Ronan Farrow and the Woody Allen Witch Hunt


Let me start by saying I have no idea if Woody Allen is guilty or innocent of molesting his daughter. And to that point, neither do you.

We don’t know these people. What seems to be clear to me is that there is a lot of anger, hurt, sorrow, fear and dysfunction among the Farrow/Allen group. As there is in any family. What concerns me far more than anything Woody Allen is accused of doing, is the reaction of the public to the tweets and statements of Ronan Farrow and family. The constant commentary on social media that Woody Allen is a monster, that he is evil, that we should stop supporting him as an artist, the call for his head (or his balls) on a stake… This is dangerous and far reaching. It doesn’t effect just one person or one family. It reaches out and envelops something far deeper, far more nefarious and destructive.

Now granted, my reaction here comes from my own fears and doubts, my own dysfunctions. My personal fear of being misunderstood or misrepresented, my fear of a mob-mentality, my fear of people who know what’s right not stepping up out of their own fears of attack or retribution… These are some of the things that drive my emotional reaction to the media circus playing out right now. And I can’t take them with any less seriousness than I do the actions and reactions of others.

History has shown us that people’s fear and hatred can be quite easily manipulated. Whether it’s the Salem Witch Trials or Nazi Germany, the war in Iraq or the Tea Party, people can be rallied with relative ease into forgoing truth or facts and replacing them with pitchforks and torches. The vitriol that I have witnessed against Woody Allen in the past few weeks has left me shaken. Not out of concern for Woody Allen. Again, I don’t know if he is a victim or a victimizer. What frightens and concerns me is that Ronan Farrow and family seem to be on a dangerous mission. And people, from the ignorant to the well-educated, are falling in line to back the hatred and anger (far more than the sadness and hurt) based, not on facts or reality, but on their own personal fears and dysfunctions. And Ronan (and whoever else may be behind this) knows exactly what to say and where to say it to create this tidal wave of misguided loathing. I say misguided because we simply do not know the truth or even anything vaguely resembling the truth. Woody Allen is being tried in the media, not by a jury of his peers, but by a jury of easily manipulated emotions and misinformation or, as one commentator observed, “a media psychodrama with the verdict handed down by random members of the general public.” This whole fiasco goes well beyond the question of Woody Allen’s guilt or innocence. The only thing here that comes close to encapsulating the word “monstrous” in my opinion is the behavior of the public in this matter. It is historically and socially monstrous. Have we learned nothing?

What adds to the horror of the scene for me is not only that people are gathering to stir one another’s dread and hostility, but that so many of them (most, I dare say) are completely ignorant of any of the actual facts of the case. I have read and heard so much information and accusations in discussions and tweets and chats and posts that are completely and absolutely false. Factually incorrect. Robert B. Weide‘s piece in The Daily Beast, The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast, is the first sane piece of writing on the issue I have read to date. There is more than enough information out there to, at the very least, suggest the possibility that Woody Allen did not molest his child. In fact, there is just as much evidence to suggest the possibility that Mia Farrow may have coached her daughter into believing this. But no one seems to be up in arms about that possibility. Now don’t misunderstand me here. I am not suggesting that any of the above is true or false; I am not trying to do to Mia what Ronan is doing to Woody. All I am pointing out is that people are reacting, not to facts or evidence or truth or reality, but to what they want/need to believe to fuel whatever fears and desires they have surrounding this issue. And people like Ronan Farrow are igniting that fire every chance they get. Again, I understand that he is hurt and outraged. I understand that he may need or want others to share in that rage. I understand that it must be extremely painful to watch this man you believe to have done something horrible to you and the ones you love being celebrated with lifetime achievement awards and accolades. I get it. That must be extremely painful and frustrating. But to act out that rage on social media knowing full well that the people he gathers there do not care about truth or justice, to use their dysfunction as a means to rally them to his side, to enact his fantasy of a mass rejection of Woody Allen, to essentially mark him as a monster… THIS is something worthy of a public discussion. THIS is something playing out right here in front of us, something we ourselves are a part of. NOT the private matters of a family none of us know or could possibly know.

