Because It Still Matters

woody allen
Tamara Rice      0

Because It Still Matters

I always was a bit of a movie snob, and as a teenager I liked the idea of Woody Allen movies because he’s Woody Allen. Sometimes he’s very funny. Sometimes he’s even very insightful about the human experience. Sometimes he’s just sort of artsy and weird. But he’s Woody Allen.

I believe I was in college when people started to talk about Allen’s problems. You remember, don’t you, that when he and Mia Farrow separated after over a decade together,* he married her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, right? Or has that little tidbit been lost to pop culture history like that time Brad Pitt was engaged to Gwyneth Paltrow? And during the ugly Farrow-Allen custody battle these allegations came to light, that Allen’s favor for his lover’s daughters didn’t stop with Soon-Yi, who was a bit older by then (she was 21 and he was 56 when it all came out). The allegations began to surface that Allen had molested and abused another adopted daughter, this time legally his own, a 7-year-old girl: Dylan Farrow.

Always being an Entertainment Tonight historian (that’s ET to you kids at home), I remember that the pushback then was that Mia Farrow was manipulating her daughter into these lies. That she was a woman scorned and that she would have done anything to discredit her powerful Hollywood ex. And then it never went to court and, as these things do, it all died down.

For us.

Enter the 2014 Golden Globes where Allen—who didn’t show up—was honored by ex-wife and perhaps his most famous muse Diane Keaton, with the Cecil B. Demille lifetime achievement award. And soon little Dylan Farrow, who is not so little 20 years later, opened her mouth to the press for the first time. If you can stomach the awfulness of her story (trigger warning: child abuse), read it here. If you prefer a lighter version, but one that still carries most of her feelings on the matter, read it here.

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If you lack the time for such things, in short Dylan’s story is that she was abused. Regularly. Allen wasn’t prosecuted, in part, to protect her from the trauma of that legal process. She “moved on” and now she lives a good life complete with husband and children, but with the tension that many of the influential adults she loved as a child (namely Diane Keaton) have taken a “well, we can’t know for sure” attitude toward the allegations against Allen and that Hollywood has, essentially, forgotten all about them. (Well, if he’s guilty, he’d be in jail, right?—Oh, ye who know so little about how these things work …)

And when she found out her abuser was being given such a big award, Dylan Farrow fell to pieces. And found her voice. In other words … she’ll never move on. Not really. No one ever really does. And no one ever really gets over the Diane Keatons who were there and loving and wonderful in our childhoods and then crossed over into the “well, we can’t know for sure” territory out of denial and ego (he was her ex-husband too as well as friend, you know) and some self-preservation and probably that often misguided all-American sense of “innocent until proven guilty in a court of law” that doesn’t really allow for the reality that sometimes the guilty can’t be proven.

And God bless publications like the New York Times for publishing Dylan Farrow’s words and not hiding behind cowardly fears of libel and slander, because much lesser publications, publications that claim the name of Christ right on their covers, have shied away from covering much more substantiated allegations of abuse and even documented collusion on those grounds.

And so this morning, on the Lord’s day, I was struck by Brian McLaren’s status on Facebook. A quote from an upcoming book:

And it’s those words that inspire me and give me hope this morning. It’s those words I pray and bless others with right now, and I hope McLaren doesn’t mind:
Blessed are the ones who stand for justice.
Blessed are the ones who don’t back down.
Blessed are the ones who are slandered for their convictions.
Blessed are the ones who are mocked for their righteous battle.
Blessed are the ones who are misrepresented because others don’t like the message.
Blessed are the ones who are threatened because evil doesn’t like to be named.
Blessed are the ones who are harmed, with wounds we’ll never see.
Blessed are the ones who heal in silence.
Blessed are the ones who heal by finding their voice.
Blessed are the ones who carry on.
Blessed are the ones who can’t.
And, Father, forgive the ones who sit in their comfort and say, “Well, we can’t know for sure.”
Forgive them because their neutrality isn’t neutrality at all.
Forgive them because their silence hurts more than anything.
Forgive them, because they know not what they do.
Forgive them, because right now we can’t.
So remember our tears, oh God.
Remember our sorrows.
And most of all, Lord, we ask you to balance the scales.
God of Justice, hear our prayers.
God of Justice, balance the scales.
God of Justice.
Hear our prayers.
 *Corrected to reflect that Woody and Mia were never actually married, but merely living together. Their court battle was not a divorce, but a custody/financial matter after having co-habitated as family for over a decade.
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Meet Tamara Rice

    Tam is a lover of words and Jesus and family, though perhaps not in that order. She’s an editor, writer, a breast cancer survivor, and an advocate for mental health and for victims of sexual abuse.