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Feb 02 2014

Inappropriate fatherly behavior

For those who are feeling guilty and conflicted because they know that memory is unreliable but they don’t want to blame victims, it may help to read the Vanity Fair article from November 1992 – yes, so long ago that a baby born the day it was published would now be an adult of 21.

There was an unwritten rule in Mia Farrow’s house that Woody Allen was never supposed to be left alone with their seven-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan. Over the last two years, sources close to Farrow say, he has been discussing alleged “inappropriate” fatherly behavior toward Dylan in sessions with Dr. Susan Coates, a child psychologist. In more than two dozen interviews conducted for this article, most of them with individuals who are on intimate terms with the Mia Farrow household, Allen was described over and over as being completely obsessed with the bright little blonde girl. He could not seem to keep his hands off her. He would monopolize her totally, to the exclusion of her brothers and sisters, and spend hours whispering to her. She was fond of her daddy, but if she tried to go off and play, he would follow her from room to room, or he would sit and stare at her.

Ok? That’s creepy. That’s beyond creepy. It’s bad for the child and bad for the other children. The interlude in the attic-like closet room isn’t even necessary for that to be the case. And it doesn’t depend on one person’s memory or experience – it’s behavior reported by people who saw it.

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. For a long time, Mia backed down. Her love for Woody had always been mixed with fear. He could reduce her to a pulp when he gave vent to his temper, but she was also in awe of him, because he always presented himself as “a morally superior person.”

And that is why it’s galling that he got a lifetime achievement award, and that he still a cultural hero to so many people. He has for years – ever since he dropped the nebbish persona – presented himself as a morally superior person. He isn’t one.

You know what he reminds me of? Salinger. Salinger was the same damn thing – a cultural hero who presented himself as a morally superior person, while in fact treating real people – women and very young girls, to be exact – like shit. The PBS series American Masters did an episode on him a couple of weeks ago. It was riveting, and creepy, both.

Jessica Winter sums it up nicely in Slate:

By speaking out now, Ronan Farrow and the former Dylan Farrow have put Allen’s alleged actions under a harsh spotlight for the first time in a generation. But while their statements may have shaken the live-and-let-live consensus that formed around Allen not long after the scandal broke, they’ve hardly shattered it. That consensus is especially robust in Hollywood, where Allen is likely Western society’s most prominent beneficiary of compartmentalization. A-list actors never stopped clamoring to work with him, not even in the 1990s, and never will. At times during the Golden Globes tribute to Allen, it seemed hard to spot anyone toward the front of the room who hadn’t been in one of his movies.

Well, you know, who is more important – some woman nobody’s ever heard of or the great Woody Allen? Who matters more for the career, Mia Farrow’s daughter or the great Woody Allen? Who you gonna believe, some chick or the great Woody Allen?

46 comments

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  1. 1
    Beth

    I read her letter. It’s totally heart-rending.

    But I am still of two minds of whether or not it ought to make a difference in our judgment of his art.

    It does to me. I can’t deny it. I haven’t been able to watch his movies the same way since the scandal when he divorced his wife and married his daughter. I don’t enjoy them as much as I once did when I do. My knowledge of his personal failings as a human being interfere with that. This certainly doesn’t improve that feeling.

    At that same time, I can’t deny his ability to make great movies. There is some merit to the idea that the value of someone’s work *should not* be inherently connected to his worth as a human being, but is best judged blind to who the creator is.

    In the end, I don’t really know how to respond.

  2. 2
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    Well. That’s…astoundingly damning. I was a kid myself when all of that happened, so I only became aware of any accusations against him many years later. And certainly had no reason to go looking up an ancient article in Vanity Fair to learn more.

    While I’ve never been a fan of his, many of my favorite actors are outspoken in their idolization of Woody Allen. Most of them are around my age. Perhaps they were as ignorant as I was? That’s not an excuse now, though.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    It’s easier for me, Beth, because I haven’t seen any movies of his that I would consider great. I haven’t seen any at all in years. I have a suspicion that at least some of them are more pretentious than great, but I would have to see more to argue for it. Purple Rose of Cairo might qualify…

  4. 4
    chrysstevenson

    Yes. That snippet of information sounds damning. But that is not all that Coates has said on the matter. This from a 1993 article.

