Some background: My husband and I used to see every single Woody Allen movie that played in our college town, which were many, it being a college town. I think I've told the story here before but when we hadn't been seeing each other all that long, he asked me to go with him to see the newest Woody Allen, which was Annie Hall. We always went to the dollar matinees, which was what we could afford if we scraped down deep and we never got popcorn or soda or candy. Which was fine: I never missed that stuff. So, I'm sitting in a fairly packed matinee with this guy I've just started seeing, although we knew each other for some time before that through some volunteer work we did at a crisis center/hotline. Mutual friends had quietly pulled me aside and mentioned to me that Matt was great, but well, a little weird. And he was/is as we all are, but not in any bad way. We both took a class on Carl Jung and used to have a lot of discussions about the collective unconscious, which is weird, I suppose but not in a creepy way. We weren't getting stoned or being too political or anything like that. Our first date was to see a student performance (Indiana University had a wonderful theater program and excellent music school and its operas were reviewed by the New York Times) of Oedipus Rex. If you know the story of Oedipus, you know that was a weird first date. But I digress. We're in this fairly crowded afternoon matinee and suddenly, Matt sits up really straight and says very loudly: "That's my Uncle Donnie! No one told me he was in this movie!" His uncle, the late Donald Symington, portrayed Annie Hall's father and no one had thought to let him know, in case he wanted to see his uncle in a more famous than usual for him movie. Of course, I was shocked/a bit frightened--having your uncle in a Woody Allen play seemed very improbable to me and a number of people turned and glared at us. After the film, he explained his uncle was an actor (I saw him in that film and he also played Helena Bonham's father in Mighty Aphrodite and in a number of plays in our area when we lived in Michigan. He also did some Broadway stuff --The King and I, for one, and also was on at least one soap waaaay back when. Wonderful uncle, very generous and funny.) So, that sort of cemented our minor Woody Allen obsession, which lasted up to the time when the news about Soon Yi. Around this time in my life, I was mostly having/raising kids, trying to complete a degree, volunteering an insane number hours and somehow, I didn't really know much about the molestation allegations, except that the general consensus was that it was just Mia who was angry that Woody had an affair with her daughter. I found Allen's behavior with Soon Yi to be despicable and still do. Not mainly because it was a betrayal of the woman with whom he had a long standing romantic relationship and with whom he adopted and had a biological child with (or thought he was his bio kid) but because it was, to me, a gross betrayal of a girl who had surely seen him in a paternal role since he was the legal father of three of her siblings. It seemed to be extremely inappropriate and grotesque, amounting to emotional incest if not legal incest. Yes, I am aware that Allen and Farrow never married but they did adopt two kids together and had a bio child together, although it seems that the paternity of their son is questionable. They were a family, if a somewhat unconventional one.
I had almost completely forgotten the never very clear allegations that he molested one of his kids and frankly, was never sure which one or he gender of the child. I saw very few films of his after that--only a few, actually since that time, and my enjoyment has always been tainted by the Soon Yi affair. It would have been more tainted if I had been more aware of the molestation charges. As I said, at the time it was portrayed as just Crazy Mia who collected lots of kids freaking out and being all jealous. I sort of bought into that and honestly didn't really think much about it. Surely if the allegations were true, he would have been arrested.
I was that naive. Actually, I think that it was highly unlikely that even if there was photographic evidence that he would have been arrested. He was bigger than Polanski, after all.
Dylan/Malone's letter is heart breaking and actually convincing and completely plausible to me.
The counter piece: not so much. If Allen had been engaging in some molestation or 'inappropriate touching' of Dylan, it would have been a compulsion, not really so much as consciously chosen behavior the way it would be if he had decided to take up with the nanny, for example. As for him 'being on his best behavior' during the separation/legal proceedings: No one is, really. Ever. And frankly, it would have been extremely stressful for all of them, including Allen, and to me, that makes it much more likely that Allen would have crossed a line that he perhaps never imagined crossing before.
As for adoption agencies awarding two children to him and to Soon Yi: so what? He was rich and famous and only an idiot does not think that mattered greatly. Lots of people adopt who should never be allowed near children: Joan Crawford, anyone? to mention one very infamous example. Charges were never brought but there are claims that it wasn't because there was no reason but rather to spare Dylan--something that happens very, very often today and even more 20 years ago. And Mia was just crazy of course--except that she's not crazy at all and seems to have done a phenomenal job in raising children from very diverse backgrounds with some very difficult challenges.
The author of the counter piece seems to believe that he would have known if Woody Allen were the kind of man to molest a child. The arrogance of that stance is overwhelming. My mother in law was molested by her father, as was her younger half sister. When they told their mother (who was divorced from him by that time), they were told not to say such disgusting things! He was quite admired as an intellectual and as a translator and all around famous person in the artsy and intellectual scene in NYC and Europe, particularly France in those days. That whole relationship: my husband's grandmother and her 3 husbands and 3 daughters and all of the very famous and very rich people they hung out with is worthy of a soap and a mini series, actually. Or two. I knew this famous grandfather of my husband who molested his daughter and refused to acknowledge that she was his daughter and was actually quite a filthy old man when he began to lose his marbles a bit. It seems to contradict what my mother in law told us after he died==the molestation== but she was both damaged enough and generous enough that she still adores her mother who refused to believe her and stop the gross stuff and she maintained a relationship with her father and allowed him to be a grandfather to her sons--he was a wonderful grandfather and frankly a very charming, delightful teller of all kinds of stories and teacher of chess and many other things that delight children and an audience. My husband was angry with his mother for telling him. She told him because our youngest son was born about 9 months after the grandfather's death and we gave our son his great grandfather's name as a middle name. I wanted to change the name immediately but husband refused. I had many long, serious talks about him needing to get over his outrage that his mother said mean things about the grandfather he idolized and that she needed and deserved to be believed and supported.
I have no doubt that my mother in law told the truth. It makes too much sense. But none of his many admirers would have believed a word of it.
The molester in my family went on to be ordained as a minister--and to be divorced by two wives who alleged abuse (I am sure they were not lying) and very probably molested his step daughters, although he managed to shut their mother up by pilfering my uncle's estate of all funds. About a year ago, my father's widow (I was married with 4 kids when she and my dad married and although I love her, I don't see her as 'step mother') told me the shocking story she had heard from my (by this time deceased) late in life companion that my female cousin claimed she had been molested by her brother and wasn't that a terrible lie. I told her that I knew as a fact that it wasn't a lie and then told her about a few of the things that I had witnessed and that he had tried to do to me. She was shocked--everyone thought he was such a good Christian who just married greedy women who left him and made up stories because he didn't make a lot of money. The fortunate thing about all of this is that no church was crazy enough to give him a congregation or even charge of a youth group. They must have smelled it on him. Thank heavens. Sincerely: I am grateful. I never told anyone what he tried with me because I was sure I wouldn't be believed or that my father would kill him or both. I just made sure he was never near my sisters. And eventually learned just what his pain threshold was and put an end to his nonsense.
Think about how long the Catholic Church denied, covered up allegations of abuse, even when they knew them to be true. It is completely plausible to me that Woody Allen molested his daughter, and completely plausible to me that he never considered anything he did to be inappropriate.
Last edited by tgir
on February 2nd, 2014, 3:30 am, edited 4 times in total.