ByAbi Toll, writer at
Abi Toll

The murky uncertainty which hangs over 's reputation is perpetuated by his estranged family, who, after 21 years, still maintain that he sexually molested seven-year-old Dylan Farrow. Similarly, he has repeatedly maintained his innocence.

In case you haven't been following, the 78-year-old celebrated auteur- equally famed for his infatuation with younger women- has had many high profile relationships with his actresses. The most notable however, was his twelve-year relationship with actress which also saw him assume the role of her adopted children's guardian. However, on August 4th, 1992, four months after the revelation that Allen had been having an affair with Farrow's adopted child Soon Yi Previn, her seven-year-old adopted daughter Dylan revealed that she had been sexually abused by Allen.

At the time, the case was able to be kept relatively constrained and was never brought to trial. Skip forward 21 years and we see that where Woody Allen and Soon Yi are now married, Dylan Farrow continues to express her trauma, speaking out publicly for the first time in the form of an open letter published in the New York Times. This comes shortly after Woody Allen received the lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes, prompting brother Ronan Farrow and mother Mia to comment on the case via Twitter.

Family Photograph

Woody Allen has never spoken publicly about the accusations, however, his publicist has put forward a statement following the article, which alludes to the idea that Mia Farrow may have brainwashed Dylan following their traumatic separation:

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.

In the open letter, Dylan directly appealed to and , among Allen's other lead actors, and asks old family friend if she had forgotten her. The Hollywood Reporter approached Cate Blanchett at The Santa Barbara Film Festival last night and asked Blanchett (who was the lead in Blue Jasmine) to comment on the piece (via Dlisted):

It’s obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some resolution and peace.

What is particularly interesting here is that when we see the god-like status of our idols come into question, a divisive and vitriolic debate occurs, particularly when it is a practical impossibility to find evidence from 20 years ago which would support Dylan's claim.

With a wish to steer away from the deeply fragile and volatile topic of sexual abuse, surely it would be more constructive to examine the nature of our idols and how each one, including Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, has a carefully-cultivated persona which shields them from consequences. Perhaps the reason for why this case has become so divisive is due to the way in which we view our idols? We are blinkered by the persona constructed by the entertainment industry: How could Woody Allen, a man that makes profound films about the human condition, possibly be a child molester? But equally, how could Mia Farrow, the brilliant actress and humanitarian, even conceive of brainwashing and coercing her children into lying in order to avenge her status as a jilted lover?

The truth is, we will probably never get to the bottom of what went on in that attic, but it is deeply disturbing to consider that if Dylan Farrow is in fact a victim of sexual abuse, then the authorities' unwillingness to cooperate due to Woody Allen's status is a grave failure on their part and representative of the wider culture. Similarly, if in fact Mia Farrow has engineered an elaborate fallacy where it transpires that the rape of her seven-year-old daughter was pure fiction, then we enter into a twisted territory of a different nature.

Why is it that we become so invested in our idols: the rich and the powerful, to the point in which we are unable to maintain a measured perspective on deeply unethical acts? Why is a subject so much more divisive when a measure of fame is involved? I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Feel free to partake in the comments.

See also:

-Woody Allen; A prisoner of his own persona?



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