    “The psychologist, Dr. Susan Coates, also testified that while she considered Mr. Allen’s relationship with his own adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, to be “inappropriately intense,” the therapist never observed him acting in a sexual way toward her. And she reported that an evaluation of Dylan conducted in 1990 found the girl easily “would be taken over by fantasy” when asked to describe something as simple as an apple tree.

    The testimony of Dr. Coates — who regularly treated the couple’s biological son, Satchel, from 1990 to 1992, and often conversed or met with both parents — appeared to provide an alternative explanation for Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan other than the one advanced by Ms. Farrow …

    Dr. Coates characterized Ms. Farrow’s behavior as increasingly erratic as the months progressed. Dr. Coates testified that on Aug. 1 of last year Ms. Farrow called her after having learned that the affair with Ms. Previn was continuing. Ms. Farrow described Mr. Allen as “satanic and evil,” Dr. Coates said, adding that Ms. Farrow pleaded with her to “find a way to stop him.”

    Dr. Coates testified she was taken aback after Ms. Farrow mentioned at another point in the conversation that she and Mr. Allen had the week before been discussing the possibility of getting married.

    “Do you think I should marry him?’ ” said Dr. Coates, reading from the notes she took at the time and quoting Ms. Farrow.

    “I said, ‘Are you serious?’ ” Dr. Coates said. “She heard my reaction to it, and realized there was something absurd about it.”

    Four days after that conversation, the psychologist testified, Ms. Farrow phoned again, saying that Dylan had begun complaining that Mr. Allen had abused her. Dr. Coates characterized Ms. Farrow as having been extremely calm during the call, in contrast to her agitated state in other calls …

    Dr. Coates, who had continued to see Mr. Allen as part of Satchel’s therapy, broke the news to Mr. Allen of Dylan’s allegations a few days later. She described it as “one of the worst moments of my whole life.”

    “He sat on the edge of his chair and his eyes were very wide,” Dr. Coates recalled. “He said, ‘I’m completely flabbergasted. I’m completely flabbergasted.’ He said it over and over again.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/02/23/reviews/farrow-doctor.html

    I’m no particular Woody Allen fan, but I worry that this is turning into a witch hunt with people who would generally describe themselves as ‘skeptics’, who would, in any other circumstance, demand to know all the facts and scrutinise the evidence carefully, are prepared to make a judgment on this based on incomplete knowledge and hearsay.

    I think the best that can be said is that we don’t know if Allen abused Dylan/Malone. What can be said is that she believes it to be true and whether or not it is, she is clearly the victim of abuse – either by Allen or by Farrow.

    I don’t think the ‘evidence’ from Coates shows that Allen is guilty, particularly when, in 1993, she appears to have entertained the fact that Farrow had invented the abuse story as a means of revenge against Allen when all other avenues to stop his relationship with Soon Yi Previn had failed.

  5. 5
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Pretty much any time someone goes on about what a morally superior person they are, it’s a sign that they’re a major asshole of some flavor. IME, anyway. I have no mixed feelings about condemning Woody Allen for this, but I never liked his movies to start with, so I’m not in the trap of worrying if it’s wrong to still enjoy them.

  6. 6
    Al Dente

    I like a couple of Allen’s movies. I liked Bananas because of Howard Cosell “This is the ABC Wide World of Sports bringing you the assassination of the president and overthrow of the government.” Annie Hall was pretty good. I thought Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask was self-indulgent and Interiors was an embarrassing use of good actors. After Interiors I stopped watching Allen’s flicks.

  7. 7
    baryogenesis

    Some of Allen’s films are still very memorable.. Of course Annie Hall and Bananas. Casino Royale was a dreadful movie yet Allen’s mime bit is worth a watch. Manhattan was good, yet creepy, even at the time for me. There were others, but I happen to catch Deconstructing Harry one night on TV. Had never heard of it. He uses his own background of Judaism to slag religion in general.Worth it for that alone. BTW, imdb quotes his character in that movie: ” I’m a guy who can’t function well in life but can in art. ” Not excusing him, but I understand the confusion. I still like some of Polanski’s work. Sad for the kids and sucks that he (they) can’t own up.

  8. 8
    Marcus Ranum

    Sleeper, Bananas, and Love and Death were pretty good. Back when he was just being a clown trying to make a funny movie. When he started taking himself seriously, he started turning out boring self-referential meanders through his collection of emotional luggage.

    I feel about Allen the same way I feel about Polanski. Well, there were a few movies that were pretty good but the film world wouldn’t have missed a whole lot of he’d been in prison where he belongs.

