? Qualify for Sainthood? Is that the standard?

In order to not raise suspicion for being someone with who had a history of crossing boundaries with those a lot younger than himself that he had known for years, while he was in a relationship with their parent/guardian, while he pursued a sexual relationship with said young person. Each of those separately is kinda squicky, but a repeat of several of those factors, sometimes combined? At best, that's highly suggestive of a dude who has serious issues.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:18 PM on February 4 [10 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: "The age difference alone, especially with her being not-quite fully an adult, indicates predatory behavior; and coupled with the implicit status he had as the person dating her mother, it is far on the other side of healthy boundaries. It indicates quite a bit. It is not irrelevant."

*nod* This is true.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on February 4


which must be weird as hell but isn't a crime. He didn't start a physical relationship with Previn until she was over the age of consent.

I hear you on this, zarq. But leave the his own legal relationships out of it--having sex with a girl/young woman after you've been doing the same with her mother for 12 years is likely to mess the girl up. Any responsible adult would know this. If you're going to sleep with a woman and then with her daughter, the daughter sure as hell ought to be older than 19 in order to make sure she knows how to navigate through these seriously deep waters.

Also, by multiple accounts Allen continued to try to patch things up with Mia Farrow after his relationship with Soon Yi was revealed. His public declaration of love for Soon Yi didn't come until months later, just after Dylan Farrow's accusations against him! This looks like some crazy CYA behavior in the wake of some damning public revelations. Maybe it's true that Woody Allen and Soon Yi have managed to salvage something good out of all of this. But whatever they have, it certainly didn't start with a foundation of love, fidelity, or commitment.
posted by torticat at 1:40 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Compartmentalizing Woody Allen: What America chooses not to see
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Molly Lambert on Woody.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:04 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


That Molly Lambert piece is extremely worthwhile reading.
posted by lalex at 3:35 PM on February 4


I have to say, I didn't have a strong opinion about this either way (I believed Dylan, but the whole thing didn't affect me particularly viscerally) until I read Weide's "defense" of Allen. That was so nauseating, so victim-blaming -- what on EARTH does Mia Farrow's personal sexual history as an adult have to do with whether her daughter was assaulted? -- and so patently loathsome that I became instantly convinced of Allen's guilt. And nothing else I've read on the subject has done much to cause that conviction to waver.
posted by KathrynT at 3:40 PM on February 4 [15 favorites]


Quoted for truth:
While the evidence in support of the allegations
remains inconclusive, it is clear that the investigation of the charges in and of itself could not have left Dylan unaffected. [197 A.D.2d 333]
From Allen v Farrow (1994).
posted by mazola at 3:51 PM on February 4


Like KathrynT the Weide piece caused me to see Allen as guilty rather than a hapless victim. I admire Dylan's courage in coming forward and that of Mia Farrow in fighting for her daughter. A close friend of mine had no idea that a family member was abusing one of their siblings - what makes Weide think he knows anything about Allen and Dylan from how Allen acts with his current family?
posted by biggreenplant at 4:19 PM on February 4


I have represented many children who have been abused. When they become strong enough to tell their story, they do. Dylan may have not been strong enough until now. In Colorado, there is no statute of limitations for this very reason.

I find it ironic the parallels that I see in the Penn State case. That perp was never believed to be someone who could do such a thing and he perpetrated for years and years. When he was caught, many of us were perplexed as to how he got away with it for so long. This discussion tells me why. Humans do not want to believe this could happen. But this evidence is pretty damning. Question is whether it will motivate other victims to tell?
PS I don't care what you say about his present wife...it is still creepy to all in love with a girl that he should have been treating like a daughter.
posted by OhSusannah at 5:06 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


That was so nauseating, so victim-blaming ... and so patently loathsome that I became instantly convinced of Allen's guilt.

I had that experience too, years ago. At the very, very beginning of the Drew Peterson saga, years before he had been convicted of anything, when his wife had first been reported as a missing person. He gave an interview saying something to the effect of, yeah, she always gets out of control irrational around the time of her "menstrual period" and she decided to just run off with another man.

The second he said that, the reflex that came into my mind was, "He murdered her." I have thought a lot since then about why that particular statement gave me that reflex. My best guess is that it is the combination of willingness to say really nasty, vile shit about someone, coupled with hardcore misogyny, in combination with giving explanations that don't follow, and being smug about the whole thing. It gives me the sense that there is something very off about this person and it is aimed at women.
posted by cairdeas at 5:11 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


I guess it's just not very convincing to me that someone is not an abuser, if they try to convince me by speaking exactly the same sorts of vile yet completely stereotypical tropes that often come out of abusers' mouths.
posted by cairdeas at 5:15 PM on February 4 [7 favorites]


That was so nauseating, so victim-blaming -- what on EARTH does Mia Farrow's personal sexual history as an adult have to do with whether her daughter was assaulted? -- and so patently loathsome

I so agree! The slate column scody linked above is gratifying to read as an antidote to seeing the Weide piece so readily forwarded and accepted all over the internet.
posted by torticat at 5:22 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I would be curious if anyone actually thought Woody Allen wasn't a creep, or creepy. I sure think he is; as far as I can tell, no-one doesn't think his relationship with Soon-Yi wasn't a massive pile of ick, to say the least.

If there was one thing I took from Weide's piece without seeing it through his tone, though, it was this quote: But why not get the facts straight? If the actual facts are so repugnant to you, then why embellish them?
The actual facts are unsettling and bad enough, there's no reason not to stick with them. Or to dismiss anything Soon-Yi says out of hand - you can believe her and still find the whole thing wrong.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:43 PM on February 4


That they are happily married is of no consequence.

Hunh. Well. So what she says is irrelevant, and what she feels is irrelevant. So one's opinion of the marriage is not about her best interests at all.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:21 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Try harder: what everyone is saying is that if Previn and Allen are happily married now, it is of no consequence of the fact that he is a creep that did something really wrong by dating the teenaged daughter of his longtime partner.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:25 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I'm with Fuzzy B on the level that a seemingly happy marriage does account for something. Unless we're insisting that rules and laws (official and unofficial) trump all other concerns -- the opposite of no harm, no foul.

which is a completely different situation from Dylan, who clearly has been harmed.
posted by philip-random at 7:40 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


a seemingly happy marriage does account for something

Yes and no. Professors marrying students happens often enough that it's a cliche. Some of those marriages are very happy. The happy marriages don't mean that we should abandon fraternization rules at the university level, which are designed to protect students from faculty who may control grades and recommendations from pressure to have relationships with said professors. But the rules don't negate the happy marriages either.

Similarly, Previn and Allen may be very happy (one presumes they are), but that doesn't mean the way their relationship started can't trip the creepometer, or lay a finger in the scale of one's opinion of Allen's overall conduct. Their happiness now isn't exclusive of some ick factor in how they got together, nor does the possible ick factor mean they ought to separate now.

(And agreed that that's different to the Dylan Farrow situation.)
posted by immlass at 8:14 PM on February 4 [13 favorites]


Why are people assuming that Allen's marriage to Soon-Yi is happy? Because they are still married? Because she occasionally walks him around New York in front of the paparazzi? I mean, in Wild Man Blues, for example, you see Allen having extended back and forth conversations with his publicist, but rarely does Soon-Yi say more than a sentence or two to him at a time. I'm sure we all know people married for 20 years who are still together but far from happy. And Allen has already demonstrated his ability to stay for a long, long time with women he didn't really love just out of apathy. Isn't it perhaps a bit impossible for Allen to leave Soon-Yi without exposing himself to further embarrassment in the press? Who really knows how happy they actually are, besides them?
posted by onlyconnect at 8:36 PM on February 4 [9 favorites]


Unless we're insisting that rules and laws (official and unofficial) trump all other concerns

It's not so much about rules and laws. It certainly has to do with skepticism about how that relationship started, and the circumstances around Allen's doubling down on it. It doesn't appear that at the time he was as committed to Soon Yi as would be suggested by his marriage to her several years later.

I'm not convinced that the commitment on his part was genuine in the long run, as opposed to a "fuck you" to his detractors. His validation of the relationship at the time certainly came off as an act of defiance. By his own account, he hadn't been assuming he would have a long-term relationship with Soon Yi. By other people's accounts, he was still pursuing the relationship with Mia Farrow through several months following the public revelation about the Soon Yi photos.

That Soon Yi felt at the time she could give Allen something that Mia Farrow couldn't (the care and attention he required) is sad. She was too young at the time to understand that these "needs" of a middle-aged man are not something he is entitled to have met by any woman, certainly not by a teenager with a lot of pretty difficult issues of her own.

So, yeah, this is going to be met with skepticism. I'm skeptical about the relationship still, even while wishing Soon Yi Previn all the best.
posted by torticat at 8:36 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


From a New York magazine piece from 2012:
Years earlier, Pauline Kael noted his peculiar morality in Manhattan, where the protagonist contrasts the self-centered intelligentsia with a fresh-faced 17-year-old Dalton girl: “What man in his forties but Woody Allen,” Kael wrote, “could pass off a predilection for teenagers as a quest for true values?”
posted by readery at 8:38 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Isn't it perhaps a bit impossible for Allen to leave Soon-Yi without exposing himself to further embarrassment in the press?

Yeah. That's how I see it too, I'm just a little leery about speculating about it out loud. :)
posted by torticat at 8:39 PM on February 4


Why are people assuming that Allen's marriage to Soon-Yi is happy?

Charity, and for the sake of argument.
posted by immlass at 9:31 PM on February 4


Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau are still (supposedly) happily married. He was 12 and she was 34 when she abused him. So, by the logic of ThatFuzzyBastard and others, that Vili has always said he was happy in the relationship and they are happily married now means that the whole thing was a-okay.

That's the argument? Really?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:43 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


If Mia Farrow really wanted to sink Woody Allen in the court of public opinion in 1991 and didn't give a shit what it did to her kids, wouldn't she have been sure to leak the nude photos of Soon-Yi that Allen took? They were in her possession for months. They were apparently pretty terrible -- she said something later like he had made a special point of getting her face and her vagina in every photo.

For what it's worth, the appellate court in the custody proceeding seemed to think he molested her, though it didn't reach a conclusive finding:

As we noted above, Mr. Allen maintains that Ms. Farrow's allegations concerning the sexual abuse of Dylan were fabricated by Ms. Farrow both as a result of her rage over his relationship with Ms. Previn and as part of her continued plan to alienate him from his children. However, our review of the record militates against a finding that Ms. Farrow fabricated the allegations without any basis. Unlike the court at IAS, we do not consider the conclusions reached by Doctors Coates and Schultz and by the Yale-New Haven team, to be totally unpersuasive. While the tendency of Dylan to withdraw into a fantasy and the inconsistencies in her account of the events of August 4, 1992, noted particularly by the Yale-New Haven team, must be taken into account in the evaluation of these serious allegations, the testimony given at trial by the individuals caring for the children that day, the videotape of Dylan made by Ms. Farrow the following day and the accounts of Dylan's behavior toward Mr. Allen both before and after the alleged instance of abuse, suggest that the abuse did occur. While the evidence in support of the allegations
remains inconclusive, it is clear that the investigation of the charges in and of itself could not have left Dylan unaffected.
Allen v. Farrow, 197 A.D.2d at 332-33 (1994) (linked above originally by mazola.)
posted by onlyconnect at 7:24 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


“What man in his forties but Woody Allen,” Kael wrote, “could pass off a predilection for teenagers as a quest for true values?”

What kind of wretched human could come that that evaluation other than a fucked up, Hollywood sycophant & creepster apologist?

They used to say "Never trust anyone over 30".

Today's generation might very well adopt "Never trust anyone who was an adult during the 1970s"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:38 AM on February 5


I think you flipped her meaning entirely.
posted by Trochanter at 7:41 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Did I? Because I hear her saying he succeeded in passing of his chomo nature as a movie about seeking values.

What I hear here saying is "It's okay if you're a creepy weirdo w boundary issues around young women, it's ok because Marshal McLuhan scene.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:51 AM on February 5


So, by the logic of ThatFuzzyBastard and others, that Vili has always said he was happy in the relationship and they are happily married now means that the whole thing was a-okay.

Woody and Soon-Yi being happily married and their relationship causing distress for other people are not mutually exclusive.

Let's accept the fact that many people have mixed and contradictory feelings about this whole thing. Even the Onion says so. There are many ways to make value/morality judgements against people but I don't think this issue is the best way to do so.

For what it's worth, two of the biggest Woody Allen fans I know were both molested as children. They are well aware of the accusations. If this has caused internal struggle within them, I wouldn't know. They are under no obligation to tell me, anyway. I would never use that as a compass to determine what kind of people they are.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:54 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


“What man in his forties but Woody Allen,” Kael wrote, “could pass off a predilection for teenagers as a quest for true values?”

I read this as Kael saying because it is Woody Allen people do not question plot choices (and lifestyle choices?) that would be questionable in any other context. I know there were a lot of critics at the time that found the romance between Mariel Hemingway as a beautiful high school girl and a middle-aged nebbish odd and creepy, but the movie also received rave reviews.

I do not think she's condoning it in any way.
posted by readery at 8:05 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


"What I hear here saying is 'It's okay if you're a creepy weirdo w boundary issues around young women, it's ok because Marshal McLuhan scene.'

No, that's not what she was saying. The "pass off X as Y" construction clearly means that something is really X and pretending to be Y. She's saying Allen is successful in fooling audiences into seeing "a predilection for teenagers" as "a quest for values", and that's clearly a bad thing for her, otherwise she wouldn't use the "pass off X as Y" formulation.

Where it sounds like she's praising Allen, and she is, is in his artistic sophistry. She's saying he has a unique talent to make something abhorrent and cringeworthy seem admirable and endearing. She's really being very insulting.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:09 AM on February 5 [8 favorites]


I do not think she's condoning it in any way.

Maybe not.

Still falls well short of pointing a condemning, accusatory finger at the creepoid chomo. So "fail".
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:12 AM on February 5


Let's accept the fact that many people have mixed and contradictory feelings about this whole thing. Even the Onion says so. There are many ways to make value/morality judgements against people but I don't think this issue is the best way to do so.

If we could just stop imagining that Woody Allen's various relationships are all partitioned off from each other that would be great. The problem isn't how happy he and/or Soon-Yi is, it's the trends in his relationships. That's been stated over and over again, and the constant attempts to make it appear like people are exclusively focusing on Soon-Yi are getting tiresome.

Still falls well short of pointing a condemning, accusatory finger at the creepoid chomo. So "fail".

To be fair, Kael was writing that a year before Allen and Farrow were in a relationship, and almost 15 years before both the Soon-Yi business and the time period Dylan Farrow is saying she was molested.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:18 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Moses, currently a family therapist, has given an interview contradicting Dylan: "Of course Woody did not molest my sister," says Moses, who is estranged from Farrow and many of his siblings and is close to Allen and Soon-Yi. "She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping. I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible."

To which Dylan has responded: "This is such a betrayal to me and my whole family," she tells PEOPLE in response to her brother's comments. "My memories are the truth and they are mine and I will live with that for the rest of my life. . . . My mother never coached me," Dylan says. "She never planted false memories in my brain. My memories are mine. I remember them. She was distraught when I told her. When I came forward with my story she was hoping against hope that I had made it up. In one of the most heartbreaking conversations I have ever had, she sat me down and asked me if I was telling the truth. She said that Dad said he didn’t do anything. and I said, 'He's lying.' " She also says, "My brother is dead to me."

This poor family. I think the fact that Allen and Farrow are public figures and all this plays out in the tabloids/newspapers must make this even much worse than the aftermath of such allegations for non-famous people.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:19 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


[A couple comments removed, maybe try a little harder not to keep framing this as a "what THOSE people think" battle in here, it's not like this isn't already a tough subject.]
posted by cortex at 9:13 AM on February 5


It's interesting that Dylan is quite willing to discount Moses' recollection of physical and emotional abuse at Mia's hands -- just as she claims he is willing discount her recollections. It's all very Rashomon.
posted by shivohum at 9:18 AM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Where did Dylan discount Moses's recollections?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:06 AM on February 5


Yeah, I'm not sure they're really doing the same thing here.

Isn't there a HUGE difference between saying "Of course Woody did not molest my sister" and "I don't know where he gets this about being beaten. We were sent to our room sometimes." I think there is.

Dylan's statement doesn't even specifically contradict Moses, she literally says "I don't know . . ." Her statement in essence says, "that was not my experience," but it does NOT specifically say, I think, "that was not HIS experience."

Moses, on the other hand, directly denies Dylan's memory/experience of being molested, and I think that's not a great thing to do unless he literally sat in a room with his sister during the entirety of Woody Allen's visit, in which case, why wasn't he interviewed to clear Allen in the 90s during the investigation?
posted by onlyconnect at 10:10 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "Where did Dylan discount Moses's recollections?"

10th Graph of the People article. (2nd graph under "Painful Recollections." subhead)
"I don't know where he gets this about getting beaten," counters Dylan. "We were sent to our rooms sometimes."

posted by zarq at 10:13 AM on February 5


Dylan's statement doesn't even specifically contradict Moses, she literally says "I don't know . . ." Her statement in essence says, "that was not my experience," but it does NOT specifically say, I think, "that was not HIS experience."

I'm not sure about that. "I don't know where he gets this" is a quite a bit more dismissive than just "I don't know" or "that's not my experience." In my experience, that phrasing is used to suggest the other person is lying or mistaken.
posted by Area Man at 10:23 AM on February 5


Her statement in essence says, "that was not my experience," but it does NOT specifically say, I think, "that was not HIS experience."

Saying "we were sent to our room sometimes" quite clearly negates his description of being "often hit" during "often horrifying" "unbridled rages".
posted by 0 at 10:27 AM on February 5


I agree that she's essentially disagreeing with his statement, but "I don't know where he gets this" admits the possibility that she may be wrong, that if he gives more detail she might remember something.

I do think it is qualitatively different than saying he is definitively wrong. Also, frankly, it's entirely possible that Moses was hit when she wasn't there, in which case her statement seems pretty logical.

Again, I think there is just a huge difference between what she said, and his decision to say "hey of course you weren't molested." Do you really think those are the same thing? Because, seriously.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:32 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


The difference here is that a judge stated that there was no conclusive evidence ruling out Dylan's sexual abuse, a DA believed that there was probable cause to investigate Allen, at least one other sibling is speaking on her behalf, and AFAIK there's nothing remotely like Woody Allen's sexual and romantic predilections mirrored in Mia Farrow's treatment of her other children.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:36 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I think there is a difference in their statements, but not a huge difference. To me, the difference is between openly disagreeing with his statement that he was beaten and "essentially disagreeing". If I were either sibling, I would think the other sibling was being dismissive and was claiming that I was incorrect when I claimed to have been abused by our parent. It must be painful for both of them.

The difference here is that a judge stated that there was no conclusive evidence ruling out Dylan's sexual abuse, a DA believed that there was probable cause to investigate Allen, at least one other sibling is speaking on her behalf, and AFAIK there's nothing remotely like Woody Allen's sexual and romantic predilections mirrored in Mia Farrow's treatment of her other children.

But lots of people who were abused as children don't have much or anything in the way of corroborating evidence. There are lots of people who beat their children and aren't seen publicly as being the sorts of people who would do so. I don't we should be so quick to publicly dismiss such claims.
posted by Area Man at 10:48 AM on February 5


Also, maybe Mia hit Moses. Maybe she hit him a lot. Whether or not she did has zero bearing on the truth of what happened between Woody and Dylan. If Dylan saw Mia as her protector and her advocate, you would expect for her to downplay any sense that her mother might not be perfect.

Here's the thing: victims of rape, assault, and abuse don't have to be perfect human beings in order to be telling the truth, in order to be believed. Dylan can be completely unreliable in describing the relationship between her brother and her mother -- even maliciously so -- and still be reliable in describing her own events and her own experiences. And the same is true for Moses.
posted by KathrynT at 10:48 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


But lots of people who were abused as children don't have much or anything in the way of corroborating evidence. There are lots of people who beat their children and aren't seen publicly as being the sorts of people who would do so. I don't we should be so quick to publicly dismiss such claims.

I'm not dismissing the claims, I'm saying that it's neither the Rashomon effect (since we're talking about two separate claims), nor is it as simple as he-said/she-said.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:55 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I think Moses is certainly entitled to say that he was hit and subject to Mia's rages and feared what would happen to him if he got on the wrong side of her.

But unless he was in the room with Dylan the whole time, no way on earth is he entitled to say that "of course Woody didn't molest my sister."

I'd also be curious to know whether Dylan read Moses's actual remarks or asked to comment on some partial or garbled version of them, because to me being "hit" and "beaten" are two different things. I was hit as a child by my parents for misbehaving, but I wouldn't say I was beaten.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:56 AM on February 5


NYTimes Public Editor reports today: Times May Publish Response from Woody Allen on Dylan Farrow’s Accusations
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:56 AM on February 5


Again, I think there is just a huge difference between what she said, and his decision to say "hey of course you weren't molested." Do you really think those are the same thing? Because, seriously.

Moses's actual quote:
Of course Woody did not molest my sister ... She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping. I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible.
which is rather more substantial than ""hey of course you weren't molested." You are reading one party much more charitably than the other.

Nobody has tried to argue that Moses's denial of abuse by Woody is "the same thing" as Dylan's denial of abuse by Mia. The point, well mine anyway, is that Dylan denies Moses's claim of abuse and that is a conundrum if you hold 'always believe the accuser' as an important directive.

I do see much benefit in adherence to that directive, but some here hold it in higher regard than the presumption of innocence. I do not share that view, so yeah it's interesting to watch how people (will) deal with that bit of cognitive dissonance..
posted by 0 at 10:59 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


But unless he was in the room with Dylan the whole time, no way on earth is he entitled to say that "of course Woody didn't molest my sister."

and yet, I can't help but feel his perspective is far more relevant than any of ours ...
posted by philip-random at 11:00 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


is that Dylan denies Moses's claim of abuse and that is a conundrum if you hold 'always believe the accuser' as an important directive.

Why is it a conundrum? I see no "cognitive dissonance" here at all.
posted by KathrynT at 11:01 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


and yet, I can't help but feel his perspective is far more relevant than any of ours ...

at least with regard to this particular alleged incident
posted by philip-random at 11:01 AM on February 5


We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces.

Pretty strong stuff.
posted by Trochanter at 11:07 AM on February 5


I do see much benefit in adherence to that directive, but some here hold it in higher regard than the presumption of innocence. I do not share that view, so yeah it's interesting to watch how people (will) deal with that bit of cognitive dissonance.

Since people here are talking about relevance to Dylan's claims, I'm not sure what cognitive dissonance is happening here. And to flip it, it would be just as "interesting" to see the reactions from those who say they believe Mia Farrow is an abuser on evidence and logic that is more flimsy than that they accuse people of believing Woody Allen is an abuser.

Pretty strong stuff.

How so? Because last time I checked, it's physically impossible for anyone without a highly sophisticated surveillance system that has their full attention or transparent walls to know where six or seven people are, let alone who they're with and how public the spaces are.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:11 AM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Pretty strong stuff.

Right, because his memories of what happened 22 years ago are unassailable, while his sister's memories of what happened 22 years ago are necessarily suspect. Because when a man says something that contradicts a woman, of course that's pretty strong stuff. When a woman says something that contradicts a man, she's parroting false memories implanted by a bad mother.
posted by scody at 11:12 AM on February 5 [47 favorites]


Sometimes your posts make me want to start doing backflips off my chair scody.
posted by cairdeas at 11:23 AM on February 5 [6 favorites]


I'm saying it's a pretty strong, pretty direct refutation of her claim. Laid right out there. I was remarking on the claim. I was not saying it was any more weighty than his sister's.
posted by Trochanter at 11:31 AM on February 5


I'm saying it's a pretty strong, pretty direct refutation of her claim. Laid right out there.

It is not just the word of Moses vs. Dylan on what happened that day. Since I suffered through the Daily Beast article I wonder if others concerned with "evidence" have read the 1992 Vanity Fair article, written much closer to the time and with much more information?
While they were gone, there was a brief period, perhaps 15 minutes, when Woody and Dylan vanished from sight. The baby-sitter who was inside searched high and low for them through the cluttered old farmhouse, but she couldn’t find them. The outside baby-sitter, after a look at the grounds around the house, concluded the two must be inside somewhere.
That's two people.

The very next day:
The day before, Casey’s baby-sitter had been in the house looking for one of the three Pascal children and had been startled when she walked into the TV room. Dylan was on the sofa, wearing a dress, and Woody was kneeling on the floor holding her, with his face in her lap. The baby-sitter did not consider it “a fatherly pose,” but more like something you’d say “Oops, excuse me” to if both had been adults. She told police later that she was shocked. “It just seemed very intimate. He seemed very comfortable.”
That's another person who directly saw Woody and Dylan alone together and reported it, not to Mia but to a third party. So now there are four people (not including Dylan or Woody) who were aware of private time and "inappropriate" stuff throughout the day in question, before Mia has had a chance to implant any false memories.
Those close to Allen have insisted that the alleged incident with Dylan described above never occurred, and that the longest period of time unaccounted for on the afternoon of August 4 was less than five minutes, although a principal involved has given an affidavit to Connecticut police stating clearly that the time was at least twice that long.


Not sure if this is one of the nannies or yet another person but either way they went on the record.
posted by Danila at 11:38 AM on February 5 [14 favorites]


Now that's pretty strong stuff.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:56 AM on February 5


Right, because his memories of what happened 22 years ago are unassailable, while his sister's memories of what happened 22 years ago are necessarily suspect. Because when a man says something that contradicts a woman, of course that's pretty strong stuff. When a woman says something that contradicts a man, she's parroting false memories implanted by a bad mother.

