Not everyone thinks Woody Allen is guilty of child molestation.
The decades-old allegations that the legendary filmmaker sexually assaulted his then-partner Mia Farrow’s seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan, in 1985 reemerged recently after a Vanity Fair story in which Mia insisted that Allen is guilty. When Allen was awarded with a lifetime achievement award during January’s Golden Globes, the “Rosemary’s Baby” actress and prolific tweeter brought up the allegations once again.
Ronan Farrow, the biological son of either Allen or Frank Sinatra, also tweeted during the ceremony: “Missed the Woody Allen tribute – did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after Annie Hall?”
And over this past weekend, Dylan stood by her allegations in a lengthy and damning piece on Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times blog, which both detailed the abuse and also eviscerated Hollywood for celebrating Allen.
“What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin?” she wrote. “What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?”
After the Times piece was published, Allen’s attorney said in a statement on Sunday: “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.”
Of course, it isn’t too far of a stretch to imagine that Allen is guilty of something like this. After all, the reason that Allen and Mia split up and engaged in a bitter custody battle was because she found Allen’s nude photos of her 19-year-old adopted daughter Soon-Yi. And in his iconic film “Manhattan,” Allen’s forty-something character glamorizes an affair he has with a 17-year-old high school girl.
After a long custody battle, which is when the abuse allegation went public, Mia was granted majority custody of their three shared kids, including Ronan. Soon-Yi and Allen infamously married a few years later and have been estranged from Mia and Soon-Yi’s siblings ever since.
But no matter how disturbing his relationship with Soon-Yi might be or how icky his fictional “Manhattan” character is, there is a big difference between a 19-year-old woman and a seven-year-old girl.
Robert Weide, who produced and directed the PBS “American Masters” film “Woody Allen: A Documentary,” wrote a piece defending Allen in The Daily Beast last week, before Dylan’s Times piece was published. Weide’s piece attempts to refute the idea that Soon-Yi was Allen’s stepdaughter (she’s not) or that Allen and Farrow were married (they didn’t even live together).
Weide also defends Allen against the molestation charge by way of bringing up many unknown or misconstrued facts of the case, including the fact that doctors never found any physical evidence of abuse, that the tape of Dylan describing the abuse is dubious, and that a former nanny said that Mia pressured her to support the abuse claims.
In a sworn 1993 statement, a doctor wrote that he believed Dylan’s statements were the result of an “emotionally disturbed child” and that “she was coached or influenced by her mother.” In the end, no charges were filed against Allen because the veracity of Dylan and Mia’s claims were found to be “inconclusive.”
The columnist Michael Wolff even more cynically and matter-of-factly suggested in The Guardian that the media is spinning some of the facts of the case to favor the Farrow family.
Wolff poses the hypothetical question of why — 21 years later — these allegations are being rehashed. “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,” he answers.
Mia has been a longtime activist and humanitarian who has brought attention to international crises such as the Darfur genocide. Ronan, who has been widely portrayed as a young genius, will star in his own MSNBC talk show sometime this year.
“Mia Farrow is, at this point in her career, not a Vanity Fair worthy subject,” Wolff wrote of “the campaign” against Allen that started last fall. “Hence, in return for laudatory press coverage of her charitable work, and near sycophantic treatment of her yet-to-be-employed son, she would have had to agree to revisit her legendary scandal. That, and then some. The price of publicity for her and Ronan was, in effect, Allen.”
Wolff says that the renewed scandal effectively launched Ronan’s TV career and has put Mia back on the map.
“Here’s a certainty: When you play out your personal dramas and hurt and self-interest in the media, it’s a confection. You say what you have to say in the way you have to say it to give it media currency – and that’s always far from the truth,” Wolff writes. “Often, in fact, someone else says it for you. It’s all planned. It’s all rehearsed. This is craft. This is strategy. This is manipulation. This is spin.”