  9. 9
    Stacy

    I can judge the art apart from the artist most of the time. Though I confess hearing anybody praise Woody Allen makes me feel grumpy if not nauseated. And I haven’t been able to read Roth in years.

    Judging the two things, art and artist, separately is a fine thing. It goes both ways, of course.

    I think Polanski is a great filmmaker. Who belongs in jail.

    Allen I never cared much for. Annie Hall and Purple Rose were OK. But I’m an inveterate multiple-viewer, and I’ve never been moved to see either a second time.

    I hear Love and Death is good.

  10. 10
    jaggington

    Beth @ 1

    I haven’t been able to watch his movies the same way since the scandal when he divorced his wife and married his daughter.

    Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were never married and so have never divorced. He did not marry his daughter. They split in 1992 over his relationship with Soon-Yi Farrow Previn, the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Andre Previn, which apparently started in 1991 when she was aged 19. Woody Allen and Soon-Yi married in 1997.

  11. 11
    yahweh

    Ah ha!

    I too never followed this at the time, partly because I never liked Woody Allen’s films much, but my presumption was that the child’s account was probably true. They usually are, but believing the adult and disbelieving the child has been the practice from time immemorial. The social status of the adult is irrelevant. The power asymmetry between the parent and child outweighs everything else.

    But this snippet tells it all. It describes very seductive behaviour on the part of the father towards his child. The actual details of who did what to whom and when are now irrelevant as far as I am concerned.

    It was Woody.

  12. 12
    Minnow

    And that is why it’s galling that he got a lifetime achievement award, and that he still a cultural hero to so many people.

    I agree that the award is galling because of the timing, but I think a person can still be a cultural hero even if they are guilty of great crimes. Eric Gill comes to mind and of course Carravagio and Koestler, but the whole list would be a huge one.

  13. 13
    Bernard Bumner

    Unfortunately, these allegations are not new, only the fact that Dylan has chosen to talk so frankly about her sexual abuse at the hands of Allen. For that reason, she will be probably be officially dismissed as easily as the allegations were all those years ago.

    Allen will continue to be thought of as that stereotype of the highly-strung genius; difficult, bad-tempered, authoritarian, shitty to his family and those close to him. But of course, not a paedophile.

    And most of the world will only ever consider him as a film maker, and probably will never hear much of these and other allegations.

  14. 14
    Amy Clare

    Isn’t it funny that when people say ‘memory is unreliable’, they’re only referring to the memory of victims. But surely, if ‘memory is unreliable’ then this could apply to alleged perpetrators too?

  15. 15
    medivh

    @Amy Clare, #12;
    Yeah, it’s a pretty stand-out point from my own abuse. The arsehole’s defenders keep on telling me, among other things, that maybe I’m remembering it wrong. It’s hard to misremember that kind of thing, though, I have to tell you, and if there was mis-rememberance, it’d almost certainly be to soften the degree of abuse, if only in self-defence.

  16. 16
    Sili

    the former Dylan Farrow

    ?

  17. 17
    Ophelia Benson

    She uses a different first name now. Moran maybe? Something like that.

  18. 18
    Ophelia Benson

    The thing about memory – well in the context of prosecution (and for that matter the context of allegations and reputation) the victim’s memory is always going to be under scrutiny, because that’s the issue.

    I know how political all this is, but all the same, the mantra “believe the victims no matter what” isn’t a great mantra, because it begs the question (and because memory is unreliable etc). There were a lot of false convictions for Satanic ritual abuse and similar weirdness in the US because of mistaken beliefs about memory and the like. And there was a fashion for “therapists” to convince their “patients” that the latter had been abused despite their initial denials.

  19. 19
    John Horstman

    That linked Vanity Fair report is pretty damning. It would be nice if more people were linking it instead of relying on much worse evidence and arguments. I really do wish people would stop dragging in Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn and trying to use it as an ad hominem – there’s nothing wrong with (consensual) relationships between adults, even with a large age difference, and even if one becomes interested in the other party when dating her adopted mother (it’s certainly weird, but not morally wrong). Condemn the guy for sexually abusing a young child, sure, but don’t baselessly slur inter-generational relationships while you’re at it.

