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Why Do We Still Support Woody Allen Despite His Sexual Abuse?

August 10, 20175 min read

Woody Allen is unquestionably one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. The list of his accomplishments in remarkable — ranging from beautiful romcoms like Midnight in Paris to classics like Crimes and Misdemeanors.

It was recently announced that Woody Allen has begun casting for a new film, and I truly wish I could be excited about it. I’m sure the movie has the potential to be just as moving and beautiful as his previous works, but I won’t be seeing it. The reality is that apart from being a filmmaker and a visionary, Woody Allen is a man known for sexual assault – and that’s all he should be known for.

The fact that audiences still support Allen at all is, frankly, shocking. In case you’re unaware, Allen is known for sexually abusing his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow when she was only seven years old. Accusations of the abuse first surfaced in 1992, but Allen was never charged or prosecuted despite the proof surrounding the case.

In 2014 Dylan Farrow wrote an open-letter regarding the abuse, reminding audiences of the way it impacted her life. “[The fact] that he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up,” Farrow writes. “I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men.” Reading Farrow’s account of the abuse is heart-wrenching; it’s the kind of thing that no one should ever have to endure. However, while it’s clear that the abuse heavily impacted Farrow’s life, it doesn’t seem to have had any impact on Allen’s career whatsoever. The film industry continues to support him, as though his talent makes up for ruining the life of a child.

In fact, one of the cast members for Allen’s upcoming movie is Selena Gomez. Yes, that’s right; this is the same Selena Gomez who helped produce 13 Reasons Why, a series with the aim of bringing awareness to sexual assault and the way it affects its victims. In an interview with Elvis Duran regarding the show’s depiction of rape, Gomez states “hopefully [13 Reasons Why] opened the door for people to actually accept what’s happening and actually go and change it, talk about it.”

Why is an actress who claims to care about sexual assault victims working with a known rapist? Why do stars continue to work with Allen at all? Why do audiences continue to praise his work while turning a blind-eye towards his past?

The simple answer is that Woody Allen is a powerful name. It’s attached to a rich history of cinematography and filmmaking, and of on-screen innovations. Audiences are willing to overlook the sexual abuse of a child simply because Allen is a powerful man in a powerful industry, who was never prosecuted for a crime he committed.

Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart. – Dylan Farrow

The ease with which the media brushed off Allen’s abuse is alarming, and it haunted Dylan Farrow throughout her entire childhood. Don’t forget that apart from being a filmmaker and a visionary, Woody Allen is a man who sexually assaulted a seven-year-old. When we support men like him, we’re perpetuating rape culture. We’re allowing people to get away with sexual assault, and forgetting about the lasting impact it has on victims.

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Gabrielle Drolet

Creative Writing student from Hamilton, Ontario. When she's not petting her dog, most of her time is spent listening to podcasts and rewatching 'Freaks and Geeks'. You can find her on Twitter @GabrielleDrolet