Woody and Mia and Dylan

The allegations have not affected my enjoyment of Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters or Purple Rose of Cairo or Blue Jasmine, or a number of other Woody Allen films.

WoodyAllenOn the sidebar of Facebook, there was this sponsored ad from The Ranking, with Woody Allen’s picture with the caption: “Should he get any awards?” “Dylan Farrow allegations have refueled the scandal. Does he deserve any award? Vote!”

But when you click through, the actual question is: “Do you think that Dylan Farrow´s statements will influence the Oscar Academy Awards?” That is quite the different thing. Should we separate the art from the artist?

Regardless, writer Mark Evanier, who writes one of those blogs that TIME magazine has rightly touted, has written, for me, the last words on this topic.

Many of you have sent me links to articles on the ‘net about the Woody/Mia/Dylan matter — some smart ones, some not-so-smart ones and, of course, a number that strain to link that matter to some unrelated issue so they can exploit the obvious emotion that comes with any allegation of child molestation.

Along with being saddened by the charges themselves, I’m saddened by the rush, not to judgement but to execution by one side or the other. I read a couple of comment threads that were filled with people who are absolutely, positively sure as to who did what and to whom, and who were eager to condemn anyone who said “I don’t know” and behead those who said, “You’re wrong.” I don’t buy into all that was in that Robert Weide piece but he was right that too many people discussing this are filled with and are spreading disinformation. An awful lot of folks who have their minds firmly made up think Mia and Woody were married, Soon-Yi was Woody’s daughter, etc….

I already feel myself reaching a certain level of burnout on the whole thing. That often happens with me when a serious issue turns into a spectator sport. When it gets to that level, too many people have a vested interest in not letting it be settled or buried…and some stake out silly positions mainly to get attention. How can you tell when we’re there? When Nancy Grace is weighing in.

Evanier also recommended this insightful article by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate about the court of public opinion.

I bring this up because someone asked me recently, and I said, “I don’t know what happened.” I did not say, but could have, “And neither do you.” All I KNOW is that there was an investigation by police and no charges were brought. Someone else suggested that if I felt as I do, I must not take child abuse seriously, when in fact, I do. I know someone who was abused by her stepfather. What I’m saying is that I don’t know that there WAS an act of child abuse in this case.

If Dylan Farrow were sexually abused by Woody Allen, I would find that extremely disturbing. I found this article very insightful: Woody Allen Is Not a Monster. He Is a Person. Like My Father.

Evanier keeps saying he’s done with the issue, but then he isn’t. It’s the same for me. I read the Daily Beast piece which makes Allen’s behavior at least suspicious, then Wallace Shawn’s defense of Woody, which leaves me where I started.

The allegations have not yet affected my enjoyment of Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters or Purple Rose of Cairo or Blue Jasmine, or a number of other Woody Allen films I’ve seen over the years. I’ll admit, though, it has made Manhattan a lot less pleasant.

I DO wonder if the renewed allegations will take votes away from Cate Blanchette, nominated for Best Actress for Blue Jasmine. But I don’t think much about it because I CAN NEVER KNOW.

Does the Casey Anthony Trial Matter?

Do Americans not understand the difference between “innocent” and “not guilty” in US jurisprudence?

For those of you who were very fortunate enough to miss it, there was a trial of a young mother in Florida named Casey Anthony, accused of the murder of her two-year-old daughter three years ago. It was a lurid affair, with the defendant accusing her father and brother, in open court, of sexually abusing her, which somehow was the explanation why it took a month before little Caylee was reported missing.

Considering the fact that I was blissfully oblivious to the case before the trial, I know a great deal (more than I want to) about it. Literally, fights broke out in the lines among the spectators wanting to see the event.

Then lo and behold, Casey Anthony was found “not guilty” of the most serious accusations against her. And people, including virtually all of the media, were SHOCKED by the outcome. ABC News did a prime time hour on the SHOCKING results.

#SHOCKING was the hashtag on Twitter the day of the verdict. One of the morning news shows (The Today Show on NBC?) had mothers explaining why Caylee Anthony’s failure to receive “justice” was an affront to motherhood or something; I saw the tease and changed the channel. And people outside the courthouse looked ready to lynch Casey Anthony. Her parents have received death threats, not just from social media.

So does any of this matter, other than to the little victim? I contend it does, for these reasons:

One needs to ask how do some legal cases become national news, while others do not. There have been other incidents of children murdered, killed by their parent, even by their mother, which didn’t warrant more than a mention on the AP wire, if that. What role did the victim’s age, race, gender play in this story, and other situations of abductions and murders, becoming international news?

What part did the news media play in creating the expectation that this woman would be found guilty? This was a death-penalty case, and without getting too complicated, there were two paths, it was heavily reported, by which she could be executed. Surely, this left the impression that the jury would SURELY choose one or the other.

Did the news organizations pay for access to the participants? ABC News, for one, had family photos and videos, “licensed” for use. And guess what? The family members were available for “exclusive interviews”, which reeks of checkbook journalism. They also used HLN’s Nancy Grace as an “analyst” on Good Morning America, a person so buffoonish that she had been caricatured on the former ABC drama Boston Legal years ago.

Finally, the jury felt there was “reasonable doubt”, that she was “not guilty”, not necessarily “innocent”. Do Americans not understand the difference in US jurisprudence? Didn’t they watch Law & Order or LA Law or Perry Mason or countless other law fictions? (Although MAD magazine had a humorous take on this.) I believe there is something called “guilt not proven” in other countries. Maybe we need something like that here.

What are your thoughts?

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