Skip to main content

The Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen Controversy Has Officially Reached Peak Saturation

Ronan Farrow's close friend Jon Lovett, a former presidential speechwriter and TV producer, is now involving himself in the public battle between the claims of Dylan Farrow and those of Woody Allen, and he's doing it via Twitter. We've officially reached the enough-is-enough point in all this.
Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 10.40.00 AM

Ronan Farrow's close friend Jon Lovett, a former presidential speechwriter and TV producer, is now involving himself in the public battle between the claims of Dylan Farrow and those of Woody Allen, and he's doing it via Twitter. We've officially reached the enough-is-enough point in all this.

I truly don't mean to sound like I'm diminishing an accusation of child sexual assault and as I've said from the very beginning there should be little doubt in anyone's mind that Dylan Farrow is suffering, that something horrible happened to her. But when it's now not simply a case of a family publicly shouting at each other but unrelated friends of the family as well, a line has definitely been crossed.

Beginning on Wednesday and continuing through last night, Lovett has been peppering his Twitter feed with accusations, court documents and investigative notes from the 21-year-old case that have always been available for examination by the public. Many of them indeed point to inconsistencies in the investigation, questions about Allen's story, and circumstantial evidence that suggests something might have happened to Dylan and that some can point to Allen's potential involvement. But if you read through the documents, while they sound damning if considered without the context of everything else we know about the case -- and again, it's all there for the taking -- they still don't provide anything other than one more volley in a back-and-forth that will essentially amount to nothing. There won't be vindication or closure for Dylan Farrow and Woody Allen's not going to be hauled before a judge or taken away to prison.

Within the past six days, this whole thing has taken on a distinctly circus-like atmosphere, one that in no way befits the seriousness of the alleged crime at the center of it. The simultaneous tabloid orgasm this case produced two decades ago is now amplified by a thousand thanks to social media. While Woody Allen has asked the New York Times to print his op-ed response to Dylan Farrow's own op-ed from last Saturday, if I were him I'd rescind that request immediately. He has nothing to gain by adding more gasoline to this fire. He can't win, the same way Dylan can't win. He can't prove he didn't molest her the same way she can't prove he did. It's all just ugly words at this point, and the public has divided itself into its camps and no one's likely to be budged by anything he has to say.

Speaking of social media, this entire thing started with a series of quippy tweets fired off by Ronan and Mia Farrow the night of the Golden Globes. Since then, there's been a pervasive suggestion among a certain crowd that if social media had existed in 1993, things would have been different for the Farrow family and Woody Allen wouldn't have "gotten away it."

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 9.11.58 AM

Bullshit. The power of the internet can indeed be an amazing force for good. But it's also proven itself to be the most effective force for the rapid dissemination of misinformation and conjecture the world has ever seen, to say nothing of it as the perfect engine for assembling a big, stupid, self-righteous mob.

Yes, actually, had Twitter had been around in '93 the relationship between Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn, split of Woody and Mia, custody battle for their kids, and accusation of sexual assault by Dylan Farrow would've likely been a completely different story and the case could have gone a completely different way. There would've been an even more frenzied and chaotic atmosphere surrounding it all, with hashtags mustering internet armies, Anonymous issuing YouTube threats, petitions being circulated and championed, and TV media outlets reporting on it all, giving even more life to whatever was the prevailing sentiment. Maybe justice would've been done; maybe the truth would've been lost in all the noise. Regardless, the whole thing would've been litigated in the court of public opinion, as it was years ago, except that that court would've had a booming voice and the ability to actually influence the dominant narrative (which could influence the actual case), exact revenge, and dispense "justice" as it saw fit.

That's what's happening right now. In place of the ability to actually charge Woody Allen with a crime and try him for it, his case is being relitigated by people who believe they know what really happened and have a Twitter account which allows them to do something about it.

Another thing: While Woody Allen is indeed a wealthy, highly respected film director, can we please dispense with this notion that somehow he's the one with all the resources in the world on his side. I don't know who's telling the truth in all of this and who isn't and neither do you, but irrespective of that Mia Farrow is a legendary actress worth tens of millions of dollars and Ronan Farrow is a Rhodes Scholar who graduated from college at the age of 15, was a member of the Obama administration and is now getting his own show on MSNBC at 26. He's basically about to become the face of his generation. Dylan Farrow, from everything we've seen, is living a quiet life in Florida, certainly, but it's not as if her family is in any danger of being crushed under the weight of the notoriously reclusive Woody Allen's awesome media machine and his giant 16-ton bag of money. It's easy to paint him as a "powerful man" but to do so belies a lengthy and well-documented history of his public and private behavior.

We should all want to believe that what Dylan Farrow is saying is absolutely true. Her passion and conviction and the pain she's expressing when she speaks and writes feel far too real to simply be denied out-of-hand. But we should want to believe it because we believe in the truth. Not because doing so would serve the greater good for sexual abuse victims who are afraid to come forward because they assume no one will believe them; not because it will satisfy a bias we might have toward believing anyone who makes a claim of sexual abuse; not because there's a personal agenda or a personal connection. Because it's the truth.

But I don't fucking know. I wish I had the answers. The best I can do at this point is admit what I did a couple of days ago. Nobody wins in this. Everybody loses.