The witch hunt that is taking place, the ease with which the Farrows have stirred mass hatred by using the public’s ignorance as a tool to soothe and satisfy what is, essentially, a family tragedy, is frightening to me. And to see it reach those I know whom I considered intelligent and thoughtful people, to see them pick up their hangman’s noose with such fervor and conviction shows me that we have not evolved very far at all. Certainly not far enough to avoid future tragedies. We have proven once again that we are out here, waiting to be duped, lied to, tricked, or simply misguided with good intentions by those with an agenda, be it innocent or nefarious. We are the masses happy to point fingers at what frightens us all the while shying away from pointing that finger at ourselves. We gather and yell “monster” never seeing the monster that stares back at us in the mirror, the real monster we should be facing, the real monster we should be working so diligently to bring out into the light.

Ronan Farrow and the Woody Allen Witch Hunt

3 thoughts on “Ronan Farrow and the Woody Allen Witch Hunt

  1. Randy says:

    Excellent blog post and very well-reasoned food for thought. The Allen/Farrow household preceded today’s more common family dynamic–of mixed/blended, step/extended–by decades, and my sense is that there are some exposed emotional wires that are tangled up and sparking, there, for many different reasons. Still, I found Dylan’s open letter in the NY Times on Sunday quite disturbing, both as a dad and as an observer of this very nasty and very public family drama.

    1. halmasonberg says:

      I also found Dylan’s letter disturbing. As anyone in their right mind would. If what she says is true, then it’s a shame that Woody Allen wasn’t convicted. I feel for Dylan’s struggle, the pain and torment. But I still have no idea what the truth is. And the fact that Dylan framed her letter with the question “What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie” left me feeling a bit manipulated. Not the body of her letter, but the context within which she chose to frame it. She seems to want (as Ronan and others do) a complete rejection of Woody Allen in his entirety. Even if the man is guilty, it doesn’t mean he is without insight or talent. It means he has a disease. Is he a predator? I don’t know. There is nothing else in his history that we know of to suggest this. Again, for me, it has nothing to do with his films. It’s an understandable desire Dylan has to eliminate anything positive sent her father’s way, but it is not realistic and is, at the end of the day, an unfortunate errand. Her desire to open a door for other abused individuals to speak up is important. And daring. I can’t help but feel for her. And I myself am a victim of child sexual abuse. Though not by a family member. So I’m not alien to some of the emotions tied to this. And I truly don’t know what’s worse: being sexually abused by your father, or being twisted into believing you were sexually abused by your father. Either way, Dylan suffers and her pain is real. The bottom line is, however, we, — those of us writing and commenting here — are not in a position to point fingers and pass judgement. We are the LAST people in that position. And yet Dylan and Ronan need us to be in that position. And so we either react out of our own fears and emotions, not facts, not truth, not knowledge, not evidence, or we admit that it really sucks not knowing the truth. But we don’t gather in a mob. We don’t try and destroy someone who might be innocent. And if you believe he’s guilty, that may be more about you than it is about Dylan or Ronan or Woody or Mia. Telling us what she believes happened is one thing. Asking us to share her rage and hatred is another.

  2. NIck says:

    I’ve also been comparing this to the Salem Witch Hunts, as well as the day care sex abuse hysteria of the 80s and 90s (see wiki page for details). The Mia camp knew they had no chance of getting a conviction at a trail, so they decided to use public assassination through hysteria instead. I’ve seen people on social media talking about “a culture of rape” as a substitute for facts. The question remains, will this be just your usual internet outrage-of-the-moment and disappear, or have more long lasting impact on Woody’s career. So we really have to wait for the next film (in summer) to know. It seems like some people are using the situation as a rallying point for issues of child abuse, which is odd because without any proven child abuse (and plenty of counter-evidence) it just make me wonder why they wouldn’t be using another case for that cause (let’s say the horrifying lead sing or Lostprophets). Ronan’s anger over this issue was seen as a red flag by MSNBC who is hiring him for a show, but his recent tweet attacking Macklemore’s SAME LOVE for talking about the fact that he is heterosexual shows Ronan perhaps has a wider lack of common sense. What does Ronan want Macklemore to do– talk about supporting gay rights from a perspective that he doesn’t have, one other than his own? If I were MSNBC, I’d be cancelling Ronan’s show pronto. Thankfully Moses Farrow has stepped forward to add some balance to the dialogue as he was an eye witness to the day in question and said nothing happened.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s