Does the personal life of an artist change the way you view their art? Can you love the work and not love the person who made it? On a small scale, I find the answer to be yes. I disagree politically with almost everyone in Hollywood, but apart from that I still enjoy their work. But I found myself pondering this question on a grander scale as I read Dylan Farrow’s open letter about the abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of Woody Allen. Now personally I’ve never been a big Woody Allen fan, which was never decision made on his personal life, simply a disinterest in his work. The timid guy with glasses who, for some reason unknown to me, numerous women are keen to sleep with wears a bit thin in my opinion. But I’ve seen a fair share of his work since I majored in film and know a bunch of people who absolutely worship his filmography. Should these fans have to rethink their choice given the allegations of the man’s personal life?
I thought I’d take a look at what social media had to say on the matter. Tumblr is still a bevy of GIFs from Midnight in Paris and screenshots of Annie Hall. Occasionally you might come across a quote or link to Dylan Farrow’s letter, but the land of the perpetually offended seems to have nothing to say on the matter. Twitter is another case, there most everyone has taken Dylan Farrow’s side, calling Woody everything from a monster to a pedophile. I find myself agreeing with a number of people who find it hard to believe that Dylan Farrow made this all up. The details of the letter were terribly difficult to read and certainly does nothing but further damage the image people have of Woody Allen and his nebbish persona. But will that change the way people view his work?
There are a number of people hoping that this letter will have an effect on the Oscars, for which Woody Allen and his film Blue Jasmine are nominated. It’s difficult to imagine Hollywood making a great effort to discount a golden goose when he’s still producing eggs. Take Roman Polanski as a bench mark for where Hollywood is willing to turn its head. Despite the charges of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, he was able to carry on with his career after the court case was settled. He went on to make Chinatown, which most of my film professors praised as a great cinematic achievement and is still used in classes today. He even won an Oscar for directing Chinatown and again in 2002 for The Pianist. I suspect that nothing will happen to Woody Allen or his career over this because at the end of the day these allegations will be brushed off as just that, an allegation. Hollywood isn’t going to change; they’ve always sheltered the perverts and leeches whether they actually were guilty of or simply accused of the crime. If they have labeled you as talented and the box office reflects this then one has nothing to worry about. The punishment will lie with the filmgoer.