After watching the first two episodes of HBO’s mesmerizing documentary, “Allen vs. Farrow,” I said to myself, ‘How is it possible? How did Woody Allen escape indictment?’
How is he still able to make movies, to call up star after star and offer them a role in his latest and greatest?
After watching the final two installments, now we know. Corruption, cover-ups and fame are the reasons Allen is currently on set somewhere and not in prison.
“Roughly one in five girls and one in twelve boys are victims of sexual abuse,” according to one study. Some ethicists argue that young teens are more than physically capable of having sex. Child brides in some Third World countries are as young as 12 or 13. But this misses the point.
Sexual abuse is about using power, fame or position, no matter how subtle, to coerce, seduce or otherwise exercise sexual control over someone. The ultimate aphrodisiac is submission and conquest. The sex is secondary.
Far from sharing in the gratification, victims often end up feeling used, exploited, betrayed and ashamed–sometimes years later–and not just because society places such a taboo on pedophilia. It’s because the seduction often involves a violation of trust by someone they put their faith in, or believe has their best interests at heart.
Allen’s alleged abuse of Dylan Farrow has turned into an epic he-said, she-said saga, but Allen’s predilection for young girls was evident–and undeniable– in his eight-year affair with Babi Christina Engelhardt.
She detailed their, ahem, “romance,” in an eye-opening interview. It began in 1976 in New York City, when she was just 16 and legally underage. He was 41 at the time.
Engelhardt said she decided to go public with her story, in part, as a response to the #MeToo movement. Dozens of women have come forward to detail their experience with sexual assault and harassment at the hands of powerful men.
Her affair pre-dated Allen’s relationship with Farrow and the alleged sexual assault of his adopted daughter, who was just seven years old at the time of the incident.
Engelhardt says she and Allen had sex more than 100 times, including threesomes with other “beautiful young ladies,” including, eventually, Mia Farrow, who was Allen’s partner from 1980 to 1992.
When Allen introduced Farrow as “his girlfriend,” she realized she was being used. “I felt sick. I didn’t want to be there at all, and yet I couldn’t find the courage to get up and leave,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
She says Allen was “claustrophobic, controlling and yet dreamy.” She’s still processing it more than four decades later. Most experts would contend that such an uneven power dynamic is inherently exploitative, the article notes.
“He’s creepy as hell,” said one woman, also a denizen of ’70s New York City. “I could never get past his ‘attitude.’ He was another troll with money who felt entitled, not unlike Trump really…”Fugly men with money”…they would never get laid if they were poor.”
Engelhardt believes their relationship was the inspiration for Allen’s 1979 film “Manhattan,” about a 41-year-old bachelor who falls for a 17-year-old girl. But Allen has never credited her.
In the movie, a young student, Mariel Hemmingway, pursues the older, successful man, played by Allen.
“Manhattan” is Allen’s confession and he makes it over and over again in movie after movie. It’s beyond obvious to me now that the writer/director wrote an young girl into almost every one of his films and even more in the pages of numerous unmade scripts given to Princeton University.
Almost like a serial killer leaving clues, Allen, through thousands of pages of dialogue – some produced, some not – comes out and tells us exactly who he is and how he rationalizes his predatory actions. The young girl wants sex from the older man, who is seduced, not the other way around, as if it’s less disgusting and justified.
And that’s really hard to come to grips with, especially if you were a fan before the shit hit it. My favorite movie of all time is “Annie Hall,” for which he won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
I loved not just Woody’s movies, but his intellect, his observations, his humor. But his obsession with younger-older romances in many of the movies he writes, directs and stars in is unsettling.
In “Stardust Memories,” (1980) Allen played a character based on himself–a famous filmmaker– whose girlfriend, played by Jessica Harper, is 14 years his junior.
In his film “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982), Allen, then-47, plays a crackpot inventor who bedhops with Ariel, a young woman married to a much older man. Julie Hagerty, who also starred as a love interest, was 27 at the time.
The list goes on, right up to the present day, like 2010’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” 2012’s “To Rome With Love,” and 2016’s “Café Society.”
The original angle of this piece was to take ourselves to task for allowing child molesters to go virtually unpunished, especially if you’re famous– be it a Michael Jackson, several Hollywood big shots accused by Corey Feldman, or the legendary Allen.
All you need to know about how we view child molestation, rape and incest here in the United States is to realize we started an organization to protect animals years before we created one to protect children.
Having said that, after watching those four riveting hours of “Allen vs. Farrow,” chock full of piece-after-piece of damning evidence against Allen, I walked away with three main points. None about Woody Allen.
First Mia Farrow is an incredible woman.
There’s a line from “The Contender,” one of my favorite films, in which the Vice Presidential candidate played incredibly well by Joan Allen says: “Principles only mean something if you stand by them when they’re inconvenient.”
To me, this sums up Farrow in a nutshell. A woman whose entire life was turned upside down – due to the man she loved– committing the most unspeakably cruel act an adult could commit against a child, let alone his own daughter.