This is marvelous. And it help clarifies for me the operating principle for why people are casting Dylan's account and defending Allen.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:02 PM on February 5


Sounds like it was helpful to you in clarifying how those people think.
posted by 0 at 12:07 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Not sure if this is one of the nannies or yet another person but either way they went on the record.

Didn't they come off the record almost immediately though? Either way, their testimony wasn't completely uncontested. See this LA Times article.

According to that, Moses has been pretty consistent in his story for this whole period as welll.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:10 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


0, I'm not sure what your point is here. You're throwing around a lot of smug double-talk talking about how "people" will react to things, and it's muddying the conversation a lot. Can you just say what YOU think instead of trying to put your arguments into other people's mouths?
posted by KathrynT at 12:11 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Didn't they come off the record almost immediately though? Either way, their testimony wasn't completely uncontested. See this LA Times article.

You are aware that this is someone who is admitting that they lied to the investigators, right?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:17 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


[Comment removed. Ardiril, do not just literally port an argument mid-stride from Metatalk and expect the thread to meet you halfway.]
posted by cortex at 12:20 PM on February 5


And upon further review, not just someone who lied to the investigators, but was also someone in the direct pay of Woody Allen, and whose account is (as far as I can tell) not corroborated by the other nanny named?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:22 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Can you just say what YOU think instead of trying to put your arguments into other people's mouths?

Well, for one, I think you're conception of 'a lot' seems flawed. For another, I think Scody's comment is a much better example of putting arguments in others' mouths than mine is. But, ok, please consider my muddying of the conversation over and done. Things will undoubtedly be much clearer from here out.
posted by 0 at 12:28 PM on February 5


Didn't they come off the record almost immediately though? Either way, their testimony wasn't completely uncontested

I don't think that's the same person. The nanny in the LA Times article (who worked for Woody Allen) says she wasn't there that day, so I don't know if she originally lied and said she was or if she is a completely different nanny recanting something else (there seem to have been quite a few nannies). It seems unlikely to me that she claimed to have been there when she wasn't even in the state that day, as that wouldn't require any kind of recantation for Allen's team to easily refute. But maybe it is the same person, but that article doesn't seem like she's making any claims about the length of time.

No, none of this is uncontested! I'm just really, really tired of the specter of false memories being raised.

Also, I believe Moses when he says he was abused. Shoot, my brother and I have very different impressions of the beatings by my mother that went on in our household because one received the brunt of it (me). He doesn't ever think things were as harsh as I recall. This doesn't mean he has false memories. And a lot of time he wasn't there to see it because it usually happened when my mom and I were home alone so I don't hold that against him (not...anymore).
posted by Danila at 12:37 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Dahlia Lithwick, We Can’t Try the Woody Allen Sex Abuse Case in the Court of Public Opinion. Well, that's what the Slate front page headline claims, anyway, although that's exactly what's going on. Lithwick's inside headline is "The Court of Public Opinion is now in session," opposite in meaning and dead on.
posted by jfuller at 12:48 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


"The Court of Public Opinion is now in session,"

just because something is true doesn't mean it's relevant.

I mean, regarding Moses and his seven year old memories (or however old he was) vs Dylan and hers. My gut tells me that given her evident trauma, she's far more likely to remember the specifics than he. At least, I'd like to think that, because it reflects on my life and the traumas I remember. I like to think that I have them right, that I haven't (for example) been blaming my big brother for repeated beatings that never happened (which seems to be how my little brother remembers it) ... and so on.

The problem with the court of f***ing public opinion is we all bring our own stuff to the table, and even if we admit it (many seem not to), we still seem to have a hard time admitting that it might be best for justice that we just recuse ourselves, go for a walk or something, help somebody dig a hole.
posted by philip-random at 12:57 PM on February 5


You are aware that this is someone who is admitting that they lied to the investigators, right?

I'm aware that they're claiming they were induced into doing so their employer, Mia Farrow, yes. I'm also aware that she was paid by Woody -- but didn't all of the household help have their wages paid by Woody or Mia? If the fact that Woody paid her is enough to impeach her, then the fact that Mia paid half has to be as well.

No, none of this is uncontested!

And that's my only real point in this whole thread, Danila. I'm always so surprised that anybody finds anything decisively persuasive here, because for ever piece of information I see, there's another that contradicts it. For every witness who says one thing, there's another who says something different. I find it quite difficult to come down with certainty anywhere. Happily, I don't actually need to.

But you don't think that Moses is giving an account of Mia's behaviour and the environment in the household that seems to be directly at odds with the account that Dylan is providing us with?

To some extent, all of our experiences tend to be somewhat partial and subjective. Reading that stuff about Allen with his face in his daughter's lap, I was struck by the fact that I've probably behaved in similarly ambiguous ways (though hopefully not when they were as old as seven, but who knows?) Could those events possibly be interpreted by my (now adult) kids as being abusive if they started to frame it that way.

I can't help but wonder if they might be talking about stuff that was regarded as innocent prior to the discovery of the Soon-Yi pictures, but then became reframed by some family members in the light of that experience.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:11 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Peter McDermott, I disagree with much of your last comment but quite frankly I feel I've gotten away from what I always felt was most important about Dylan's letter (from my pov, not hers or anyone else's): someone is coming forward and refusing to be silenced. The significance of that can be discussed as a sociological phenomenon, not reliant on anyone's memories or biases. I just absolutely loath to the bottom of my being the shame and enforced secrecy in the name of "keeping things private." I don't think the burden of this is on those trying to survive and live their lives after abuse. The burden of relieving that pressure to silence is on the community and Dylan's letter put a lot of the blame squarely on the Hollywood community but it extends to the broader society as well.

I am always very wary of narratives that rely on the woman being crazy (e.g. being brainwashed and relying on false memories). It's one thing to say "well it's possible" yeah, anyone could possibly be crazy or possibly be brainwashed. But to apply that possibility to a specific person's recounting of their experience should be motivated by their actual recounting. Because it is so easy for women to be dismissed as crazy and emotionally turbulent I believe anyone advancing that argument should be even more careful.

I don't understand why saying "we can't know what happened" means we are obligated to act as if nothing happened, which is what much of Hollywood decided to do and what many are blatantly advocating. I especially push back against the notion that Dylan Farrow or anyone else who says they were abused has an obligation to publicly act like nothing happened. People can make their own choices. But it's no mystery then why the recording industry still supports R. Kelly and why people still buy his music and put money in his pockets. It was very inconvenient for him when that Village Voice article came out right before his new record dropped, but I really don't recall anyone here saying it shouldn't have been printed because we can't know (and he was actually found not guilty of the charges).
posted by Danila at 1:14 PM on February 5 [14 favorites]


Well, the court of public opinion has been in session ever since Ug v. Ug, and I doubt Dahlia Lithwick is going to get it adjourned anytime soon. But my impression (I may be conflating two different conversations, for which I deeply apologize if so) is that people in this conversation are doing an OK job of steering it back to a conversation when it starts to get to be too much like a trial.

Anyway, I've done more thinking on the Art vs. Artist question. Distance really helps. I can more easily separate an artist I believe to have been an unrepentantly horrible person from their work the longer they've been dead and the less their reputation will be affected by my involvement. It looks so cynical in black and white. It makes me think of Yorick's skull. It used to be full of infinite jests, but now it's just a skull.

From the I'ts All About Me Desk: One of the things I've been working on in the self-improvement/therapy department is to notice when something about myself reminds me of my (non-sexually) abusive father. In the past, I would either try not to notice it, deny it, or stifle it, and none of those things worked out so well. What I'm trying to do now is identify them, decide whether they bother me because they bother me or because of where they came from, and then use that to decide whether to invest energy in modifying or accepting them. It is really hard work. I don't know if I could do it if he was still around.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:40 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


What I'm trying to do now is identify them, decide whether they bother me because they bother me or because of where they came from, and then use that to decide whether to invest energy in modifying or accepting them. It is really hard work. I don't know if I could do it if he was still around.

Gosh I've been doing the exact same thing with regard to my mother although she is still around and a significant part of my life. I especially have to wrestle with my certainty that I should not have children because of those aspects that resemble her. I can choose not to for other reasons but it's been hurting my self-image to believe I'd be abusive or beat a child based on nothing other than the fact that she did. But there are also things that resemble her personality that are actually not bad things to do and be and maybe I shouldn't reject those parts of myself.
posted by Danila at 1:54 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Dana Lithwick: “Investigative journalism is one thing. But the Court of Public Opinion is what we used to call villagers with flaming torches.”

Well.

I don't have a lot more to say about this whole thing. I don't think there is a lot to say. I know I'm not certain; I know that I actually know very little about what must have happened, and that I have to rely on the testimony of biased witnesses, since all witnesses in this case are clearly biased. I don't think that we can sort it all out by riddling through it and examining little pieces of evidence. Ultimately, it comes down to trust, and to our feel of the man, and how we put together a whole lot of cues which each, in themselves, can't possibly be conclusive.

I do know that I trust Dylan Farrow; and I know that, if I ever met her, I would shake her hand, and tell her I respect her, and thank and commend her for being brave and honest and forthright. What she did is a service, I believe. I know that's my opinion, but it is my opinion, and the fact that absolute certitude is difficult to secure can't mean that we cannot stand for what we believe is right, even if we're not sure.

And I do know how I feel about Woody Allen. I know that, if the opportunity presented itself, I'd rather not meet him or talk to him. And if I watch his films, which might happen (I like films) this isn't something I'll be able to forget, even if the film ostensibly has nothing to do with this case.

Some people – like Dana Lithwick – worry that our conversations here constitute "villagers with flaming torches." If that ever happens, I'll stand beside her in attempting to talk them down and convince them to set aside their pitchforks. But this is a kind of hand-wringing with which I've become all too familiar over the past few years, and it grows tiresome. "Political correctness run amok!" "Social justice warriors on the hunt!" These are mythic bugaboos designed to frighten people into being nice enough to concede points they wouldn't otherwise concede. Mr. Allen is happy, healthy, rich, and secure in his position. He has his wife, he has his children. He is not likely to be denied these things by "the court of public opinion." So I will not lose sleep if people continue to discuss them in public.
posted by koeselitz at 2:36 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


(Also, I can't help imagining Dahlia Lithwick as the daughter of Adora Belle Dearheart and Moist von Lipwig. You know how those Ankh-Morporkians can never get his Überwaldean name quite right.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:56 PM on February 5


Lithwick knows what she's talking about as regards the American justice system, and has as good a head on her shoulders as any commentator on anything in the US. Her instincts are good. What she is sayng may be unpopular here, but it deserves a listen. You're not sparking a reasoned, intelligent discussion of child abuse in America, or its treatment within the justice system (which I know a fair bit about directly, for background purposes, having served on a grand jury for six months last year, and watching one abuse and child sex crime after another get tossed out or delayed) by discussing this one case ad nauseum.
posted by raysmj at 4:32 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


You're not sparking a reasoned, intelligent discussion of child abuse in America, or its treatment within the justice system (which I know a fair bit about directly, for background purposes, having served on a grand jury for six months last year, and watching one abuse and child sex crime after another get tossed out or delayed) by discussing this one case ad nauseum.

Discussing some of the principles at work in your jury experiences (I understand you can't discuss the specific cases) would probably be a great addition to the conversation, and would probably help a lot of people understand why this story may have progressed the way it did, and why that may or may not mean what someone without your experience might believe.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:59 PM on February 5


Yes, can't discuss the specifics too much. Generally, cases were thrown out or delayed because people refused to cooperate with prosecutors at the last minute, due to siding with one family member or another or not wanting to get a spouse or parent in trouble, or evidence was minimal or hard to come by, or all indications from evidence pointed towards the notion that a kid was making stuff up (but investigators had to present info to us anyway, to have a case cleared), etc. The biggest problem was that the incidents took place in private with someone known to the child. Nearly every other abuse and sex crime case, probably more (can't remember exactly), had some complication of the sorts listed above.
posted by raysmj at 5:20 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


raysmj: "Lithwick knows what she's talking about as regards the American justice system, and has as good a head on her shoulders as any commentator on anything in the US. Her instincts are good. What she is sayng may be unpopular here, but it deserves a listen."

I don't deny that all of that is true. I just happen to thing she's wrong, and I believe she falls into a familiar mistake when she adduced the image of villagers with torches. That doesn't mean she's not intelligent, or a good commentator. It just means she is mistaken.

"You're not sparking a reasoned, intelligent discussion of child abuse in America, or its treatment within the justice system (which I know a fair bit about directly, for background purposes, having served on a grand jury for six months last year, and watching one abuse and child sex crime after another get tossed out or delayed) by discussing this one case ad nauseum."

Yep. That's why I said I didn't have much more to say about it. It's possible to believe that Dylan Farrow's piece says everything that needs to be said here. Hashing it out over and over might not be as good as just letting the piece stand on its own merits.
posted by koeselitz at 6:14 PM on February 5


According to that, Moses has been pretty consistent in his story for this whole period as welll.

That's not really the case. At the time, the custody ruling said that (15yo) Moses could choose whether to have contact with Allen or not, and he chose not to have contact.

Now he suggests that there was "brainwashing" going on at the time. Maybe there was. But I would not put too much stock in the account of a guy who says he was brainwashed at the time but now can say with certainty that what his sister says happened didn't happen.

Also, with regard to this, PeterMcDermott:
I was struck by the fact that I've probably behaved in similarly ambiguous ways (though hopefully not when they were as old as seven, but who knows?) Could those events possibly be interpreted by my (now adult) kids as being abusive if they started to frame it that way.

I imagine this is true of all of us who are parents. However, Dylan Farrow's account is that she had long been uncomfortable with how Allen related to her, but hadn't been sure if it was "normal." It seems that a lot of their interactions were reframed in her mind, yes, by the events in Connecticut when things escalated and then she communicated her discomfort to her mom and learned that this kind of contact is decidedly not normal. But all of that happened and went on the record while she was still seven; she didn't grow to adulthood and then reinterpret those events.
posted by torticat at 6:21 PM on February 5


Lithwick is certainly right to the extent that a lot of people (including some in this thread) seem to think that this is a sports-type context. Are you Team Woody or Team Mia? Aha, that Moses news scores points for Team Woody! Etc.

Having said that, people also get to decide what they think of people and they don't have to abide by the rules of evidence of a court of law. Lithwick is wrong to get on her high horse about that. And it's also possible to think Dylan Farrow is telling the truth about Allen and that Moses Farrow is telling the truth about Mia Farrow. They're not mutually exclusive. And if you're not in it for the "go team" aspect of it, or don't have a personal investment of some sort in Woody Allen's semiautobiographical films (even if it's just "I couldn't be a fan of a child molester's movies"), it mostly looks like a pair of awful people who did awful things to each other and the ongoing ramifications of those awful things for them and their kids.
posted by immlass at 7:17 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Lithwick's quote about the mob is being cut off before the important part:

But the Court of Public Opinion is what we used to call villagers with flaming torches. It has no rules, no arbiter, no mechanism at all for separating truth from lies. It allows everything into evidence and has no mechanism to separate facts about the case from the experiences and political leanings of the millions of us who are all acting as witnesses, judges, and jurors.

The problem with the Court of Public Opinion isn't that it might harm an innocent person. It's that it's foolish, and it makes everyone who participates in it less insightful and more solipsistic, because it encourages personal anecdote over examination of evidence.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:32 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Correcting myself past the edit window: who did awful things to each other

And also obviously to the kids.
posted by immlass at 7:36 PM on February 5


If you follow through the links here you can read a copy of Judge Wilk's 1993 decision in the custody case. This is the link to the pdf of the decision, though I had to copy it to my drive and open it with Adobe to view beyond the first page. (The appellate affirmation of this decision was linked above.) The judge sets out the facts he found from the date in question on p. 323-24, and this clarifies that on the day on question Farrow had both a babysitter and a French tutor on site as well as a friend, her three children, and another babysitter for the friend's children:

On August 4, 1992, Mr. Allen travelled to Ms. Farrow's Connecticut vacation home to spend time with his children. Earlier in the day, Casey Pascal had come for a visit with her three young children and their babysitter, Alison Stickland. Ms. Farrow and Ms. Pascal were shopping when Mr. Allen arrived. Those present were Ms. Pascal's three children; Ms. Stickland; Kristie Groteke, a babysitter employed by Ms. Farrow; Sophie Berge, a French tutor for the children; Dylan; and Satchel.

Ms. Farrow had previously instructed Ms. Groteke that Mr. Allen was not to be left alone with Dylan. For a period of fifteen or twenty minutes during the afternoon, Ms. Groteke was unable to locate Mr. Allen or Dylan. After looking for them in the house, she assumed that they were outside with the others. But neither Ms. Berge nor Ms. Stickland was with Mr. Allen or Dylan. Ms. Groteke made no mention of this to Ms. Farrow on August 4.

During a different portion of the day, Ms. Stickland went to the television room in search of one of Ms. Pascal's children. She observed Mr. Allen kneeling in front of Dylan with his head on her lap, facing her body. Dylan was sitting on the couch staring vacantly in the direction of a television set.

After Ms. Farrow returned home, Ms. Berge noticed that Dylan was not wearing anything under her sundress. She told Ms. Farrow, who asked Ms. Groteke to put underpants on Dylan.

Ms. Stickland testified that during the evening of August 4, she told Ms. Pascal, "I had seen something at Mia's that day that was bothering me." She revealed what she had seen in the television room. On August 5, Ms. Pascal telephoned Ms. Farrow to tell her what Ms. Stickland had observed. Ms. Farrow testified that after she hung up the telephone, she asked Dylan, who was sitting next to her, "whether it was true that daddy had his face in her lap yesterday." Ms. Farrow testified:

"Dylan said yes. And then she said that she didn't like it one bit, no, he was breathing into her, into her legs, she said. And that he was holding her around the waist and I said, why didn't you get up and she said she tried to but that he put his hands underneath her and touched her. And she showed me where . . . Her behind."

Because she was already uncomfortable with Mr. Allen's inappropriate behavior toward Dylan and because she believed that her concerns were not being taken seriously enough by Dr. Schultz and Dr. Coates, Ms. Farrow videotaped Dylan's statements. Over the next twenty-four hours, Dylan told Ms. Farrow that she had been with Mr. Allen in the attic and that he had touched her privates with his finger.


For what it's worth, Judge Wilk wrote some fairly excoriating words about Allen's character, including: Mr. Allen admits that he never considered the consequences of his behavior with Soon-Yi. Dr. Coates and Dr. Brodzinsky testified that Mr. Allen still fails to understand that what he did was wrong. Having isolated Soon-Yi from her family, he left her with no visible support system. He had no consideration for the consequences to her, to Ms. Farrow, to the Previn children for whom he cared little, or to his own children for whom he professes love. To me Allen seemed to think he could do what he wanted and somehow it wouldn't affect the rest of the family, that his actions somehow stood outside the judgment of others. To me that's sort of the opposite of human decency. But that's just me, and I guess that means I must have, well, my own issues.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:57 PM on February 5 [15 favorites]


Those present were Ms. Pascal's three children; Ms. Stickland; Kristie Groteke, a babysitter employed by Ms. Farrow; Sophie Berge, a French tutor for the children; Dylan; and Satchel.

So Moses wasn't in the house that day?
posted by misfish at 8:15 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


misfish, I noticed he was omitted, too, and wondered about that. I'm not sure if he was omitted because he wasn't there or just to keep the other kids out of it -- or due to oversight, or lying. But you're right, he's not listed as having been there in the statement of facts by the judge.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:20 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Just as an aside, I am not really cool with the term "chomo" being thrown around and I'd personally prefer it to be dropped going forward. I understand that it's a slang term for "child molester," but it's clearly also a mutation of "homo."

Just call them a molester. It's not like it's more damning or clearer or funnier to also make some kind of reference to gay people, and as an actual homo it's kind of insulting to feel like someone else thinks that. Plus, of course, homos get enough vague tarring with the pedo brush as it is. Thanks.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:03 AM on February 6 [18 favorites]


I totally agree, I think the word chomo is really ungood and unnecessary. Do not want. We already have pedo which works great for the purpose.
posted by cairdeas at 2:12 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


From an acquaintance who has spent a lot of time in the slammer, and supported by Wikipedia, the normal term is chimo. Chomo is, as indicated, obviously a "homo" reference, and so over and above the offensive reference is not even correct in this situation.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:21 AM on February 6


Chomo, chimo, I for one would rather not have anything that ends in 'mo; especially for Woody Allen who would be a chihetero if anything.
posted by cairdeas at 2:29 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Stephen King of Dylan's letter was somehow related to "palpable bitchery." Nice one, Steve-O, ya fuckin' hack.
posted by angrycat at 5:12 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


It was the first and only time I was tempted to tweet something nasty at a celebrity. Oh well I guess I insult our PA guv quite a bit, but other than that.
posted by angrycat at 5:14 AM on February 6


He apologized 3 hours later.
posted by 0 at 5:19 AM on February 6


AND
posted by angrycat at 5:21 AM on February 6


THEN
posted by Grangousier at 5:53 AM on February 6


I have a great deal of respect for Dahlia Lithwick, but isn't part of the reason we are "trying in the court of public opinion" because there's no other place? Allen can't be charged; the statute of limitations has passed. There's no other way for Dylan Farrow to seek "justice," other than to tell her story.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:04 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect, thank you for that link. I had looked for the full text of the judge's ruling & hadn't been able to find it.

Wow. "Excoriating" hardly begins to cover it.
posted by torticat at 6:33 AM on February 6


0: "He apologized 3 hours later."

His full apology.
"Twitter Apology
February 4th, 2014 8:26:44 pm

Those of you who follow Twitter will know that recently I managed to put my foot in my mouth and halfway down my throat. A good many people came away from my tweet about the Woody Allen controversy with the idea that I had called Dylan Farrow or Mia Farrow (or both) a bitch. That wasn’t my intention, but the conclusion on the part of some readers is understandable. I used the wrong word to describe not Ms. Farrow—either Ms. Farrow—but a sad and painful mess. Some people seem to believe that writers never use the wrong word, but any editor can tell you that’s not true.

Those of you who have read my work—Carrie, Dolores Claiborne, Rose Madder, and Lisey’s Story, to name four—will know that I have plenty of respect for women, and care about the problems and life-situations they face. My single-mom mother faced plenty, believe me. And I have no sympathy whatever for those who abuse children. I wrote about such abuse—and its ultimate cost to the victim—in Gerald’s Game.

The maximum number of letters in a Tweet is 140. I think the following would fit: I apologize for screwing up.

Just know my heart is where it’s always been: in the right place."
The comments seem to be filled with people telling him he has nothing to be sorry about.
posted by zarq at 6:35 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Then where was there bitchery?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:47 AM on February 6


I can't tell if someone has already linked this (I didn't see it in my thread search): A Child Abuse Investigator's View of the Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow Case (The Daily Banter, Feb. 4, 2014). He examines some of Weide's points with the following in mind: Filmmaker and author Bob Weide, wrote a piece in the Daily Beast outlining questions, that might exonerate Allen. The questions Wiede asks seem logical and objective. They also illustrate how little the average person knows about the disclosure, investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse. . . . As most of you know, I investigate child abuse for a living. I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I’ve done hundreds of sexual abuse cases with thousands of victims. I’m a certified forensic interviewer, advanced forensic interviewer and trainer of the forensic interview techniques. It’s with this knowledge and training that I look at the Allen case."

The author takes to task the panel of interviewers at Yale that questioned Dylan for six months about the incident, a practice he says would never happen today because of the damage it would do to the child. He also looks at Weide's assertion that Allen wouldn't have committed the abuse on August 4th because Allen was surrounded by people and it would have been highly illogical.

Other links I've been reading: Woody and Mia: A New York Story (New York Times, Feb. 24, 1991) -- describes their life together months before the Soon-Yi story broke in January, 1992. Describes them as more married than a married couple, idyllically together but separate.

Picking up the Legos and the Pieces (New York Times, May 8, 1994) inverviews Mia Farrow re the aftermath of the separation and the trial and describes her as moving out of the apartment across the Park from Allen. Dylan is eight and a half.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:32 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Why Young Sexual Assault Victims Tell Incoherent Stories. Natalie Shure in The Atlantic.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:52 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Since when is "a sad and painful mess" described as "bitchery" ?? I have not once in my whole entire life seen that usage. What a crock of shit.
posted by cairdeas at 9:31 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Yup. For King to try to explain his thought processes as such and also blame his newness to twitter is bullshit.
posted by angrycat at 9:36 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I've never seen that particular usage myself (and am not particularly informed or convinced concerning King) but the "life's a bitch" phrase, which does seem as though it could lead to such usage, dates to 'Threepenny Opera' (1928).
posted by mr. digits at 9:39 AM on February 6


Since when is "a sad and painful mess" described as "bitchery" ?

He says he used the wrong word. He may or may not be being disingenous, but he's not saying "hey guys, we all know that bitchery means a sad and painful mess, right?"
posted by yoink at 9:44 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


"Yup. For King to try to explain his thought processes as such and also blame his newness to twitter is bullshit."

I agree and the tweet really bothered me, too. But I'm willing to see this as a strike against him, and remember it, but recall also Dolores Claiborne and Gerald's Game, both of which were among the last of his novels I'd read before I stopped reading him, in which he displays a lot more knowledge of spousal abuse against women and particularly of childhood sexual assault and incest, and most particularly the psychological impact on survivors, than almost ever I see from writers who are not themselves survivors.

At the time both those books were published I was married to an incest survivor. She wasn't interested in reading the books, so I never discussed them with her. But I came away from reading them being certain that King is very close to someone who is an incest survivor.

