Tuesday, August 30, 2016

His Father, Ronan Farrow, and That Other 'Unasked' Question

Read HERE.

In May, Ronan Farrow wrote what I believe to be the flimsiest thing I have read to date about the incredibly sad situation involving his family, trying to incriminate the press for "covering up" the alleged misdeeds of his father, Woody Allen, likening the situation to 60-times-accused Bill Cosby. Ronan's obviously a smart young man, yet the more I read the more I found myself actually embarrassed by his complete lack of reasoning and critical-thinking skills. Perhaps the subject was literally just too close to home for him to think straight. Still, I've been reluctant to even react to it for a number of reasons. For starters, I feel for Dylan Farrow and would not want to cause her any further harm. I've also briefly met Ronan, whom I found to be as charming as he is bright. I'm also a longtime fan of their mother, Mia Farrow, who has appeared in many of my all-time favorite films. On top of all that, I have witnessed a similar situation of sexual-abuse allegations involving a father and daughter in my own life. It's agonizing. 

Read Robert Weide's response HERE.

There were several similarities between the scenarios. Both involved allegations that were only introduced after the mother became aware of infidelity. Both did not ring true to many of the principals when details of what supposedly happened were brought to light. (In "my" case, the police were not even involved.) And both have left nearly everyone involved deeply divided between camps. Rather than personally try to persuade anyone that Woody Allen did or didn't molest Dylan Farrow, I wanted to point you to a little-seen response to Ronan's piece by Robert B. Weide, an Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning filmmaker who made a documentary about Allen in 2012. Whether you believe Allen is guilty or not, your jaw will be on the floor after reading Weide's opening paragraphs. And just as Maureen Orth's Vanity Fair piece doesn't look good for Allen, Weide's piece makes a strong case for Allen's innocence, while also destroying Ronan's thesis about how the media -- as well as everyone who has ever worked with Allen -- is complicit in sweeping his alleged behavior under the rug for not asking the "hard questions." Weide writes: But what questions do you have in mind? “Did you molest your daughter?” He’s answered this question countless times, in and out of a court of law, on and off camera. How many times is he supposed to say “no?” Do you think if he’s badgered enough, he’ll suddenly remember things differently? For those who believe your father is being truthful, is it reasonable for them to continually hound your sister with the expectation that she’ll suddenly recant?

If you've gotten this far and have read Ronan's piece and Weide's response, then you might be interested in a couple other points I think are also worth considering.

1. Is there such a thing as a onetime pedophile? (I'm asking for real.) I'm not a psychologist, but because of my first-hand familiarity I have read quite a bit about the subject. Everything I've seen suggests that pedophilia is a compulsive behavior that is virtually untreatable. Ronan tries to compare his father to Bill Cosby, but that only raises the obvious question: Where are Allen's other accusers? (I've never heard of another one-off situation. Almost always there are dozens, even hundreds of victims before a pedophile gets "caught.") If any pedophiles have ever successfully re-entered society, it's been by keeping away from children. What has Allen done since taking up with Soon-Yi Previn? Adopted two more young girls. Have there been any other allegations -- old or new -- since he was accused of molesting Dylan? What's more, you would have to believe Allen decided to sexually abuse a 7-year-old girl while he was already under intense scrutiny from the media and his former girlfriend for having already begun a scandalous (consensual) relationship with the woman's 22-year-old daughter. (This seems highly unlikely to me. But perhaps once you've been as inappropriate as Allen was for taking up with Miss Previn he thought he had nothing to lose?)

2. What motive would Dylan and Ronan's older brother Moses, now a licensed marriage and family therapist, have for completely discrediting even the most basic details of the day and location of the alleged assault? Moses was 13 at the time of "the day in question" while Ronan was 4. Precocious or not, the memories of a 13-year-old are inarguably more reliable than two small children.

