"Woody Allen" by Colin Swan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

Reality Check: WOODY

What has happed to Woody Allen is bullshit.

Woody Allen recently celebrated the release of his 50th film, Coup de Chance, in Venice, Italy, which reminded me of a piece I had been working on in the spring of 2021 about the unconscionable smearing of his name and legacy by first the mentally disturbed Mia Farrow and her brainwashed kids, then a lazy press, and finally the victims of a vapid media echo-chamber. Alas, I was distracted by more pressing current events, but I think I need to get this out, and not merely because I adore Woody Allen’s work, but this entire sad episode of his having allegedly molested his then seven-year-old-daughter, Dylan, which had been intensely adjudicated 30 fucking years ago, exonerated him from all wrongdoing. And to be clear, this was not “fancy lawyering hired by famous rich guy” exoneration, but the more pressing “no evidence of any kind to substantiate dubious claims from a traumatized child” exoneration. 

In the wake of HBO’s propaganda-addled Allen v Farrow that further perpetuated this egregious lie, and the reemergence of Farrow’s attack dog kids, Dylan and Ronan, to try and censor Allen’s 2020 memoir, Apropos of Nothing, I was taken aback. But when Amazon, which had negotiated a multi-picture deal with Allen sacked him, then American theaters refused to carry his films, and many of his supposed friends and colleagues ran for cover, I could no longer abide it. I needed to state, “What’s happened to Woody Allen is bullshit.” Nearly three years later, it still is bullshit. 

To be fair, Woody, 87 years-old now, doesn’t seem to miss a step and keeps working on what he’s always called his “little films.” He is pleased to just have the money and support to keep creating his art, but it endlessly irks me that he’s lumped in with the Weinsteins, Cosbys, and Trumps of the world when, unlike them, he co-operated with authorities, had his private life, body, and possessions inspected beyond reproach, endured two long trials, invasive forensics, and was again cleared due to lack of any evidence. A psychological evaluation of Dylan exposed that the poor, exploited child had changed her story numerous times throughout and appeared to authorities to clumsily regurgitate a flimsy script conjured by her mother, and Allen’s former lover, actress Farrow.

Mia Farrow, who has been repeatedly outed as a horrid mother figure to 10 adopted children, allegedly used Dylan, one of four offspring, as an emotional cudgel for vengeance against Allen for his relationship with one of Farrow’s adopted daughters, the 21-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen married in 1997 and is still with to this day. (The couple have two children.) One of the other nine of Farrow’s adopted kids, the now 45-year-old Moses Farrow, in his blog, “A Son Speaks Out,” fills a chapter in Allen biographer, Eric Lax’s 2017 Start to Finish: Woody Allen and the Art of Moviemaking. He has outed Farrow’s severe physical and mental abuse that according to his accounts led to two of her adopted children to commit suicide at ages 27 and 17. These terrifying stories have since been echoed by Soon-Yi.

Perhaps the most psychologically abused of these children is Farrow and Allen’s biological son, Ronan, first named Satchel, then changed by his mother who made false claims that he was Frank Sinatra’s child, a man she married at 21 in 1966 when he was nearly 50 (Sinatra would have been 71 when he did this proposed fathering – something the Sinatra family calls ‘a ludicrous lie’). Many allegations of unsolicited cosmetic surgeries prompted by Farrow on her son had somehow made him more loyal to her madness. He has used his otherwise noble defense of sexual victims in adulthood to hound his father relentlessly, including leading the charge to have Allen’s memoir dropped by Hachette Books, for which Ronan worked at the time.

No one bothered to check the legal record on all this. The one that ultimately cleared Allen of the charges by law – not newspapers, social media, or activists – was “The manifestations of Dylan were not true and had been made by an emotionally vulnerable minor trapped in a disturbed family situation and who responded to stress.” Sorry, this is the hard, cold facts, yet here we are with Woody Allen in societal wilderness. It is, I repeat, bullshit. 

I do have immense sympathy for Farrow, who was an abused child and suffered from serious trauma all her life – much of it by her father and the rest in the public since she was a teenager, exploited by the Hollywood star system, which had previously done irreparable harm for many damaged souls. She was emotionally injured and understandably angered by Allen’s at best peculiar actions and worst deviant behavior with Previn, so she simply heaped this pain on her former lover, for whom she was with for 13 years with no prior signs of sexual misconduct over dozens of films in which women actors were given prime roles – Mia garnering 13 – earning them Oscars with nary a complaint or inkling of misbehavior. 

So, despite having his name dragged through the mud in the early 1990s and a stellar career of filmmaking and writing since, in 2021 he was suddenly ostracized from Hollywood, abandoned by his production company, and disallowed to have his work appear in American theaters. I think this is a horrifying miscarriage of justice and an abuse of the First Amendment, but which, again, seems to be fine for Woody. He has stated that he still supports the #MeToo Movement, despite their unfair attacks on him and his livelihood, further illustrating a complete lack of accepting the truth. And that, as we know from nearly 30 years of this column, is bullshit and cannot stand without comment to the contrary. 

Women actors have stood up over these past years to defend Allen, his longtime ingénue, Diane Keaton, his more recent collaborator, Scarlett Johansson, as well as Kate Winslet, Angelica Houston, and others, including male voices. Many articles have been written questioning the entire episode’s motives and fallout. All of them like myself understand the difference between guilty people using “cancel culture” to explain away crimes and the unfortunate circumstances of familial in-fighting, spurned lovers, and the collateral damage of children caught in the crosshairs.  

Allen never cared much for Hollywood. Didn’t show up to any Academy Awards ceremonies when he was the industry’s resident genius (despite winning a ton of them). He did appear in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks to support his beloved New York City; otherwise, he keeps on keeping on in the shadows. While again this seems to be enough for Woody Allen, it is not for me. I had to express my issues with this whole mess – much of it a matter of ignored record in service of accepted but misplaced demonization.

Don’t take my word for it. If you find this an abhorrent take, then check the facts for yourself. It’s all out there. And when you do, you’ll agree that, if I may state once more, what’s happened to Woody Allen is bullshit.