I hope Woody Allen goes down this time: A French woman’s perspective
When I was growing up in France we didn’t know Harvey Weinstein. But we worshipped Woody Allen. It seemed like my country (mono-cultural, patriarchic) decided en masse that he had to be revered, once and for all and we never budged.
My father thought he was an unequaled genius of American cinema. My mother liked Annie Hall. Boys at school memorized lines from his movies, hoping they too could land a beauty queen like their hero, the funny, funny Woody Allen. The entire country bought the shtick. You don’t like Woody Allen? they would ask much later when I voiced dissent. Are you nuts? He’s a genius!
Un genie. A word that ends debates.
This was way before Dylan Farrow’s brave letter (https://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/an-open-letter-from-dylan-farrow/) detailing her abuse at his hands. And yet the uncomfortable signs were there, in his movies: Here was Woody Allen, mid-life, ugly, pathetic. Here was his love interest: Beautiful, ditzy, sexually available, and always, always so young. I was confused. Was I expected to be like this? Pliable? Accommodating to older men?
Looking back at it with today’s vernacular, it was like I was being groomed. By my country and even my family who saw nothing wrong with that premise.
What I heard was: Men like him count more than girls like me.
In fact, France in the 1970s, 80s, 90s (before I left for the US) thought these men counted a lot. Polanski, of course, still defended today by the likes of Catherine Deneuve (http://www.20minutes.fr/people/2032899-20170317-affaire-roman-polanski-catherine-deneuve-defend-realisateur-provoque-tolle) (“He always liked young women.”). But also Serge Gainsbourg who sang a song called “Lemon Incest” with his 13-year-old daughter; the music video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE06lqT0Y2g) shows both of them on a bed, he shirtless looming over her. He said it was a “provocation,” another word that ends debates in France. Serge Gainsbourg is a genius.
That song was a top seller and many young girls bought the single.
But back to Woody Allen. He remains a “genius.” Even after Dylan’s letter, her brother’s support, the documents in the case showing her mother’s struggle to deal with the crisis, and even after he married Soon-Yi Previn (you know the details), people still work with him -women, recently including Kate Winslet. People still go to see his movies. They defend him on Twitter. They normalize him. They disenfranchise his victim(s).
Because they don’t want to risk hurting this man, this genius. Because he counts more than a girl.