March 4, 2014: It is about a month after Hollywood director Woody Allen’s adopted daughter Dylan Farrow renewed sexual molestation allegations against him in Nick Kristof’s column in the New York Times on February 1, 2014. This past Sunday night, I was left to wonder whether Cate Blanchett’s acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, which upholds Hollywood as a space free from moral obligations, is, in fact, characteristic of the “palpable bitchery” that Dylan Farrow has been unfortunately accused of by author Stephen King.
Dylan, as we know, personalized her open letter by calling out to familiar Hollywood faces, in a hope to highlight how personal rape is:
What if it had been your child, Cate Blanchett? Louis CK? Alec Baldwin? What if it had been you, Emma Stone? Or you, Scarlett Johansson? You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?
Even though I was expecting Cate Blanchett to win the accolade for the Best Actress at the 86th Academy Awards, when the event actually occurred, like most devoted supporters of Dylan Farrow’s statements, I must admit that I was absolutely gutted that Blanchett failed to remember exactly how difficult it is, for victims of abuse, to speak up.
Mind you, I am in awe of Blanchett’s fantastic portrayal of a socialite who is down on her luck in Woody Allen’s critically acclaimed film Blue Jasmine. Objectively speaking, Blanchett’s acting resonates that of a superb artist at the forefront of her craft.
The contours of Blanchett’s failure can be honed in through her acceptance speech, which provides a stark contrast to the actress’s charity work, showcasing the duplicitous nature of this Australian artist’s loyalty to the plights of the disenfranchised- victims of abuse.
Blanchett is an ambassador for a telephone helpline for children of abuse in Australia, called “Kid’s Help Line.” One would assume that such an affiliation shows an acute awareness of the sensitive nature of a sexual allegations and the need to privilege such allegations- indeed, a desire to proactively participate in advancing human rights by recognizing high profile events such as the Oscars as a fantastic venue for championing important human rights causes. Yet, while speaking at length that there is money to be made and audiences like to see women cast as center stage, she sent the women’s lib movement back a hundred years, by failing to acknowledge, in her glowing tribute to one of Hollywood’s most notorious directors, the voice of a victim who has called on her directly.
When Cate Blanchett made her acceptance speech at the Oscars, she said the “world is round” and spectators want to see women cast in the center role. What she accomplishes, by highlighting the plight of female actors in a male-centric Hollywood world, is bound in the very singular exclusion, the one that every single one of her more discerning fans was hoping that this rising actress would have addressed: Blanchett made no attempt to even acknowledge Dylan Farrow’s statements.
By this very specific exclusion, we learn two very unflattering truths about Blanchett: 1. she subverts the voices and very real pleas of victims of sexual molestation and abuse, even when they are directly addressed to her, and 2. Blanchett showcases to those of us working in human rights that the road to addressing sexual abuse remains one filled with trenches, whilst a “not in my backyard” attitude is adopted by those who have the power to address the trauma associated with confessing to a molestation- any molestation, thus reinforcing the culture of shame and guilt that survivors of sexual abuse report frequently.
Blanchett’s sense of social responsibility falls short of showing a sensitivity to allegations of abuse, and highlights the tight-knit nature of the undeniable rape culture that permeates the world of Hollywood. Globally, experts agree that one in three women are sexually molested at least once in their lifetime. Almost 76 per cent of abused women claim to know their molesters personally, but Blanchett reminds us that powerful men are, simply because of their wealth, untouchable both by law or by scandal, and in this, Woody Allen is no different.
Woody Allen, the director in question, initiated a sexual liaison with another of his stepchildren, eventually marrying Soon Yi Previn Farrow after a five year affair in the early-1990s. It’s incredible for me, that a man who has no concept of what incest actually is should be given benefit of the doubt, but the same courtesy is not extended to Dylan: Allen took naked photos of his teenaged foster child Soon Yi Previn, a woman the Connecticut courts upheld as a daughter figure in his life. Allen’s movie scripts have been analyzed in light of the allegations, and several critics pinpoint to the recurring theme of molestation and abuse in his works, whilst conflating the boundaries of crime and punishment throughout the 1980s, and invariably fails to appear honest by refusing to follow procedure in light of legal proceedings in 1993, when he lost all options of legal visitation rights to the other Farrow children (read: he provided his own team of “experts” from Yale, truth investigators who spoke of Dylan’s character without as much as interviewing the young seven year old, whilst denying CT state police the right to using their own truth detector).
