I like liberalism. I am, at least voting-pattern wise, a liberal. And I definitely like humanism and the push for universal equality. After all, I am a human who would much rather write a poem than lets say, play a bullet-spraying video game. And I like feminism; I have a well-educated mother, sisters and a wife, not to mention an army of females whom I admire from all walks of life, females who by the way make me look glaringly pedestrian
But my guard goes up when all three of the aforementioned movements crystallize or more aptly, degenerate, into hashtag friendly, sanctimonious expressions of moral “outrage”. And my skeptical gene kicks in when desperate pleas for social activist street cred try to pass themselves off as genuine calls for fairness, and equal treatment under moral and criminal law. What’s worse is when a movement becomes a fad, when what goes on in private battles of “he said, she said” morphs into a gigantic game of sexual politics and instead of properly labeling culprits and victims, villains and bystanders, people who have absolutely no clue what the truth is, engage in hearsay-based attacks on men who are creative, famous and by almost any standard of decency, skeleton free. Then I must speak up.
And no, speaking up does not make me a social activist but it does at least force me to express my opinion is something more substantial than a 140 character tweet, or in some case of certain public figures, several tweets.
And so I will use this blog to defend Woody Allen against the latest pedestal removing #Metoo accusations. And no I am not trying to belittle the movement. The movement is real, justified and long overdue. But when females with spurious claims against men of relatively high character and even higher achievement also try to use the movement’s popularity, both viral and otherwise, to their attention starved advantage, they may in fact be the ones belittling the movement.
I am defending Woody because although I don’t know him nor do I know Dylan Farrow, 32, his biologiocal who has accused him of engaging in some form of molestation when she was seven, I do trust my instincts enough to sense when there is something rotten in Denmark. And to borrow a line from a Langston Hughes poem, these “allegations” stink like rotten meat.
Since no formal charges have ever against Allen concerning this incident, nor in his 55 plus years of filmmaking, has he even been accused of sexual impropriety by the hundreds of beautiful women with which he has worked, and since Woody’s ex-wife Mia Farrow and their daughter Dylan have about as much credibility as an un-medicated Trump on the campaign trail, I will not bore you with a bunch of facts.
But as someone who has very creatively parlayed the old adage of “life imitating art” into an odd but certainly not illegal private life (Woody married Soon-Yi Previn, Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter from a previous message), Allen lives in an unconventional but honesty way. He has made neuroticism an art form, taken pretty much every fear and fascination Emily Dickinson turned into poetry and given it an Oscar-worthy cinematic storyline.
I guess before I romanticize the genius of Woody Allen too much, I will simply say that people, even in the court of public opinion, especially ones with good track records, should be given the benefit of the doubt.
Unless of course you are someone who is either (a) an actor who is on the downside of his professional trajectory (b) an actress who was lucky enough to start in one of Allen’s films and is finding it hard to really make a name for herself or (c) someone in dire need of social activist service hours and therefore pretends to be a real agent for change by posting a bunch of catchy, holier-than-thou sentimentalisms on Twitter. Then just take the bait and run with whatever story is trending so you can enjoy your 15 minutes of fame.
It’s bad enough that we already live in an age of unprecedented fake news, but what is worse is when someone who appears to be well-educated but has an obvious grudge match to settle, is given free air time to spew her distorted tale of victimization and the major news networks and some of the more prominent young voices on social media start to run with the story, something is flagrantly wrong. Here is just a sampling of the tweets:
I need to get this off my chest:
– I worked on Woody Allen’s next movie.
– I believe he is guilty.
– I donated my entire salary to RAINN.
- Griffin Newman
I deeply regret working with Woody Allen on Wonder Wheel. It’s one of my most heartbreaking mistakes. We can no longer let these men represent us in entertainment, politics, or any other realm. They are beneath real men
Actually I am okay with the alleged accusations. The key word here is alleged and the alleged incident took place during a bitter custody divorce battle with Farrow’s mother Mia in the early 1990’s. Anyone can accuse anyone of anything any time even though such accusations have to meet a burden of legal proof to have sustainable merit.
But if the #Metoo movement, if the feminism movement, if the equality movement and the liberalism movement are to have any real long term value, then we must hold both victimizers and false accusers equally liable for their behavior. If any of these movements are to sustain the air time they deserve, then none of them should continue based on bandwagon appeal and all of them should properly separate those who can no longer bear to bury their unpleasant secrets and those who use a tall tale to feel better about their plight.
If Allen is guilty of anything, it is having an overactive subconscious mind and an even more active imagination. Both are fit for the kinds of movies he makes and the zealots like me who admire Allen and those like him for not being afraid to take risks, creative and otherwise.
In the end, I suppose this blog is as much about what constitutes a social activist as it is an attempt to get the public off Allen’s back. Until some tangible proof of any wrongdoing, which based on all forensic tests taken at the time of the original allegation and subsequent examinations will never happen, then all real judgment should be suspended.
I don’t consider myself a social activist because I have never been at the forefront of any movement even though I have done years of service work in Ecuador. That just makes me, at best, a fairly decent citizen. But I will argue that being a social activist involves a hell of a lot more than just jumping on a trending social media bandwagon or attaching your name to a popular cause.
During a week in which Martin Luther King’s birthday was celebrated, this fact is all the more apparent.
So Free Woody Allen. And may the royal couch of Denmark no longer have to host such tall but slanderous tales.