Allen VS Farrow, Fantasy as a Weapon

I finished the HBO series! And it was fascinating and infuriating and something that I feel like everyone should know about if they are interested, even if they don’t have 4 hours to spare or an HBO subscription. So here is my quick summary of thoughts as someone who actually saw it, feel free to ask questions about anything else you want to know in the comments. Or not read this post at all if you feel like you already know enough.

I have always found the Woody Allen abuse allegations situation very confusing. I had this sense of Mia Farrow as this unstable woman with a ton of kids who somehow had a sick need to be needed, and Woody Allen as a kind of creepy guy who liked young women. Both of them at fault, both of them odd weird celebrity people.

Mia Farrow's Children: Where Are They Now? | PEOPLE.com

And now I can see that this was a crafted story. It’s not two crooked people, it’s one Evil person who worked very very hard to spin the world and make it seem crooked. And because he struck first, and struck without any morality or logic or care for anything but protecting himself, he has had years and YEARS of making this seem like a story with two sides.

My father is a lawyer, and he mentioned recently when I was talking about some true crime something, that in his experience there is this urge by juries and everyone to look for the grey in between. If one witness says “the car was blue” and another witness says “the car was grey”, everyone assumes the car was blue-grey. But that’s not the case. One person is straight up lying and one person is telling the truth. If one person says “he robbed me” and someone else says “She gave me the money”, the answer isn’t “he thought she gave him the money willingly, but she felt threatened”. The answer is, “he robbed her and now he is lying about it”.

Evil people take advantage of that instinct. So if Kangana Ranaut comes out with this fantastic story of Hrithik proposing and then dumping her, we are going to say “well, they were probably in a relationship, she just exaggerated”. We aren’t going to say “it is 100% completely totally fabricated”. And when Woody Allen offers us the easier thing to believe, that he fell in love with his girlfriend’s adult daughter and it was inappropriate and surprising and wrong, and lead to a lot of messy false accusations, we are going to believe that. He was a little wrong, Mia was a little wrong, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Hrithik vs Kangana, Jan 2019: Looking back at Bollywood's ugliest spat -  Movies News
On the left is a normal person, on the right is a liar, and that’s all there is

But the truth ISN’T in the middle!!!! That is a false human need. Often it is simply black and white, one person is telling the unvarnished truth and the other is not.

And in this case, I feel kind of a moral obligation to amplify the truth, because the lies are so powerful and have been around for so long.

Let’s take a step back. Mia Farrow’s family is like 50% (at least) of the families in America, it is not a wacky Hollywood family, it is a blended family with a single Mom. She was raised in a large Catholic family, 7 kids, and wanted a large family herself. She had 6 kids (3 adopted, 3 biological) with her husband Andre Previn. And then that marriage fell apart while she was in the process of adopting another child, who she ended up adopting as a single mother. She was a single Mom of 7 kids and figured she wouldn’t be able to have a traditional relationship because her kids would always come first. And then she met Woody, and he didn’t want a traditional relationship, he didn’t want that responsibility, he was fine with coming second to the kids and having separate houses and stuff. After several years together, he got better and better with her kids and they came to see him as a stepfather, and it was time for them to start a second family together. They had 2 children, adopted Dylan and biological Ronan. And Woody also adopted Moses, who Mia had adopted as a single parent shortly after her divorce.

The Farrow family, from left: Mia Farrow, Patrick Farrow, Maureen Stock  Photo - Alamy
Why does this family of 7 kids where Mia grew up look like a “classic American family” and Mia as a divorced Mom with a mixed race group of kids looks like a nutty Hollywood Mom?

Forget that the kids are adopted, because really that shouldn’t matter. And forget that these are celebrities. Let’s say there is a woman who was married for 11 years and had 6 kids and then her husband left her. She had another child after the divorce and now had 7 kids, the youngest without a father. She meets a new guy and cautiously introduces him to her family and eventually they decide to have kids together. So she has 6 kids with her husband of 11 years, and now her new partner has adopted the one child who has no father and they have 2 more kids together. This is actually the typical American family, as it is today. How many families do you know where there is a first set of kids with a different father, and a second set with the stepfather? It’s everywhere!!!