So ... I dunno. Because of what I just wrote, I totally didn't expect that tweet of his and have no explanation for it other than that it was what it appeared to be. Which is to say, even some people who really and truly know better may weirdly, and sadly, find themselves defending Woody Allen. It's a mystery to me, but it seems to be true.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:52 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


"Bitchery" doesn't make a whole lot of sense in the "life's a bitch" sense, but it also doesn't really make sense that Stephen King would be write off the letter as mere "bitch[iness]". I mean, it's certainly plausible that many people wouldn't believe Dylan Farrow, but the precise-seeming accusation of "bitch[iness]" doesn't really seem like an angle that makes sense even within that internal logic. It especially doesn't jibe with the books that Stephen King has actually written.

On the whole, I'm going to see this as Stephen King saying something stupid and then apologizing for it and then it stopped being a thing I care about. Even if he really does believe in the offensive and implausible "Mia created the whole thing" story, he's obviously not interested in spreading that view.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:18 AM on February 6


I honestly don't know what to think of what King wrote. He said something insanely stupid and a bit nonsensical and apologized for it.
Meanwhile, we have Barbara Walters defending Woody Allen on The View.
posted by zarq at 12:13 PM on February 6


Oh, The View. First Whoopi defends Polanski, then Walters defends Allen.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:15 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Radar Online has published the first two pages of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Report on Dylan Farrow from March 17, 1993. (PDF here, though I needed to save it to my drive and open it with Adobe.) The details from the report make it clear that Dr. John Leventhal, the pediatrician who was part of the three-member team at Yale and who testified at trial via deposition, never himself met with Dylan Farrow, who did meet with two other people on staff (Dr. Hamilton and Ms. Sawyer) nine times over a two month period.

The second page of the report lists four reasons why Dylan Farrow's account of sexual abuse by Woody Allen was not believed by the team, before the report gets cut off. The four reasons were: "(1) There were important inconsistencies in Dylan's statements in the videotape and in her statements to us. (2) She appeared to struggle with how to tell about the touching. (3) She told the story in a manner that was overly thoughtful and controlling. There was no spontaneity in her statements, and a rehearsed quality was suggested in how she spoke. (4) Her descriptions of the details surrounding the alleged events were unusual and were inconsistent."

I don't know how many more reasons they had, but if they listed them in order of persuasiveness, I'm skeptical about their conclusions. Especially when read in tandem with The Atlantic article that oneirodynia linked above, Why Young Sexual Assault Victims Tell Incoherent Stories by Natalie Shure. I mean, Dylan Farrow had been asked about the incident numerous times by her mother (and videotaped off and on about it), twice by her pediatrician, three times by her clinical psychologist Nancy Schultz, and who knows how many times by police and others, but Leventhal et al did not believe her because her statements about the incident lacked "spontaneity"? And because this seven year old girl "appeared to struggle with how to tell about the touching"? I mean, is it so extraordinary that a seven year old child would "struggle" in telling virtual strangers about her sexual abuse by her father? It seems strange and hard to credit. Apparently it's not unusual to have inconsistent accounts, either, when talking to a child.

This part of the report seems to treat Dylan Farrow a bit like a performing monkey: tell us your story at least 9 times, little girl, and make sure you don't have dead eyes when you do it. Be spontaneous!

From a Salon.com article published today, Crimes and Misdemeanors: What We Get Wrong About Sexual Abuse: "Similarly, doubt has been cast on Dylan’s statements because of her affect in some of the recordings made of her as a child—she’s said to seem uninterested and bored, stiff, coached. Children’s advocates point out that although we might expect children’s testimony about sex abuse to be highly emotional and involve expressions of anger, shame, and pain, this is often not the case, especially when the abuse has occurred at the hands of someone close to child. Depression can flatten a victim’s response. Today, in an enlightened courtroom, a temporary retraction of an account of sexual assault and a deadened responsiveness under investigation would probably not be enough to cast doubt on a testimony."

Other things about this investigation would be different today. As the child abuse investigator opined in the other article I linked above, the idea of a team of doctors interviewing a frightened 7 year old child over a period of months is reprehensible. "There's a reason we do one interview on tape. Asking Dylan to relive and retell the account of her abuse over and over again victimized her even further."
posted by onlyconnect at 12:18 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Sticherbeast: "Oh, The View. First Whoopi defends Polanski, then Walters defends Allen."

Worth noting that Sherri Shepherd argued strenuously with each of them. She's been a controversial host herself, but has been exceptionally consistent on the issue of rape and molestation.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


He says he used the wrong word. He may or may not be being disingenous, but he's not saying "hey guys, we all know that bitchery means a sad and painful mess, right?"

When he says he "used the wrong word" that doesn't pass the sniff test in any way, IMO. Look at the context. "Bitchery" was not a typo. He wasn't trying to write "coconut" and accidentally wrote "bitchery" instead.
"Boy, I'm stumped on that one. I don't like to think it's true, and there's an element of palpable bitchery there, but..."
If he didn't mean to write "bitchery," then what word did he mean to write after "palpable?" It's just such BS.


You know, maybe he wrote that and thought, "Shit, that was a really horrible thing of me to say. My initial reaction was that it was bitchery, but giving it more thought, that's not what the situation really was, that's not how I really feel about it, and I shouldn't have said it."

That, to me, would be an honest apology. I would still be pretty grossed out, but I wouldn't be thinking of him as gross AND a liar, like I am now.

This non-apology about accidentally using the wrong word (because even famous writers do that sometimes, yanno) and not being familiar enough with Twitter just makes it worse.

The problem is that his instinct was to attack a woman for how "bitchy" she came off in her account of being molested as a child. If he wants to apologize for something, that would be a great thing to apologize for. I'm not seeing that at all, so I'm still disgusted.
posted by cairdeas at 12:26 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect: " This part of the report seems to treat Dylan Farrow a bit like a performing monkey: tell us your story at least 9 times, little girl, and make sure you don't have dead eyes when you do it. Be spontaneous!"

When I was interviewed by the police as a kid, they paid very close attention to whether what I was telling them was consistent. The problem is, you're kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't. If you tell the story the same way every time, it could be considered rehearsed. If you can't remember details or are upset and tell it differently, even a little, you're inconsistent and an unreliable witness.

I didn't understand any of this until I was older.
posted by zarq at 12:28 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


The other thing that's crazy is that they interviewed her about it for 6 months!! I can't imagine being interviewed about any 15 minute incident for 6 freaking months and how I would end up talking about it by the end.
posted by cairdeas at 12:30 PM on February 6


cairdeas, actually the two pages of the report show that while their whole investigation lasted six months, they only interviewed Dylan over a period of two months: from 9/18/92 to 11/13/92. Prior articles and commentary may have said six months because they only knew the length of the Yale-New Haven Hospital team's investigation, and not the days the actual interviews of Dylan were conducted. In any case, I do think there is agreement that nine interviews about the same thing over a period of even two months is not what would be done today. Frankly I wonder whether this investigation itself contributed to Dylan Farrow's PTSD.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:36 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I should add... one of the things that the police did when they interviewed me was to also interview another family member. At least once or twice, I know we were interviewed simultaneously. I can't remember if that happened every time.

Our stories were then cross-checked against each other: do the time frames and accounts of what they saw match up? Are there contradictions? Are they using the same exact wording to describe what happened, which might mean one or both had been coached? Etc., etc.

Nine interviews. I wonder if the Yale investigators were trying very hard to find inconsistencies.
posted by zarq at 12:43 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I have to say one more thing about the Stephen King comment because it is pricking me.

Unfortunately, in my life, I have met many men who self-describe as feminists, as being very aware of gender/sex issues, who say all the right things, at first.

BUT, when confronted with a woman who makes them angry, or they think should shut up (c.f. Sarah Palin), do not hesitate to bust out with all of the gendered weapons which are always available to them - start calling people bitches and cunts, fantasizing about sexualized violence towards them, calling them aggressive, loud, bigmouthed, talking about how they should be forcibly shut up, etc. Acting as if it's their right to shut a woman up by any means necessary when she is making them angry.

So I think it's possibly very similar in Stephen King's case, that he may have an awareness of incest/child abuse, and he says all the right things when he sympathizes with the victim, but if he doesn't, for whatever reason, he is willing to use the weapons that society makes available against sexual abuse victims.
posted by cairdeas at 12:52 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


If he didn't mean to write "bitchery," then what word did he mean to write after "palpable?" It's just such BS.

You may well be right. My point was not to say he's telling the truth about using the "wrong word" but that it's not a coherent criticism of his apology to say "but bitchery doesn't mean that." He's not claiming it does, he's claiming he meant to write something else. If you find that implausible, fine.
posted by yoink at 12:57 PM on February 6


It feels like people are ignoring the tweet itself.
Boy, I’m stumped on that one. I don’t like to think it’s true, and there’s an element of palpable bitchery there, but …
He's doing that thing people do where they lean toward an implied antecedent. Here, it's unclear what "bitchery" means initially, so all we have to go on is "I don't like to think it's true, but..." It seems obvious that the antecedent here would be some variation on "... it's hard to dismiss claims like these." In other words: I think King is indicating support for the victim here, mostly because alternate constructions don't make much sense. "I don't like to think it's true, but it isn't true" doesn't make sense. "But" is disjunctive.

If this is the case, there are still some problematic things here. For one, I think "bitchery" is intended to apply vaguely to Mia Farrow. There is probably a narrow technical sense in which King "used the wrong word;" that is, it might have been fair to say something like "Mia has clearly not been a model wife, and sometimes she apparently has been manipulative, but these claims seem to have merit, and it doesn't seem fair to dismiss them as the product of her manipulation." But that's not what King said. And "bitchery" implies a lot of other things. Mia is already a delicate and difficult case; it's obvious that there's some gaslighting that goes on with her, some broad generalization of Mia Farrow as "hysterical" or "crazy" which is patently and obviously sexist. Using the word "bitchery" in this case isn't just a mistake; it tears the whole tweet in the direction of the manipulative and damaging patriarchal history behind this case. Also, since I think it's clear that "bitchery" was intended to apply to Mia – nobody I know of on any side of this debate has characterized Dylan as "bitchy," in any terms whatsoever – it is dishonest of King to explicitly say that it wasn't his "intention" to call either of them a bitch.

More problematic to me is the way King seems to have composed the original tweet with an air of trying to back away from the issue even as part of him clearly wanted to stand with Dylan Farrow on it. He left his desire to support her merely vaguely implied by the context. This is the kind of thing that it's worth being clear about; and his hesitation about being clear shows that he's being a bit too cowardly about confronting it. Honestly, if you're so worried about how you feel and saying it in public, it is a perfectly decent option not to say anything about it at all. Let Dylan's piece speak for itself, and let those who wish to lend it full-throated support do so.
posted by koeselitz at 1:16 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Also, since I think it's clear that "bitchery" was intended to apply to Mia

My immediate assumption was that this was a reference to her calling out some of the actors who have worked with Allen since the allegations were made.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:45 PM on February 6


And I thought it was a reference to the timing of the statement so as to possibly mess with Blue Jasmine's chances at getting Oscars! (That's not my view, just what I speculate the view of others is.) I feel like a blind man looking at an elephant! :)
posted by onlyconnect at 2:02 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


The second Onion piece hits the nail on the head.
posted by w0mbat at 3:29 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


here here.
posted by philip-random at 3:57 PM on February 6


I personally am kind of meh about that Onion piece. It's casting the idea of thinking/talking/writing about these issues as something totally useless and self-deluding. And I don't think it's good for ordinary people to start believing that it is just dumb and useless for us all to talk about this in casual/informal ways, with our peers, friends, and strangers. Ordinary people engaging with these sorts of things in an everyday, human-scale kind of way is exactly what we need! It's such a good thing. The absolute last thing we need is people going, meh, what good would it do, I'll never come up with "The" answer to this so I might as well veg out in front of the tube instead.
posted by cairdeas at 4:03 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I'm willing to admit that some small part of my willingness to believe Dylan Farrow might be rooted in the hope that believing in her, and advancing society to that point, might help me (a woman) be believed if I am raped or harrassed or talk about childhood molestation -- directly as part of my position as a woman in society.

Are the men in this thread who are openly more skeptical also willing to admit that some small part of their position is rooted in a sort of fear that if the goalposts of public opinion are moved here, after twenty years dormant, it could affect you as a man if you were ever involved in some he said/she said situation?

I ask this just because, though I haven't in most cases looked, and of course there are exceptions, it looks like a lot of opinions toward the end of this thread have broken down along gender lines, and mainly that makes sense to me as a gain in/loss of status thing. I'm just curious if people agree it seems like it's breaking down this way and why else they think that might be?
posted by onlyconnect at 4:21 PM on February 6


I don't identify with Dylan's father, the man she accuses of being a pedophile. Because I'm not a pedophile and her father acts a lot like a pedophile. I don't identify with Dylan, either, if that matters. She acts a lot like an incest survivor. To me, this isn't rocket science and it's not about picking teams.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:56 PM on February 6


I'm not skeptical of Dylan, but I can definitely admit the idea of being falsely accused is terrifying. Like a lot of people I live my life trying to be perceived as a good person who protects the weak and stands up to the bullies of the world, and you are at great risk to lose that perception with that kind of accusation. So, I try and remind myself it's like the fear that my airplane might go down. Terrifying, but extremely unlikely.

I think it might be possible false accusations have more power in the future if the crime is taken seriously, but that's kind of a "this sucks, but it has to be." situation just like it is sometimes for victims who see their attacker go free because the evidence can't prosecute them. We have a system that isn't perfect and it can't always deliver results because we have restrained it for good reasons. You might get a bad reputation from a false accusation, but it is most likely you won't be successfully prosecuted. It's not ideal, but it's the only tradeoff we can make that balances out our considerations for the concerned parties.

On the other hand, I think a system that takes sexual assault allegations seriously is one that is going to get much better at finding the right ways to investigate it and discover the truth. It may be that false accusations, already rare, would actually be reduced.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:34 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


"I'm not skeptical of Dylan, but I can definitely admit the idea of being falsely accused is terrifying."

I think everyone finds that terrifying. But I guess a question to ask is whether you find the idea of being sexually assaulted and not believed by others about it terrifying, too. Because basically every survivor experiences this from someone along the way.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:05 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Yeah, to me saying someone is lying or not in their right mind when they say they've been abused or assaulted is also an accusation and usually a false one.
posted by Danila at 6:21 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


False accusations of rape are no more common than false accusations of other serious crimes. Are you similarly creeped out by the idea of being falsely accused of arson?

(Relatedly, for violent crimes generally, how many false convictions are there?)
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:36 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I really think from my perspective the threat of being falsely accused is less terrifying than for a man because as a woman I'm just not likely to be accused of rape or molestation or even sexual harassment. That's part of my "privilege" as a woman, but the flip side is the threat that I won't be believed if I experience those things unless I report and tell my story in precisely the right way, etc.

So I appreciate what Drinky Die is saying because it makes sense to me, and I also appreciate that despite this fear he still wants to move the goalposts.

Stitcherbeast I guess I am extremely skeptical of the claim that the rate of false convictions for serious violent felonies in the United States is merely somewhere in the range from 1% to 5%. That seems really low, but maybe I've been watching too many crime thrillers.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:48 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Secondly, those are false convictions not false accusations which are not the same thing and can't be used as a proxy.
posted by Justinian at 7:03 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Are you similarly creeped out by the idea of being falsely accused of arson?

I don't think so, no, for a variety of reasons. I can't in good faith say one of those reasons isn't that some part of me sees a false accusation of rape as more plausibly something that might happen. My mother is a divorce lawyer...she talks about her cases...some of them include accusations she is confident are false. But arson has never come up in any context. So, a false rape accusation is one I'm scared of because it's a scenario that has been presented to me. A false arson accusation is not. That is definitely an insightful point with some problematic implications so thanks for making it. Fear is not something I can always rationally manage. I'm terrified of stinging insects, even honey bees. Intellectually I know that is dumb but it is what it is. When it comes to fears that might be promoting toxic attitudes towards victims though, "It is what it is." isn't a completely valid answer. I'll make an effort on that.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:10 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


My mother is a divorce lawyer...she talks about her cases...some of them include accusations she is confident are false. But arson has never come up in any context. So, a false rape accusation is one I'm scared of because it's a scenario that has been presented to me. A false arson accusation is not.

I think this is key. Those of us who've spent a lot of time working in the legal system know that false rape accusations happen. Pretty rarely---you'll only see one a year, if that. Like criminal convictions, most of them are true. But the ones that aren't can be incredibly devastating, both materially and emotionally.

The difference is that everyone knows that when someone's accused of arson, everyone knows that you're supposed to look at the evidence, and when someone says they've been a victim of arson, everyone knows that you should check to see if they're running an insurance scam... It's only rape accusations where people insist, counter to what anyone who works in the system knows to be true, that checking if any given accusation is false is disgraceful.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:09 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Rape and molestation don't always leave physical evidence. Someone who "works in the system" should be painfully aware of that by now.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:12 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Right, that's painfully true. Which is part of the problem with investigating---you often have to look for circumstantial evidence, rather than physical. But dismissing the very idea of looking for evidence is not a good solution.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:59 AM on February 7


But dismissing the very idea of looking for evidence is not a good solution.

Has anyone actually done this?
posted by palomar at 9:05 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Most people in prison--by far--committed the crime of which they were accused. Most of those who claim they are innocent are lying. Of those who aren't lying, the majority would be unable to provide proof that they are innocent (at most they can hope to show that their guilt was never proven).

In many cases, those people were accused of horrible crimes by people who are deeply traumatized.

So should the Innocence Project simply cease operations because innocence is "statistically unlikely," definitive proof of innocence almost impossible to come by, and the accusers often clearly sincere and deeply distressed?
posted by yoink at 9:31 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what the Innocence Project has to do with this. No one's ID is in question, none of the people involved are in want or need of adequate legal representation, and most importantly the investigation was inconclusive and no one was tried or convicted for a crime.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:41 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


So should the Innocence Project simply cease operations because innocence is "statistically unlikely," definitive proof of innocence almost impossible to come by

The Innocence Project is a pretty odd comparison to make because they most decidedly *don't* work on cases where "definitive proof of innocence is almost impossible to come by." They work on cases where innocence can be proven by DNA.

From the FAQ:
Q. How do you decide who to represent?

A. We gather extensive information about each case application, and our intake and evaluation staff researches each potential case thoroughly – and, along with our legal staff, ultimately determines whether DNA testing can be conducted and, if so, whether favorable results can prove innocence.
They're not saying, "Gosh, we can never know the truth, so we'll just argue for the innocence of anyone and everyone." They are specifically, exclusively working on cases where there is DNA evidence AND where the DNA evidence can prove innocence.

And since you made the comparison to the Innocence Project, here's another very important aspect of the Innocence Project -- again from the website:
DNA exoneration cases have provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects that can be precisely identified and addressed. For more than 15 years, the Innocence Project has worked to pinpoint these trends.
Bolding mine. These systemic defects are, to name a few, things like the use of criminal informants, and false confessions. This is about the opposite of the behavior of people who are reflexively dismissive/skeptical of sexual abuse allegations. They are dismissive/skeptical of them across the board, in any and all situations short of the attacker being caught in the act and sometimes even then. They come up with an endless series of justifications for being dismissive of any form of evidence. They're not saying, "there are very specific kinds of defects that we pinpoint and specifically address." It's basically like, give us anything and we'll come up with any argument against it.
posted by cairdeas at 9:48 AM on February 7 [15 favorites]


These systemic defects are, to name a few, things like the use of criminal informants, and false confessions.

Absolutely. Also, those who are wrongfully convicted in cases like this are almost invariably poor and disproportionately black or Latino.
posted by scody at 11:05 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


man this thread really went off the rails...

The innocence project? false accusations? What does this have to do with the subject matter?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:26 AM on February 7


zombieflanders: “Rape and molestation don't always leave physical evidence. Someone who 'works in the system' should be painfully aware of that by now.”

ThatFuzzyBastard: “Right, that's painfully true. Which is part of the problem with investigating---you often have to look for circumstantial evidence, rather than physical. But dismissing the very idea of looking for evidence is not a good solution.”

This is a classic deceptive tactic used in courtrooms: painting your opponent as being against the very idea of looking for evidence simply because they question the conclusions you've drawn. Note that most of "the legal system" has an active interest in preventing investigation itself; in a courtroom, at least half of the people there want there to be as little investigation as possible.

Since you haven't read anything anyone has said in this thread, I'll direct you, again, to this important article by a child abuse investigator, who clearly has an interest in actually investigating facts:
Another common misconception is that if there is no prosecution, there is no guilt. Every state has some form of Child Protective Services. All of them have a name for reports of child abuse that are FOUNDED. In Illinois, we use the term Indicated. In other states they use Confirmed. The level of evidence in these founded reports is usually “reasonable person” which basically means that a reasonable person would conclude that abuse or neglect occurred.

A friend on Twitter mentioned that he would like to believe that Allen is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately for the overwhelming majority of these cases there is no court. There is only the child welfare system and the findings of the professionals. Those cases are never made public due to confidentiality, but they are no less important than cases that go to court.
This is testimony by an expert which out to be taken into account. And it should be noted that most people "working in the legal system" don't actually have any interest in encouraging careful investigations. It's not their job. In fact, it's usually their job to prevent investigations.
posted by koeselitz at 11:41 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


The innocence project? false accusations? What does this have to do with the subject matter?

Sometimes you have to go far afield to source your straw men.
posted by bleep-blop at 11:49 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


Digging deeper into Robert B. Weide’s misleading Daily Beast story
posted by scody at 1:16 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


Woody Allen responds in the NYT.
posted by AwkwardPause at 5:54 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


From Allen's NYT response:

Notwithstanding, Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined. Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested. Mia then took Dylan out for ice cream, and when she came back with her the child had changed her story. The police began their investigation; a possible indictment hung in the balance. I very willingly took a lie-detector test and of course passed because I had nothing to hide. I asked Mia to take one and she wouldn’t. Last week a woman named Stacey Nelkin, whom I had dated many years ago, came forward to the press to tell them that when Mia and I first had our custody battle 21 years ago, Mia had wanted her to testify that she had been underage when I was dating her, despite the fact this was untrue. Stacey refused. I include this anecdote so we all know what kind of character we are dealing with here. One can imagine in learning this why she wouldn’t take a lie-detector test.
posted by Brian B. at 6:50 PM on February 7


Sorry, Woody, don't believe you, dude. Mia might have been a vindictive witch, I don't know, we weren't there.


But I believe Dylan. And I believe Dylan's grandmother. And I believe anybody who doesn't understand why his relationship with Mia's adopted daughter Soon-Yi was, shall we say, problematic, is no one I would want around any of my children or grandchildren, to start with.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:55 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


I feel like Woody would have served himself better if he'd stayed quiet, and left his only statement on this issue to be the one issued via his lawyer and publicist earlier this week. Getting down in the gutter and going after Mia with teeth bared and character assassinations flying doesn't really help reinforce the idea that he has nothing to hide.
posted by palomar at 7:00 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Wow that is just AMAZING.

It seems superficially plausible, but he really just took the whole Weide piece and repeated in in his own words, didn't he. He even managed to weave in every one of Mia Farrow's sexual indiscretions as if those have any bearing at all on the story with Dylan Farrow. The part about the song "With my Daddy in the Attic" is particularly despicable... great segue there, Woody.

A couple things he wrote that are misleading if not downright false...

when I was in the blissful early stages of a happy new relationship with the woman I’d go on to marry
...this is bullshit according to multiple contemporaneous accounts that say he promised at the time to give up the relationship with Soon-Yi and even continued to pursue patching up the relationship with Mia Farrow through the spring and summer of that year.

Here I quote Moses Farrow, 14 at the time: “My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister.” Moses is now 36 years old
That quote from Moses is contemporary and was not what he was saying when he was 14. In a letter he did write at the time (quoted by the judge in the custody hearing), he said:
"...you can't force me to live with you. ...You have done a horrible, unforgivable, needy, ugly, stupid thing...about seeing me for lunch, you can just forget about that...we didn't do anything wrong...All you did is spoil the little ones, Dylan and Satchel. ...Every one knows not to have an affair with your son's sister...I don't consider you my father anymore. It was a great feeling having a father, but you smashed that feeling and dream with a single act. I HOPE YOU ARE PROUD TO CRUSH YOUR SON'S DREAM."

Woody Allen in his self-serving column makes it sound like Mia Farrow was to blame for the kids' anger it him. It could not be clearer from Moses's letter, though, that it was the affair with Soon-Yi that was the crushing blow to him (even though, after decades had passed, he was able to forgive that transgression).
posted by torticat at 7:12 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


Also from the Allen response in the NYT:

Meanwhile the Connecticut police turned for help to a special investigative unit they relied on in such cases, the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital. This group of impartial, experienced men and women whom the district attorney looked to for guidance as to whether to prosecute, spent months doing a meticulous investigation, interviewing everyone concerned, and checking every piece of evidence. Finally they wrote their conclusion which I quote here: “It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992... In developing our opinion we considered three hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements. First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her; second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow. While we can conclude that Dylan was not sexually abused, we can not be definite about whether the second formulation by itself or the third formulation by itself is true. We believe that it is more likely that a combination of these two formulations best explains Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse.”

Christ, whatever the truth of the matter, what a fucked-up scenario for all concerned.
posted by modernnomad at 7:40 PM on February 7


I feel like Woody would have served himself better if he'd stayed quiet

Agreed. He hasn't done himself any favors. The part about paying Ronan's child support is another disgusting bit--I mean this is (possibly at any rate) his own biological son, and estranged or not, does the impossibly wealthy Woody Allen really want to go on record saying he resents having supported the kid? That's another part lifted from the Weide piece, and it would have been better for WA himself not to have touched it.

