This year at the Golden Globes filmmaker Woody Allen was honored with a lifetime achievement award. In the wake of that honor his adoptive daughter, Dylan Allen, penned an open letter addressing her allegations that he sexually abused her at the age of 7. The director has always denied these allegations, and he has never been prosecuted for them. Do you believe Dylan? Is she fabricating or imagining her story? Or is one of the greatest film directors we know keeping a horrifying secret? After reading Dylan's letter, it's hard to shake the doubts.
What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house.
So begins Dylan's letter, published in the New York Times. The stories of the alleged sexual abuse surfaced in 1993, and then faded. Everyone either forgot or ... there's an entire generation of younger fans who never even heard about the accusations. Apparently there was enough to the story to deny Allen visitation rights after his split with girlfriend Mia Farrow, Dylan's mother. But criminal charges were never brought against Allen. In her letter, Dylan describes the psychological trauma she has suffered in the years since.
During the Golden Globes, Allen's one (supposedly) biological child, Rowan, tweeted a reminder.
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?— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) January 13, 2014
Allen will always be haunted by the allegations of abuse. And his fans will always be haunted by them as well. Who can think of Dylan and not also conjure up the disturbingly young teenage girlfriend played by Muriel Hemingway in the movie Manhattan?
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As a film fan, I'm conflicted. I adore Woody Allen's films. I'll admit, I have willfully tuned out the sexual abuse narrative, hoping it's not true. But what if it is true? How does that change how I see those movies? Can I appreciate the work of the artist and separate that from what could be monstrous behavior in his personal life?
These are questions we have had to ask ourselves about artists for ages. Artist can be astonishingly narcissistic, selfish, sociopathic, destructive. And then they create work that's undeniable. We are left wondering -- can you love the work but hate the artist's life? Can the two be separated?
Have the allegations of sexual abuse affected the way you see Woody Allen's films?
Image via Pacific Coast News