In a year when seemingly all the most odious combinations of words eventually get said, why not?
Kate Winslet, who stars in Woody Allen’s new film Wonder Wheel, said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald last week, which remained largely uncommented upon until Thursday, “I think on some level Woody [Allen] is a woman.” The Herald describes her tone as humorous. She goes on:
“I just think he’s very in touch with that side of himself. He understands the female characters he creates exceptionally well. His female characters are always so rich and large and honest in terms of how they’re feeling and he just knows how to write dialogue for them to communicate all that.”
The Herald was quick to support Winslet’s thought by pointing out what so many journalists have before, that many female actors’ careers became more decorated and acclaimed after they worked with Allen. Of course Diane Keaton won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in Annie Hall (1977). Cate Blanchett won Best Actress for Blue Jasmine (2013); Dianne Wiest won Best Support Actress for Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and Bullets over Broadway (1994); Mira Sorvino won the same award for Mighty Aphrodite (1995), and Penelope Cruz the same for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008). All these women gave great performances in Allen’s films, as they have for other directors, and shouldn’t that credit mostly, if not exclusively, go to them? Why center Allen’s supposed genius once more? Oh, right, because he’s a man and people are used to thinking of him as the exceptional one. It’s the bedraggled artist-muse myth done up as generosity of intellect.
On Thursday, Allen’s daughter Dylan Farrow, who’s long-maintained that Allen sexually assaulted her when she was a child (Allen denies these allegations), wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in which she wonders, “Why is it that Harvey Weinstein and other accused celebrities have been cast out by Hollywood, while Allen recently secured a multimillion-dollar distribution deal with Amazon, greenlit by former Amazon Studios executive Roy Price before he was suspended over sexual misconduct allegations?”
In her article, Farrow calls out several famous actresses who have worked with Allen on their baffling complicity, their willingness to give Allen the benefit the doubt and dismiss the allegations against him. Among these, Farrow cites an interview Winslet gave the New York Times in September, also as part of her Wonder Wheel promotional efforts. Winslet was asked whether the allegations against Allen gave her pause, to which she responded:
“Of course one thinks about it. But at the same time, I didn’t know Woody and I don’t know anything about that family. As the actor in the film, you just have to step away and say, I don’t know anything, really, and whether any of it is true or false. Having thought it all through, you put it to one side and just work with the person. Woody Allen is an incredible director. So is Roman Polanski. I had an extraordinary working experience with both of those men, and that’s the truth.”
This is getting ridiculous. Obviously you can take action and hold personal views without knowing something the way a court might. As Farrow points out, many in Hollywood are oddly silent or confused about the allegations against Allen in a way that doesn’t apparently apply to many other men who have been materially tarnished by allegations in the past few months. I’m sure there are reasons for this. I’m also sure that those who have them know what they are, or else can discover them upon further self-reflection.