Through year-after-year of “trial in public,” did she ever get into the mud and go tit-for-tat with Allen? Not once. Never did she lash out at him, or the media.
Not even after Dr. John Leventhal (How does this man still have a job to this day?), the corrupt/incompetent head of Yale University’s Child Abuse department, threw the case for Allen.
He went as far as to give him his team’s findings before sharing them with Frank Maco, the Connecticut prosecutor who commissioned the report. She remained steadfastly devoted to protecting her children, above all else. Which leads me to point No. 2.
Maco is one heck of a human being.
It’s not often you praise an attorney, let alone a prosecutor, for their compassion. But seeing how, to this day, Maco admits deciding not to prosecute Allen, because it would have further traumatized a young Dylan Allen, was one of the most gut-wrenching decisions he ever made.
It bothers him still and shows that this man was able to put the welfare and well being of a child above his own reputation and career, especially, considering how the media and millions the world over, were calling for blood.
The City of New York, possibly even the late Mayor David Dinkins, and the Yale University doctor who further traumatized and subjected little Dylan to a myriad of unnecessary interviews, are beyond corrupt and should be forced to pay a hefty price. But none of that will happen.
I’m no attorney, but if there’s no statute of limitations on murder, why shouldn’t there be one against child abuse? Now that Dylan’s old enough, why shouldn’t she be allowed to take the stand and get some justice for what was done to her and her family?
If I was on a grand jury, just the phone calls between Farrow and Allen alone, would be enough for an indictment.
The calls reveal him to be nothing short of a sociopath, showing virtually no remorse.
Are we supposed to believe Woody when he basically admits he fell in love with his teenage step-daughter Soon-Yi Previn, and took naked pictures of her? (God knows what age that began.)
Soon-Yi is seen as an accomplice of sorts, who, in the wake of Dylan’s renewed accusations has stood by Allen even as his reputation has plummeted and his once-revered films have been reassessed in the light of the #MeToo movement, according to a profile in New York magazine.
In the words of child psychiatrist Paulina Kernberg, their affair “broke every taboo.” She was 21 when the affair went public in 1991. Allen was 56.
Allen was caught with his face in five year-old Dylan’s lap on more than one occasion. Shouldn’t that be where one draws the line?
“Sure, I took pornographic pics of my adolescent step-daughter, eventually seducing and marrying her, and sure I used to put my face in my young daughter’s crotch, but sex with a five year-old is where I draw the line.” Bullshit.
Richard Painter, the White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007 under President George W. Bush, wrote recently in an MSNBC column about how the rich and powerful think they are above the law.
The perversion of justice typifies the modus operandi of so many in business, the entertainment industry and politics, he writes.
“Bernie Madoff, Harvey Weinstein and countless others in positions of power and prestige showed contempt for the law. They pervert justice because they think the law is an obstacle to be overcome.”
“The powerful claim they are immune from the law. Often, they prove this to be true. Some like Bill Cosby claim immunity from prosecution because their lawyers negotiated a strategically advantageous deal with prosecutors.
“Others in positions of power — many child molesters, for example — claim immunity because they avoided getting caught until after the statute of limitations expired. Still others think their immunity stems from their social class.”
To those still hanging onto Woody’s innocence, like those blind Michael Jackson fans, ask yourself, would Mia Farrow, by all accounts an intelligent, gentle, loving woman, deliberately try to ruin the life of a man she spent half her life with?
Why, after making it a point to save so many unwanted orphans, from all walks of life, would she want to coerce her five year-old daughter to lie on videotape, just to take down the man she loved for so many years?
If there’s one word that describes Mia Farrow, it’s “nurturer.” Does someone who dedicates her life to her children seem like the type of person who’d spend thirty years adopting kids just to teach them to accuse their step-father of sexual abuse?
Does Mia Farrow come off as vindictive to you?
After having so many opportunities when the shit was hitting the fan to strike back, and never doing so, it would be utterly ridiculous to think she conjured this whole thing up for revenge.
As we watch in real time all these modern day actresses/celebrities going out of the way to seek the limelight, Farrow could’ve embraced the limelight anytime she wanted. Instead, she chose to be a mom to nearly a dozen orphans, seem like ‘revenge’ type to you? Me neither.
All the evidence from the Farrow side, nothwithstanding, what about the mountain of evidence from Woody, himself?
At the end of the day, be it a Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, Donald Trump, or Bill Cosby, we are a culture that doesn’t want to know when famous people do bad things.
Beyond that, we are a culture that predominantly just doesn’t care.
Considering we read almost on a weekly basis about some judge somewhere who sentenced a rapist to community service, is it any wonder a famous director could escape all legal ramifications for years, and still make movies with actresses like Kristen Stewart, Scarlett Johannson and others barely out of their teens?
The only thing lower on the “believability scale” than a woman is a child. And that’s just sad.