Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Woody Allen debate

I lost interest in Woody Allen a long time ago. I laughed at Annie Hall and some of his earlier works. Then I got tired of his poor-me, whiny act and wanted him to grow up. His films stopped speaking to me as I aged and was looking for something with more depth and balance. His drooling obsession with young girls as he continued to age grossed me out.

We don't need to question Dylan and try to prove her wrong. We need to back off from her and not blame the victim. She was a young kid in the midst of this storm and has needed time to sort herself out. She has as much right to put her story out there and have us listen if that helps her to heal and move on. Would we be doubting her story if the prep wasn't famous?

Fact is, many writers, painters, actors and artists are fucked up creeps who act badly. Look at how Picasso treated his wives and children. Gauguin deserted his eight children. Gertrude Stein was a misogynist who didn't treat Alice properly. Orson Scott Card is a homophone right wing Christian.  Van Morrison is mean. There are thousands of examples of how the body of work doesn't match up to the personality. 

We need to acknowledge that often the creative spirit does flow through flawed humans allowing them to produce great works of art that speak to us. to. Even after producing these works, they remain human with all their foibles and bad behaviour. 

The lack of privacy in the world has stripped us of this illusion that great art is made by great men and women who are somehow above us mere mortals.  In the past when we didn't know about the real lives of artist we could turn a blind eye and keep our lovely fantasy. We separated the art from the person by default of not having enough information about their lives.  It's harder these days when there is no privacy.

This is the argument around Woody Allen and his sexual abuse incident. We are being asked to separate the body of work from the person's behaviour and not judge his work based on this incident with his daughter. I agree with that but it's got to be a two way street. If we are being asked to keep his work separate, then it also shouldn't be used as a reason not to hold him responsible or sweep his behaviour under the red carpet.  Being an artist doesn't excuse you from your commitment to the rest of humanity to be a decent person and not hurt others. 

In the end, it really is between the Farrow-Allen family to sort things out and try to heal. I wish Dylan all the best. I hope Woody Allen can use his many years of psycho-analysis to recognize his part in all of this and help heal the wounds.