Other problematic parts:

I had been going out with Mia for 12 years and never in that time did she ever suggest to me anything resembling misconduct.

This directly contradicts testimony of Mia Farrow and others who felt his relationship with Dylan was borderline inappropriate long before everything blew up in 1991.

Stacey Nelkin, whom I had dated many years ago, came forward to the press to tell them that when Mia and I first had our custody battle 21 years ago, Mia had wanted her to testify that she had been underage when I was dating her, despite the fact this was untrue.

Woody Allen may maintain that Nelkin had turned 18 when their relationship started, but this contradicts public reports. She was born in '59 and acted in Annie Hall in '76. If Allen waited until she was technically legal--well kudos to him!--but it's ridiculous to fault Mia Farrow for potentially having made an error on a matter of months--or for simply not believing him.

I still believe it's possible that Allen did to Dylan Farrow what she says he did but that he manages to categorize it in his own mind as "not-molestation." He doesn't ever actually say, "I never touched Dylan in an intimate way." Maybe this is nitpicky--but the letter comes across as so lawyerly and careful, focused mainly on misdirection and throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Mia Farrow.

And it is VERY clear that Woody Allen is fascinated by the ideas of compartmentalization and self-justification, and even aware of his own tendencies in that direction. This, if nothing else, is apparent from the recurring themes in his movies exploring that part of the human experience.
posted by torticat at 7:43 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


I can't believe he wrote that knowing Dylan would read it. He doesn't sound like a father, he sounds like a petulant and immature little boy. He trotted out all the best evidence that supported him and waved away the damning stuff that didn't. And he still accepts no blame or admits the immorality of what he did with Soon-Yi, which could have made him relatable at least.

A father doesn't do that to his child. You don't try to gut her out in public right in front of everyone, even if she did it to you, especially if you (say you) think she is wrong but it's not her fault. What the fuck is wrong with you, dude? What a miserable letter that was.

Did the NYT post it in its opinion/editorial section? Because apparently the NYT refused to post Dylan's letter there, and left it to be posted to that guy's blog.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:00 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]


modernnomad, there were many problems with the Yale New Haven Hospital study. The study says Dylan was inconsistent about vaginal abuse but they interviewed her NINE times which by modern standards is way too many and she was consistent about vaginal abuse the first six interviews, then in the last three talked about less invasive but still sexual abuse. Modern practice shows that some variance after repeated questioning is totally consistent with sexual abuse in children. There are MANY more errors in the study (some of which are noted in this thread) and there were weird irregularities in how it was produced -- results were shared with Allen early, all the notes were destroyed (!), it was WAY beyond their purview to opine that Dylan had not been abused, the person who gave the deposition testimony at trial (Leventhal) never interviewed Dylan, etc.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:19 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Ten Undeniable Facts About the Woody Allen Sexual Abuse Allegation
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:23 PM on February 7 [11 favorites]


Here's something else I completely don't get.

From the 1992 VF article:

When the doctor asked where her private part was, Dylan pointed to her shoulder. A few minutes later, over ice cream, she told Mia that she had been embarrassed to have to say anything about this to the doctor.

Or in Woody Allen's skewed retelling from this week,

Mia insisted that I had abused Dylan and took her immediately to a doctor to be examined. Dylan told the doctor she had not been molested.

I've written before about being too shy/embarrassed, as a child, to tell a psychologist what was distressing me. In that episode, I was three years older than Dylan, and I was also not being asked to talk about anything like vaginas.

I cannot believe that would be rare, for children. Is the potential for a child to be ashamed at being immediately direct about a humiliating topic with a stranger not something that is recognized? Is it not something that is taken into account or anticipated?
posted by cairdeas at 8:41 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


“It is our expert opinion that Dylan was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements on videotape and her statements to us during our evaluation do not refer to actual events that occurred to her on August 4th, 1992... In developing our opinion we considered three hypotheses to explain Dylan’s statements. First, that Dylan’s statements were true and that Mr. Allen had sexually abused her; second, that Dylan’s statements were not true but were made up by an emotionally vulnerable child who was caught up in a disturbed family and who was responding to the stresses in the family; and third, that Dylan was coached or influenced by her mother, Ms. Farrow.

Interesting that nowhere in the Yale-New Haven report does it suggest that Dylan was lying, per se. Just that she was a kid and could be right, could be overwhelmed by the situation happening in her family at the time*, or could have been manipulated.

I think this is really important to remember, in thinking about this within the framing of "abuse victims should always be believed". Dylan was believed.

*Something I really relate to having seen the fallout within my own family during a bitter custody battle.
posted by Sara C. at 9:02 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Following up on what I said a few comments back
I still believe it's possible that Allen did to Dylan Farrow what she says he did but that he manages to categorize it in his own mind as "not-molestation." He doesn't ever actually say, "I never touched Dylan in an intimate way." Maybe this is nitpicky--but the letter comes across as so lawyerly and careful

...This is interesting, from the more recent VF article:
The top investigator I spoke to had interviewed Allen. “He had a scripted presentation, with his attorneys there. I did not find him credible,” the officer told me of the three-hour session. “I allowed him to say his piece without questions. When I questioned him, he starts stuttering and saying he didn’t do anything.” The officer stated, “There was never ‘Yes, I did’ or ‘No, I didn’t.’ There was not a clear, definitive yes or no.”

The Slate piece Scody linked upthread is well-worth reading, dismantling Weide's arguments (and now WA's as well).
posted by torticat at 9:08 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I thought Woody's statement was quite believable. Mia sounds like a more and more reprehensible person.

Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?

Indeed.
posted by shivohum at 9:09 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Orth's Ten Undeniable Facts article posted by St. Alia was a very detailed, reasoned chaser to Allen's NYT Opinion piece.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:14 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


When I questioned him, he starts stuttering and saying he didn’t do anything.” The officer stated, “There was never ‘Yes, I did’ or ‘No, I didn’t.’ There was not a clear, definitive yes or no.”

I'm acquainted enough with Woody Allen's onscreen mannerisms to not find his performance questionable here.
posted by philip-random at 9:14 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


shivohum: “I thought Woody's statement was quite believable. Mia sounds like a more and more reprehensible person.”

from article: “Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?”

shivohum: “Indeed.”

The answer is "yes." This is what child abuse victims and those around child abuse victims – daughters, sons, wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, people who want to live in a world where the abuse never happened, and who sometimes will engage in delusional fantasies about that world where they have no responsibility to a tragic violation – do, and quite often. The rape victim goes home with her rapist, not knowing what else to do. The mother doesn't say anything, not wanting to believe it. And Mia – who I think everyone might agree has lived in strange and fantastical situations her entire life – has wanted to engage the world in contrary ways over the years.

Besides, it makes no sense to use this as an indication because it is just as baffling if Mia is lying. Why would she lie about the molestation right after allowing her images to be used in a tribute to the molester, knowing, one would think, that this would be recognized as weird and contradictory behavior? It doesn't seem to indicate anything on its own except some inner conflicts – which we already knew Mia had. So that says nothing whatsoever about whether or not the rape actually occurred.
posted by koeselitz at 9:42 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


Sorry, Woody, don't believe you, dude. Mia might have been a vindictive witch, I don't know, we weren't there.

St Alia, I agree with that, so this isn't a criticism of that comment.

But this "vindictive" thing that everyone says about Mia Farrow. I've been starting to wonder how much basis it has in fact.

In the spring and summer of 2002, Mia had every right to be FURIOUS with Woody Allen, to distrust him utterly, to attempt to cut him out of the life of her and her family. She had been personally and publicly humiliated, her daughter exploited, and her family devastated. Yet she continued to allow him (circumscribed) access to his children, sought therapy for everyone, even, according to her therapist, considered forgiving him (that was when he was saying he would give up the relationship with Soon-Yi). She must have been in a hell of a place. In that context, a few rage-filled moments, an angry valentine--they don't really seem that crazed or abnormal to me, unless you expect her to be an actual true to life saint.

After being informed of the mandatory reporting of Dylan Thomas's accusations, Woody Allen responded by trying to take the kids from HER. You want to talk about vindictive? And what about now, his raking her over the coals in the NYT with every kind of personal attack, impugning her morals and integrity (ha ha Woody, what!). Will he be tarred with the "vindictive" brush?

Or is it just a word we apply to the typical "woman scorned"?
posted by torticat at 9:52 PM on February 7 [28 favorites]


What's awful and striking to me about the Woody Allen response, honestly, isn't the details, which are all old news and obviously what he would say about them. It's the way those details are delivered: in an article which is singularly devoid of almost any mention of the emotional and spiritual well-being of the children in Woody Allen's family. He is annoyed with Mia for talking about Ronan's paternity – but only because it means she might have cost him years of child support. "Moses was angry with me" – well, of course, but there is no consideration whatsoever of why or of why this might or might not be legitimate. Justice Wilk, and "the public," have silly prejudices about Woody and Soon-Yi because of the age difference, but we've all apparently proven wrong, because look? – they're still together. But the impact this whole thing had on the family – even if the rape never actually took place! – is never a consideration for a moment.

In fact, Woody treats Dylan horribly throughout this piece. He says things in a relatively nasty tone about her letter ("a few little added creative flourishes that seem to have magically appeared during our 21-year estrangement") assuming, I suppose, that it will be understood that he's implying that the nasty parts are from Mia alone. He contradicts himself, wanting to cast doubt on her and lash out at Mia through her but knowing he ought to appear nice – he begins a paragraph with this:
Not that I doubt Dylan hasn’t come to believe she’s been molested...
and ends it with this:
One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.
– as if, on the one hand, Dylan might wholly believe the rape happened, but that, on the other hand, she'd have her mother write the account of it. Much of this is just classic, sad, terrifically unhealthy divorced-parent dynamic stuff: "oh, that's just your mother talking." It's just writ large, and as a way of excusing molestation charges it rings bitter and terribly hollow.

And, again, this piece is just terrifically bereft of human feeling.

For me, the thing that brings it home is this bit:

“After all, if speaking out was really a necessity for Dylan, she had already spoken out months earlier in Vanity Fair.”

If speaking out was really a necessity for Dylan – really? You're going to question whether she needed to write this at all? If the charges are true, isn't it obvious? And if they aren't, well, isn't that what you're trying to convince us here? Most of all, how can you dare question this woman's need to come forward, even in the worst-case scenario where she is wrong and has been convinced to believe a lie? How can you just suggest she should have done her little magazine interview and then shut up?
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


Woody's sheer and palpable bitterness toward Mia after all these years, and his inability to see the children in his family as anything besides pawns in their bitter rivalry – he is obviously doing it too, suggesting Mia is behind everything, suggesting that a grown woman can't even have thoughts of her own without those thoughts having been filtered through her mother – is what's most awful in this piece. As I said, it's almost bereft of human feeling for anyone involved. It's so wrapped up in bitterness that it worries about child support payments before it worries about the mental and spiritual impact public banter about their paternity has on people.

And I think that's obvious, even to people who don't care about details. I really believe this piece will sink him, and will make these charges his legacy, so that his films will not be what people know him for in ten or twenty years.
posted by koeselitz at 10:16 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]


To me, this quote reveals so well what bullshit the "scorned woman" argument is.

Common sense must ask: Would a mother who thought her 7-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a molester (a pretty horrific crime), give consent for a film clip of her to be used to honor the molester at the Golden Globes?

So, if she behaves negatively towards Woody Allen, she's just a vindictive scorned woman who's butthurt that her old used up self got dumped for a hot young thing, so she's obviously making these allegations up.

If her behavior towards Woody Allen could possibly be seen as neutral, or even positive, then she couldn't possibly see him as a molestor. So obviously she's making these allegations up.

Common sense dictates this! After all everything we think is, ipso facto, perfect common sense and perfectly rational and we couldn't possibly make logic fails -- we have penises!
posted by cairdeas at 10:26 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


Woody Allen's response was excellent.
posted by jayder at 10:33 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Yes, I agree. It was excellent at showing how very vindictive and spiteful he can be.
posted by palomar at 10:37 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]


Woody Allen's response was excellent.
posted by jayder 5 minutes ago [+]

Yes, I agree. It was excellent at showing how very vindictive and spiteful he can be.
posted by palomar 1 minute ago [+]


and thus is defined the dissonance at the heart of this thread
posted by philip-random at 10:41 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I'm acquainted enough with Woody Allen's onscreen mannerisms

Dude, that's a persona. He does talk that way to some degree IRL, but he's perfectly articulate and capable of saying "yes" or "no." Good grief.

Watch the video here. Note his response to the direct question at 2:10. He seems much more interested in disclaiming the insane idea that he could be a Child Molester than in answering the question about Dylan straight up. He does deny that anything happened in his own time in the interview, but resisting answering a question straight up is odd. And consistent with what that investigator complained about in his interview.

And look at his discomfort, and eventual response to the question at 10:00. Yeah, he was a "completely devoted dad." But he "never thought about" what would happen to the family if his relationship with Soon-Yi came to light. Unbelievable.
posted by torticat at 11:14 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Watch the video here. Note his response to the direct question at 2:10. He seems much more interested in disclaiming the insane idea that he could be a Child Molester than in answering the question about Dylan straight up.

In fact, just before the question at 2:10, he is shown denying that anything happened.

Can you imagine being falsely accused of molesting your own child? You might find yourself, if asked about it, "disclaiming the insane idea that [you] could be a Child Molester." Especially if you had just previously denied that anything at all happened.

He makes a really good point in that video. It strains credulity that at the height of this custody battle he would molest Dylan for the first and only time.
posted by jayder at 12:00 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


For anyone who watched that video interview with Allen I just linked, this one, with Mia Farrow, is an interesting follow-up / counterpoint.

One of the two of them is a liar and capable of near sociopathic manipulation. I think Farrow can be accused of certain inconsistencies in her behavior, and rage, and emotional outbursts at Allen. I can't really fault her for those, as she navigated through what must have been some incredibly traumatic months. Finding those photos...I'm not sure how a person moves forward from that without a few missteps.

But listening to her talk about her perspective on the tape of Dylan: it's transparent that she dealt with that situation with a great deal of love and compassion for her daughter. Unless she is a sociopathic liar! But here's the thing, I feel like we don't have any reason to believe that of her, while there is abundant evidence of Allen's self-absorption, callousness, and near complete disregard for the opinions of others.

I keep thinking of some of the quotes from the Woody Allen interview in Time that I linked way upthread. He comes across as a person in his own amoral bubble, no regard for anyone else--e.g.:
Q. But wasn't it breaking many bonds of trust to become involved with your lover's daughter?
A. There's no downside to it. The only thing unusual is that she's Mia's daughter.
Q. What was your relationship with Soon-Yi when you first started going over there to visit your children?
A. I never had a single extended conversation with her. ... The last thing I was interested in was the whole parcel of Mia's children.
Q. Why did you want to have children with Mia?
A. I didn't. She adopted Dylan, I didn't. But a month after she was there, I found myself bonding with her....
Q. Soon-Yi never treated you as a father figure?
A. Not remotely. ... I was only interested in my own kids.
Q. Is Soon-Yi mentally handicapped in some way, as some have said?
A. No! Am I going to spend my time with a mental deficient? I mean, use your head. ...
Q. Your movies always explore these types of emotions and motives. You must have sat up one night and thought about the problems you might cause dating the daughter of a previous lover, a mother she doesn't like?
A. I didn't think about her not liking Mia. I did think that, well, she is the adoptive daughter of my previous girlfriend, but that didn't mean anything to me.
Q. What about how it would affect her siblings?
A. These people are a collection of kids, they are not blood sisters or anything. If Mia did not keep them whipped up and enraged these days, telling them how to react, I don't think they would have cared two seconds.

I mean. Contrast that last answer with Moses Farrow's letter reacting to the affair. Has Woody Allen EVER acknowledged that Mia Farrow had justification for being furious, or that the kids' reactions might have been legitimate, and not just the result of their mother's manipulation?

And note how consistent all of that interview is with the tone of the NYT column that koeselitz has been criticizing. This is a man who just doesn't think or care about other people at all, except to the degree that they bring pleasure to him.

I know none of that proves anything about the Dylan Farrow case. But in terms of which of the two parents (Mia or Allen) is more trustworthy, IMO there is no contest.
posted by torticat at 12:13 AM on February 8 [17 favorites]


It strains credulity that at the height of this custody battle he would molest Dylan for the first and only time.

It strains credulity to think that Jerry Sandusky continued preying on children after he'd already been caught in the showers raping a boy. It strains credulity to think that Jimmy Savile would grope someone while the cameras were running on Top of the Pops, or that he would rape a patient in her hospital bed while he was ostensibly doing charity work. And yet they did.

To reiterate what sticherbeast says here: People do risky and irrational shit ALL. THE. TIME. [...] it refutes nothing to say that he chose an inopportune time to be a child molester.
posted by scody at 12:15 AM on February 8 [22 favorites]


jayder, read the whole thread and follow the links. I feel like you're just popping in to make brief comments about things that have already been discussed pretty thoroughly.

I mean it's fine if you disagree with the debunkings of Weide's and Allen's excuses, but their talking points are by no means conclusive, and there's not much point in just repeating them with no new perspective to offer.
posted by torticat at 12:22 AM on February 8


According to this Slate article, Allen didn't seek custody until AFTER Dylan's accusation was made known to him:

The problem with this line of reasoning is that Dylan Farrow’s allegations did not emerge in the midst of a custody battle. According to Phoebe Hoban’s 1992 New York magazine story, as of early August 1992—eight months after Mia Farrow had discovered Allen’s sexual relationship with her daughter Soon-Yi Previn—Allen had been “prepared to sign a 30-page document that virtually precluded his seeing the children he doted on without a chaperone.” Then, on Aug. 4, 1992, Dylan told her mother that Woody Allen had sexually assaulted her in Mia’s Connecticut home. At that point, Mia and Dylan went to Dylan’s pediatrician, who reported the allegations to authorities. Allen did not sue for custody of Dylan and her two brothers, Moses and Ronan, until Aug. 13, 1992, a week after he was informed of Dylan’s accusations.
posted by brookedel at 12:22 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


In fact, just before the question at 2:10, he is shown denying that anything happened.

Also, I acknowledged that in my comment. I was just noticing the similarities in how he responded there to what the investigator said about his interview. The investigator said he heard Allen out (I'm sure he denied the allegations then), but then that Allen got cagey with direct questions. I thought that was interesting.
posted by torticat at 12:25 AM on February 8


Watch the video here

I got two minutes into it and realized that he is saying almost word for word what he wrote in the NYT piece. Seriously, open the letter and read it while watching the interview.

The Times piece, by the way, was one of the most disgusting things I've read in my life. I've seen abusers do all these things in efforts to get out of trouble:

Bend the facts just enough to confuse people. Say that the doctors found that Dylan wasn't abused, but don't say that the medical investigation itself might have been suspect. Say that Dylan "changed her story," -- meaning from the visit where she was embarrassed to the next. Say that Moses is totally cool with you, but don't mention how Mia's other kids feel about you, except if you have the chance to say she poisoned them against you. Which, incidentally, my dad used to say about his ex-wife and kids.

Blame everyone else. Blame the ex, blame the judge, blame the media, blame the goddamn kid if you have to. Call attention to terrible things your ex did before you were even together. Make her out to be a monster. Tell everyone, loudly and incessantly, about what a bitch your ex is. My dad did this a lot. The stories he would tell of his ex-wife were vile. They were also completely inappropriate, like Allen's Dory Previn reference and his Frank Sinatra/child support callout.

Miss the point entirely, seemingly intentionally. Allen fails to understand the horror of abuse, the horror of believing you were abused even if you weren't, the number of un-prosecuted abuses there are, the fact that almost no one ever goes to prison for it and certainly no one gets the sentence they deserve, the fact that victims are routinely dismissed and maligned, the fact that they almost always develop PTSD and often a constellation of related disorders. He failed to understand why Dylan might feel a need to speak out about it now, when he has just received a major award and is up for yet another round of Oscars, when perhaps Dylan herself has reached a point in her healing process where she needs to go a little Take Back the Night. No, he doesn't get any of that or address it.

Everything in Woody Allen's letter is about the great injustice being carried out against Woody Allen, the great injustice that's been carried out against him for 20 years by his malevolent vindictive insane husband stealing ex. There is no mention of the great injustices carried out against women and children every day, and the way he couches his supposed sympathy for Dylan by throwing in another barb against Farrow is particularly fucked up.
posted by brina at 12:57 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


jayder, read the whole thread and follow the links. I feel like you're just popping in to make brief comments about things that have already been discussed pretty thoroughly.

Uh, no? There are 703 comments at this point. It's not really expected that someone read a whole long thread before commenting. Likewise, you don't have to respond to every comment that you disagree with or find ill-informed.
posted by jayder at 1:42 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


There is no mention of the great injustices carried out against women and children every day

Why would he mention that?
posted by jayder at 1:46 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


jayder, he would mention it because it would show some sympathy for the actual systemic problem of abuse, and it would show he's not a heartless maniac. You can defend yourself and not be contributing to the problem, or participating in rape culture with almost every word you breathe on the topic.
posted by brina at 2:25 AM on February 8


[Comment deleted. Probably best to leave off the side conversation about reading/not reading the thread at this point. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 3:31 AM on February 8


yeah, after that NYT piece, I'm no longer able to separate the art from the artist
posted by angrycat at 3:56 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I wonder whether Blue Jasmine could be seen or was intended as a sort of hearty "fuck you!" to Mia Farrow, because of a few details in the film SPOILERS SPOILERS re BLUE JASMINE SPOILERS:

* Cate Blanchett and Farrow have that same elfin, waifish look.
* the film mocks Jasmine for changing her name, and Mia changed the kids' names numerous times. (Ironically Allen changed his own name obvs)
* the film depicts her as an alcoholic and there were rumors (denied) back in the day that Farrow was on something.
* But the heart of the comparison ==> Jasmine was willing to overlook her wealthy husband's faults out of self interest, until she found out he was cheating on her with a younger woman (// Soon-Yi). She becomes enraged and gives evidence against him to the police and his life is ruined (// molestation allegations). For the rest of the movie she is in a pitiful, sad decline and ends up as a homeless woman (Allen's revenge fantasy?).
posted by onlyconnect at 6:32 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Could it be that someone in the Farrow side of the family saw Blue Jasmine and told the others about it and they all decided enough was enough? And that's why it's all come back in the last few months?
posted by wabbittwax at 6:49 AM on February 8


Google search for: (list of actors and actresses who have starred in woody allen movies since 1992) does not fetch me the complete compilation. That doesn't seem like it would be too difficult. Maybe if I get bored this afternoon I will make a list of the coworkers.
posted by bukvich at 6:50 AM on February 8


This thread is the best because it's ostensibly about separating the art from the artist, but it's apparent that pretty much nobody participating has ever seen a Woody Allen movie and has no awareness of his art or public persona whatsoever.

I'm not saying "He's a great filmmaker, obviously he's blameless", but to look at Blue Jasmine and see damning allusions to the fact that he molested his 7 year old daughter 20 years ago is ridiculous.

Pretty much every Woody Allen movie ever is about a waifish shiksa, an older wealthy/successful man, and what happens in their relationship when something dramatic (sometimes criminal) occurs.

He was making these movies before he ever met Mia Farrow. He made them and she starred in them when they were together. He's been making them for the last 20 years without her. If Mia Farrow has to be outraged every time Woody Allen releases a movie about a shiksa with marriage problems, she'd have died of exhaustion by now.

Furthermore, if any Woody Allen movie is a direct response to the Farrow/Allen custody battle, it's Deconstructing Harry, which is actually about a divorced man's relationship with his child.
posted by Sara C. at 8:03 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


jayder: "He makes a really good point in that video. It strains credulity that at the height of this custody battle he would molest Dylan for the first and only time."

He keeps making this point, and every time it feels more ominous to me.

It feels ominous because no one has suggested he molested Dylan only one time. That's why he was in counseling for in appropriate behavior toward her before the incident - because people around him had documented suspicions even before the Soon-Yi relationship came to light.

So Woody is apparently suggesting that he was molesting Dylan long before the custody battle.
posted by koeselitz at 8:28 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Well if you want to seperate the art from the artist it is interesting to look back on the people that have in the past gotten a "pass" on their behaviour outside their art. So Chris Brown still has a career and gets invited to award shows despite a criminal charges involving violence against women, Sinead O'Connor lost her North American career for speaking about the systematic abuse against children we now all know was happening, Polanski is still respected despite a criminal conviction for rape of a young teenager, the Dixie Chicks were vilified for their remarks against violence, Lindsay Lohan has seemingly destroyed her career through self-destruction (I haven't really followed but I don't think she has been violent despite being a victim of her parents violent relationship). The list goes on; boys can be bad but still make good art; bad girls are bad all through and their art doesn't deserve attention.

I find it odd as well his big defence is "it was a bad time to molest her - I could have been caught!" But the fear of being caught didn't stop him from having an affair with his spouses child/his childrens' sister and leaving naked photos of her around to be discovered.

I was 99% sure that Dylan was closer to the truth than Woody, after reading his letter I am 100% sure, myself. I can't believe he didn't run that letter past anyone before publishing it. I barely know the case and could point out several "facts" he has distorted from actual contemporary documents. His slut shaming of Mia, for dating an older man, for having an affair - without acknowledging that his relationships are exclusively with younger women and often involve infidelity is puzzling. This, after all, is a man who upon hearing that the girl he had married when she was 16 (and had since divorced) was recently raped, cracked a crude joke in the media - twice.

I look forward to someone with more time than me to go through his letter line by line and refute his allegations with cites.
posted by saucysault at 8:35 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


to look at Blue Jasmine and see damning allusions to the fact that he molested his 7 year old daughter 20 years ago is ridiculous.

