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OPINION - Dylan Farrow's letter

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Once I saw Woody Allen in public. I didn’t recognize him at first. He was walking near the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. His hand was around the waste of a much younger woman – who turned out to be his wife, Soon-Yi Previn. The couple was so odd, so mismatched, that I did a double-take. It was then that I realized that who they were. It was 1999. He was 64. She was 27.

Soon-Yi was 19 when their relationship began. Although he was not legally her step-father, Allen was the long-standing partner of her adoptive mother Mia Farrow. It became public when Farrow discovered nude photos. Allen met Soon-Yi when she was 11, and was the father figure in that home as she grew up.

Allen was investigated for sexually abusing his 7-year-old adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. Investigators believed the allegations, but determined there was not enough evidence to bring charges.

After Woody Allen was honored for his filmmaking at the Oscar Awards, Dylan wrote an open letter claiming that the allegations from 1993 were true.

Her story is detailed and graphic. She claimed Woody Allen took her into an attic room at their home, had her lie on her stomach and watch her brother’s model trains go around the room when she was sexually violated. She alleges a pattern of inappropriate intimacy initiated by Allen during her childhood.  

Why would she write such a difficult letter 20 years later? Dylan is married now, lives under an assumed name, and hasn’t seen him in years. Maybe she’s bitter to see Hollywood lavish praise on her abuser. There might be special burdens when your attacker is a public figure whose face is seen so often. Maybe a victim dies a little inside as they realize that the rules are different for celebrities. Or perhaps she’s been pressured by her other siblings. (Ronan Farrow says he considers Woody Allen to be his bother-in-law instead of his father, since Allen married his sister. He is estranged from his father – going so far as to airbrush him out of family photographs.) Of course, there’s the unmistakable possibility that the allegations are true. It’s certainly the explanation that makes the most sense. It fits the totality of what's known about his personal life, and a man who's sexual tastes are outside of the norms.

I’ve always found Woody Allen’s movies to be self-absorbed and long-winded. He’s funny. But he has a style of quirky, roundabout storytelling. He’s not as good as the Academy thinks he is. His personal life disturbs me to the point that I'm uncomfortable seeing him on-screen. I'm surprised that the Hollywood-set so easily forgives his bohemian lifestyle in the name of praising his work.

I have no interest in seeing his films. It’s impossible to separate the artist from his art. And I believe the artist is a monster.

Chris Conley

Image: Woody Allen in concert at Carlyle Hotel, New York City   via WikiCommons.com