    @Amy Clare #12: I actually brought that up in reference to this particular case in response to a blogger asserting that presuming innocence is impossible becasue we have competing claims, so if we resume one party innocent, the other must then be lying (and thus is not entirely innocent). I pointed out that one or both parties could simply be WRONG, not LYING, becasue memory generally sucks, and confabulation is a thing. I think people generally only say it with respect to victims/survivors becasue saying that a perpetrator’s memory could be faulty would imply ze is simply mistaken as opposed to a no-good liar covering zir dastardly assault. Saying a perpetrator is intentionally lying plays into the popular “bad person” absolutism; saying ze was mistaken might be interpreted as excusing the perpetrator.

  20. 20
    Beth

    jaggington @9

    I wasn’t aware they weren’t legally married. Certainly they qualified as common-law married couple. I did know that it was a step-daughter he married. But it still makes my stomach turn that he would marry his wife’s daughter. While he’s not the only man that ever did that, it’s still a betrayal of epic proportions. As I said, I never felt the same about his movies afterwards. My knowledge of his behavior – unrelated to his movies – affected my ability to enjoy them. I rarely watch his movies anymore for that reason and haven’t ever seen many of his later works.

    I’m still not sure what kind of difference that should make in judging his work. Knowledge about the artist clearly affects people, most without realizing it. Consider the increase in women being selected to play in orchestras when they went to tryouts conducted with the candidate hidden from view. If we want to avoid bias in our judgement, the only way to do that is to judge the artistic output without knowledge of who the artist was. But that would mean accepting and honoring the work of seriously awful human beings.

  21. 21
    Bernard Bumner

    I know how political all this is, but all the same, the mantra “believe the victims no matter what” isn’t a great mantra, because it begs the question (and because memory is unreliable etc). There were a lot of false convictions for Satanic ritual abuse and similar weirdness in the US because of mistaken beliefs about memory and the like. And there was a fashion for “therapists” to convince their “patients” that the latter had been abused despite their initial denials.

    …no matter what? No, but it is surely reasonable and the most compassionate immediate response to accept every credible allegation as truthful, simply on the balance of probabilities.

    How common is false memory syndrom? Is it as common as concocting false allegations of rape to ruin a man’s life?

    It would seem that false memory syndrome was often as much a product of the culture which treats victims badly as is the very poor odds of justice being done for genuine victims: the inabilty of the police to gather evidence sensitively; the need of those questioning witnesses to try to construct complete narratives rather than accept the frailty of historical testimony and the subjectivity of experience; the requirement to identify the guilty party via some purity test and then retrofit the evidence.

  22. 22
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    “Slurring intergenerational relationships”? For the love of God, look at that. Is there NO behavior men can’t get away with? Is there NOTHING creeps can do that would alarm you? Fuck.

  23. 23
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I really do wish people would stop dragging in Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn and trying to use it as an ad hominem

    1. I really do wish people would learn that crying “ad hominem” doesn’t work when the behavior one is pointing at isindicative of the character of a person.

    2. I really do wish I didn’t know how many otherwise sensible people can look at Woody Allen marrying his wife’s adopted daughter, whom he had a paternal relationship with, and claim it’s an entirely normal, consensual relationship.

    What is wrong with you?

  24. 24
    Ophelia Benson

    Really. Really. It’s just off the charts grotesque bad behavior. He was still involved with Mia Farrow – that’s why she saw those photographs, which I’ve seen more than one person who’s seen them call pornographic and shocking – because she had access to his apartment, because they were a couple. They were a couple when he started fucking her daughter and taking sex-photos of her. No, that’s not fine and dandy.

  25. 25
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I’m sick to my stomach that it needs to be said, Ophelia. It’s so shockingly, brazenly obvious. This is how sick we are with rape culture.

  26. 26
    Ophelia Benson

    Bernard B – I don’t think it’s a syndrome so much as a hugely common cognitive flaw – way more common than we realize. We trust our own memories and we assume everyone else’s memories are trustworthy. The research that shows how fallible memory is is pretty new, and it hasn’t spread very far yet.

    For instance: researchers have found that we alter memories every time we summon them up. Every time. There’s no such thing as an intact memory, because it just doesn’t work that way. I find that incredibly disconcerting, but there it is.

  27. 27
    Bernard Bumner

    @Josh,
    I can (again, and probably unwisely) try to explain from my perspective:

    …and claim it’s an entirely normal…

    It isn’t normal.

    …whom he had a paternal relationship with…

    It is creepy. It seems implausible that he didn’t manipulate her.

    However, in a rare public interview on the subject (notably, back in 1992), she denied that the relationship was paternal.

    …consensual relationship.