Where it gets weird is when Woody and Mia have their first child together, Dylan. He is obsessed with the baby. Mia thinks it is just because it is their first child, but then Ronan is born, it Woody doesn’t seem to care about him. Something is clearly wrong with Woody and Dylan. Mia sends Dylan to therapy, and demands Woody go to therapy too because their relationship is not healthy. Dylan tells her therapist that she and Daddy have a “secret”, she starts crying and hiding when Woody comes to the house, the other kids and their friends all understand that when Woody arrives, they can’t play with Dylan any more, because he will want “Daddy-daughter time”. It gets worse and worse as she gets older, but Woody’s therapist tells Mia he just doesn’t understand how to be “appropriate” with his daughter, and it is up to her to police him and tell him when he is being wrong (Bad people = good at picking therapists who are enablers).

And then Mia finds naked photos of her teenage daughter Soon-yi in Woody’s desk and breaks up with him. Woody tells her that Soon-yi means nothing to him, that it is just sex. Mia is devastated, worried about her relationship with her daughter, trying to figure out how to move forward. And in the midst of all of this, Woody shows up at the house while Mia is gone and takes Dylan away with him and rapes her. She tells her mother almost immediately, her mother takes her to a doctor, the doctor has to call the police because he is a mandated reporter, the district attorney immediately decides there is enough evidence to press charges what with all the many witnesses to testify that Woody has always been inappropriate with Dylan (burying his head in her crotch, making her suck his thumb, etc. etc.). Child protective services also opens a case in New York and immediately confirms abuse and recommends that the father not be allowed to see his daughter any more.

And this is the point at which Woody comes out with a self-deprecating press conference about how, without meaning to, he fell in love with 21 year old Soon-Yi. And suddenly he changes the story from “molesting father and child protection” to “I’m just a helpless middle-aged guy who can’t resist a beautiful young woman”. And that’s the story that he managed to sell, all over the world.

Soon-Yi Previn on Mia Farrow and Woody Allen
Soon-yi, on the right, age either 14 or 11.

Suddenly the standard American family of older kids with one father, and younger kids with a different father, is turned into this Crazy Hollywood Lady. And suddenly this story of a father who has been sexually inappropriate with his daughter almost since birth is turned into the story of a middle-aged man falling for a 21 year old.

And why do we accept the 21 year old part of it so easily? See, that’s actually what bothers me more in terms of the narrative. Woody took a truly unacceptable by any standards story (rape, incest, child abuse) and turned it into a story that we really shouldn’t have accepted either and yet we did.

First, the age of “21” was a lie. Or sort of a lie. Soon-yi was rescued from the streets, the orphanage had no idea of her actual age when she was adopted. But Mia raised her as though she was 18 at that point. She and Woody got together her senior year of high school, in Mia’s eventually custody case his housekeeper testified to changing sex dirtied sheets after Soon-Yi left, IN HER SCHOOL UNIFORM.

Second, Woody’s art is a stream of ephebophilia (sexual attraction to pubescent girls). His love interests are always considerably younger than him, and he even showed a romance with a 17 year old high school student in the movie Manhattan. He knew the public would accept “gee whiz, I accidentally fell in love with my girlfriend’s high school student daughter” as an excuse because he knew they had accepted similar storylines in his movies for years.

We also accepted “well, Soon-Yi was adopted, so Mia wasn’t really her mother, or something” as an excuse. NO! That’s not how it works! She wasn’t adopted as a baby, but Mia raised her from age 5 or 6 or 7 and worried about her and made her part of the family. Even taking the older age estimate, she was only 9 when Woody started dating Mia and first met her kids. By the younger estimate, she was 7 (coincidentally (or not) the same age Dylan was when Woody raped her).

Woody Allen admits he is involved with Soon-Yi Previn, adopted daughter of  his former partner Mia Farrow, in 1992 - New York Daily News
Oh yeah, Soon-Yi is clearly seducing Woody. NOT!

There’s a fictional narrative that celebrities create around themselves, everyone does it, you have to in order to survive being so famous. But what is Evil is when that narrative is used as a weapon to fight against the truth. Woody Allen took his “loser” identity from his films and made us believe that he was a “loser” in life too. That he had no power, either to defend himself from abuse allegations or to resist a seductive 21 year old college student. But, NO! He is very VERY wealthy, very VERY capable of defending himself both against accusations and against a seductive woman. He had the child protective services investigator fired and the report hidden (for real, the investigator went to court to get his job back and won, and his supervisor quit her job afterwards in protest). The original psychiatric investigator team gave Woody the report before they gave it to the prosecutors, and made the investigators involved destroy their notes. And that’s on top of a media blitz in which his story got out there everywhere. One thing I got from this documentary is that you want to watch for the same language used again and again by multiple people (celebrities, talking heads, journalist articles). You think it is true because the same thing is said again and again, but that is just a poison seed that has grown in many places.

