I have scratched out “Blue Jasmine”, a movie directed by Woody Allen starring Cate Blanchett, from the list of not-to-be-missed movies this year.
From now on, I will not watch any Woody Allen movie in sympathy with the cause of Dylan Farrow, daughter of American actress Mia Farrow, who came out last week with an open letter re-opening the painful childhood episode with her adoptive father.
Last week Allen was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, given to those who have made "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment."
A few days after the award ceremonies, which Allen did not attend (the award was accepted for him by actress Diane Keaton), New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof carried the heart-wrenching letter of 28- year-old Dylan.
Part of Dylan’s letter:
“…when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.
“For as long as I could remember, my father had been doing things to me that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how often he would take me away from my mom, siblings and friends to be alone with him. I didn’t like it when he would stick his thumb in my mouth. I didn’t like it when I had to get in bed with him under the sheets when he was in his underwear. I didn’t like it when he would place his head in my naked lap and breathe in and breathe out. I would hide under beds or lock myself in the bathroom to avoid these encounters, but he always found me. These things happened so often, so routinely, so skillfully hidden from a mother that would have protected me had she known, that I thought it was normal. I thought this was how fathers doted on their daughters. But what he did to me in the attic felt different. I couldn’t keep the secret anymore.
“When I asked my mother if her dad did to her what Woody Allen did to me, I honestly did not know the answer. I also didn’t know the firestorm it would trigger. I didn’t know that my father would use his sexual relationship with my sister to cover up the abuse he inflicted on me. I didn’t know that he would accuse my mother of planting the abuse in my head and call her a liar for defending me. I didn’t know that I would be made to recount my story over and over again, to doctor after doctor, pushed to see if I’d admit I was lying as part of a legal battle I couldn’t possibly understand. At one point, my mother sat me down and told me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I was lying – that I could take it all back. I couldn’t. It was all true. But sexual abuse claims against the powerful stall more easily. There were experts willing to attack my credibility. There were doctors willing to gaslight an abused child.”
The sister Dylan referred to was Soon-Yi Previn, another adopted child of Mia Farrow with her former husband, conductor Andre Previn. Farrow and Allen were in a relationship for more than 10 years in the 80’s. In 1992, Mia farrow discovered that Allen was having an affair with her 19-year old adopted daughter, Soon Yi. Allen and Soon Yi have married and are still together with their two adopted children.
Dylan continued: “Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself.”
As expected, Allen denied Dylan’s accusation. His lawyers reminded the public that the courts have cleared their client of any wrongdoing. They accused Mia Farrow to be behind Dylan’s letter.
Kristof, in his column, said Dylan told him that she knows it’s “ ‘he said, she said’ .”
But, he said Dylan told him, “To me, it’s black and white, because I was there.”
Kristoff said he asked Dylan why she was speaking only now and she replied she wants to set the record straight and give courage to victims: “I was thinking, if I don’t speak out, I’ll regret it on my death bed.”
Dylan said “ the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.
She further said: “Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.
“But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.”
She rebuked actors and actresses friends of Allen: “What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?”
“Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse,” Dylan said.
Today, all over the world, thousands of children are victims of abuse. In the Philippines recently, a syndicate operating a cybersex den in Cebu using children was exposed. In disaster-stricken areas of Bohol, Leyte and Samar, there are reports of child traffickers actively prowling for victims.
As Kristof said, “Hundreds of thousands of boys and girls are abused each year, and they deserve support and sensitivity. “
A simple act of boycotting Allen’s films would go a long way.