On the reluctance to shun Woody Allen

In the 20 years since Woody Allen was first accused of sexually abusing 7-year-old Dylan Farrow, he has largely escaped public rebuke. In fact, he has continued his reign as one of America’s most celebrated filmmakers, thanks in part to the countless actors who continue to work with him and an adoring public that discounts his alleged crimes as being mere hearsay.

And is it really so wrong to refrain from turning your back on someone for a crime that he was never even charged with? The very foundation of our judicial system is based on the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

Allen has never been charged with any crime and has consistently denied any wrongdoing. We do, however, have testimony in the form of an open letter published on The New York Times website written by his alleged victim detailing Allen’s transgressions. Between Allen and Farrow, someone is telling the truth and someone is not. Who you choose to believe speaks volumes about the way you view sexual assault and your willingness – or lack thereof – to abandon your heroes.

Aaron Bady of The New Inquiry put it best: “If you are saying things like, ‘We can’t really know what happened’ and extra-specially pleading on behalf of the extra-special Woody Allen, then you are saying that his innocence is more presumptive than hers.”

Why would it be more presumptive – because he has made some movies we all really like, while the name Dylan Farrow means next to nothing to us? I’m comfortable saying that Allen’s films, short stories, plays and stand-up comedy have meant more to me than any other artist’s throughout my life up to this point. I would have to be a sociopath, however, to let that cloud my objectivity in assessing that he is a pedophile responsible for heinous crimes.

That is what has kept so many others from turning their backs on him. When someone has given as much to the world as Allen has, it is painful to come to grips with the fact that he has also committed a crime of the most deplorable sort. People will do whatever it takes to deflate the opposing side’s argument so that they can continue to see him not as a dangerous pedophile but as the man who gave us Annie Hall.

Allen is not the only great artist to have committed unconscionable crimes – Roman Polanski and R. Kelly come to mind. Each of these men has made valuable contributions to his respective medium, but that value does not outweigh the severity of the crimes they committed. Put yourself in the place of the victim: living in a world where the man who permanently scarred you has his movies on television every day or his song on the radio every 30 minutes.

To cast doubt on Farrow’s testimony is a singular act of selfishness. It protects one’s own relationship to Allen at the expense of his sole known victim. The important thing to remember is that your relationship to his movies is not what truly matters. What does matter is that a woman has publicly confirmed that Allen molested her when she was a child, yet he is still walking free today.