Woody Allen, years ago, fell in love with his wife’s daughter, with the girl/woman his own adoptive children, and his (putatively) biological child knew as their sister.
The relationship between Allen and his wife’s daughter, now his wife, has proved durable, and by all accounts genuine.
I’ve been writing recently about the folly of judgment, about my own preference to avoid judging, even if I manage to do so imperfectly. At my best, I notice my tendency to judge, my impulse to judge, as containing information about me, rather than about those whom I would judge. (Stop here if you read me for the sexy only…)
The other night, I was at a gathering at which, rather than discussing the tragedy of Philip Seymour Hoffman, we were discussing the tragedy of Dylan Farrow. The room split pretty neatly into two groups: those who believe Dylan’s claims of abuse by her father, and defenders of Woody, who typically vilify Mia Farrow (and/but who go to some length to avoid saying anything too mean about Dylan, whom they imagine a deceived, manipulated victim in all this).
On both sides, these being sophisticated people, doubt and uncertainty remain present. But man, people have strong feelings on this subject.
I’ll tell you what I feel:
I don’t like watching Allen’s movies, and I haven’t since he got together with Soon-Yi Previn. I don’t like being brought face-to-face with the narcissism that is his stock in trade, and I often have felt that he almost demanded my complicity in his construction of a universe in which he is morally blameless, in particular (but not just) for his appreciation of the beauty of younger women. I’ve felt that he constantly is reminding me, implicitly, that he is married to a woman he met when she was eight years old, by dating her mother.
It’s not so much that I judge him. Rather, it’s that I simply would prefer not to have to think about him. He makes me uncomfortable. His movies make me uncomfortable. And I often find my discomfort sliding into anger. Particularly when I think that I’m paying for this experience. That in part, I’m paying him for this experience.
I don’t know where truth lies. I’m not even a big fan of the concept of objective truth in circumstances like this: it surely is true for Dylan Farrow that her memories and associations are what she says they are. And, incidentally, the fact of her cutting behavior certainly suggests she likely suffered some significant childhood trauma.
Just as it surely is true that Allen does not believe himself to have behaved inappropriately with Dylan. And, according to him, the findings of various experts seem at a minimum to suggest there is good reason to imagine his memory may be accurate.
And, just as it surely is true that both Mia Farrow and Woody Allen have used their children as pawns in their emotionally scarred, and scarring, battles with one another.
Ugh – what a mess.