Hollywood, Atheism, and Deviant Icons
Woody Allen hints about “polymorphous perversions” in many of his movies, from sex with animals in “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex” to sex with young “blond girls” in “Love and Death.” Woody Allen introduced sexual perversion into extremely popular movies, and he made it funny. Little did we know that his own engagement in deviant sex, the abuse of his daughters, would become the backpainting of his on-screen obsession with the profane.
Dylan Farrow’s open letter to the man whom she once called “Daddy,” details years of her sexual abuse by Woody Allen. The text of her letter is frank and very sad. The apparent lack of remorse, or fear of being caught on Allen’s part, reveals a man who exposed his crimes in cinematic flashes, testing the limits of his personal behavior against the credibility of his public persona. Mia Farrow, Allen’s not-quite-common law wife, split with him after the two had adopted several children and were raising them together for a number of years. After the break-up, Allen entered into a sexual relationship with his adopted daughter, Soon Yi, when she was barely out of her teens, and assaulted the younger Dylan on countless occasions during his visits with her. The letter by Dylan Farrow was written partly in response to the Golden Globes “Lifetime Achievement” award Woody Allen received last month, amid fawning and praise from nearly everyone in the entertainment world. Will the Hollywood elite take notice that the man they deem a great influence in American cinema, is also a vile, destructive, sexual predator? Will they rescind the award? Will Hollywood acknowledge the error in presuming that movie-making prowess transcends a child’s outcries for justice?
Roman Polanski, another notable Hollywood director, seduced, drugged and raped a 13 year old girl in 1977. Within elite movie-making circles, his reputation went unquestioned. His skill as a director seemed to trump his horrendous crime against a child. Polanski plead guilty in a plea bargain, but fled the country in 1978. Polanski’s career was relocated, but went unimpeded, and he actually won an Oscar for “The Pianist” in 2003. In 2008 Polanski sought reentry into the United States. He was arrested in Zurich in 2009, at which time several French politicians, and Hollywood luminaries came out in support of Polanski. Polanski had been a free man in Europe to that time. He carried on making films, enjoying acclaim and wealth. He paid not one installment toward his debt to society or his young victim. His crime, to the elites, seemed of no consequence, because, after all, Roman Polanski was a great filmmaker.
Why is it so easy for the powerful in show biz to dismiss high crimes committed by their iconic figures? Hollywood is a Babylon of self-involved, over-indulgent neurotics, this is true. But the absence of shame on the parts of those like Allen and Polanski, points to an ideological gulf between elites in cinema and the rest of us.
In his autobiography, Roman Polanski describes himself as an Atheist. Woody’ Allen’s Atheism is no secret. Its threads are woven into everything he’s ever created. Atheist forefathers like Allen, are probably pleased to see Atheism, Agnosticism, and “nothing in particular” rise in popularity among young people, whose parents were less religious than their grandparents, and so forth. But godlessness has its costs, and society at large suffers when the substrate of the Rule of Law; that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life and liberty, is eroded. Civil law based only on pragmatic considerations without the overriding moral imperative of an Almighty God, is toothless. Those with deviant impulses, like Polanski and Allen, will act on such impulses because moral law bears no weight in their reality constructs. The status of being an iconic filmmaker further insulates such criminals. Admirers and hangers-on surrounding those like Allen and Polanski provide a thick shield from public accountability.
“Crimes and Misdemeanors” is one of Allen’s most confounding, darkest movies. A fascinating psychological thriller, it nevertheless leaves one hanging in a relativistic void. Though the perpetrators are clearly guilty and due harsh punishment, there is none. In classic Allenesque thinking, God is dead, and there is no one to take His place. There is no justice for criminals, there are no consequences for evil deeds, and virtue has no rewards.
Woody Allen has likely exposed his existential indisposition in films more than we will probably ever know. But his movies are born out of his mind, where there is no god, there is no inherent good, and there is nothing so bad it can be called evil. Criminals go free because, in the dark and silent end, it doesn’t matter. Is it this secular humanistic thinking that gives Allen, Polanski and others like them occupying the heady realms of cinema, license to ruin the lives of children?
by Marjorie Haun 2/4/14