I never said that anything in the movie showed Allen did or didn't molest Dylan, just that the allegations occurred after Allen slept with Soon-Yi. The fact that Alec Baldwin was guilty of what he was accused if in the movie is your observation, not mine.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:35 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Who is offering up Blue Jasmine as proof of WA's guilt of anything? Not that comment you refer to, I'm pretty sure.
posted by angrycat at 8:36 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "This thread is the best because it's ostensibly about separating the art from the artist, but it's apparent that pretty much nobody participating has ever seen a Woody Allen movie and has no awareness of his art or public persona whatsoever."

This seems to be nothing more than one more attempt to suggest that any discussion of Woody Allen's art is utterly out of place here. It's an ironical one, too. I was jumped on up above for daring to discuss details of his films as though they had some bearing on his personal life. I've actually watched a lot of Woody Allen movies, and I know his work well. But you're both suggesting we shouldn't talk about that stuff, and suggesting we don't know anything about it. Which is funny.
posted by koeselitz at 8:40 AM on February 8 [8 favorites]


This thread is the best because it's ostensibly about separating the art from the artist, but it's apparent that pretty much nobody participating has ever seen a Woody Allen movie and has no awareness of his art or public persona whatsoever.

Yes, bravo. Great point and exactly what I have been thinking.
posted by jayder at 8:55 AM on February 8


But you're both suggesting we shouldn't talk about that stuff

No, I'm not. I'm suggesting that "OMG THERES A WHITE LADY IN THIS MOVIE AND SOMEONE HAS AN AFFAIR" = some kind of secret Woody Allen shoutout to a 20 year old breakup/custody battle.

Every single movie the man makes is about this exact thing.

Except for Deconstructing Harry, which came out reasonably close in time to the breakup/custody battle and has specific themes and plot elements that relate directly to that period of his life.
posted by Sara C. at 8:57 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I still don't know what happened 21 years ago, but that letter was ugly.
posted by grouse at 9:15 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


The whole mess is ugly. That there was no due process is ugly. That this is playing out in public is ugliest of all.
posted by waraw at 9:33 AM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Every single movie the man makes is about this exact thing.

His bit in New York Stories was about his relationship with his mother.

But let's flip the criticism around. If you're not an arthouse filmgoer with an extensive command of Allen's existing repertoire, or you're a young person considering what movies you want to watch or pay for, is there anything about Allen's letter in the Times that would make you think "this is a guy who'd make interesting movies I want to see"?

For me, it reinforced the impression I had when I did see one of his movies, which was "it's all about meeeeeeeeee!" and Allen's not that compelling (certainly not in a good way).

That's without getting into the fact that there's an entire segment of the population for whom his public persona and reputation are mostly that of a man who ran off with his SO's college-age daughter. Maybe those people don't count because they're the wrong sort of people, or because their palate isn't sufficiently educated for them to enjoy Woody Allen films. Or maybe they're right that the dude is a creep, and according to some of his defenders in this thread he's stuck on one theme through most of his work, and whatever cinematic accomplishments his films had 30 or 40 years ago, they're not that interesting to audiences that didn't already like Allen now.

But nothing in that letter implied that Allen was a guy with an interesting perspective on life who might make great movies. He made himself out to be a vindictive, self-absorbed asshole with little to no interest in his daughter's well-being. Even without the question of supporting an alleged child molester, why would anyone think the guy who wrote that letter has anything worthwhile or interesting or new to say about the human condition in a movie?
posted by immlass at 9:37 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


So did this thread change anyone's minds?
posted by modernnomad at 9:37 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


The Times piece, by the way, was one of the most disgusting things I've read in my life. I've seen abusers do all these things in efforts to get out of trouble:

• Bend the facts just enough to confuse people. ...

• Blame everyone else. Blame the ex, blame the judge, blame the media, ...

• Miss the point entirely, seemingly intentionally.



brina, thank you so much for this comment, you completely nailed it.

Someone behaving in a manipulative way (especially your first example, bend the facts just enough to confuse people) really puts me on guard in and of itself.

I think that some people use that tactic because it's worked for them their entire lives. Sometimes because they are surrounded by trusting people; sometimes because they are surrounded by people who are submissive/docile/unquestioning, or who are afraid to feel rude or mean. Sometimes, it's because they've made the people around them believe that they are smarter, that they know best; they've made the others around them doubt their own abilities of perception and ability to recognize when something is the truth or not, when something is logical or not.

People like that get really startled when they encounter a really blunt person who calls it like they see it. Especially, if they're used to dealing with women they can cow intellectually, even if she is an intelligent person, they get very startled and flustered when they encounter a woman who they can't. They don't realize just how much of an "Emperor has no clothes" situation it really is.

When Woody Allen acts as if his transparent and obvious attempts to skew the facts are believable, to me, it makes him look very obvious and absurd, like the king smugly bragging about his invisible robe. We can all see that you are naked.

I think being 78, and a rich, powerful man for most of his life, he doesn't realize how things have changed. I think he believes that he can use manipulation to intellectually overpower women and he can just shut them up that way.

I don't think he realizes at all that we talk about all of these things every single day, often these exact tactics, and that literally millions of us immediately recognize transparent manipulation the moment we see it.
posted by cairdeas at 9:40 AM on February 8 [23 favorites]



jayder: "He makes a really good point in that video. It strains credulity that at the height of this custody battle he would molest Dylan for the first and only time."

The custody battle began *after* the molestation accusations. After, when Allen decided he needed full custody of Moses and Dylan.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:49 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I don't think he realizes at all that we talk about all of these things every single day, often these exact tactics, and that literally millions of us immediately recognize transparent manipulation the moment we see it.

I'd like to add that it seems like Woody Allen has no awareness of the facts of the case/court documents being immediately available to anyone with a computer. He seems oblivious to the existence of the internet.
posted by marimeko at 10:07 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


So did this thread change anyone's minds?

very good question, given that nothing any of us think/feel is likely to have any bearing on any of the people actually involved in this situation.

I'll add two more of my own, with regard to Mr. Allen's recent statements:

1. is a man not allowed to respond publicly to charges that were made publicly? Notions of guilt or innocence aside, he's not the one that moved this beyond the private sphere.

2. could Mr. Allen have said anything that would change your mind regarding his innocence/guilt?
posted by philip-random at 10:08 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


could Mr. Allen have said anything that would change your mind regarding his innocence/guilt?

A show of concern for Dylan's wellbeing in his response might have made me more open to what he had to say. The 'logic' he uses to make his case serves to make him look worse, in my opinion. It's as though he doesn't realize that the gravity of the situation isn't about his reputation but about this daughter he supposedly "loved", as he said – past tense.
posted by marimeko at 10:19 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


is a man not allowed to respond publicly to charges that were made publicly?

Of course he is.

But that also means that I'm allowed to have an opinion about his response. And given that in his response, he takes liberty with the facts, denigrates the daughter he claims to have loved by insinuating that she's a mindless automaton under the control of her mother, repeatedly attacks the character of said mother, and only mentions his biological child to further attack the mother of his children and insinuate that he was tricked into financially supporting his bio-child...

What it boils down to, for me, is this: I have enjoyed Woody Allen's work. Since Dylan's letter came out, I've been struggling with my ability to separate the art from the artist. As I've read the court documents, it's become harder for me to believe what Woody's camp purports, that this is all a case of a scorned woman brainwashing her children.

I said upthread that Woody would have served his own interests better if he'd kept his mouth shut and let his only statement be the ones delivered through his lawyer and publicist. Instead, he did this. And it makes him look incredibly self-centered, petty, spiteful, and vindictive. It reeks of having something to hide. And now that he's put it all out there, I can't see myself sitting down to watch one of his films without remembering that even if he's innocent of molesting his daughter, even if he claims to have loved her and been heartbroken by the separation from his children, this is how he treats them. This is not love. This is not regret. This is something different, poisonous and toxic, and I can't make myself look past that to watch his work anymore.
posted by palomar at 10:58 AM on February 8 [18 favorites]


A show of concern for Dylan's wellbeing in his response might have made me more open to what he had to say.

Spending less time on how horrible Mia Farrow is would also have helped. He could have said something to the effect of "I didn't molest my daughter; I'm not sure why she thinks I did; I wish her the best and hope she finds peace." and it wouldn't have lowered my opinion further.
posted by immlass at 11:09 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Just going to throw this out there ... I have gotten to know a few child molesters and what they all shared was a creepy sense of calm and a really baffling failure to understand that kids are not good keepers of secrets. There is just a massive disconnect from reality in the child molesters I have known.

While recognizing that there may be a fair amount of artifice in Allen's onscreen persona, I still am of a mind that the persona is not that far off from how he actually is. It's a caricature, to be sure, but like any good caricature it is a comic exaggeration of his most prominent features. So there's a lot of truth in the onscreen persona.

And if we know anything about Allen it's that he's a nervous guy with significant neuroses. There's a recurring joke in his movies, it appears in many of them, where he says something like "I'm going to end up like those guys selling flowers outside grand central station, mumbling to themselves."

And that to me speaks to a desire for security and peace that is inconsistent with doing something that could put him in prison for the rest of his life. The child molesters I have known are not functional, realistic, effective people. They are not worried about their future because they are delusional and stupid. They aren't really capable of reasoning through the ways their evil will be revealed.

Woody Allen seems like the type of person who, even if he were inclined and tempted to molest someone, would be too afraid of the consequences of being caught, to risk doing such a thing.
posted by jayder at 11:10 AM on February 8


The child molesters I have known are not functional, realistic, effective people.

Congratulations on knowing a number of very obvious child molesters, I guess. But let's not pretend that there's only one personality type that's assigned to all people who have ever molested a child, because that's pretty ridiculous.
posted by palomar at 11:22 AM on February 8 [16 favorites]


Woody Allen seems like the type of person who, even if he were inclined and tempted to molest someone, would be too afraid of the consequences of being caught, to risk doing such a thing.

He cheated on his partner with a teenager who also happened to be his partners' daughter. That's obviously not the same thing as molesting a child, but it doesn't really speak to a person particularly concerned about the consequences of inappropriate, boundary-crossing behavior.
posted by lalex at 11:28 AM on February 8 [14 favorites]



The whole mess is ugly. That there was no due process is ugly. That this is playing out in public is ugliest of all.


Due process is often nonexistent in cases of sex abuse, but the ones who bear the brunt of the lack of justice are the victims, not the accused. The only way around it is to keep talking about this stuff, do everything to remove the veil of shame and secrecy. Why should sexual abuse be a private matter? In answer to the so-called ugliness of going public, Dylan's words from her response to Woody's letter:
From the bottom of my heart, I will be forever grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from survivors and countless others. If speaking out about my experience can help others stand up to their tormentors, it will be worth the pain and suffering my father continues to inflict on me. Woody Allen has an arsenal of lawyers and publicists but the one thing he does not have on his side is the truth. I hope this is the end of his vicious attacks and of the media campaign by his lawyers and publicists, as he’s promised. I won't let the truth be buried and I won't be silenced.
posted by Danila at 11:29 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


The child molesters I have known are not functional, realistic, effective people. They are not worried about their future because they are delusional and stupid. They aren't really capable of reasoning through the ways their evil will be revealed.

Not considering the consequences of things (that others would consider immoral), expecting that no one would ever find out, that their relationship would remain a secret -- that was exactly how Allen felt about his relationship with Soon-Yi, as Allen has admitted himself.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:29 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


but it's apparent that pretty much nobody participating has ever seen a Woody Allen movie and has no awareness of his art or public persona whatsoever.

I would suggest you might want to take that broad brush and use it to paint elsewhere. I've seen most of Woody Allen's films, and considered myself a fan of his work starting in my teens. In fact, it was my love of his work that made throw in with the whole Rashomon point of view of this very question for nearly 20 years. I mean, yeah, as the Onion article says: what was I gonna do, never watch Annie Hall again? The idea was unthinkable to me. And so I adopted variations on the many themes on display in this very thread: we can't ever know! The heart wants what it wants! And that Mia Farrow is a bit of a kook, isn't she?

But in the past year or so, I could no longer square that circle anymore. I re-read the articles and the documents. I reconsidered his own work in general and his own words in particular on this topic. And, removing my love of his work from the equation, I could no longer pretend that this was beyond the realm of possibility. In fact, it was with a sinking feeling that I realized -- given not just Dylan's story but Woody Allen's total lack of empathy and self-awareness -- that it seemed only too plausible. And I also finally had to face that those who kept insisting most vocally that there was NO WAY this could have happened -- well, they were using the same tactics of we've seen deployed again and again and again to undermine victims of sexual violence in the quest to preserve male privilege.

So, yeah, I know Woody Allen's work quite well, thanks. And I've seen my last Woody Allen film. We've got a SAG screener of Blue Jasmine sitting in the living room that we just couldn't ever bring ourselves to watch, which I think we'll just destroy at this point. And maybe I'll regret never seeing Cate Blanchett's performance, but I can live with that. What I don't want to live with is the regret and shame of continuing to prioritize my own interests as a cultural consumer over the word of a woman who says she was raped.
posted by scody at 11:31 AM on February 8 [31 favorites]


Did Woody Allen ever make a detailed account of what he says happened that day (he was at the house. In what rooms? with who? sequence? Does it correspond to the housekeeping staff's statements?).

Am I right that Dylan first made the allegation to one of the house staff? What was that statement?
posted by mazola at 11:34 AM on February 8


So did this thread change anyone's minds?

It resembled a proxy battle extension of Dylan's efforts to damage Allen's ability to represent himself as an artist, which would be a mistake. Allen may very well be guilty, but to attack his rights of expression as a surrogate punishment is vigilantism. It may be an acceptable indulgence to attack someone as a weirdo because they are older and date younger women, but it crosses a line to question someone as unworthy to make, show or support a film, especially considering the abuses of history in this regard. In defense of the same free speech that Dylan abundantly enjoys, I would suggest that Freud might also have something to say about overreaching in this regard. Dylan concluded her famous appeal by calling out people in Allen's last movie to imagine her situation applying to them, which may be a projection of guilt (note the third example here).
posted by Brian B. at 11:40 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


It may be an acceptable indulgence to attack someone as a weirdo because they are older and date younger women, but it crosses a line to question someone as unworthy to make, show or support a film, especially considering the abuses of history in this regard.

No one, as far as I can tell, has called for Woody Allen to be banned from writing or filmmaking, and to suggest that criticism of his work somehow puts us on a slippery slope to Nazism or Stalinism is disingenuous, to say the least.
posted by scody at 11:50 AM on February 8 [12 favorites]


I've certainly changed my mind as a result of this thread. I didn't pay much attention to the scandal at the time, and all I carried away was a vague impression that Woody Allen had an affair with (and later married) his girlfriend's teenage daughter, and Mia Farrow retaliated by making over-the-top claims of child abuse. This thread (and especially his own quoted words) have made me realize that he's a much nastier piece of work than I had assumed, so I'm no longer prepared to take his word for anything.

I'm staggered that after that court judgement in the custody case where he was denied visitation rights that he could then go on to adopt two more children with his present wife.
posted by Azara at 11:51 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


The child molesters I have known are not functional, realistic, effective people.

The child molester I knew was 77 before he was caught. He was married with children and grandchildren. He sang next to me in the church choir for a year, played peekaboo with my daughter over coffee hour, and was not creepy in the slightest. He was absolutely functional, realistic, and effective in every way.
posted by KathrynT at 11:58 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


OK this is what I get for the list of actors and actresses, cut and pasted from wikipedia, starting with 1994 so presumably they had heard enough different points of view to make a somewhat informed decision to participate:

John Cusack
Dianne Wiest
Jennifer Tilly
Chazz Palminteri
Mary-Louise Parker
Jack Warden
Joe Viterelli
Rob Reiner
Tracey Ullman
Jim Broadbent
Harvey Fierstein

Michael J. Fox
Mayim Bialik
Dom DeLuise
Julie Kavner
Edward Herrmann

Mira Sorvino
Helena Bonham Carter
Michael Rapaport
F. Murray Abraham

Edward Norton
Drew Barrymore
Alan Alda
Natalie Portman
Goldie Hawn
Tim Roth
Julia Roberts
David Ogden Stiers

Kirstie Alley
Bob Balaban
Richard Benjamin
Eric Bogosian
Billy Crystal
Judy Davis
Hazelle Goodman
Mariel Hemingway
Amy Irving
Julie Kavner
Eric Lloyd
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Tobey Maguire
Demi Moore
Elisabeth Shue
Stanley Tucci
Robin Williams

Hank Azaria
Kenneth Branagh
Judy Davis
Leonardo DiCaprio
Winona Ryder
Melanie Griffith
Famke Janssen
Michael Lerner
Joe Mantegna
Bebe Neuwirth
Charlize Theron

Sean Penn
Samantha Morton
Anthony LaPaglia
Uma Thurman

Tracey Ullman
Elaine May
Hugh Grant

Helen Hunt
Dan Aykroyd
Brian Markinson
Wallace Shawn
David Ogden Stiers
Charlize Theron
Elizabeth Berkley
Peter Gerety
John Schuck

George Hamilton
Téa Leoni
Debra Messing
Mark Rydell
Treat Williams
Tiffani Thiessen

Jason Biggs
Christina Ricci
Stockard Channing
Danny DeVito
Jimmy Fallon
KaDee Strickland

Radha Mitchell
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Will Ferrell
Jonny Lee Miller
Amanda Peet
Chloë Sevigny
Wallace Shawn

Brian Cox
Matthew Goode
Scarlett Johansson
Emily Mortimer
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Penelope Wilton

Scarlett Johansson
Hugh Jackman
Ian McShane

Colin Farrell
Ewan McGregor
Hayley Atwell
Sally Hawkins
Tom Wilkinson

Javier Bardem
Penélope Cruz
Scarlett Johansson
Patricia Clarkson
Kevin Dunn
Rebecca Hall
Chris Messina

Larry David
Evan Rachel Wood
Henry Cavill
Patricia Clarkson
Ed Begley, Jr.
Michael McKean

Antonio Banderas
Josh Brolin
Anthony Hopkins
Gemma Jones
Freida Pinto
Lucy Punch
Naomi Watts
Roger Ashton-Griffiths
Pauline Collins

Owen Wilson
Rachel McAdams
Marion Cotillard
Kurt Fuller
Michael Sheen
Mimi Kennedy
Carla Bruni

Antonio Albanese
Alec Baldwin
Roberto Benigni
Penélope Cruz
Judy Davis
Jesse Eisenberg
Greta Gerwig
Alessandra Mastronardi
Ellen Page
Alison Pill
Riccardo Scamarcio

Cate Blanchett
Alec Baldwin
Bobby Cannavale
Louis C.K.
Andrew Dice Clay
Sally Hawkins
Peter Sarsgaard
Michael Stuhlbarg
posted by bukvich at 12:39 PM on February 8


I'm not sure I understand what that list is meant to do. Are we supposed to assume that because those people wanted to work with a very famous writer/director, he must be innocent of any wrongdoing in his personal life?
posted by palomar at 12:44 PM on February 8 [14 favorites]


Dylan Farrow responds:
His op-ed is the latest rehash of the same legalese, distortions, and outright lies he has leveled at me for the past 20 years. [...] With all the attempts to misrepresent the facts, it is important to be reminded of the truth contained in court documents from the only final ruling in this case, by the New York Supreme Court in 1992. In denying my father all access to me, that court:

- Debunked the "experts" my father claims exonerated him, calling them "colored by their loyalty to Mr. Allen", criticizing the author of their report (who never met me) for destroying all supporting documentation, and calling their conclusions "sanitized and therefore less credible".

- Included testimony from babysitters who witnessed inappropriate sexual behavior by my father toward me.

- Found that “there is no credible evidence to support Mr. Allen's contention that Ms. Farrow coached Dylan or that Ms. Farrow acted upon a desire for revenge against him for seducing Soon-Yi. Mr. Allen's resort to the stereotypical ‘woman scorned’ defense is an injudicious attempt to divert attention from his failure to act as a responsible parent and adult.”

- Concluded that the evidence "...proves that Mr. Allen's behavior toward Dylan was grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her.”

- Finally, the Connecticut State prosecutor found "probable cause" to prosecute, but made the decision not to in an effort to protect "the child victim", given my fragile state.
posted by scody at 12:58 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


If Woody Allen is now written into history as a monstrous child molester, child abuse is more likely to continue. Because if we are unable to stomach the fact that Woody is not a monster but a human being who did something monstrous, we will continue to stoke the fires of archetype, perpetuating the notion of the picture-perfect pedophile, the one whose evil shines through like a 100-watt black lightbulb.
posted by palomar at 1:05 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


Here's the full ruling from the New York Supreme Court.
posted by scody at 1:08 PM on February 8


From the article palomar links to: "Most of us would sooner discard all parties who have been tainted by this event than we would look at how tenuous the sanctity of children really is, how commonplace abuse is, or see the capacity for the mostly good to do periodic evil. We live in the same universe as those who abuse kids. We walk among them."
posted by scody at 1:14 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]


bukvich: OK this is what I get for the list of actors and actresses, cut and pasted from wikipedia, starting with 1994 so presumably they had heard enough different points of view to make a somewhat informed decision to participate:

palomar: I'm not sure I understand what that list is meant to do. Are we supposed to assume that because those people wanted to work with a very famous writer/director, he must be innocent of any wrongdoing in his personal life?

Or a list of people to be condemned for their supposed implicit approval of working for an (alleged*) child molester??

This is a very strange thing to post.

*CYA legal stuff
posted by Room 641-A at 1:28 PM on February 8


me: "But you're both suggesting we shouldn't talk about that stuff..."

Sara C.: "No, I'm not. I'm suggesting that 'OMG THERES A WHITE LADY IN THIS MOVIE AND SOMEONE HAS AN AFFAIR' = some kind of secret Woody Allen shoutout to a 20 year old breakup/custody battle. Every single movie the man makes is about this exact thing. Except for Deconstructing Harry, which came out reasonably close in time to the breakup/custody battle and has specific themes and plot elements that relate directly to that period of his life."

Yeah, you actually were saying that. You said "pretty much nobody participating has ever seen a Woody Allen movie and has no awareness of his art or public persona whatsoever," implying that nobody here has any right to talk about his films. Look, I get that you were responding to onlyconnect there, but you should have said you were responding to onlyconnect - instead of weaving your response into a blanket dismissal of everyone else in the conversation.

I know this is a frustrating topic. I know there's a lot of crap on all sides. The solution to that isn't to throw up our hands and dismiss everyone as an idiot - it's to slow down and be a little more precise. It doesn't hurt to say something like "I think seeing Blue Jasmine as a parallel of the divorce is off-base" instead of declaring that nobody here knows anything about Woody Allen's art.

Also, you left out Manhattan, the parallels with which are as obvious as the parallels with Deconstructing Harry.
posted by koeselitz at 1:30 PM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Woody Allen seems like the type of person who, even if he were inclined and tempted to molest someone, would be too afraid of the consequences of being caught, to risk doing such a thing.

I get the impression that that’s the way his life is NOW, which is why I don’t fear for the children he currently has with Soon-Yi. The eyes of the world are watching them closely, and he knows that if there is any whiff of trouble it will be thoroughly investigated.

But it was a totally different situation back then. It was before our current Internet age, when everybody knows everything about everybody else. His public power and clout was enormous – his publicist had an entire floor of the agency just devoted to his account. He was at the top of the top, and that can go to your head and make you careless. Not to mention the fact that there was so much coming and going and confusion in the household that opportunity was rife if he wanted to act on it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:57 PM on February 8


I'm reminded of John Edwards, who took up a mistress, flaunted her as an open secret in front of his staff as he brought her all over the country with him, filmed sex tapes with her, and knocked her up --- in the middle of his presidential campaign!! With cameras everywhere!!
posted by cairdeas at 2:05 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Yeah, something I don't think that has been discussed in this thread is the whole thing about how we focus so much of our fear and vigilance about childhood sexual assault on stranger abductions or on certain kinds of people outside the home that have access to children.

This is precisely comparable to the focus on stranger rape.

In both cases, the vast majority of sexual assault happens elsewhere. Most childhood sexual assault happens in the home, perpetrated by family members or trusted relatives or friends; and most rape happens in supposed "safe" places and perpetrated by people known to, and often trusted by, the survivor.

It's no accident that we place most of the emphasis on the relatively rare and what is understood to be nightmarishly exotic, with what are without exception "monstrous" and essentially alien, unknowable, non-human perpetrators. Because the reality is far more terrifying.

The only child rapist I've known is my former father-in-law. And, in my opinion, he really and truly is monstrous. By that I mean that he's sociopathic. But I don't mean it in the sense of what it sounded like jayder was describing. He was a successful upper middle-class corporate executive. Charming when he needed to be. Very outwardly normal.

In fact, it's quite typical for families in which incestous assault by a parent is being perpetrated to have a cultivated sense of normality. The dynamic is quite similar as in any abusive family, where the natural familial instinct is to protect itself, to preserve a normal facade, and which the abuser has the obvious strong incentive to encourage this tendency. Abusers, in their various forms, tend to carefully insinuate into the rest of the family a sense that outside scrutiny will be harmful, that the family is a unit which must protect itself, that this is what families are all about. They're big on loyalty. When a parent is committing incest, this is doubly true.

Incestuous sexual assault of a child by a parent (or grandparent or aunt/uncle or older sibling) is as much about control and power as it is sex. There's usually a strong sexual component, in a way that is often not the case with rape; but ultimately it is still very much about power and control. People who commit incest are often, and necessarily, very controlling. They are very careful in some respects, but very reckless in others. They experience this partly as a compulsion, an obsession. So there can be a very weird mix of being very careful and calculating in some respects, and then doing some other things which are foolish.

