Your Source for Feminist Discourse

Quick Hit: Separating the Art from the Artist

*trigger warning: sexual assault

Last Saturday, Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of director, actor and writer Woody Allen published an open letter where she speaks about an alleged sexual assault she experienced perpetrated by Allen. Farrow writes:

 “Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me.”

To give a quick background, Farrow, now 28, was adopted by Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow. When Dylan Farrow was 7 years old, she was sexually assaulted by her father. Dylan and her mother took the case to court, but Allen has always denied any allegations and was never charged with any crimes.

I am not here to dispute whether sexual assault was committed. I believe it is always best to side with the victim in the case of sexual assault allegations, and this is the assumption I am working under.

Woody Allen walked away a free man from this case and has had to face very little consequence for his crimes. Conversely, he has also written, starred in, and directed some of the most iconic and critically acclaimed films over the past four decades. His talent for filmmaking is undeniable, which is largely why (as some would claim) he has been able to hide from his past as a sexual predator so easily.

My conflict is over how we reconcile consuming the art someone such as Woody Allen produces without in turn supporting the choices they make in their personal lives. Is this possible? This is a question I struggle with because I am so enamored with what Allen has contributed to the film industry, and yet so disgusted with the chaos and trauma he created in Dylan Farrow’s life. Is it the responsibility of Hollywood to punish Allen, especially for something that happened so long ago? What are your thoughts?

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