    Is there any real evidence that it isn’t, other than that it seems incredible? Again, in the interview referenced in the link above, she steadfastly denied that the relationship is anything other than consensual. But she would say that, wouldn’t she? True in either scenario.

    I find the idea of contradicting someone who seems to have so clearly stated their case to be very problematic. That is the whole root of my unwillingness to go further in my judgement of their relationship. I am afraid that I would be denying her agency.

  28. 28
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Bernard. For god’s sake. Have you READ the stuff about the pornographic pictures of Soon Yi that Mia Farrow discovered? I’m serious—are you just ignoring this purposely?

    And are you really, actually surprised that someone in Soon Yi’s position (being the adopted daughter here, wooed by a paternal figures) would work to justify this? Do you know anything about the psychology of sexual manipulation and abuse?

  29. 29
    yahweh

    In the context of a prosecution, defence will say anything. And in this type of case, it ties in very neatly with what everyone else says – your just making it up, wicked child, he would never do that, she must be mistaken, she’s just a child, she’s imagining things, ad nauseam. (Suddenly the 4th commandment becomes overwhelmingly important).

    But falsely ‘recalling’ a whole lot of sexual abuse (based on nothing perhaps) has got to be a rather peculiar and creative fault compared with more prosaically failing to recall a whole lot of actual sexual abuse. Not saying that such imaginative mistakes cannot happen, and not saying that therapists have never led their patients down the primrose path, just that we are entitled – since we are not serving as jurists in this matter, our judgements will not have direct consequences, and we have no power to question or compel evidence – to come to conclusions on the prime facie evidence.

  30. 30
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    Bernard:

    However, in a rare public interview on the subject (notably, back in 1992), she denied that the relationship was paternal.

    She was nine when her mother began a relationship with him. He was the father of three of her siblings. He was with her mother for twelve years and raised her siblings during that timeframe. How she might rationalize the situation (including declaring that adopted families aren’t “real”) does not negate the fact that there was an inherent power difference from well before she hit puberty. Whether she saw him as a father or not, he had the power over her of one.

  31. 31
    Bernard Bumner

    @ Josh,

    Yes, I have read it – and it is deeply unpleasant. I am absolutely not claiming that he didn’t do something reprehensible. But, and please do correct me if I’m wrong, those pictures were not taken when she was under the age of consent? (I have always understood that to be the case.)

    I know that legality can’t be the only standard for judging bad behaviour, but it is one amongst them, and particualry one when my instinctive reaction about an act is at odds with the perception of those taking part (if that is the case here). It could just be bad, immoral, and sleazy behaviour on his part, without crossing that threshold into sexual abuse.

    And what of the 20+ year relationship since – can I really offer a qualified opinion that it is likely to be abusive?

    Yes I understand the psychology of abuse – but I also understand that I am prone to bias, particularly where age differences in relationships are concerned, and particularly where I already dislike a character. As I said, I started off on this particular argument in response to being upset about someone slurring Soon-Yi. Perhaps it got away from me.

    Perhaps I am just equivocating for sake of not judging her – I will reflect.

  32. 32
    Bernard Bumner

    @The Mellow Monkey,

    Whether she saw him as a father or not, he had the power over her of one.

    The power difference is very apparent. The potential for abuse is very apparent. That is why I noted the date.

    Does their apparently long and content relationship belie that potential in my mind? (I ask myself.)

    I have known relationships with deeply troubled and troubling beginnings which have grown into healthy partnerships.

  33. 33
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Bernard,

    You’re looking at it the wrong way.

    The case being made is that Woody Allen started an inappropriate relationship with his adopted daughter. It’s irrelevant that all turned out well and they are happy, since the assumptions about his character are made in relation to the beginnings of the relationship.

  34. 34
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Thank you, Josh and Ophelia, for not letting that particular creepiness slide. It’s not ad hominem, it’s evidence of a goddamn pattern.

  35. 35
    Bernard Bumner

    You are almost certainly correct. 1 week in, I would have argued to arrest him. 16 years into a marriage I find myself distressingly ambivalent.

    I am just not sure what I should be thinking about her. Perhaps I need to leave her out of it, and simply judge him. Then, the judgement is much simpler. I may be overstretching my ability to form a reasonable opinion because I am trying to find a way to condemn him without concluding that she isn’t being a good victim. That simply shows that my ability to even articulate the problem is mired in poor and prejudicial thinking.

