Monday, February 24, 2014

Joann Wypijewski on Woody Allen in The Nation

Joann Wypijewski has written the strongest attack yet against the smear campaign against Woody Allen. Printed in The Nation magazine----you should just read the whole thing on their website here.

It begins:

In November 1992, Vanity Fair published an article about the bitter breakup of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen that concluded: “A gripping courtroom drama may be in the making, one that would undoubtedly give tabloid TV its highest ratings ever. Or things could be settled overnight. Left unresolved, however, is the healing process.” The timbre of that conclusion, a combination of hoped-for salaciousness and therapeutic cliché, is typical of its author, Maureen Orth, a journalist breathless for the lurid detail, who years later would relay as fact any story of priestly perversion an accuser or his personal injury lawyer fed her.

...Ordinarily, an overgrown gossip column with pretensions wouldn’t matter either, except that this one, “Mia’s Story,” was angled to popularize a claim of child sexual abuse against Allen; and now, twenty-two years later, its gossip, innuendo and selective quotations have been presented as the evidence-never-entered in the criminal-trial-that-never-was by writers, bloggers and Twitterers hungry to play the role of stand-in for the prosecution.

The truth is, we don’t know the truth. And there is nothing high-minded or radical or feminist in pretending that we do...  
It goes on to discuss the climate at the time---the wave of false accusations of child abuse at the time---false memories, Woody's relationship with Soon-Yi and Soon-Yi's with him.

People who agree with Wypijewski have little to add, so the comments on the article are almost all from people attacking her and Allen.

It is having some effect, though. Maybe it's just the nature of The Nation magazine, but comments on this article seem a bit less likely to claim that Soon-Yi was Woody's daughter, adopted daughter, or step-daughter. They aren't stating that Woody and Mia were married, although I think one said that they had what some people might refer to as a "common-law relationship". (I've heard of a "common-law marriage", but never a "common-law relationship".) No one's claiming they lived together, or that Woody helped raise Soon-Yi or was a father figure to her.

Maybe this has been going on long enough that people are becoming better informed, or maybe the people writing this stuff have known all along that they're full of crap but were consciously lying to make their case sound stronger.

I've stated my opinion, or repeated John Baxter's, that Eric Lax was a good part of the problem. Lax wrote a fawning biography of Allen. He idolized him all out of proportion. Relatively few people read the book, of course----I didn't----but I heard Lax on the Larry King radio show and heard him interviewed on other radio shows. He claimed that Woody and Mia's relationship wasn't just like a marriage----he claimed it was BETTER than a marriage. They were closer and their relationship was far stronger than any ordinary married couple.

Later, after the break-up, when Lax was interviewed on NPR, he was at a loss to explain it.

But this probably is why people have the idea that Woody and Mia were married or living together and why they thought he was Soon-Yi's father, adopted father, step-father or step-father-equivalent or at least a father figure.

By all accounts, Woody ignored Mia's children. It wasn't very nice of him. But this was according to Maureen Orth's articles, to Mia Farrow's memoir, to what we know of the testimony in the custody hearing, to Woody Allen himself, and to the anguished letter Moses Farrow wrote to Woody when he was fourteen. The way Moses put it was that Woody spoiled the little ones and ignored the older kids. It came out in the trial that Woody knew little about even his own children----what school they went to, who their teachers were, what their interests were. He knew nothing about their pets, didn't know who their pediatricians were. Moses had cerebral palsy, which Woody knew but that was all he knew.

I think it was in Mia's memoir that she said that she broke up with Woody a few times over the years, cutting off contact. But he would keep calling and they would start seeing each other again. She suspected that Woody slept with other women and now Mia Farrow has announced that she was sleeping with her elderly ex-husband the whole time. Mia and Woody didn't get married simply because they weren't that committed to each other.

Hell, they could have gotten married and continued to live apart.

The story Eric Lax told was that they both had failed marriages and Woody was either too neurotic or too much of a genius to live a normal married life. This turned out not to be true since he's been married to Soon-Yi for twenty years. They have two children.

Woody and Mia adopted children together not because they were just like a married couple---they adopted them together because they didn't think their relationship would change. It would just go along like that forever.

There was a news report a while back about a psychological study. People recognize how much their lives have changed in the past, but they don't think their lives will change in the future. It's why people get tattoos without considering the possibility that they'll some day regret it.

Woody and Mia realized that their lives were far different from what they had been when Mia was married to Andre Previn, or Woody was married to Louise Lasser. But they figured this was it. This was how they'd spend the rest of their lives. So, even if Woody wasn't anything like a husband, he may as well adopt the kids if relationship was permanent.

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