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On (Reluctantly) Breaking Up With Woody Allen

Why this long-time Woody Allen fan is calling it quits.

On (Reluctantly) Breaking Up With Woody Allen

I have been a Woody Allen fan for as long as I can remember. 

As a kid in the 70s and 80s, the sister I most wanted to be like was an intellectual who wore ties and played tennis. She was our big Irish family’s Annie Hall. She adored Woody and took me to see ‘Broadway Danny Rose’—my first of his movies—in the theater.

After having kids, I often imagined sharing Woody Allen’s deft and delightful sensibility with my daughters when they grew old enough to appreciate the humor.

To maintain my enthusiasm, I sometimes had to practice a little self-subterfuge.

In the early 90s, I avoided thinking about the fact that Woody Allen took nude photos of Soon-Yi Previn, Mia Farrow’s daughter, 35 years his junior. I wished he hadn’t been so careless as to let Mia find them. I cringed at the fact that he fostered a relationship with Soon-Yi, but it was none of my business. And I loved Woody Allen movies.

I even ignored the ugly psychodrama that has dogged Woody Allen ever since he was accused, but never convicted, of molesting his own daughter, who now goes by Dylan Farrow, decades ago. My first reaction to the recent Twitter bashing he received by his son Ronan Farrow and Mia after receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at the Golden Globes was akin to ‘ah man, just let sleeping dogs lie.’

Then I read Dylan Farrow’s ‘Open Letter’ posted on Nicholas Kristof’s blog on the The New York Times. As a woman and a mother of girls, this letter is deeply haunting, and I can’t help but think it rings of truth. 

Those who don’t find it credible don’t have to break it off with Woody. But I do.

At this point, I cannot imagine sharing with my daughters a movie like ‘Manhattan,’ where Allen’s character is in his 40’s dating a 17-year-old high school student, with Dylan’s public entreaty for support lodged forever in my brain.

At the height of the scandal in 1993, Allen said, “This is on me like a tattoo for life. There will always be some people who believe what I was accused of just because I was accused." For a long time I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But when I now look at the full, disturbing picture—from Soon-Yi to the great imbalance of age so often depicted between couples in his movies, and now to Dylan’s letter—I feel that the only thing I can do is to pick a side.  

I have painfully decided not to support Woody Allen’s career any longer.

It’s likely that we’ll never know who is telling the truth. My husband, also a die-hard fan of Woody’s films, warns against rushing to judgment, and wonders if any of us should be commenting on what is, at heart, a very private matter. What if Dylan’s memories have been manufactured by Mia Farrow or someone else?, he asks.

To which I reply: But what if they haven’t? 

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