  36. 36
    Ophelia Benson

    Besides, even if the relationship is as far as outsiders know happy and ok, so what? That was true of the relationship between Mia Farrow and Woody Allen until he started fucking her adopted daughter. The current happy couple have two adopted daughters. I leave you to finish that thought.

  37. 37
    Ophelia Benson

    That wasn’t addressed to you, Bernard – I hadn’t seen your comment.

    Don’t beat yourself up. We’re all onlookers.

  38. 38
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Bernard: No one is asking you to judge Soon Yi. This is irrelevant. This about about judging Woody Allen. You’re letting your focus on Soon Yi blinker you to the indisputable fact that Allen is a creep and what he did wasn’t right, and is VERY TELLING about his likely guilt with Dylan.

    It doesn’t matter what Soon Yi says. That doesn’t change what Allen DID.

    To make this really simple: So a woman in a patriarchal marriage says that her husband forcing sex on her isn’t rape. Would you then spend time dickering over whether we should believe the other children in the family when they allege rape? Because we don’t want to “judge” the woman?

    This really isn’t hard.

  39. 39
    Bernard Bumner

    @Ophelia,
    it addresses very well what I wrote, because I would still hold the same suspicion as you. Even as I try to argue something directly at odds with doing so. There is clearly something wrong with how I am approaching it. I would really like to understand it.

    @Josh,
    I agree that your hypothetical is absolutely right. But it doesn’t quite lead me to work out where I am going wrong.

  40. 40
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Bernard,

    When we pass judgement on someone willing to enter a relationship with a young person who was under their authority, who they partly raised and therefore exists a big power imbalance between them…. it’s really irrelevant (in passing judgement) whether this young person was really victimized or somehow unaffected by the imbalance and mature for her age or whatever.

    The older person was willing to risk it. That’s where they fail.

    See also teacher-student relationships.

  41. 41
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    See also statutory rape laws, Bernard. It’s simple.

  42. 42
    artymorty

    Speaking of bad for the other children…

    Let’s not forget his relationship with Soon-Yi was bad, cruel, traumatizing to the other children — he married their sister!

    And to think he fought for sole custody of his sons and daughters even after he fucked their sister and made her their stepmother… Imagine if he had succeeded. How would he have treated them? Would he have expected them to start obeying their sister like a parental figure? I can’t fathom how horrible it would have been for them.

  43. 43
    iiii

    Men like this cannot fail, they can only be failed. So the question “how scary is Woody Allen’s extreme creepiness around young girls?” is nonsensical, and any direct discussion of that question is consequently nonsense.

    The *proper* question is, “Shall we blame Mia, Dylan, or Soon-Yi?”

  44. 44
    Bernard Bumner

    Reading back, I can see that I have made a very poor fist of conveying what I was trying to. The only reason I want to explain is because I absolutely do not want anyone to understand that I was defending Allen. That wasn’t my intention.

    At best, Allen violated a position of trust (actually, a number). That is clear, and I should have condemned it more strongly than by calling it creepy. The very obvious possibility is that he didn’t just do that but that he also groomed Soon-Yi as a child and may have abused her.

    My problem is not to condemn him.

    My problem is to think about that without also judging her – and it is my problem. I cannot judge him without considering her. At which point I find myself either falling on the side of uncritically accepting the only public statements from her, or else having to conclude that she is an unreliable witness. I think I have become too uncomfortable with any situation where I percieve myself as being anything other than supportive, certainly any situation where I think I may be claiming to exercise superior judgement. I think it is probably tied up in issues of victim blaming and resisting the bias I know I have been conditioned to.

    I think that I should leave it there – if tjat isn’t clearer, then I will be achieving nothing more that to continue to distract from a discussion about the issues which really matter.

    Thanks all.

  45. 45
    Amy Clare

    Regarding memory … from having studied it (by no means an expert obviously), including ‘false memory syndrome’, I just don’t believe it’s likely that Dylan misremembered or that abuse victims commonly misremember. My point though was that when the alleged perpetrator in this case Woody Allen denies the wrongdoing, nobody opines that ‘he’s probably just forgotten that he did it’, etc. His memory is assumed to be infallible while hers is fallible. But either memory is unreliable for everyone or no-one.

    It kind of feels like gaslighting a bit when people say Dylan must have false memories… isn’t ‘bitchez be crazy’ no better than ‘bitchez be lyin’?

  46. 46
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Thank you for that reflection and clarification, Bernard.

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