I thought about so many things I could write about today (Thursday is my day in the barrel to write thoughtfully about topics that will hopefully interest you, dear readers) – there was a kernel of an idea about the state of the weeds in my garden that are the bane of my current existence, the way I approach beekeeping now that I must do it alone and without the joy it used to bring, what it’s like to be almost old enough to collect Social Security and working out with a trainer two days a week and running after a puppy 24/7… None of these topics inspire today (and you’re probably saying, “Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one.”)
Not so fast there, pardner.
I’m pretty much just riled up today, well I was yesterday, too, and – not that I want to rile you up along with me – I might as well just write about the thing that’s making me gnash my teeth.
Here’s a question: if we ignore, acquiesce, rationalize the appalling behavior of “artists” like, oh, say, Woody Allen (or Bill Cosby, or Roman Polanski, pick any number of professional athletes or music performers, politicians…gah, so many candidates) – purchase tickets to their performances, films, games; watch their programs on television, or streaming media; vote to keep them in office, promote them, fail to prosecute them for actual crimes committed — are we complicit in their behavior? Are we sanctioning their evilness and does it taint us, too? The media certainly gives many or most of these celebrities – and they are celebrities – a pass, either not addressing their transgressions or lobbing puff questions at them, offering an easy out.*
Woody Allen actually said yesterday in a press briefing before the opening night showing of “Café Society” at the Cannes Film Festival, that he couldn’t hear certain questions because he wears hearing aids.
Not that he was asked any difficult or even awkward questions.
The kerfuffle the past couple of days comes from on op-ed piece that Woody’s son with Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, wrote for The Hollywood Reporter to coincide with the film’s opening in Cannes. It spawned blog posts and commentary across the internet and social media like a wildfire. Man, Woody, you couldn’t pay for publicity like that!
Allen’s – in my opinion – predatory actions within his own, immediate family are bad enough, but his oeuvre throughout his career is a study in his obsession with sexual love between very young women and middle aged, neurotic men. He plays his own life story out on the screen over and over and, apparently, is admired for it.
I clicked on a link in my Facebook timeline early this morning that led me to an article on Salon.com about Mariel Hemingway’s new autobiography, Out Came the Sun, that addresses her relationship with Allen after the completion of their well-regarded film, “Manhattan”. She was 17. He asked her to go with him to Paris. Her parents encouraged her to go, everyone knowing that to do so was to agree to be his lover. She was the adult in the situation and said no.
What’s got me inflamed today are the comments to the Salon article, which are typical of many responses to reporting on Allen – like, making excuses for Allen, justifying his invitation to cross state lines and international borders with a teenager because the legal age of consent in New York was and still is 17. They bash Allen’s daughter Dylan as a liar or delusional, a pawn of a vindictive mother. I couldn’t stomach it.
Predators are all around, vast, vast numbers will never get their names in a newspaper or be the subject of conversation outside of their immediate circles or neighborhoods, but when a celebrity is allowed to continue preying on their victims without serious consequences because they are bankable or too well-known to prosecute, when their victims bear the onslaught of blame and recriminations from fans and audiences who continue to support the perpetrator, do we become accessories to their transgressions? I don’t know the answer, but it worries me.
UPDATE: Susan Sarandon, an actor I have always admired, sat on a panel at the Cannes Film Festival, along side Geena Davis, discussing women’s issues in the film industry. She was asked about Woody Allen’s remarks early in the week that he had no material for a film about love between an older woman and younger man — turning his usual and customary story line on its head. (His hearing aids do nothing for his astounding tone deafness.)
Sarandon, who has cajones to rival any man in her field, said, “I have nothing good to say about Woody Allen, so I don’t think we should go there.” She said she believed he’d “sexually assaulted a child, and I don’t think that’s right.” Glorious woman.
*For shear ick factor, and a notable exception to the Free Pass Rule, not many artists can rival R. Kelly who was outed by the Chicago Sun-Times, a Chicago TV station and MTV News for being caught on video having sex with and urinating on an underage girl, just before he was to perform in the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Olympics. He was charged with 21 counts of child pornography. Additional, similar charges were filed and then dropped against him in Florida. After a long and winding road, his trial in Cook County, IL finally started in May 2008. The trial took about three weeks and, after less than a day of deliberations, the jury acquitted him on all counts. His Wikipedia page calls him, “one of the most successful R&B artists of the last 25 years”, “one of the best-selling music artists in the United States with over 30 million albums sold as well as only the fifth black artist to enter the top 50 of the same list” and quotes Rolling Stone Magazine: “arguably the most important R&B figure of the 1990s and 2000s”.
Don’t get me started on Dennis Hastert.