That is the evil celebrities can do. It’s using the lie they create as a weapon. You have to create a lie, you create a lie to protect yourself and to help promote your work, and that’s okay. But it is not okay when it is turned around and used for offense, not just for defense.

The entertainment industry’s sole purpose is to sell us fantasies. Start by accepting that, and not being angry about it, that just is what it is. On it’s own, it is not necessarily good or bad, simply exists. But it is NOT okay when that fantasy is used for Evil.

I will take this a little farther. It’s not just that the celebrities can use their fantasy to defend their own individual Evil, it’s that their breaking of the truth can create so MANY horrible consequences. In the case of Woody Allen, his defense of himself ended up hurting the idea of single mothers, of adoptive parents, of child sexual abuse survivors, of overly sexualized Asian women, of every greater category of prejudice it was useful for him to weaponize. Mia at the end admits that she is still scared of Woody because “A person who has no allegiance to truth, is someone to be scared of”. And she’s right.

19 thoughts on “Allen VS Farrow, Fantasy as a Weapon

    • At this point it feels more like “can I personally enjoy any of his films any more? No, personally, I cannot. It is too icky”

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      • I always thought he was a creep. And I never understood how somehow it was ok for him to fall for Soon-Yi and Mia was painted as a bitter, old shrew.

        There were a lot of problems with how the media handled that shitshow. Glad this documentary came out now.

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        • Yes! I didn’t realize until watching the documentary how much his team spun basic facts, like describing Soon-Yi consistently as “Mia’s grown daughter” or “A 21 year old college student” so we had this vision of Soon-Yi as an adult, and someone who wasn’t really part of Mia’s household any more. But no, she was a college freshman (barely), and still living at home. Describing her as “Mia’s teenage daughter” would have been more accurate and made people realize how SICK it was.

          On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 10:55 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. Tighten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride. First, read this: https://mosesfarrow.blogspot.com/2018/05/a-son-speaks-out-by-moses-farrow.html
    Moses Farrow has cerebral palsy; he is extraordinarily bright and kind. He speaks very slowly and therefore cannot jump into an argument. He also walks very slowly. He is honest and rational.
    I know this because I witnessed Mia’s parenting first hand and heard about it from Moses when he was 13, long before any of this. She was neglectful and absent (if not physically then mentally). How do I know all this you ask? I was Moses’ 8th grade teacher. Because it was hard for him to answer in class, I spent extra time with him. As I said, he is kind and so he didn’t say much about his family but various details would slip out and it was clear that Mia was not the loving mother she portrayed herself as. When I read the article in the Times ( it was an op-ed piece) I said to my husband, “Anything Moses says is true.” But he is not being listened to. I have some theories as to why the press prefers blonde blue eyed Dylan and Mia’s version to Moses’ but you extrapolate. And by the way, what kind of person with the last name Farrow (as in Pharoh) gives the child the first name Moses…that’s mean from the start.

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    • This is interesting, the second comment on this post is a defense with a link of Woody Allen. The only time I have had comment responses in defense so fast is when I post on Kangana, or Priyanka.

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  2. The documentary was so great. I was glad they showed all the information that immediately discredits all the false narratives that have spun because of Allen throughout and mostly in the last episode. Personally, I’ve never been too attached to his films, simply by my age. Though the only films I’ve ever seen of his were ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘Magic in the Moonlight’, the former which was a favourite. I can honestly live without his films, which I know is a luxury. I’m just mad that European countries still distribute and produce his films, as well as Roman Polanski’s. Like, can we not!!

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    • Yes! Especially the “Mia is a wacky bad mother” narrative. I am reading through older comments about the show from before all the episodes were up, and so many people started from “Mia’s nuts and cruel” and used as evidence that all her grown children now hate her and so on and so forth. And then this show has all of the kids talk about what a great mother she is, including Moses in things he wrote to/about her in the past.

      Agree about his films, they are really smart from a film perspective, and have a lot of super clever jokes, but the heart of them is this “loser” character we are supposed to identify with and I never really did.

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  3. Woody’s narrative really works because I never knew he raped his daughter! I only knew about him and Soon Yi and only the version “Oh yeah it’s strange, but what we can do if she was adult” 🤯

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    • Yes! Somehow the Soon-Yi story became headlines around the world, but the Dylan story keeps getting lost.

      On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 4:28 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Exactly! If he was with Mia for 12 years, and he never denied that, that means he met Soon-Yi when she was a child and was introduced as her mother’s partner. That is an immediate power imbalance and just plain WRONG situation.

