Woody Allen, the famous director that created touching and provocative films such as Midight in Paris, was again, after 21 years, accused of sexual abuse by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.
In an open letter to The New York Times, she states, “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. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me.”
You cannot help but feel disgusted. The very idea of a middle-aged man molesting a seven-year-old girl is enough to make your stomach twist with uneasiness. Yet, there is no substantial proof that Woody Allen did molest Dylan Farrow. In fact, the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital, which examined Farrow’s case, concluded that Allen did not molest Farrow. There is also something logically wrong about Dylan Farrow’s statement. She implies that knowing Woody Allen molested her should make us hate his movies.
Though the case is not new, public reaction is as fresh as when Farrow first accused Allen in 1993. Many follow in Farrow’s footsteps believing that Allen’s films should take the blow for his actions. Headlines such as “Fight child abuse, boycott Woody Allen’s Films” and “It’s Time to Shun Woody Allen” have popped up on sites such as Yahoo! News and The Wrap.
If Woody Allen really did molest Dylan Farrow, then he is a repulsive, depraved human being. Child molestation is undeniably inhumane. Yet people act as if appreciating Allen’s movies is a crime upon humanity in itself–as if by appreciating his art, people somehow condone what he allegedly committed.
We must separate a man from his art. Though it is essentially the artists’ ideas and beliefs expressed through a creative medium, art takes on a life of its own–separate from its artist. Art can be judged, art can grow in acclaim–art can inspire a movement. Years after the artist has died and his or her misdeeds lay largely forgotten, art endures. Just like we should not shame a child for his or her parents, why should we shame art for its artist? We must value meaning over association.
It will be difficult to watch a Woody Allen movie and not cringe at what he may have done, but it is our job as the viewers to treat art as a separate entity from its artist. So if you like Woody Allen movies, great. If you hate Woody Allen movies, great. As long you derive your opinions from the quality of the art and not the morality of the artist, you can own your thoughts with conviction.
By BIYONKA LIANG