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Accusations against movie legend leave fans with difficult moral decision

Photo by Eric David

I remember the first time I heard about Woody Allen. My dad had rented Vicky Christina Barcelona and I was apparently too young to watch it with him. My dad told me it was the first Woody Allen film he had watched in years because he had always thought Allen was a weirdo for marrying his girlfriend’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn.

Eventually when I got older and could rent movies on my own, I started watching some of Allen’s films, and despite my dad’s words, I loved them. I pushed the fact that he had married a much younger woman to the back of my mind. Instead I basked in his wit and social awareness. He seemed to have a deep understanding of love, relationships, and humour that I felt a personal connection with.

When I read recently that Allen had been accused by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow of sexually assaulting her when she was seven, I immediately disregarded it. I thought, without a doubt, that she was making it up. I’m not proud of this, but it was easier just to tell myself he didn’t do it, so I could keep watching and enjoying his films.

And then I realized how selfish I was being. I would rather deny this poor girl, who claims she was molested as a child, than accept that a man, who I don’t know personally, may have done this to her, all because I like the movies he makes.

This denial comes from the idea that I had trusted him. I brought him into my home and showed him to my friends. I felt betrayed and hurt, but also confused. I had felt a deep connection with a potential child molester. That is not easy to accept.

It was hard for me to understand that someone who could be so knowledgeable and insightful about love and relationships could have hurt a child. Allen has been known to be excellent at compartmentalizing his life and his work, however I am not as skilled.

Prior to these accusations, I thought of myself as a morally sound person. I thought that in a situation I would do the right thing without question: I would not place blame on the victim. But after my immediate denial of the accusations against Allen, I will have to re-think my morality. My education here has taught me to think critically and logically, and to use ethics to make unbiased judgments. But life isn’t as straightforward. While I do not know Allen, I felt a closeness with him through his films, and these accusations brought up stronger emotions than anticipated.

I still don’t know if I will be able to disassociate Allen’s personal life from his movies. With these accusations against him, I don’t know, if one day I have children of my own, whether I would be comfortable showing them his films. But I’ve learned that sometimes the first step to finding morality comes from challenging my own bias and assumptions, something I think everyone needs to do before watching another Woody Allen film.