Let's talk about some other things about which many people have misconceptions.

Especially in incest, and where the perpetrator has very slowly and carefully groomed the child (and doing so is usually the rule, not the exception), the child is usually very ambivalent about what's happening. A normal, healthy child will be quite delighted by extra attention from a parent. And the abuser, both implicitly and explicitly, will make it clear that he thinks the child is "special" and that their relationship, which the child will quickly realize is different in some respects, is a function of how much the abuser supposedly loves and values the child. Children will internalize this message and will naturally quite enjoy this love and attention and being special. They will be uneasy as the incest progresses to more explicitly sexual activity, but depending upon the child and the situation, they may find this intimacy, both physical and emotional, pleasurable and will believe, as they've been instructed to believe, that this is natural and an expression of parental love. Nevertheless, they'll also usually be very uncomfortable about it, too, because they will pick up on all the things which aren't "right" about it.

Adults tend to underestimate children and their emotional astuteness. While a child who is experiencing incest may, as I wrote, internalize some of this as normal and even enjoy it; at the same time they will be aware that things aren't right. This combination will create a really powerful ambivalence and confusion.

I mention all this to try to make it clear that what people expect from a child who has experienced incest is very often completely misguided. The ambivalence and confusion will manifest with ambivalent and confused responses when you talk to them about it. They will be inconsistent because their own memories will be inconsistent in the sense that a lot of incest survivors dissociate during some or all of the incest and will keep those memories at arm's length, tend to think of the "person who experienced those things" as someone other than themselves.

If the expectation is that the child will react and attest to the experiences as you think a child will when a stranger assaults them, that's just not how it works. Incestuous abuse is insidious in very many ways. It's in its essence a lie, a corrosive, hateful lie.

Now let's talk about the rest of the family.

Usually, the family both knows and doesn't know. What I mean by that is that the "not knowing" is the product of a combination of some willful, self-protective ignorance, some "it's unthinkable" ignorance, and some genuine ignorance that's the product of a careful perpetrator. But they know, too, because usually a perpetrator focuses on one child at a time, and grooms that child over a long period of time, and that "special relationship" is well-known to everyone in the family and very often even to outsiders.

And here's some very sad things: one, it's often the case that the mother will on some level know that it's happening (or will quite consciously know that it's happening), but will wilfully ignore it because she's relieved that she's not the focus of the abuser's attention. Because it's also often the case that perpetrators will be sexually controlling of their spouses, in ways that are disturbing or outright abusive. Sometimes this will happen with an older sibling who was previously a target of incestuous assault. She or he may be relieved to no longer be the target. Both the mother and the sibling in these scenarios will most likely feel terribly, terribly guilty about this. But they will behave this way because they are victims, too.

Two, another dynamic that is common with incest is that the other siblings, who are not being abused, and are not consciously aware that incestuous abuse is being perpetrated, will be jealous of the sibling who is the survivor. They will resent the extra attention that the survivor gets from the parent, they will very often be angry with and tease and otherwise target the survivor for this reason. And, also, to some degree to which they might be unconsciously or consciously aware of it, they might victim-blame, too.

So when a survivor discloses, either as a child or later on, there are very complicated and various reactions that different members of the immediate family will have to the disclosure. It will not be the kinds of things that people expect.

If your expectation is that someone like Allen who is accused of committing incest against his young daughter will be obviously some depraved child-molester, like someone out of a television show or movie, and that the mother will behave a certain way that is what everyone expects and will approve of, and that the siblings and other family members will also behave in a certain way that is what everyone expects and will approve of, then you don't know how this stuff actually works in real life.

And so, getting back to the original point, the thing about this is that incestuous assault of children is by a large margin the most common form of sexual assault of children; it is mostly committed by (step)fathers and grandfathers and uncles and brothers and cousins against both girls and boys; and the perpetrators are not creepy, slobbering, unshaven guys who leer at children from playground park benches, but are apparently normal and respectable people like everyone else. Some of them are deeply, deeply disturbed, to the point of being sociopathic, like my ex-father-in-law, but many or most of them are more garden variety. Like the protagonist in "Happiness".

I do think that if you have some experience with such people, or have some education about them, or especially both, you can recognize some of the things which tend to be common to almost all of them. Like you can with parents who are regularly physically abusive, say. There are things about such parents and these families which are very common to them.

It's hard to really articulate what people above are trying to say about how Allen is legalistic and dances around things and twists things and is very self-absorbed and defensive and talks in terms of someone else being a villain while also being apparently indifferent to things which the rest of us would find most important — but it's of a piece, really.

I mean, look, you can't so fundamentally violate social norms without being, in some sense, delusional and self-obsessed and lacking empathy. You don't do something like this without basically putting your own obsession ahead of every other possible consideration, most particularly the well-being of the people who most depend upon you to protect them rather than hurt them. You can't convince yourself that you're not hurting them, but "loving" them unless you have, well, a monstrous ability to lie. To yourself and to others. These necessary traits show through in various ways.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:43 PM on February 8 [23 favorites]


If you're not an arthouse filmgoer with an extensive command of Allen's existing repertoire, or you're a young person considering what movies you want to watch or pay for, is there anything about Allen's letter in the Times that would make you think "this is a guy who'd make interesting movies I want to see"?

Just talking personally, completely divorced from the abuse thing, his early comedies from the 60s are incredibly important for anyone who wants to understand the evolution of American comedy. And, you know, they're funny. It's also a lot easier to take light, simple early Woody Allen than it is to take dark Bergman-wannabe Woody Allen.

Annie Hall is pretty much the definitive romantic comedy. If you don't like Annie Hall, you probably have no soul. You can stop watching Annie Hall on principle because you don't want to support Woody Allen, but you can't say it's not one of the great American films.

Just about everything he's done since then is skippable, in my opinion. He has some enjoyable films in there (Manhattan Murder Mystery and Bullets Over Broadway come to mind), but nothing it would be a travesty to miss out on. The opening sequence of Manhattan is one of the great openings of any film, ever, though TBH I can take or leave the rest of the movie and hate the resolution. I think everything he's done in the last ~15 years is mediocre, and there you really do get into the "supporting a child abuser" problematic stuff, since that was all after the abuse allegations.
posted by Sara C. at 3:09 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


I would suggest you might want to take that broad brush and use it to paint elsewhere. I've seen most of Woody Allen's films, and considered myself a fan of his work starting in my teens.

I'm referring to the folks who are suggesting that because Blue Jasmine is about a shiksa with marital troubles, therefore something something Mia Farrow. It's like they don't know that EVERY Woody Allen movie ultimately reduces to a shiksa with relationship problems.

Or the folks who are suggesting that because Woody Allen stuttered one time, therefore he is guilty. It's like they don't know that Woody Allen's whole thing is about verbal tics.

I'm sure that some people here are looking at this in a more nuanced way. But I kind of feel like if one doesn't actually know who Woody Allen is, maybe their participation in this thread is a touch disingenuous.
posted by Sara C. at 3:14 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


"OMG THERES A WHITE LADY IN THIS MOVIE AND SOMEONE HAS AN AFFAIR" = some kind of secret Woody Allen shoutout to a 20 year old breakup/custody battle.

It's not that and it's silly to reduce it to that. It's that there's a woman who finds out her husband is having an affair with an 18yo; she loses her shit about it; he tells her he's found real love with the 18yo and just wants to discuss how to go forward in a "rational" way and she's just being craaaazy; she picks up the phone and reports his (unrelated) criminal activity. Oh and her adult son later tells her he wants nothing to do with her, that what his dad did was wrong but that what she did was unforgivable.

More or less.

I mean OF COURSE it doesn't line up in every detail, but also OF COURSE the parallels are not coincidental. I saw the movie. It proves nothing about Allen's behavior to Dylan (again, of course; and no one has said it does), but it comes across as pretty dickish with regard to Mia Farrow.

Those details are not common to every Woody Allen movie ever, and autobiographical elements in his other movies (of which there are plenty) don't preclude there being some rather telling ones in BJ as well.

It seems kinda silly to have to present your bona fides for discussing this, but I've been a Woody Allen fan since... hm. College in the late 80s, I suppose. I was actually thinking recently about putting my own near-college-age kids through a course of watching some of my favorites, as I don't think they've ever seen any of them.

I had a similar reaction to Scody's back when the Soon-Yi brouhaha happened; and I am sad now to be reevaluating my feelings about all those movies.
posted by torticat at 3:20 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Or the folks who are suggesting that because Woody Allen stuttered one time, therefore he is guilty. It's like they don't know that Woody Allen's whole thing is about verbal tics.

Sara C., who said this??

Good grief.
posted by torticat at 3:23 PM on February 8 [11 favorites]


"Or the folks who are suggesting that because Woody Allen stuttered one time, therefore he is guilty. It's like they don't know that Woody Allen's whole thing is about verbal tics."

So, what you're saying is that when Woody Allen answers questions about the abuse allegations, he's doing his thing, he's performing, as he is when he's doing stand-up or playing a role in one of his films?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:25 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that some people here are looking at this in a more nuanced way. But I kind of feel like if one doesn't actually know who Woody Allen is, maybe their participation in this thread is a touch disingenuous

No, you said "pretty much nobody participating has ever seen a Woody Allen movie and has no awareness of his art or public persona whatsoever." What seems disingenuous is presuming that the people you disagree with must largely have come to their conclusions as a function of being culturally illiterate, and not that they could possibly know as much as you do about him.
posted by scody at 3:35 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]


"It may be an acceptable indulgence to attack someone as a weirdo because they are older and date younger women"

That means you, Humphrey Bogart / Neil Gaiman / Patrick Stewart / etc, etc, etc!

Or, alternately, it's not acceptable to attack someone as a weirdo, just because their partner is a younger adult than they are. In fact, it's both insulting to the older adult *AND* to their adult partner, who has the right to make consensual, adult decisions about what's right for them and for their life without your judgements.

It's no more correct to make that judgment than it is to "attack someone as a weirdo" just because they are a homosexual. In fact, from a Christian perspective, it's considerably less appropriate to do so... not that it would be appropriate to judge in the first place.

Get it?!
posted by markkraft at 3:41 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


No one's being attacked as a weirdo because they're an older man dating a younger woman, so you can stop flipping out about that. None of the men you cited ended up marrying a woman who was the adoptive sister of the man's children or the daughter of the man's former partner. That's the part that's weird. Regardless of how happy the couple is now, their involvement did help tear apart a family. To quote you: "get it?!"
posted by palomar at 3:56 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


"Sinead O'Connor lost her North American career for speaking about the systematic abuse against children we now all know was happening"

Or actually... completely not the case. In truth, it had more to do with her tearing up photos of the Pope, then basically leaving the music business. Her stance on child molestation wasn't the real issue, as far as her self-inflicted career decline.

In truth, it just might help Sinead if she released more of the kind of albums her original fans once loved her for.
posted by markkraft at 4:02 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


It may be an acceptable indulgence to attack someone as a weirdo because they are older and date younger women

This is a fantastic example of a misleadingly false and skewed fictitious revision of other people's words. Shamelessly skewing other people's words to something that they never said, something that sounds way more absurd or stupid or ___ than what they actually said, is, in my opinion, a very manipulative thing to do. And defending someone's actions or your own actions by being baldly manipulative makes me way more on alert, not less.
posted by cairdeas at 4:22 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


What? Sinead O'Connor tore up the picture of the Pope in large part as a statement about abuse of young people in the Catholic church, not just sexual abuse but also things like the Magdalene laundries, which she had personal experience with. The same site you linked to even mentions the missing context and the Bob Dylan tribute concert in which she was booed off stage shortly thereafter.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:23 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


Get it?!

Where is my bingo board?
posted by cairdeas at 4:27 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


"Sinead O'Connor tore up the picture of the Pope in large part as a statement about abuse of young people in the Catholic church, not just sexual abuse but also things like the Magdalene laundries, which she had personal experience with."

Yeah, but in the US there was very little awareness of the abuse or why she had torn up the photo.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:40 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Sure - but it wasn't like Sinead was being obscure about it either. She talked publicly about child abuse in the mid 90s as well, though more in Ireland than in the US. I think her message got derailed here because the media narrative framed it as a generic "disrespect for authority figures" statement from someone who should be put in her place (e.g. Joe Pesci saying he'd like to smack her on the next week's SNL, to applause and cheers). There was a lot of deliberate ignorance and refusal to engage with her message there and I don't think that was her fault.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:51 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


Regardless of Previn's connection with Mia Farrow, Allen wasn't Previn's stepfather.

"Regardless of how happy the couple is now, their involvement did help tear apart a family."

That could just as easily be a boilerplate critique of many divorces, really. That said, if you read the account of their relationship, there wasn't much to tear apart in the first place.

It's not as though things are at all obvious as far as what is going on, in this situation... both Soon-Yi and Moses Farrow are estranged from their mother.

"My mother drummed it into me to hate my father for tearing apart the family and sexually molesting my sister. And I hated him for her for years. I see now that this was a vengeful way to pay him back for falling in love with Soon-Yi. . . [Dylan] looked forward to seeing [Allen] when he would visit. . . She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping. I don't know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible . . . From an early age, my mother demanded obedience and I was often hit as a child. . . She went into unbridled rages if we angered her, which was intimidating at the very least and often horrifying, leaving us not knowing what she would do."
- Moses Farrow, now estranged from his mother

"To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable. My parents are Andre Previn and Mia, but obviously they're not even my real parents. I came to America when I was seven. I was never remotely close to Woody." - Soon-Yi Previn

In fact, although none of the allegations of child abuse against Allen are clear, what is clear is that Farrow was physically and verbally abusive to her adopted children on at least one verifiable occasion.

Basically, Woody Allen and Soon-Yi were both adults who had understandable reasons to pursue their relationship, which, by all accounts, just plain worked... no matter how difficult it might've been for Mia Farrow, who effectively lost both her partner and much of the basis for her being a "leading lady" in her acting career. She hasn't been in a particularly notable film since "Husbands and Wives"... largely because it's generally acknowledged that Allen was the creative genius who made much of her acting success possible.

And what does all of this controversy have to do with the artistic worth of Allen's latest film?! Nothing.
posted by markkraft at 4:58 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Re-Watching Woody Allen — The newly-chilling themes that you can see throughout his movies.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:59 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


"Re-Watching Woody Allen — The newly-chilling themes that you can see throughout his movies."

a.k.a. "Sophocles was a Mofo."

(... and you can only imagine what Shakespeare's private life was like!)
posted by markkraft at 5:04 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I'm sure that some people here are looking at this in a more nuanced way. But I kind of feel like if one doesn't actually know who Woody Allen is, maybe their participation in this thread is a touch disingenuous.

Within this thread, I've found and linked Judge Wilk's lower court custody decision, the appellate affirmation of that decision, the available pages to the Yale New Haven Hospital evaluation of Dylan Farrow, the statements of Allen's lawyer and publicist, the comments of Dylan's brother Moses, the 1992 Vanity Fair piece by Maureen Orth, A Child Abuse Investigator's View of the Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow Case, a variety of press stories reporting on testimony from the custody trial, other commentary, and, I think, intelligent synthesis and analysis of all of this material. I have seen thirteen of Woody Allen's movies. Your suggestion that my participation in this thread is disingenuous is incorrect. Please try not to be so quick to insult, and just argue the merits.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:13 PM on February 8 [22 favorites]



Re-Watching Woody Allen — The newly-chilling themes that you can see throughout his movies.


That article and all the things looking for "clues" in Woody Allen's movies are totally ridiculous. Also no the storyline with Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan isn't a damning indictment.

Note the fact that I feel this way doesn't mean I don't believe Dylan Farrow's accusations.
posted by sweetkid at 5:14 PM on February 8


What do you guys think that art is? Do you guys think that art ever has a purpose? Do you think that art is ever meant to convey a feeling? To convey an idea? Whose feeling and whose idea do you suppose that would be? Do you think art is ever meant to convey a particular perspective? Do you think art is ever meant to get people to consider a particular perspective that they may not have considered before? To make people realize that a particular perspective could be sympathetic or understandable?

Do you think that art ever changes culture? Do you think that art is ever created deliberately in order to change culture, or impact it?

Do you think that art is ever an expression of a particular philosophy? Do you think that art is a form of communication? Do you think that nobody ever uses art to communicate something abhorrent? To change the culture in a way that is abhorrent? To propagate a perspective that is abhorrent?

Do you think that art is a one-way street, as communication goes? That art is not meant to be responded to?

You guys are talking about art here as if it's something that is created without thought, intention, or meaning, and is meant to be received without thought or response.
posted by cairdeas at 5:19 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


P.S. I was already writing my comment when you posted sweetkid, it wasn't meant as a response to you.
posted by cairdeas at 5:19 PM on February 8


I agree it is complicated relationship with regards to Woody Allen being a step-father; which actually I think reflects worse on him that he would visit his spouse and her 11 (I? I think that is how many children she had at that time) children but only pay attention to his adopted/birth children. I have seen a lot of blended families and creating hierarchies amoung siblings in this way is damaging to the children. Soon-Yi is the sister of his children and that is a pretty clear boundary most adults would respect; wasn't Woody's own son only five years younger than the sister he had an affair with?

As to Mia's career, the drop in meaty roles for actresses over thirty, and especially forty years old, in the nineties (and today) is not a revelation to anyone who has watched movies over the past twenty years. I don't understand why you think the loss of her future career would have compelled her to make up some serious accusations that she knew would most likely not be believed.
posted by saucysault at 5:22 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


"Basically, Woody Allen and Soon-Yi were both adults who had understandable reasons to pursue their relationship, which, by all accounts, just plain worked..."

Hey, you know what? When you're thirty-five years older than the nineteen-year-old you're romantically involved with and you've been in and still are in a relationship with her mother for years and you are rich and famous and respected, then it's an exploitative, unhealthy relationship and you're a predatory asshole.

Or, really, if you're fifty-four and dating a nineteen-year-old, you're a predatory asshole, period. Doesn't matter the genders. It's unhealthy.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:25 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


“Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television.”
― Woody Allen
posted by markkraft at 5:25 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Or, really, if you're fifty-four and dating a nineteen-year-old, you're a predatory asshole, period. Doesn't matter the genders. It's unhealthy.

I think life spends a fair bit of its time being a cruel absurd joke and if someone finds a way to be happy for part of it... well, it makes me a little bit happy that Woody and Soon-Yi are happy.

I hope everybody can get a little bit happy. Dylan, Ronan, Mia -- everybody. However the heck they find it.
posted by Trochanter at 6:00 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Woody Allen has to worry about getting caught? Since when? He gets away with everything (whatever "everything" entails) scot-free as far as I can tell. He hasn't lost his career and people in his industry will keep on working with him and he gets to marry a twentysomething and adopt more kids while abandoning the first bunch and everything is lovely for him. After this pissy letter he'll go back to ignoring the whole thing. Rich old white men can almost always do what they want and get away with it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:45 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


So Dylan's story being part of the background of that "happy story" (since by everyone's admission, we can't know with any certainty her story isn't absolutely true) doesn't make you see the whole mess as just another one of those cruel, absurd jokes? Because that's exactly how I see it. Poor Dylan. A million people telling her she means shit to the world compared to their projective fantasies about a Very Important Man whom they've never met but seem convinced they know better on a personal level than his own children ever claimed to know him.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:48 PM on February 8 [11 favorites]


Justin Bieber is the luckiest man in America right about now.
posted by telstar at 7:00 PM on February 8


"A million people telling her she means shit to the world compared to their projective fantasies about a Very Important Man whom they've never met but seem convinced they know better on a personal level than his own children ever claimed to know him."

Well, you know, they've seen his movies and so are qualified to be part of the conversation. I doubt that Dylan has seen all of them, she's said that she can't stand the sight of a t-shirt with his face on it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:00 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


while abandoning the first bunch

As far as I can tell, the only evidence we have that's been any way tested in a court is from the custody case that Allen brought. (Actually, I think it's from the appeal.)

By the way, were the many witnesses' testimony the judge cites in his decision in that case actually made in his court, or did it all came from the prosecution Maco had built, or something else? None of those witnesses are listed in the little playbill of the trial. Does anyone know this?
posted by Trochanter at 7:23 PM on February 8


doesn't make you see the whole mess as just another one of those cruel, absurd jokes?

No, I'm talking about the jokes where, even if no bizarre tragedy happens, you'll have to watch your parents die, you'll have to go to a lot of your friend's funerals, you'll have to watch yourself wither, and then your body will forget how to stay alive, and you'll die and go back to the nothingness from whence you came. I'm talking about taking your joy where you find it. Because it's all you get.
posted by Trochanter at 7:40 PM on February 8


I don't categorically believe or disbelieve Dylan Farrow's accusations.

I do believe there is nothing there that would result in a conviction in a court of law, however.

I do believe it quite odd that Dylan remembers Woody Allen molesting her only once... in the midst of a vicious divorce proceeding. Statistics would suggest she was molested on multiple occasions, if she was molested at all. I would suggest that there was probably something specific to the circumstances of that incident which made it particularly traumatic to a young, impressionable person.

I do find it quite coincidental that Mia Farrow had been preparing to sign an elaborate child-support-and-custody agreement two days after the allegations, which would have given Mia Farrow *only* $6,000 a month for child support.

I do believe it unconvincing that Dylan says, based on her memories as a seven-year-old -- that her mother didn't somehow instigate the investigation.

From her People interview:
"As for Allen's claims that Mia is the one who brought the abuse accusations to light, Dylan is quick to refute this point.

"It was a pediatrician who reported the incident to the police based on my firsthand account," Dylan explains."


What she fails to mention is that even a reporter who is quite favorable about her side of the story mentioned the fact that "Mia and Dylan went to Dylan’s pediatrician"... and also mentioned that "when a physician asked Dylan where her father had touched her that day, she pointed to her shoulder"; she explained to her mother later the same day that she was embarrassed to talk about her private parts." Of course, that claim of being "too embarrassed to talk" is *ONLY* supported by Mia Farrow... and after that interview, all subsequent interviews with Dylan indicated that Allen touched Dylan elsewhere. So while the judge involved with the case may not have seen "credible evidence" suggesting coaching, there is no credible evidence to suggest that he was in a good position to determine whether coaching happened or not. Odds are that he would've changed his mind, had their son Moses told the judge what he is saying now... that being coached was *exactly* what he recalled, along with angry tirades against Allen, and verbal and physical abuse throughout his childhood. Moses *WAS* very angry with Allen at the time, for obvious reasons, but that doesn't make his current allegations less credible than Dylan's. The difference being... Moses was 15 at the time of the alleged incident, while Dylan was only 8. He was in a better position to remember what it was like inside Farrow's household at the time.

Lastly, if the child abuse incident was really so troubling, then why, oh why, would Mia Farrow retain Alan M. Dershowitz -- high-paid lawyer for Claus Von Bulow, Leona Helmsley Mike Tyson, and O.J. Simpson -- to seek out a lump sum settlement? Dershowitz was forced to testify, and forced to admit under testimony that a proposal was made to intercede in the child-abuse investigation in favor of a private settlement. Indeed, there were claims that he specifically stated that Dylan could be made not to cooperate with any or to basically undermine any possible criminal investigation, for a "down and dirty" five million bucks.

Mr. Dershowitz claimed his only motivation in offering himself as a "kind of mediator" was to keep the dispute private and save the director from what he called "career-destroying disclosures".

Uh-huh. That's one way of putting it...

"Allen's lawyer charged that Farrow had retained Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz because "he is not a quiet, mediating type of lawyer. He is the type of lawyer who explodes matters from quiet to noise."

He further charged that Dershowitz had sought a $5-million settlement from the filmmaker on Farrow's behalf after the charges of child abuse were made. Abramowitz said that, even if someone "has a Harvard accent," if he asks you to "pay for something you didn't do, that's extortion."


We would likely not be hearing any of this at this time, had Woody Allen chosen to pay Mia Farrow money to hush it up and undermine the case against Allen. He refused to do so.
posted by markkraft at 7:42 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I'm talking about taking your joy where you find it. Because it's all you get.

All well and good, and I certainly hope Woody and Soon-Yi have a happy relationship because the alternative is even more depressing. But that also doesn't mean that Woody didn't do something fucked-up and wrong in order to bring about that relationship, or that if their relationship is happy now then he must have never really taken advantage of Soon-Yi in a way that mattered.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:00 PM on February 8 [5 favorites]


From the "down and dirty" link that markkraft selectively quoted from:

Dershowitz, a Harvard University law professor reached at his home, said Abramowitz' extortion allegation was "totally false." He said the only money discussed was a lump sum fund that might be banked for the children's use.

"We believe the meeting was a setup," said Dershowitz, adding that he hopes the meeting was taped. "They hoped for a shakedown, but none happened, and their setup attempt failed."

Under cross-examination by Farrow's lawyer, Eleanor Alter, Tanenbaum [lawyer for Allen] acknowledged the proposal included money for Mia's future movie projects as well as medical and educational costs for their children.


From the "proposal was made" link:

Asked by Ms. Farrow's lawyer, Gerald Walpin, whether the money was linked to an offer to drop the charges, Mr. Levett [lawyer for Farrow] said: "Absolutely not. It was clear that was an independent state investigation. We had no control over that."
posted by palomar at 8:02 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


One thing though, that letter of Moses' from the time is a real heart wrencher, and Woody does have to carry some of that around. That wasn't all brainwashing no matter where you stand. Divorces suck really bad for kids.
posted by Trochanter at 8:12 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


markkraft: “Regardless of Previn's connection with Mia Farrow, Allen wasn't Previn's stepfather.”

