Soon-Yi Previn; Woody Allen

In an essay entitled “Don't Express Doubt About Woody Allen's Guilt, or These Columnists Will Condemn You,” Eric Sasson says of those who have defended Allen in the wake of allegations that he molested his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, in the 1990s resurfacing: “There is nothing terribly surprising about a journalist expressing this kind of uncertainty. It is, after all, our jobs to question, to investigate, to form opinions about what we find while still retaining a healthy degree of curiosity, and even doubt, regarding the subjects we write about.”

No, but the same can be said of opinion writers giving their opinions. From the title alone of Sasson’s piece, there’s an employment of victimization here to help deflect those people criticized from being held culpable for their words and actions. Make no mistake, though. If there is any victim in this situation, it’s not anyone writing an essay about it.

To Sasson’s point about the role of a journalist, I’d like to think that media professionals and outlets would know by now how difficult the culture makes it for alleged victims of abuse to speak out and act accordingly. As in, while you’re more than welcome to maintain some nominal level of doubt, there ought to be something inside of you that says, “I shouldn’t put a woman’s firsthand account of her alleged abuse on the same playing field as a wordy defense from a man who has a financial interest in making sure Woody Allen’s reputation isn’t any more soiled than it already is.”

The Daily Beast was well within its right to publish Robert B. Weide’s piece “The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast,” though as problematic as the essay was, equally troubling was how many journalists rushed to lend credence to it.  Sure, Weide “got the facts straight” in that he made sure to pinpoint that Allen was never technically married to Mia Farrow, but he nonetheless was her longtime partner and started a relationship with her when she was still a teenager. More, Weide swears he doesn’t hate Mia – he even follows her on Twitter! – but goes out of his way to highlight her sexual indiscretions as a means to delegitimize the potential rape of her child.

Weide is a jerk with an agenda and dressing up bad sentiments with nice phrasing doesn’t alter that. These “journalists” are stressing their “impartiality” under the guise of “just doing the job,” but to the rest of us, you’re fishing for reasons to incite doubt in the words of the alleged victim in order to continue luxuriating in your own biases without challenge.

 

The same goes for Barbara Walters after she noted on The View: "I have rarely seen a father as sensitive, as loving and as caring as Woody is and Soon-Yi to these two girls I don't know about Dylan. I can only tell you what I have seen now." 

What Walters has seen has no bearing on what’s being alleged. I mean, what did you expect, Barbara? For Woody Allen to start molesting children right in front of you? Would that have made it better? Apparently not, as she discounted Woody’s statutory rapey relationship with Soon-Yi because it was “mutual.”

She goes on to echo a talking point from many of Allen’s apologists: That Dylan Farrow is only bringing up the allegations now to soil Woody Allen’s Oscar campaign. Even if it that were the case, so what? There is never a wrong time to out a pedophile. This complaint is akin to the “Why you bringing up old sh*t?” lodged at the Village Voice over its revisiting of R. Kelly’s past allegations of molestation.

But in the interest of bringing up old sh*t, in a recent post, Alyssa Rosenberg references a 1976 People magazine profile of Woody Allen where it ends with this: “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.' Nothing I could come up with would surprise anyone. I admit to it all.”

So we know Woody Allen has married his ex-partner’s adopted daughter, whom he began a relationship with when she was a teenager. We since been informed that another one of said ex-partner’s daughter has now accused him of abuse. On top of that, now we’re being reminded that Allen has essentially thrown his tap dancing act on the line of pedophilia in our faces since the 1970s.

But, it is Woody Allen who deserves the benefit of the doubt, not his victim. According to the distributor of his most recent film puts it, “Mr. Allen has never been charged in relationship to any of this, and therefore deserves our presumption of innocence.” Allen, like other alleged perpetrators often go without being charge because of what is happening to Dylan Farrow day after day in the news cycle by her alleged rapist’s famous friends.

Dylan herself noted, “Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.”

Indeed, there is professing “uncertainty” and then there is facilitating a climate of doubt – to the point where you almost look like a cheerleader for rape culture. Dylan Farrow deserves better. All victims who dare to speak out do.

Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where tough love is served with just a touch of shade. Tweet him at @youngsinick.