        On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 10:58 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Based on earlier comments, I’m gonna be controversial and say it is really hard to be a parent to 8 or more children, at least by the standards we have have for parents today. Children in smaller households get more parental attention. Was Mia neglectful? Well probably, she worked and had a busload of kids to look after. So if one of her children feels she wasn’t there for him or her, they may be right, because there was only so much of her to go around. My mother is the oldest of 8. As the oldest she perhaps got more attention than others, but she didn’t have a lot. At least her mom had some household help unlike most moms of 8 today. I know a lovely young man who had many mental problems when he was younger. It took is parents YEARS to realize he was cutting himself. Why did it take so long? He was the youngest of 8.

    Also Woody Allen’s one biological son with Mia is rumored to be Sinatra’s kid. While infidelity can happen in any family, it doesn’t make the family seem at all normal.

    However, even in bizzarre families full of infidelity, incest and father figures dating high school children is an obvious no no. I can’t see a Woody Allen movie again.

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    • Yeah, my most worstest version of this is that Mia was an overwhelmed mother that took too much on. But being an overwhelmed mother and a chaotic household isn’t an invitation “Hey, come seduce my teenage daughter and molest your 7 year old daughter, because I am a bad mother”. If we look at it from the PR/bigger message perspective, what we have is a man who molested his daughter, and seduced a high school student, who is somehow considered no worse than a woman who had too many kids. They aren’t equivalent!!!! Allen took advantage of the social instinct to hold expect mothers to be perfect in order to hide his own crimes.

      Mostly I feel like Woody is selling us a narrative in order to escape what he did, while Mia may have done things as well, but she isn’t guilty of selling us a narrative, that particular celebrity crime. Woody is doing this whole “bad mothers-sexualized teenagers-Asian girls are hot-children lie about abuse” song and dance that is just toxic.

      On Mon, Mar 15, 2021 at 7:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I have enormous respect for the wisdom of age and professionalism. Consequently, when I read your father’s remarks about truth and falsehood, I decided not to comment on this post. But then I changed my mind. I’m an intelligent, aging professional myself. I’ve been out there a long time, learned a lot, and disagree with what you wrote. Not with your conclusion necessarily; you have a right to it. But on the manner you chose to reach it.

    You watched a documentary made by a wealthy, talented woman in the entertainment business about a wealthy, talented man in the entertainment business, and decided it’s all true. But truth like hope, is a thing with feathers. It’s not rock solid; it flies away in the wind. In a court of law, and I beg your father’s pardon, sworn testimony is subjective and open to dispute. Mia doesn’t know what happened, nor does Moses, or even poor Dylan. Only Woody knows.

    I’ll continue to watch films he directs and films starring Mia Farrow. To those who also want to watch but feel some guilt, they might consider that two investigations supposedly conducted by disinterested parties, found no evidence of abuse.

    But you never know. Which is my point.

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    • It’s interesting with celebrity cases, that there is this second level of judgement we each get to make on a personal level. Do we want to continue consuming these works or not? There is no law, no one rule, it is something we get to decide on a personal level.

      One thing I would point to that is obvious and clear and I am glad this documentary outlined, is that Woody normalized the idea of a grown man “falling in love” with a teenager, and somehow no one noticed. Both in his films and in how he handled the Soon-Yi story, he started with the premise of “of course it is normal for a 50-something to fall in love with/be attracted to a college student”. And that I do not appreciate. Even if he did fall in love with Soon-Yi, I would have preferred he acknowledged that it was morally wrong, not just unusual.

      On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 11:18 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. So are you conflating the marriage to Soon-Yi and the abuse allegations thereby making the assumption that he was attracted to her when she was Dylan’s age? That’s not part of the allegation.

    Men in their 50s can be, and frequently are, attracted to college girls. Professors sleep with/marry their students all the time. My mother married her doctor. She was 16, he was 33. But that was another time, another culture.

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    • Professors certainly have slept with their students and today they would be fired for it. I am happy it is no longer accepted. A good friend is married to a man 30 years older than her, they are happy, but she was a full adult when they married, in her late 20s.

      There is nothing okay about an older man dating his girlfriend’s teenage daughter. 17, 18, 19…. legally these ages make a difference but emotionally the difference is minor. Woody Allen shattered boundaries within families and society by sleeping with his adopted daughter. Maybe it wasn’t illegal, but it was wrong. But you have every right to continue to watch his films, that is your choice.

      Your earlier lines about truth were beautiful and poetic. I don’t know if I agree with them, but I enjoyed reading them.

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