When a person dates another person, that creates a power relationship between the person and their partner's children. It is not necessarily parenthood, but it is something. If I'm a 56-year-old professor, then a student who is 21 is a full adult and allowed to have a relationship with me. That doesn't instantly erase the power relationship that makes it unhealthy.

“Indeed, there were claims...”

Ha ha ha. "There were claims."

There have been claims that Barack Obama is actually not an American citizen, and was in fact born in Kenya. Pardon me while I go ring up the INS, I'm sure they'll be interested in what I have to say.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


"Absolutely not. It was clear that was an independent state investigation. We had no control over that."

All perfectly fair to say, under oath... while absolutely not engaging in the issue at hand. It was a question asked by Ms. Farrow's lawyer, with full knowledge that it could be answered in such a manner.

He is right... it wasn't an offer to drop the charges. Indeed, it was an independent state investigation, and they could not do that.

...but could Ms. Farrow see to it that she / her daughter didn't testify, didn't cooperate, and/or otherwise undermined the state's case? ABSOLUTELY.

In fact, that is exactly what was suggested by the witnesses to the offer:
""Mr. Levitt said the charges could be made to go away"... Levitt said there could be no case against Allen if 7-year-old Dylan refused to testify.

Gee, who would've persuaded Dylan not to testify in court, I wonder... assuming that Dylan was even given a choice in the matter.
posted by markkraft at 8:35 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


markkraft: “In fact, that is exactly what was suggested by the witnesses to the offer...”

By "witnesses to the offer," you mean "Woody Allen's lawyers, who stood overwhelmingly to benefit by making Mia Farrow out to be mercenary and dishonest." Also, everyone else involved says they're lying. Probably worth noting that, too.
posted by koeselitz at 8:39 PM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Also:
""We believe the meeting was a setup," said Dershowitz, adding that he hopes the meeting was taped. "They hoped for a shakedown, but none happened, and their setup attempt failed."

Very easy to say, when not under oath. Too bad he directly contradicted himself under oath later, when he was forced to admit that there was, in fact, a settlement offer made.

Also, why would you call in one of the most expensive, high-profile lawyers in the world to help you with such a meeting... but not to represent you in your actual case? One might almost think that it was an intimidation tactic.
posted by markkraft at 8:45 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


"By "witnesses to the offer," you mean "Woody Allen's lawyers, who stood overwhelmingly to benefit by making Mia Farrow out to be mercenary and dishonest."

Oh, no doubt. That said, Alan Dershowitz admitted in court that an offer was made by them to settle the case. That's pretty mercenary, and is a known fact, right?!

It can be debated, perhaps, that the proposed settlement didn't include a specific or implied tit-for-tat with Farrow making Dylan not testify against him, or some such thing... but given the known dollar amounts we are talking about for that time, and the fact that any longterm settlement would've been dependent upon Allen having a career that allowed him to pay such settlements, well, I will let people decide for themselves which is most likely.
posted by markkraft at 8:50 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


[this would be an excellent time to back off the one-on-one debate and chain-posting, thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:16 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


For what it is worth, I am going to go with the judge in the custody battle who ruled that Woody Allen would never be near this child after he heard the evidence. Say what you will, this judge heard days and days of evidence put on by Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. He heard evidence that caused him to say that this "man" should not be around any children. Woody Allen never appealed this. He never asked for this ruling to change. The conclusion had to be based on the fact that the children would be "endangered" by such contact. I don't need to have another trial. This man is a child molester. Everyone condemned people at Penn State for not stopping that villain. Wonder where the outrage is because child molester's do not quit without treatment and I would bet this guy has not quit.
posted by OhSusannah at 9:46 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]


Or, alternately, it's not acceptable to attack someone as a weirdo, just because their partner is a younger adult than they are.

I don't think it is either, my mother and father are decades apart in age and it has never struck me as anything but a totally normal loving marriage. I have no built in negative reaction even to rather extreme age differences that might weird other people out.

This of course has nothing to do with how weird I might feel about a relationship including a big age difference with a partner societal norms put in a child/dependent role, because that is an entirely different thing. Especially when the older partner is accused by multiple eye witnesses of having an inappropriate relationship with a separate pre-teen. I am now viewing the age difference in a very different context.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:01 PM on February 8 [14 favorites]


No, I'm talking about the jokes where, even if no bizarre tragedy happens, you'll have to watch your parents die, you'll have to go to a lot of your friend's funerals, you'll have to watch yourself wither, and then your body will forget how to stay alive, and you'll die and go back to the nothingness from whence you came. I'm talking about taking your joy where you find it. Because it's all you get.

The cruel absurd joke is that this life and the people we share it with are all we really know anything about with anything approaching certainty, and yet, we still treat each other like this. I've seen my entire immediate family die. Death and aging aren't absurd, or cruel, they're just indifferent facts of reality that have been with us as long as we've existed. What humans do to each other in their vain attempts to escape reality, now that stuff can be pretty damn cruel and absurd.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:28 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


I read this piece from Victoria Coren Mitchell in the Guardian this morning. It is the best thing I've read so far. It captures my feeling that whether or not Allen is technically guilty of sexually abusing Dylan, he abused her and her family's trust in him to such an extent that to Dylan it may be that his betrayal is equal to the crime that she and her mother have accused him of.

Dylan Farrow's family has fallen apart because her father's having an affair with her sister. To the family, the fact that he never adopted or lived with Soon-Yi Previn is a meaningless nicety. He's been with Mia Farrow since 1980, when Soon-Yi was around eight (her exact age and birth date are not known).

...

Seven-year-old Dylan is adjusting to a world where her parents have split up and her father's having sex with her sister. In all meaningful ways, when it comes to what it feels like for the family, he is committing incest. Technically, no. Emotionally, yes.

...

In this context, Dylan does not want to be touched by him. That means being touched by someone who's become frightening, who is not the innocent father she believed. She has been stroked, kissed and told she is beautiful by a monster who's been casting his sexual eye around the family.

... if he were my father, and his lust for my sister had been similarly exposed, then I, too, would realise that I'd spent years being touched by a creep; and my disproportionate, inappropriate awareness of his physical desires would make those touches feel like a violation.

The family boundaries were transgressed. The caresses became sinister. The memory of them felt dirty and shameful. Wherever Woody Allen did or didn't put his hands, these are the feelings of child abuse.

... her father brought sex into her childhood consciousness, mixed up with family life, in a way that left psychological scars. Either way, her development was compromised by something disturbing and wrong.

...

You cannot label Woody Allen a child molester, when he has never faced this charge in court, but it's a false and simplistic corollary to call his daughter a liar.


I don't know whether or not Allen sexually assaulted his daughter in the attic, but his continued characterization of his seduction of Soon-Yi Previn as just a normal, ho-hum relationship and his absence of any expression of guilt over how this relationship betrayed all of Soon-Yi's siblings leaves me unable to see him as someone deserving of admiration or Lifetime Achievement awards. Before this all occurred, he was someone I really respected. I don't think I've ever been more shocked at the behavior of someone I held in such high esteem. I still watch an occasional movie of his, but I can never forget that it is the work of someone I find personally distasteful.

[Apologies if this has already been posted in the thread. I searched for "Guardian", "Observer", "Victoria", "Coren", and "Mitchell" and nothing relevant came up. But at near 800 comments (currently), I realize I may have overlooked it.]
posted by marsha56 at 8:55 AM on February 9 [11 favorites]


The view Coren takes in that piece is pretty much my own view, marsha56. But I can't help but think she's trying to have her cake and eat it.

If people want us to believe that Woody is an asshole who mistreated his kids and his family -- then I have no problem with that whatsoever. Similarly, if Dylan wants to say that her father's behaviour was hurtful and has left her emotionally scarred for the last twenty odd years -- again, fine with that.

What we're being asked to believe though, is that Woody used his seven year old daughter for his own sexual gratification. Coren's not saying Dylan's a liar -- but she does seems to be reframing it so that she doesn't have to accept what seems to me to be the core of Dylan's allegation here.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:21 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


An approach to discussing Allen: How to Like Woody Allen on Facebook.
posted by immlass at 9:25 AM on February 9 [2 favorites]


What we're being asked to believe though, is that Woody used his seven year old daughter for his own sexual gratification.

Again, I don't know if the assault in the attic actually occurred. But it has been stated by many witnesses that he did have an unusually close physical relationship with Dylan. After she found out about his actual sexual relationship with her sister, she may have felt that all his previous contact with her suddenly seemed horrifyingly sexual (as do I):

Sources familiar with Allen’s relationship with Dylan attested to Maureen Orth in 1992 that Allen was “completely obsessed” with Farrow’s adopted daughter. He “would monopolize her totally, to the exclusion of her brothers and sisters, and spend hours whispering to her.” Was it normal fatherly affection or something more sinister? Allen had exhibited “abnormally intense” interest in Dylan, according to the appellate court opinion in the custody trial Allen had brought against Mia Farrow. Allen’s legal team’s timeline purported that the accusations about Dylan were a direct result of Mia finding out about Woody’s affair with Mia’s adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, but their timeline is contradictory with Mia’s. According to Orth, Allen was already in therapy for his behavior toward Dylan before Mia found nude photos he had taken of Previn, who was 21 to Allen’s 56 at the time. When Allen was confronted about the pictures, Allen said it was because “Previn had talked about becoming a model” and asked him to take pictures of her.

Orth says sources told her that Allen openly preferred Dylan to any of the other children in the Allen-Farrow household. Friends noticed how “Woody, wearing just underwear, would take Dylan to bed with him and entwine his body around hers; or that he would have her suck his thumb; or that often when Dylan went over to his apartment he would head straight for the bedroom with her so they could get into bed and play.” The first alarm was sounded by Mia’s mother, Maureen O’Sullivan, and sister Tisa Farrow, who found some of Allen’s behavior suspicious.


[from this Grantland piece, it was just the first thing that popped up when I googled "Allen thumb sucking bed underwear". Ughh. .. So sorry about that.]
posted by marsha56 at 9:41 AM on February 9


Oops, sorry, this Grantland piece.
posted by marsha56 at 9:57 AM on February 9


After she found out about his actual sexual relationship with her sister, she may have felt that all his previous contact with her suddenly seemed horrifyingly sexual (as do I):

I think it's an easy leap to make. Our distaste at his relationship with his adult stepdaughter means that it's inevitable that you'll look more closely at Woody's relationship with the rest of his kids.

But regardless of what those witnesses said or didn't say, Coren seems to be explicitly stopping short of accepting Dylan's claim that her father sexually abused her. If anything, Coren seems to be arguing that Dylan's feelings are a reinterpretation of events in light of the whole Soon-Yi business.

If, as Coren is suggesting, her feelings about his contact is all contingent on his relationship with Soon-Yi, it isn't an enormous leap from there to Woody's beliefs that the allegations are just a form of revenge for that relationship, because presumably they would never have happened had the relationship not taken place?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:57 AM on February 9


And here's the Maureen Orth Vanity Fair story that it is referring to. I should have linked to this instead.

[I know that it's been linked earlier in the thread, but I thought it would be easier to find if I linked again. No disrepect intended to earlier posters.]
posted by marsha56 at 10:02 AM on February 9


PeterMcDermott: "If, as Coren is suggesting, her feelings about his contact is all contingent on his relationship with Soon-Yi, it isn't an enormous leap from there to Woody's beliefs that the allegations are just a form of revenge for that relationship, because presumably they would never have happened had the relationship not taken place?"

It is in fact a monumentally large leap, because Woody never says he believes that Dylan is the one who wants revenge. His belief is like the belief of a lot of divorced parents, unfortunately; he believes that any actions against him by his children are actually secretly the actions of his adversary, the child's other parent, and that any actions that might favor him are actually evidence that he is a wonderful and shining hero, not the ideas and opinions of an independent human being.

This is one of the things that bothers me about this whole tack. It's one thing to presume, as many seem to, that lawyers, judges, doctors, babysitters, and housekeepers are all completely under the mafia-like thumb of Mia Farrow, or that all of them are unwittingly being controlled by her "brainwashing." That is weird enough. But it's egregious to go further and imply that nothing Dylan or Ronan says publicly on this subject could possibly be anything but an extension of their mother's will to revenge. The children of divorces are independent human beings, and should not be rendered down into pawns in their parents' battle for supremacy. The fact that Dylan and Ronan are treated this way, even now, is unfortunate.
posted by koeselitz at 10:32 AM on February 9 [10 favorites]


But it's egregious to go further and imply that nothing Dylan or Ronan says publicly on this subject could possibly be anything but an extension of their mother's will to revenge. The children of divorces are independent human beings, and should not be rendered down into pawns in their parents' battle for supremacy.

But aren't you aware of how easily children (and, in fact, adults) can be manipulated into saying and believing and truly remembering wholly fabricated memories, simply because a) they want to please important people and/or b) they are asked questions in such a way that the memory sounds plausible? And that in fact this has happened, particularly with respect to child abuse, many times?
posted by shivohum at 12:05 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


"And that in fact this has happened, particularly with respect to child abuse, many times?"

It hasn't happened that often.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:09 PM on February 9


On a different note . . .

I think it's interesting and speaks to the power and prestige of the people involved that when Dylan Farrow initially approached the New York Times about printing her letter as an Op Ed piece or a letter, they refused, and relegated it to be excerpted in Nicolas Kristof's regular Op-Ed column (Sunday Review page 11, 2/2/14). That means her entire letter didn't even appear in the NYT print edition -- to read it you had to go online to Kristof's blog. See index of print edition http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2014/02/02/todayspaper/index.html (Relatedly, the Los Angeles Times apparently rejected printing any of the letter at all when approached about it by Ronan Farrow.) See http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/02/new-york-times-editorial-dept-passed-on-dylan-farrows-182867.html#.UvTWTHXNtF0.twitter

However, the NYT didn't seem to have any reservations about printing Woody Allen's letter in full as an Op-Ed piece in today's Sunday edition (Sunday Review page 9, 2/9/14). See index of print edition http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2014/02/09/todayspaper/index.html.

I mean, I guess I'm not surprised, given everything Woody Allen has done for the economy, art scene, and reputation of New York; he's probably one of its most beloved figures. And he is an accomplished writer and director in his own right, and Dylan Farrow is not; the only thing that makes her famous is her parents and the fact that she went through this whole ordeal when she was seven.

Still. The New York Times wouldn't print Dylan Farrow's letter, but it had no problem printing Woody Allen's response dealing with precisely the same issues, and that says something about the imbalance of power that Dylan Farrow or someone like her faces in this situation.

Maybe what it speaks the most to is the increasing irrelevance of newspaper print editions, since we've been discussing this for a week now with Internet links that tend to level the playing field. Still, I wanted to note how the New York Times print edition distinguished the importance of Woody Allen's and Ronan Farrow's letters.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:20 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


claims about a large financial settlement offer... made under oath... and then confirmed by the person who made the offer... under oath...

markkraft--I'm replying to this claim because you made it several times--you were selectively quoting there, too. What the article says is that Dershowitz "acknowledged that a proposal was made to intercede in the child-abuse investigation in favor of a private settlement. He added that the offer 'was not premised on any payments.'" There's no reporting that he was "forced to admit" anything.

This meeting was on the day that Allen sued for custody. There was plenty to settle and plenty of reason also to try to protect Dylan from having to testify. The "extortion" nonsense is all from Allen's lawyers. Settling out of court, financially or otherwise, is not extortion.

But look, the articles you linked to demonstrate perfectly what an absolute clusterfuck it appeared to be at the time, and why people walked away from it thinking the players were ALL crazy--and who knows what really happened--and not damning Allen outright. What's been discussed at length in this thread is a grown woman's public testimony that she actually was molested; how the accused person has responded to that (now and over the years); what her family has believed; and who, of all these people, appears credible.

I won't rehash the discussion above about Mia's and Woody's roles. But with regard to this:

Moses was 15 at the time of the alleged incident, while Dylan was only 8. He was in a better position to remember what it was like inside Farrow's household at the time.

...First, you are right to note that Moses Farrow was furious. Mia Farrow was furious. These are normal responses to what Woody Allen had done; they don't require either brainwashing or vindictiveness. I feel sorry for the 15yo kid caught in the middle of all that instability.

But Moses Farrow's recent claims have been cruel and irresponsible. He cannot possibly know for a fact that Dylan was not molested, as he claims to. He cannot possibly remember (after so many years of brainwashing too!) when Dylan began to fear and avoid Allen. He can't possibly know with certainty that she was never once alone with Allen on the day in question (something contradicted by testimony of adults who were there).

He now says, "I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother"... So she's either brainwashed or lying? Ugh. He says that Dylan would benefit from "reconnecting with" the man she clearly states abused her. And this from a guy who is now a family therapist?

Moses Farrow has his own recollections and his own history. For him to use those to try to override his sister's is indeed, as she has said, a "betrayal." He is in no way "in a better position" to know what happened to Dylan than Dylan herself is.
posted by torticat at 12:49 PM on February 9 [15 favorites]


I may be naive but I'm surprised the Allen letter to the NYT ran as is. Like, didn't someone say, 'dude, you know that you sound like an asshole at best, a child molester at worst in that letter.' Somebody didn't say, 'dude, you're savaging your wife's mom, not very cool.' I mean, like others in this thread, I didn't really engage with the abuse allegations and the split up in the nineties, and Allen exhibits the same lack of remorse with regards to anything at all in his NYT letter as he did in the 60 Minutes interview in the nineties, with the net effect being -- oh yeah -- he really did act shittily noooow I remember why I dislike him.

He may not be a child molester, but in so many ways he just not a cool dude, and he seems so unfazed and in denial about how he's hurt people, that grrr he's like one of those guys you want to see punched, at least once.
posted by angrycat at 2:39 PM on February 9 [7 favorites]


Coren's not saying Dylan's a liar -- but she does seems to be reframing it so that she doesn't have to accept what seems to me to be the core of Dylan's allegation here.

Yeah, I kind of agree with this even though I'd wondered along the same lines as Mitchell. In an interview with Mia Farrow I linked to somewhere upthread, she talked about working out with Dylan's therapist what to tell Dylan about Soon-Yi, and they ended up telling her that her father wanted to be Soon-Yi's boyfriend. It sounded like that was traumatic, and it occurred to me that a 7yo might find it terrifying and start wondering if her father wanted to be HER boyfriend, too, and interpret everything in that light.

But Dylan has said that what happened in the attic was different from all the over-intense, over-intimate interactions that she remembered from before (and which had been observed by others). She said that in the open letter and then maintained her allegation was serious and true in this emotional followup with People magazine.

Mitchell's attempt to square the circle seems plausible, and humane, but I think PeterMcDermott's right that it doesn't account for Dylan's central accusation against Allen.
posted by torticat at 7:20 PM on February 9


John Judis: The New York Times Owes Its Readers an Apology
posted by jayder at 10:37 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


"... and the reason why might surprise you!"
posted by jessamyn at 10:44 PM on February 9 [11 favorites]


This is interesting: It's Shockingly Easy to Create False Memories by Cara Laney
posted by jayder at 11:31 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Indeed, I was surprised by Mr. Judis's position! That's the first complaint I've heard about allowing Kristof to focus his column in Dylan Farrow. Everything else I saw said it fit into his column's general focus on women's and survivor's rights, and that knowing Mia professionally through their charity work shouldn't disqualify him. Well, it's nice that Judis can make neat boxes of categories to check off for himself to show when an (alleged) child sexual abuse survivor ought to be paid attention to by journalists. I think a lot of people disagree, though.

Six Reasons Why Dylan Farrow's Statement of Sexual Abuse Is Highly Credible, written by a lawyer who has represented many child victims of sexual abuse over the last few decades.

Is The Daily Beast on Woody Allen's payroll?
posted by onlyconnect at 11:40 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


This is interesting: It's Shockingly Easy to Create False Memories by Cara Laney

It's also shockingly easy to force false confessions out of people. This doesn't, however, mean that people don't factually commit crimes, nor that all confessions to crimes are false. Similarly, the fact that it's easy to create false memories says nothing about the credibility of Dylan Farrow, though I understand how it fits neatly into an agenda of rape denialism.
posted by scody at 12:04 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


Well, this is probably a false memory case that should be studied, as it's extraordinary. I guess I'm not familiar with the literature, but I'm not aware of another situation where babysitters, housekeepers, family friends, acquaintances, psychotherapists, and police officers all experienced the same false memories. Mia Farrow is some kind of crazy guru, that she was able to induce false memories in all of these people, such that all of them testified in open court that they'd observed and were concerned about inappropriate behavior from Woody Allen before the Soon-Yi pictures came to light.
posted by koeselitz at 12:31 AM on February 10 [28 favorites]


Mia Farrow is some kind of crazy guru

She didn't need to be a crazy guru. She only needed to strongly suggest a certain event to her seven-year-old daughter. For the rest, she just needed to be highly manipulative and motivated, and make it clear that once Dylan came out with that event, that certain interpretations of the past would then prevail -- that this is how they would be viewed -- and that you were then either with her or against her.

And was she in fact the kind of person who could and would ruthlessly bend people into compliance like that? Her son Moses certainly thinks so.

I truly don't know if Woody did it. He well may have. But I am suspicious of the arguments for his guilt, which seem to reflect political agendas ("it would betray feminism not to believe the survivor" -- even though of course just what she survived is the question) and a disgust with his relationship with Soon-Yi more than a calm concern with the psychological intricacies of getting at the truth in an extraordinarily nasty and hate-filled family war.
posted by shivohum at 8:21 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


So it's easier for you to believe that Mia Farrow is a Machiavellian manipulator who brainwashed her children and strong-armed her sister, her mother, the children's babysitters and tutors, her lawyers, a prosecutor and his entire team, and a custody judge into bending to her will, than it is for you to believe that Woody Allen might possibly have molested a child?

Wow. That's... dedication, I guess.
posted by palomar at 8:45 AM on February 10 [13 favorites]


Don't forget that she has also somehow manipulated most of the schools of thought behind the psychology and policy of sexual assault to change, so that in 2014 they conveniently match Dylan's experiences as they were relayed at the time of the 1992 investigation. I guess the easy part was convincing the legal system to let Woody slip through the cracks and Hollywood to allow him 20+ years of continued success, because how else would such a long con work?
posted by zombieflanders at 8:57 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


She doesn't have to "brainwash" or "strongarm" them all; it can work far more subtly than that. It starts with Dylan. Once she says something, the other kids are going to believe and support her and their mother because they love and want to please them.

Mia's sister and her mother are similarly are on "her side" and are going therefore as a matter both of conscious loyalty and unconscious bias to see things from her point of view. The babysitters and tutors -- now this gets iffier. But who hired them? Who paid their bills? With whom did they have more rapport -- Woody or Mia? And once they start thinking about 'questionable' actions -- doesn't everything then get retroactively shaded in that light?

Don't underestimate the enormous power of suggestion and narrative, which are not strongarming per se.

And once she's got these core people endorsing her version of what happened, naturally her lawyers (especially them!) and prosecutors and the judge are going to go along with it.

And I personally have a hard time believing the prosecutors didn't prosecute Allen if they really had the necessary evidence. The rationale for not doing so -- because it would hurt Dylan further -- doesn't make sense. It would apply to every child molestation case. And if Allen's really a child molester, he's going to potentially go and hurt other kids; would they want to allow that? Not to mention the fact that he's a celebrity: think of the deterrent value and the positive publicity of convicting him.

than it is for you to believe that Woody Allen might possibly have molested a child?

No, I already clearly stated that it is possible that he molested her. But I don't think we have enough evidence to know.
posted by shivohum at 9:02 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


The rationale for not doing so -- because it would hurt Dylan further -- doesn't make sense. It would apply to every child molestation case.

Just FYI, this is still, now, in 2014, being used as a rationale for not prosecuting at least one child molestation case that I'm personally aware of. As in, the cops are strong-arming the victim's mother not to press charges because it would be so damaging. And this is in a case where there is hard corroborating physical evidence. So, yeah, that aspect of it makes it more convincing to me, not less.
posted by KathrynT at 9:06 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


I personally have a hard time believing the prosecutors didn't prosecute Allen if they really had the necessary evidence.

That's what they said, though. Were they lying?
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:12 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


But aren't you aware of how easily children (and, in fact, adults) can be manipulated into saying and believing and truly remembering wholly fabricated memories, simply because a) they want to please important people and/or b) they are asked questions in such a way that the memory sounds plausible? And that in fact this has happened, particularly with respect to child abuse, many times?

STOP MAKING SHIT UP.

It doesn't happen. Its a rarity. Its not relevant to this discussion. There is not an epidemic of children making stories up about how their father raped them. Quit it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:30 AM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Of the three medical professionals involved in the Yale-New Haven Hospital study, it appears that Dr. Julia Hamilton, who had a Ph.D. in social work and was one of the two professionals who interviewed Dylan Farrow, died in 2011.

Jennifer Sawyer, the other social worker (with a Masters) who interviewed Dylan Farrow, is now Jennifer Sawyer Karnoff and still works as a social worker at the Yale New Haven Hospital.

Dr. John M. Leventhal, the pediatrician who provided deposition testimony on the team evaluation of Dylan Farrow and explained why they didn't believe her (but actually never himself met or interacted with Dylan), has now had a long and illustrious career with Yale and has won many awards and honors. His career has been focused around treating and caring for victims of child abuse.

I do wonder whether the surviving members of the team would do the interviews differently now, as opposed to 20 years ago when they were conducted, and would come to different conclusions regarding the information they had. I mean, the field has likely progressed in twenty years. But the notes they made from the interviews are destroyed, so it seems there's limited information surviving to go back and reinterpret.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:40 AM on February 10


So did this thread change anyone's minds?