If you didn't click through, Moses said:
"Of course Woody did not molest my sister. She loved him and looked forward to seeing him when he would visit. She never hid from him until our mother succeeded in creating the atmosphere of fear and hate towards him. The day in question, there were six or seven of us in the house. We were all in public rooms and no one, not my father or sister, was off in any private spaces. My mother was conveniently out shopping. I don’t know if my sister really believes she was molested or is trying to please her mother. Pleasing my mother was very powerful motivation because to be on her wrong side was horrible… Our mother has misled the public into believing it was a happy household of both biological and adopted children. From an early age, my mother demanded obedience and I was often hit as a child. She went into unbridled rages if we angered her, which was intimidating at the very least and often horrifying, leaving us not knowing what she would do."
As for Dylan's recollection of being sexually abused in the attic of Mia's Connecticut farmhouse, while looking at a toy train set:
“I assure you, there was no electric train set in that attic. There was nothing practical about that space as a place for kids to play, even if we wanted to. It was an unfinished attic with exposed fiberglass insulation. It smelled of moth balls and there were mouse traps and poison pellets left all around. My mother used it for storage where she kept several trunks full of hand-me-down clothes, that sort of thing. The idea that the space could possibly accommodate a functioning electric train set, circling around the attic, makes no sense at all. One of my brothers did have an elaborate model train set, but it was set up in the boys’ room, a converted garage on the first floor. Maybe that was the train set my sister thinks she remembers.”
3. How can Ronan Farrow say with a straight face that the media -- and Hollywood -- is guilty of not asking tough questions? All anyone has ever talked about for the past 24 years is that Woody Allen is a child molester who also "married his daughter." Every profile mentions it -- just this week he told The Guardian that he "gets harassed all the time" about it. It almost sounds like he's condemning the public for not boycotting his father's films.

4. What does it say about a woman [Mia} who, according to court documents, pleaded to have a child with a man [Woody] who "viewed her [existing] children as an encumbrance" with whom he wanted "no involvement" and had "no interest"? A woman who begged to be impregnated by a man who only agreed to do so after she "promised that the child would live with her and that [he] need not be involved with the child's care of upbringing"?

No. 4 obviously makes me sound like I'm attempting to discredit the accuser -- or in this case, the accuser's mom. But if Woody Allen did not molest Dylan Farrow, then the only other scenario that can be true is that Mia put her daughter up to this.

I've never called Mia Farrow a liar. I just don't know if Woody Allen molested Dylan Farrow. But neither does Ronan. My general take on these types of accusations is to believe the accuser until I have reason to not. But in this case, there was a very strong motive to smear the "perpetrator" and many details did not add up. If nothing else, surely we can all agree that the only thing as depraved as a parent sexually abusing a child is a parent brainwashing a child into thinking she had been sexually abused by a parent. For decades fans and critics alike have struggled with what it would mean about Woody Allen's art if it turned out he had molested his daughter. We've all asked this tough question. (I, for one, think you can separate people's private lives from their public works.) So if Ronan Farrow really wants to ask a tough question that has been dangerously ignored, perhaps he should ask what it would mean if a mother were so vindictive and self-serving that she would be willing to destroy her daughter's life in order to try to save face in what was arguably the most humiliating breakup in Hollywood history? (If people think Mia is lying, should they no longer like "Rosemary's Baby" or "Alice"?) I'm not convinced that's what's going on here. But as far as I can see, it's truly the only "unasked question" left.

As for me, the man I know who was accused of molesting his daughter died in recent years after having been imprisoned for other misdeeds of a slightly different nature. Suffice to say, it didn't bolster his case for innocence. 


James Dwight Williamson said...

To quote Hillary" At this point what difference does it make" Woody is still rich , as is Mia -Ronan got a national cable show out of it. There are children from the marriage to Ms Previn. So I say , neither brother , mother or younger sister accomplished anything,other than exceeding the bounds of good taste. Unless the story is true, better people have allowed their worse nature to change a families life , in Woody we trust? I don't!

Bill P said...

Thanks for this article. I always believed Woody Allen to be innocent. Mia and Ronan Farrow should let this go and get on with their lives.

Dear Prudence said...

It's true we'll never know. And it is an unpleasant thing to even imagine. But people need to remember Mia Farrow was Hollywood royalty who was used to getting what she wanted. She was a TV star and a movie star. She traveled to India with the Beatles. She stole Andre Previn from his wife, who had a breakdown as a result. Then she married Frank Sinatra, who was 30 years her senior. (Soon-Yi kind of did a combo in one.) So for her to "lose" her man -- who was also the source of her work -- must have been devastating beyond belief. And factor in losing him to a young orphan girl she had rescued and raised as her own. It's easy to see how rage and a need for vengeance could cause her to try to manipulate things to her advantage.

Peter Maria said...

I agree with you, and it's a bad situation all around. I, too, always go with the victim's story unless PROVEN otherwise, but the the "proof" for either side in this case seems tainted.

I do very well separating art from the artist, too. Having a little trouble with Bill Cosby right now, but I think that is because everything is so fresh.

jaragon said...

This is a case of demented mommie dearest revenge