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Woody Allen’s Personal Archive Reveals “Repetitious Misogyny” & Obsession With Young Girls

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Writer Richard Morgan read through all of Woody Allen’s archive collected at the Firestone Library’s rare-books wing and described his findings for the Washington Post. The results will not surprise you.

The archive at Princeton University, titled “Woody Allen Papers”, ranges from 1955-2012 and consists of 56 boxes. It includes “copies of short stories, essays, articles, and the majority of Allen’s films, along with original and various drafts of his prose work, plays and screenplays, some of which are either unpublished or unproduced.”

Morgan observes, “Allen, quite simply, drips with repetitious misogyny” as well as “an insistence, vivid obsession with young women and girls.” Allen’s most recent film Wonder Wheel centers around a love triangle between a man, a woman, and her stepdaughter—a plot that also includes a sexual relationship between an adult man and a 15-year-old girl. The notable age gaps of his characters since Manhattan is nothing new. Similarly, the premise for most of these drafts and pieces are predictable, writes Morgan:

“His screenplays are often Freudian, and they generally feature him (or some avatar for him) sticking almost religiously to a formula: A relationship on the brink of failure is thrown into chaos by the introduction of a compelling outsider, almost always a young woman.”

The list continues: a 16-year-old in an unmade TV pitch is “a flash sexy blonde in a flaming red low cut evening gown with a long slit up the side’, a 17-year-old becomes the object of affection for a 53-year-old neighbor, a 45-year-old man is fascinated by “coeds” at City College of New York, etc., etc. One stars a fictional filmmaker named Woody Allen who produces porn in need for money, and leaves his fiancee for a girl he meets at a mental institute who is schizophrenic. She tells him, “There’s something about you that I seem to respond to. I suspect that you’re a potential strong person . . . very deep . . . and that you suffer a great deal.”

At another point, he writes about “an imagined photo of the Spanish socialite Nati Abascal” like so (Morgan notes these were likely “intended as parody”, but feel troubling nonetheless):

“Could she act? Yes, I learned and especially in her defense. She blocked my [hand] as I reached for her thigh and brought her knee up sharply into my groin as we discussed show business. . . . I pulled a contract out of my pocket and we both signed, but not until I told her about the sexual obligation that was a part of the job of any actress who worked with me…I came to appreciate her body for what it was as time went by, namely, a girl’s body. . . . Soon she got used to my ways. Aware of my position as father figure on the set (a director is just that) I allowed her to come to me with her problems. When she never showed up, I came to her with mine.”

The full piece on Washington Post is a necessary read, because while we might understand that authors and their characters are not the same thing, that is not a proper defense of Allen when he continues escape consequences. We’ve seen women, men, and film associations speak in defense of Allen, continuing to uplift his work and participate in his projects. This is called complicity. This isn’t an easy thing to undo, but it’s supposed to be difficult. If we are truly to continue the work of #MeToo and accountability for powerful men in Hollywood, we must believe Dylan Farrow. The media and industry needs to stop acting like he’s a harmless director with soft, flattering interviews and weak coverage. (Don’t forget, by the way, that Allen response to Harvey Weinstein’s reckoning was caution about a “witch hunt atmosphere.”)

The director is, as Morgan notes, “dressing up crime as art”. He ends his article, “All art is partly autobiographical — it comes from inside someone’s mind, inside their soul. Allen’s archive shows what is inside his.”

(via Washington Post, image: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com)

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