Ronan Farrow, the 28-year-old son of famed director Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, says it’s “dangerous” to keep silent when there are potential victims of sexual abuse.
Farrow made the comment in a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, entitled “My Father, Woody Allen, and the Danger of Questions Unasked.”
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Allen has a storied — and unproven in court — history of sex abuse and attraction to young women (even his own daughter, Dylan Farrow, has said that Allen molested her when she was a child), which is glossed over by Hollywood and seemingly made irrelevant. A-list stars still clamour to be in Allen’s movies, and many are awarded with Oscars; for example, Cate Blanchett just won the 2014 Best Actress Oscar for her performance in his film Blue Jasmine, and the director just opened the Cannes Film Festival with his 49th film, Cafe Society, which stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg.
Farrow doesn’t say his father is guilty but he writes in his column that simply ignoring Allen’s alleged indiscretions helps no one.
“It sends a message about who we are as a society, what we’ll overlook, who we’ll ignore, who matters and who doesn’t,” he wrote.
Farrow also recounts the skill of Allen’s PR team, and how well they shield the renowned director from any scrutiny, even after Dylan’s harrowing account was published.
“Being in the media as my sister’s story made headlines, and Woody Allen’s PR engine revved into action, gave me a window into just how potent the pressure can be to take the easy way out,” he writes. “Every day, colleagues at news organizations forwarded me the emails blasted out by Allen’s powerful publicist, who had years earlier orchestrated a robust publicity campaign to validate my father’s sexual relationship with another one of my siblings.”
He also writes about “talking points” being sent in PR emails, along with suggestions for experts who could essentially make Dylan’s story seem like a lie or an embellishment of the truth.
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Ronan Farrow | PrettyFamous
“The open CC list on those emails revealed reporters at every major outlet with whom that publicist shared relationships — and mutual benefit, given her firm’s starry client list, from Will Smith to Meryl Streep. Reporters on the receiving end of this kind of PR blitz have to wonder if deviating from the talking points might jeopardize their access to all the other A-list clients.”
Ultimately, he asserts, any coverage of Allen and sexual misconduct turns into an argument about his art vs. who he is as a person. The reasoning is whatever Allen might do in his private life is irrelevant to what he creates, and since the movies he makes are so great, it somehow justifies any bad behaviour.
Farrow doesn’t think he should be let off the hook, either. He chastizes himself for not doing more in the wake of his sister’s narrative.
“I had worked hard to distance myself from my painfully public family history and wanted my work to stand on its own,” he wrote. “I begged my sister not to go public again and to avoid speaking to reporters about it. I’m ashamed of that, too. With sexual assault, anything’s easier than facing it in full, saying all of it, facing all of the consequences. Even now, I hesitated before agreeing to The Hollywood Reporter‘s invitation to write this piece, knowing it could trigger another round of character assassination against my sister, my mother or me.”
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Above all, Farrow supports his sister, and encourages publications not to shy away from potentially controversial coverage, even if it means losing “access” in the industry.
“[The Hollywood Reporter Woody Allen cover story, published on May 4, 2016] is a sterling example of how not to talk about sexual assault. Dylan’s allegations are never raised in the interview and receive only a parenthetical mention.”
“I believe my sister,” he continued. “This was always true as a brother who trusted her, and, even at five years old, was troubled by our father’s strange behaviour around her: climbing into her bed in the middle of the night, forcing her to suck his thumb — behaviour that had prompted him to enter into therapy focused on his inappropriate conduct with children prior to the allegations.”
At the Cannes opening night ceremony on Wednesday, an awkward rape joke was made at Allen’s expense.
“It’s very nice that you’ve been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S.,” said Laurent Lafitte, the emcee.
Some in the audience tittered nervously while others gasped. The joke makes reference to Allen’s fellow director, Roman Polanski, who has evaded rape charges in the U.S. by moving to Europe.
You can read Farrow’s full article here.
Woody Allen Timeline | PrettyFamous