Is time finally up for Woody Allen? Some people seem to think so — we are, after all, in the midst of a cultural reckoning about sexual assault, harassment, and coercion. Despite being a known creep at best and child molester at worst, Allen has for years been spared from a public backlash — at least until now. At the Golden Globes, Greta Gerwig (who worked on Allen’s To Rome With Love in 2012) offered a stuttering non-answer when asked about him, only to release an apologetic statement claiming she’d never work with him again. Two actors from his forthcoming film, A Rainy Day in Manhattan, recently pledged to donate the entirety of their salaries to sexual abuse-related charities. In a statement on Instagram, Rebecca Hall said she was “profoundly sorry” for her role in the movie and said she wouldn’t make the same decision now if given the chance.
“I see, not only how complicated this matter is, but that my actions have made another woman feel silenced and dismissed. That is not something that sits easily with me in the current or indeed any moment,” Hall wrote. That’s all well and good, but it’s not like the allegations against Allen are new. (Hall had appeared in Allen’s 2008 film Vicky Cristina Barcelona.) The only thing that has changed in the “seven or so months” since Hall agreed to be in Allen’s film is that it’s no longer socially acceptable — or, more importantly, professionally advantageous — to be friendly with known sex creeps like Allen and Harvey Weinstein.
Allen was accused of sexually abusing his then-seven-year-old stepdaughter, Dylan Farrow, in 1992. A judge found that Allen’s behavior toward Farrow was “grossly inappropriate,” thanks in part to the testimony of three corroborating witnesses, and ruled that “measures must be taken to protect her.” Five years later, Allen married another one of his stepdaughters, Soon-Yi Previn, who was in her 20s at the time. In a rational world, Allen’s predatory (or merely creepy, depending on who you ask) behavior would have dented his career in the ‘90s. At the very least, Allen’s reputation would have been ruined in 2014, when Farrow wrote about the abuse she experienced as a child for the New York Times.
That’s obviously not what happened.
Instead, Allen went on to direct more than two dozen films in the 26 years that passed since Farrow’s initial accusation. People made excuses for Woody Allen because they didn’t want to see what was so clearly there. They didn’t want to admit that a person whose movies they enjoyed — or starred in — was capable of something as heinous as abusing a child, let alone a child he was supposed to be caring for. He’s so talented! He was never convicted of anything! He was never technically found guilty! He and Farrow were in the middle of a nasty divorce, and, you know, is a child’s account really that reliable? If he were really a pedophile, would he be such a good artist? If he were really a pedophile, wouldn’t people stop funding and starring in and promoting his films?
It’s likely the allegations against Harvey Weinstein — which, in an interview with the BBC, Allen cautioned could lead to a “witch hunt atmosphere,” because of course he did — are what finally convinced people of the uselessness of protecting the powerful men accused of horrible crimes. You can see the self-interest at play: For years, Weinstein (and Allen) were Hollywood gatekeepers. Play along, and you might get cast in an Oscar-winning movie, or at least bolster your credibility as a serious actor. What does one inappropriately fondled actress or child matter in the long run, anyways?
The revelation of the Weinstein allegations inspired a wave of empowerment amongst the Hollywood types prone to stamp their foot down and claim the industry could no longer be like this. But the Allen incident will inspire no such declarations. It’s been too open a case for too long, with too much independent corroboration to read anything but utter cowardice from the collaborators who will claim “witch hunt” or “due process” or “I haven’t thought about it” when asked, simply, to consider how they could work with a man accused firmly of child molestation. And if the tide is finally turning against Allen, it’s only because there is finally nothing to gain by remaining at his side.
Even still, not everyone is getting the hint. Selena Gomez — whose mother recently said she didn’t approve of her daughter’s decision to work with Allen — seems to be standing by him, even though Allen has been an alleged abuser for longer than Gomez has been alive. In a November 2017 interview with Billboard, Gomez said she “had to face and discuss” Allen’s past while considering whether she wanted to work with him. Her conclusion? “Wow, the universe works in interesting ways.” It really, really does.