Yeah. I started out neutral (I never paid close enough attention to feel comfortable leaning to one side or the other) and am now "Allen's probably guilty." The kicker for me is that the Yale psychologists destroyed their notes. Have they ever given a rationale for this? Apologies if somebody mentioned one upthread and I didn't see it.

Weide dismisses it by saying, "I don't know if this is common practice or highly unusual." If he was interested in informing himself, he would have found that Diane Schetky, co-author of a textbook on child sexual abuse, considered it highly unusual: '"I don't know why they would," Schetky says. "They shouldn't have anything to hide, unless there's disagreement."'

My feeling is that impartial professionals wouldn't destroy their raw notes, but child sexual abuse is not my field. So I poked around a bit to see if there are many child sexual abuse professionals who think it is or was normal or credible, now or in the 1990s, to destroy your notes. Couldn't find anything.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:49 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I started out neutral (I never paid close enough attention to feel comfortable leaning to one side or the other) and am now "Allen's probably guilty."

That's me too. With the added "and I am only mentioning this because you asked" caveat. I'm not going to agitate much on one side or the other (here or elsewhere), but that's how I feel. The kicker for me was Allen's own letter where I believe he felt like he was defending himself and he came across (to me) as seeming really cold and dissociated from things that have had long lasting and ranging real-life implications for a lot of people. I have a hard time putting myself in anyone's position among all the people wrapped up in this, but with the understanding that I am just some schmo on the internet and not on a jury I found his narrative least credible.
posted by jessamyn at 9:59 AM on February 10 [6 favorites]


I'm not going to say "Allen's probably guilty." On the other hand, I think that letter reveals some things about Allen's character that are not great and I have definitely lost some respect for him. There are several people who have been hurt in this affair and I feel like Allen's letter is all about Woody Allen, everyone else be damned.
posted by grouse at 10:49 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


shivohum: “But aren't you aware of how easily children (and, in fact, adults) can be manipulated into saying and believing and truly remembering wholly fabricated memories, simply because a) they want to please important people and/or b) they are asked questions in such a way that the memory sounds plausible? And that in fact this has happened, particularly with respect to child abuse, many times?”

MisantropicPainforest: “STOP MAKING SHIT UP. It doesn't happen. Its a rarity. Its not relevant to this discussion. There is not an epidemic of children making stories up about how their father raped them. Quit it.”

I appreciate that shivohum is saying this in sincerity. And it is sort of a "thing," in a sense – although (I would wager) not in the way shivohum implies it is.

The classical case – one might say the only set of easily-proven cases – is the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic during the late 80s and early 90s. It became clear that all of the "Satanic Ritual Abuse" cases were in fact cases where a "victim" had been rendered impressionable by intensive therapy and convinced to believe that they remembered being sexually abused by a satanic cult.

It should be noted, however, that these cases differ vastly from the case before us. They were situations where therapists intent upon uncovering repressed memories used the intensive technique of hypnosis to inadvertently impress upon their patients' psyche the idea of lurid ritual abuse.

Some cases of memory "implantation" outside such scenarios are familiar – from glancing around the internet a little, it seems like the classic case is the "Lost In The Supermarket technique," wherein people are convinced that they have a childhood memory of being lost in a supermarket by being fed a few details particular to their childhood and asked to describe the scene. But these cases which happen outside the context of hypnosis in a therapist's office are all about vaguely mundane and unremarkable events. I mean: I probably got lost in the mall at some point in my childhood. I don't remember it, because people don't remember everything that happens to them. I know my mother says I got lost in the supermarket once, but I don't remember it at all myself.

Lurid and highly specific details of abuse are very different from mundane details of vague events that could easily have been forgotten by a person with a normal memory. And, as hard as I look, I cannot find a single case where such highly specific details have been "implanted" except in a therapist's office, in intensive "memory recovery" sessions aimed directly at "repressed memories," and almost always in the context of hypnosis.

Mia Farrow is not a therapist, and she is not a hypnotist (as far as I know). Again, I know of no case in which a non-therapist parent full-on convinced their child that they were abused by the other parent, inculcated in them a very specific "implanted" memory, and made that "memory" stick.
posted by koeselitz at 10:57 AM on February 10 [12 favorites]


So did this thread change anyone's minds?

I've been a fan of Woody Allen's movies for a really long time and back in the early 90s I was definitely in his camp in this whole controversy. It probably helped that I didn't really like his Mia Farrow movies as much as his Diane Keaton movies. I've also really enjoyed his prose and think he's one of the greatest gag writers of the past century. So it dismays me to say that this thread has certainly changed my mind about him.

I'm not at all surprised to learn that he is insensitive and self-absorbed (as one may discover from his Times piece). He's always been that way, but Dylan's experiences and his response to the current controversy just illustrates how desctructive those personality traits can be, and have been to everyone in his life. Even if he's not guilty of molestation (I'm not laying odds), he's still a selfish prick.

I really don't know what this will do to my appreciation of his body of work. Most of the time I think art should stand on its own merits, regardless of its creator's personal life. On the other hand, right now I don't see myself opening up any of his books or loading any of his movies on my DVD player anytime soon.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:29 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


They were situations where therapists intent upon uncovering repressed memories used the intensive technique of hypnosis to inadvertently impress upon their patients' psyche the idea of lurid ritual abuse.

People have a false notion of hypnosis as being this magical, mystical technique that can only be used in strange, therapeutic settings. In fact, hypnosis is really just an extension of suggestion, and both can be used very informally in all kinds of casual settings. And suggestion is more powerful when wielded by someone with whom there is a close, emotionally powerful relationship -- of which the parent-child relationship is the archetype.

But these cases which happen outside the context of hypnosis in a therapist's office are all about vaguely mundane and unremarkable events.

Well that's because it would be unethical for experimenters to implant traumatic memories in children. No IRB would approve it. But they have gone so far as implanting the memory of someone touching a child's "tummy."

Taking the fact that false memories can reliably be implanted, and the fact that they have, even with respect to lurid sexual situations, been implanted... well, there is not much more we could ask for in the way of evidence that this could be a problem.

Again, I know of no case in which a non-therapist parent full-on convinced their child that they were abused by the other parent, inculcated in them a very specific "implanted" memory, and made that "memory" stick.

Well for one thing it would be hard to prove this happened. You would have to scour law enforcement records for this and do a ton of research just to make a case that it did. And then obviously there would be, just as here, a murk of denial and clashing viewpoints.

Here's a possibility. Suppose Mia didn't actually "deliberately implant" a false memory but merely suspected the possibility of abuse -- perhaps wanted to see it there because that would prove Woody a monster beyond a doubt. And then, that in mind, she asked Dylan about it, repeatedly and with a certain insistence, because, of course, kids can be recalcitrant about denying these things. Initially, Dylan said her father had just touched her shoulder. But Mia knew this was just shyness, just code for something else. So she kept asking. And slowly, Dylan started to imagine it, started to think, "Huh, yes, maybe it did happen after all."

I could see how Mia could do such a thing and think herself completely in the right.
posted by shivohum at 12:34 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Do you dare present any evidence for your viewpoint that the implantation of false memories in children is a thing that a) is common enough to be a 'thing' that happens and b) is relevant to the case that we are discussing?

All you are doing is inventing hypotheticals, when the reality of the situation is that we have a grown adult woman who has maintained for decades now that her father molested her.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:45 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't dare because it's pointless to engage in a snark hunt, but here's a couple [pdf] of links which you may or may not find relevant to a).

As to b), wut? Woody Allen claims that is what happened so how is discussing his assertion irrelevant?
posted by 0 at 1:05 PM on February 10


People have a false notion of hypnosis as being this magical, mystical technique that can only be used in strange, therapeutic settings. In fact, hypnosis is really just an extension of suggestion, and both can be used very informally in all kinds of casual settings. And suggestion is more powerful when wielded by someone with whom there is a close, emotionally powerful relationship -- of which the parent-child relationship is the archetype.

Which fails to explain everyone else.

Taking the fact that false memories can reliably be implanted, and the fact that they have, even with respect to lurid sexual situations, been implanted... well, there is not much more we could ask for in the way of evidence that this could be a problem.

This is basically begging the question on the entirety of sexual assault cases.

Well for one thing it would be hard to prove this happened. You would have to scour law enforcement records for this and do a ton of research just to make a case that it did. And then obviously there would be, just as here, a murk of denial and clashing viewpoints.

And yet, you find it the most compelling explanation, because...

Initially, Dylan said her father had just touched her shoulder. But Mia knew this was just shyness, just code for something else. So she kept asking. And slowly, Dylan started to imagine it, started to think, "Huh, yes, maybe it did happen after all."

No, Dylan initially told her mother that he molested her. She told the pediatrician that she was touched on the shoulder one time out of embarrassment--something multiple survivors and experts here and in linked articles have told you happens even in cases with solid physical evidence--but her story was both consistent and detailed every other time. The fact of the matter is that Dylan Farrow's story has been more consistent both then and now than Woody Allen's has ever been, and she certainly didn't resort to "bitches be crazy, they set you up" characterizations of others involved.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:10 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Those links are completely irrelevant because we are not discussing false accusations in the context of a divorce. Dylan Farrow is not a child. She is an adult, and the accusations she is making are made by an adult.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:10 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


But to be fair to shivohum, the Yale New Haven Hospital study did come to the conclusion that Dylan Farrow basically either created the memory herself out of what they seemed to think was a vivid imagination (which they seemed to back down from at least somewhat on cross-examination given the logical explanation of the dead heads in the attic and the magic hour of sunset) or was influenced to believe the abuse had happened by Mia Farrow, or some combination of the two. Three professionals (a pediatrician and two social workers) did come to that conclusion, and although the judge didn't find it convincing and a few people who work with sexually abused children (I've linked to a lawyer who works with sexually abused kids and a child abuse investigator in the comments to this post) have stepped forward to say they find Dylan Farrow's story consistent with real memories of sexual abuse, nobody that I've seen (particularly psychologists or therapists etc.) has seemed to step forward to say that the report's conclusions were demonstrably wrong, they used the wrong methodology, etc.

A few people have said, look, Dylan Farrow wasn't inconsistent as they claimed because it's totally normal for kids to go from saying there was vaginal abuse to no vaginal abuse to yes there was vaginal abuse. And people have complained that they destroyed their notes, and didn't all testify and only testified by deposition, and overreached in their conclusion that there was no abuse at all, and had way too many interviews, etc. (And frankly the "too many interviews" issue is complicated by the fact that Mia Farrow interviewed Dylan repeatedly on (and perhaps off) camera repeatedly herself about the incidents, which further muddies the waters.)

So people are pointing out problems with the report, but as far as I've seen no medical professional has actually stepped forward and said that given modern practices with children who may have been subject to sexual abuse, the conclusions of the report were probably wrong, and we wouldn't have reached the same result today.

So, IMHO shivohum has a basis for believing that Dylan's memory might not be her real memory, because apparently that's what three (okay, two) professionals who interviewed her nine times a few months after the incident believed. Other people (including the judge in the custody case) can choose not to credit the report because of all the problems with it, but that doesn't mean there's no reason to believe it.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:13 PM on February 10


If only we could ask Dylan what she remembers now.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:16 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


And for what it's worth, I think it's totally OKAY for shivohum to take that position, because we're all different people with different experiences and sometimes when we input all the same data we come to different conclusions with it. We don't all really have to agree with one another, right? As long as we're being respectful and considered with the opinions we do have, I think disagreement on this contentious issue is kind of a given.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:17 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


False memories of child abuse are a "thing" by any measure, but they're also many times less common than, well, real memories of abuse. Regarding false memories in general, here's a relevant SciAm article from psychology professor Dr. Elizabeth Loftus. Here's a more recent interview with her.

Is it possible that Dylan Farrow's memories of abuse are substantially false? Sure, in the loose sense that many things in this great big world are possible.

More importantly, however, what's likely? Child abuse is many times more common than false memories of child abuse.

Specific to this case, I don't see any convincing evidence to indicate that Dylan Farrow's recollections are anything other than substantially true.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:21 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


She is an adult, and the accusations she is making are made by an adult.

But if they were false memories, they were formed as a child. They don't magically lose all their unreality simply because an adult is remembering them; in fact, quite the opposite. Memories distort more, not less, over time.
--
So, IMHO shivohum has a basis for believing that Dylan's memory might not be her real memory, because apparently that's what three (okay, two) professionals who interviewed her nine times a few months after the incident believed. Other people (including the judge in the custody case) can choose not to credit the report because of all the problems with it, but that doesn't mean there's no reason to believe it.

Exactly. Thank you for pointing this out. As I've said before, I certainly wouldn't exonerate Allen on the basis of this report, but it and the other circumstances of this case cast reasonable doubt in my mind.

As long as we're being respectful and considered with the opinions we do have, I think disagreement on this contentious issue is kind of a given.

Indeed.
posted by shivohum at 1:27 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


So people are pointing out problems with the report, but as far as I've seen no medical professional has actually stepped forward and said that given modern practices with children who may have been subject to sexual abuse, the conclusions of the report were probably wrong, and we wouldn't have reached the same result today.

How about a professional child abuse investigator with 20 years of experience, who also trains child welfare and law enforcement officials in proper interviewing techniques?
posted by palomar at 1:30 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Right, I am actually the person who originally linked that article in this thread!!! But I don't think that article definitively proves the report was wrong, it just points out problems with it.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:35 PM on February 10


So what benefit would be derived from having the input of a medical professional, then?
posted by palomar at 1:37 PM on February 10


But I don't think that article definitively proves the report was wrong, it just points out problems with it.

But by what other method, in the absence of physical evidence, are we ever to deduce the credibility of one narrative vs. another?
posted by scody at 1:48 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I think it would be much more difficult to argue that the Leventhal et. al report was valid if a modern psychologist/psychiatrist who works with sexually abused kids got their hands on the full report, studied it, and said this is total hogwash, and here's why. (I have no idea what those reasons would be, but say, for example, they said that memories couldn't be formed in the way Leventhal et al surmised they could be? That would be very convincing to me.)

But as it is we just have people who are saying, hey, there are problems with this report, and they suggest to me that it could be wrong. And they may come to the individual conclusion that the report is wrong, but they don't provide enough evidence to say that you can't possibly agree with it or you're a poo poo head. IMHO, anyway.

Just to be clear, I agree with the child abuse detective, and I think Woody Allen sexually abused Dylan Farrow. But I also just think you're allowed to look at all this contradictory evidence and come out the other way and not be a terrible person.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:53 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


And I personally have a hard time believing the prosecutors didn't prosecute Allen if they really had the necessary evidence. The rationale for not doing so -- because it would hurt Dylan further -- doesn't make sense. It would apply to every child molestation case.

Then I guess I and my mother and the lawyer in my case are just big fat liars, too.

This is still incredibly common today, and gets more and more common the further back in time you go.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:35 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Right, I am actually the person who originally linked that article in this thread!!! But I don't think that article definitively proves the report was wrong, it just points out problems with it.

I think the thing is, onlyconnect (and btw I very much appreciate all the links you've thrown into this thread!), I think the thing is that that report was the single external piece of evidence exculpating Woody Allen. And it was extremely important, I think, in influencing public opinion--as all the news reports said Woody Allen had been "exonerated" by a team of abuse experts who concluded definitively Dylan Farrow had never been molested.

So while it's true that problems with the report don't prove its conclusion was wrong, it's also true that when the credibility of the report is called into question, what we are left with is a lot of evidence pointing in one direction. A lot of evidence, it's also noteworthy, that was persuasive to the prosecutor and the judge even back then.
posted by torticat at 4:05 PM on February 10


So, IMHO shivohum has a basis for believing that Dylan's memory might not be her real memory, because apparently that's what three (okay, two) professionals who interviewed her nine times a few months after the incident believed.

The only thing that is "apparent" is the report that Dr. Leventhal wrote. We do not know what the social workers believed; the notes are gone. Never mind the fact that neither was a professional psychiatrist or psychologist, which should make whatever they might "believe" questionable. Dylan's "memory is not her real memory" is not a finding of the report. It's not even a valid scientific assessment! What the report found was that "there were important inconsistencies in Dylan's statements; she appeared to struggle with how to tell about the touching; she told the story in a manner which was overly controlling; her descriptions of the details were unusual and inconsistent." None of that says that her "memory was not her real memory".

I think it would be much more difficult to argue that the Leventhal et. al report was valid if a modern psychologist/psychiatrist who works with sexually abused kids got their hands on the full report, studied it, and said this is total hogwash, and here's why.

How on earth would they know, when the original notes were destroyed? We already know that the way the interviews were conducted were highly problematic, and that the only doctor on the team (and the man who wrote the report) never met with Dylan. I don't see how anyone can give that report any credibility one way or the other, with the original notes destroyed. All we have is a summary written by someone who never met Dylan, and who was forced to change some of his conclusions while testifying. It's patently ridiculous that anyone is holding this "report" up as more reliable than Dylan Farrow's own assertions.

At any rate, the judge presiding over the custody trial had this to say:

"Mrs. Farrow's statements to Dr. Coates that she hoped that Dylan's statements were a fantasy is inconsistent with the notion of brainwashing. In this regard, I also credit the testimony of Mrs. Groetke who was charged with supervising Mr. Allen's August 4th visit with Dylan. She testified that she did not tell Mrs. Farrow, until after Dylan's statement of August 5th, that Dylan and Mr. Farrow were unaccounted for for fifteen or twenty minutes on August 4th. It is highly unlikely that Mrs. Farrow would have encouraged Dylan to accuse her father of sexually molesting her at a time during a period when Mrs. Farrow believed they were in the presence of a babysitter.

****

Dr. Steven Herman, a clinical psychiatrist with extensive experience with child abuse cases, was called as a witness by Mrs. Farrow to comment on the Yale-Newhaven report. I share his reservations about the report. Dr Herman faulted the Yale-Newhaven Team 1) for making visitation recommendations without seeing the parent interact with the child 2) for failing to support adequately their conclusion that Dylan has a thought disorder 3) for drawing any conclusion about Satchel, who they never saw 4) for finding that there was no abuse when the supporting data was inconclusive 5) for recommending that Mrs. Farrow enter into therapy. In addition, I do not think it was appropriate for Yale-Newhaven, without notice to the parties or their counsel, to exceed its mandate and make observations and recommendations which might have an impact on litigation in another jurisdiction.

****
I agree with Dr. Herman and Dr. Brodzinsky that we may never know what occurred on August 4th, 1992. The credible testimony of Mrs Farrow, Dr. Coates, Dr. Leventhal, and Mr. Allen does, however, prove that Mr. Allen's behavior toward Dylan was grossly inappropriate and that measures must be taken to protect her."

So that's at least two contemporary professionals who thought the report was suspect. The entire finding of the custody hearing is... pretty negative regarding Woody Allen's capability to relate to his children and respect their boundaries, calling him "self-absorbed, untrustworthy and insensitive." I recommend that anyone who has not read the custody ruling yet do so.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:41 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Dr. Steven Herman, a clinical psychiatrist with extensive experience with child abuse cases, was called as a witness by Mrs. Farrow to comment on the Yale-Newhaven report.

He was an expert witness called -- and paid for -- by Mia. How often do expert witnesses paid for by one side give highly unfavorable testimony to that side? Let me tell you, they wouldn't be expert witnesses for long.

The Yale-New Haven team was a referral from the state police and was not paid a cent by Woody.

Who has more credibility?
posted by shivohum at 5:30 PM on February 10


Oh and also for what it's worth (not all that much), Woody called his own expert, forensic psychologist Dr. Anne Meltzer, who found the Yale report "thorough" and "sensitive" and that the team "reached conclusions that were supported well by the data they collected."
posted by shivohum at 5:42 PM on February 10


And what about the impartial judge? What did he think?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:44 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


And again, the issue isn't the opinions of clinicians about what happened to Dylan when Dylan was a child, the issue at hand is that Dylan, as an adult, has maintained, as she has AFAIK for her entire life, that her father molested her. If we want to know what happened to her, we can ask her, she has a story to tell and we better listen.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:00 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


The Yale-New Haven team was a referral from the state police and was not paid a cent by Woody.

Yes, but they based their conclusions on discussions with psychologists who were.

The '97 Connecticut Magazine article by Andy Thibault quoted psychiatry prof (and child abuse expert) Diane Schetky, who was critical of the YNH report... you can read her comments on this page (and following).

I think Dr Schetky could be considered independent--or at least, if she had any connections to the case, Thibault didn't disclose them.
posted by torticat at 7:49 PM on February 10


OK this is what I get for the list of actors and actresses, cut and pasted from wikipedia, starting with 1994 so presumably they had heard enough different points of view to make a somewhat informed decision to participate:

bukvich, a couple of days ago you posted a long list of actors that have worked with Woody Allen, but its relevance still isn't clear to me. If you're still reading this would you mind expanding on that a bit?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:56 PM on February 10


It seems to me like about eighty to ninety percent of the people in this thread (me included) believe Woody Allen molested Dylan Farrow, and the remaining small percentage is undecided or thinks that while it's possible Allen did it that it's more probable he didn't, or at least without more information they're not willing to judge him a pedophile with its attendant stigma. I don't think it's necessary to "win" the thread and crush everyone else's opinion. Don't we learn more about each other in figuring out how we differ? I like it when MetaFilter is less of an echo chamber and more of a gathering place for different but balanced and considered viewpoints.

oneirodynia, if you are suggesting I haven't read the lower court opinion, believe me, I have now read it multiple times. One thing the judge specifically declined to find in his opinion was that Woody Allen molested Dylan Farrow on August 4. He also said that given the evidence it was unlikely Allen could be prosecuted for abuse, and that he himself found the evidence of sexual abuse inconclusive. He may have found Allen's behavior toward Dylan inappropriate, he may have thought him a terrible father, but he did not say that Dylan's account was right and Allen's account was wrong.

I completely agree that it seems like there are many, many problems with the Yale New Haven Hospital report. I wish that some enterprising journalists would go out there and interview Dr. Leventhal and Jennifer Sawyer Karnoff, both still affiliated (I think) with Yale New Haven Hospital. Ms. Sawyer Karnoff is, I think, the only surviving member of the team who interviewed Dylan Farrow so many times. Perhaps it could be made clearer whether the whole team agreed, or there was dissent, and why the notes were destroyed.

But a pediatrician and two social workers -- all trained in child sexual abuse -- filed that report with the court. And Leventhal and the two social workers clearly had a very strong reaction against Mia Farrow and a strong belief that Dylan Farrow had been coaxed or stressed into saying that abuse had happened when it hadn't. They were not supposed to reach a conclusion as to whether Allen had actually molested Dylan Farrow, but nevertheless they decided to do so. Why would they do that? It would seem that either what they saw convinced them absolutely that they were right, and/or they were somewhat incompetent, and/or they were corrupt. But looking at the 2007 resume of John Leventhal, it's pretty clear that he is not incompetent. He has had an extremely long and celebrated career as an advocate for children suffering from abuse, has written many articles, received many awards and fellowships, and has moved up in the ranks in the manner of a very successful and accomplished medical professional. That doesn't mean he hasn't ever been wrong, but for me the report is still a stumbling block to being sure about what happened.

MisantropicPainforest, I think you missed or don't credit shivohum's point that if Dylan incorrectly believed she had been abused at 7, she would likely still believe that now. If she was incorrect then, she would still be incorrect now. I think maybe you do not believe it is possible for her to have a false memory of the incident. For what it's worth, I think it is unlikely, but possible. Still, I choose to believe Dylan Farrow.

I hope I do not make people upset in arguing the other side of this; that isn't my intent, and again I agree with the majority in this thread that to me it seems like Allen molested Dylan Farrow. But I don't think someone who is uncomfortable deciding Allen is a pedophile on this evidence is necessarily being willfully obtuse -- I just don't think it's that clearcut. And I really don't think we should chase those people away with angry comments -- what kind of conversation would we be left with then?

For what it's worth, I've just tonight found an online treasure trove of articles about the trial here, haven't even gone through everything yet, but there is much in here that hasn't been linked to this thread yet.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:43 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


You're not sure what happened, the public record is a stumbling block, but you go on record as stating that you choose to believe a particular thing? Why not just say you're not sure what happened? Why's that so hard?
posted by raysmj at 9:04 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Almost everybody has an opinion, raysmj. Of course I don't know for sure what happened. It's my opinion, nothing more.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:28 PM on February 10


At the risk of sounding too harsh, if I'm not sure about a particular case or disputed event outcome of something of this serious a nature, I say I'm not sure. It's called being rational.
posted by raysmj at 9:33 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


[raysmj, if you don't want to read other people's opinions, feel free to exit the thread rather than being nasty to them.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:38 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


"years from now, people will be able to look back at my films and the only real value of them is going to be the background scenery."

(Woody Allen)
posted by philip-random at 9:48 PM on February 10


You may email me with issues, rather than trying to silence me, thanks. I should have probably posed that as a Socratic method style question, maybe, but I wasn't trying to be mean, as I thought my wording indicated. There's just no easy way to say it. And it cuts to the problems I've had with commentary on this case. An opinion should be based on facts, especially in cases involving specific individuals and major criminal charges. Or does this being a celebrity case change the way people relate to it?
posted by raysmj at 9:49 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Or, more specifically, an opinion in a criminal case should be based on reason and facts, not emotion or a feeling.
posted by raysmj at 9:58 PM on February 10


Criminal charges are off the table, and in any case, we are people talking on the internet.

If the seriousness of the charges means we must always give the accused the benefit of the doubt, and never say anything about what we think probably happened, in light of the available evidence, we're just shifting the burden on to the victims every time. That's hardly fair and rational.
posted by misfish at 10:07 PM on February 10


We are not judges in a criminal case. We are regular people who may feel that we are faced with feeling complicit in child abuse every year when a new Woody Allen movie comes out. Choosing not t