Whether we have read the widely circulated Robert Weide article supporting Allen in The Daily Beast, which is filled with rhetoric suggesting that Mia Farrow’s personal life determines the facts of the case, by painting a manipulative mother looking to calculatingly destroy her estranged ex-boyfriend out of jealousy and rage, followed Slate editor Jessica Winter’s fantastic rebuttal about how we should not listen to Weide’s fawning reverence of Allen as “neutral journalism,” the truth is, it has been a month of shocking revelations from the world of modern journalism. Those of us who are convinced of Dylan’s truth are left to wonder, what exactly is at stake for Hollywood and its supporters, to go out on such a limb to either deny the possibility of any truth in Farrow’s allegations?
The most discerning of us were aghast that Guardian writer Suzanne Moore believes that showing support to victims of sexual abuse is participating in a kangaroo court. For full disclosure, I must admit that I am friends with Dylan Farrow, and this article does not entertain the possibility that she is lying, but attempts to shed light on Blanchett’s action. For those of you in in search of “proof” to complement what some of us already know, I recommend Frank Maco’s scathing 33 page opinion from state prosecutor Frank Maco, which accompanied from the court ruling, and was released on September 1993.
We were amazed by Woody Allen’s dismissive denial of Dylan’s accusations, which appeared as a follow up article to her open letter, and was also published by the NYTimes, and were cheering when Frank Maco, the state prosecutor who sparked an inflammatory court opinion against Allen in the case in 1993, took offense with Allen’s comments that he was “champing” the chance to prosecute”a celebrity case.” Additionally, we were impressed about undeniable facts of the case from Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, Jon Lovett’s thorough aggregation of court documents, and learned that the court case did not proceed out of a respect for the mental fragility of the child victim.
Aaron Bady provided us with a compelling and incisive reminder as to how the benefit of the doubt should be extended to Dylan Farrow’s claims, when he writes:
This is a basic principle: until it is proven otherwise, beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s important to extend the presumption of innocence to Dylan Farrow, and presume that she is not guilty of the crime of lying about what Woody Allen did to her.
If you are saying things like “We can’t really know what happened” and extra-specially pleading on behalf of the extra-special Woody Allen, then you are saying that his innocence is more presumptive than hers. You are saying that he is on trial, not her: he deserves judicial safeguards in the court of public opinion, but she does not.
One is left to wonder, what is the responsibility of Hollywood’s glitterati to the world of human rights?
As a staunch feminist and women’s rights supporter with expertise documenting over 40 accounts of sexual abuse in children globally, I was always impressed to see football celebrities like FC Barcelona team-players sporting UNICEF sponsored jerseys in the mid 2000s, or British royalty Princess Diana speaking against land mines in Rwanda at a time in the mid-1990s when such topics were unheard of in diplomatic circles.
Indeed, to those of us who are staunch supporters of feminism and advocates of capacity building and fighting all sorts of impunity, Blanchett’s denial comes as a slap in the face, and as a reminder, that those who seek fame without glory, and stand for causes but without actually supporting them, are unfortunately those who society reveres and upholds as important spokespersons.
Assuming that Ms. Farrow is telling the truth- which I absolutely know she is, as someone who has personally been friends with her and many other victims of sexual molestation for over a decade, I find that Dylan’s words, stated just a little over a month ago, are more poignant today, in light of Cate Blanchett’s deplorable Oscar acceptance speech:
Woody Allen is a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
Author’s note: Since writing this article, I have received an incredible number of written abuse, all from cowards who fear using their own IP addresses, instead attempting anonymity with IP firewalls that bounce around a few countries in order to ensure that their computers remain untraceable. As such, I consider these a form of spam and will not approve comments from such sources. If you feel as though you need to pick up beef with me or I’m not presenting facts, please note that this article is written with the premise of supporting Dylan, and on the grounds that what she is telling is the truth.