I'll Pay to See Woody Allen's New Movie & That Doesn't Make Me a Bad Person

In a perfect dream world, Woody Allen would be the most hated man in Hollywood right now. He'd be supremely untalented, and we'd all feel okay ditching him and ignoring his work. But what we're stuck with instead is a Woody Allen who's somewhat skeevy and potentially criminal, but one who knows how to make a goddamn delightful film. It's why Midnight in Paris still sits on my computer, waiting around to be the rom-com cure to my love life woes. It's why I'll watch Café Society as soon as it's out, and it's why I won't be alone in the theater. Whether or not it's morally correct, Woody Allen is still one of the best and most prolific directors in modern Hollywood, and that's why he's still successful, despite the weight of the accusations thrown at him.

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Two years ago, the Golden Globes awarded Woody Allen a lifetime achievement award. Right around the same time, his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow published an open letter in the New York Times supporting the 20-year-old rumors that he had sexually assaulted her when she was a girl. Woody Allen's rebuttal (and firm denial) was published shortly after. This week, Dylan's brother Ronan Farrow spoke in depth on the issue in the Hollywood Reporter, and he sided firmly with his sister.

Allen was never prosecuted, but as feminists, we're taught to believe the victim. We owe them the benefit of the doubt. There's no way to truly and deeply understand the truth about what happened between Dylan and Allen, and maybe that's not the question we should be asking.

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What we need to be asking instead is whether or not we can separate art from its artist. Is it okay to like Woody Allen's movies knowing that he might have molested a little girl, and understanding the implications that come with that? Is there a difference between enjoying a pirated file of Annie Hall and going to the movie theater and spending money that will, at some point, end up in his pocket? Is that supporting the choices he made as a human, or is it just supporting the choices he made as an artist?

Really, what I want to know is this: Is watching Café Society siding with Woody and telling Dylan that her story doesn't matter?

I expect the answer is some kind of continuum, and everyone will have to choose where he or she stands. It's a question we have to ask ourselves constantly; every time R. Kelly plays on the radio, T.S. Eliot comes up on a reading list, John Lennon receives posthumous accolades, or another Picasso painting sells for hundreds of millions of dollars, we have to make a complex moral decision about how their art -- and often, their legacy -- stands up next to their general sh-ttiness as human beings. Whether it's Picasso-level misogyny or Cosby-level abuse, it all has to be considered.

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I still listen to the Beatles. Of course I do. They're one of my favorite bands. T.S. Eliot is one of my favorite authors and Picasso is one of my favorite artists, even though neither was a particularly good person. At some point, I decided that their art was more important to me.

It's a decision I might change or edit over time, but for now, I'm okay with wanting to go see the new Woody Allen movie. Being able to watch this film and disengage Woody-as-an-artist from Woody-as-a-human is a luxury I get as a third party viewer, and I'm going to take it.

You might think I'm wrong and you might picket outside theaters showing his films. I get it, and I won't blame you. But then again, you shouldn't blame me either.

 

Image via Fernanda Bareggi/Splash News

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