Saturday, February 08, 2014

In which I predict that Philip Roth will come out of retirement to fictionalize Woody Allen's latest troubles

Woody Allen weighs in. One commenter notes the line that jumped out at me as well: "After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation." Not accused, not the same as never did it, hmm? But then there's the small matter of context. Two sentences before: "I naïvely thought the accusation would be dismissed out of hand because of course, I hadn’t molested Dylan and any rational person would see the ploy for what it was." But he doesn't exactly deny ever molesting a child - he more denies ever having been caught. Except he's only accused of this one incident - must he also deny having ever (linking to the requisite Woody film clip, nothing worse!) fondled a sheep? Except child abuse is about patterns, so it's kind of relevant, after all.

So what is it? Is he a Roth protagonist, the target of a witch hunt, a modern-day Dreyfus whose Jewishness, like that of the original, is not incidental? Or - as I suspect, even if it wouldn't make for as good a novel - a molester who knows there's no way at this point he could be convicted of the crime in question, and who may as well protect his name and livelihood? Whether or not he did it, he's going to say he didn't. He's also one of the best writers of our time, certainly better than the op-ed page usual, so he's bound to do so persuasively, to make the narrator sympathetic.

But was this the best he could come up with? It speaks quite poorly of him and his judgment that he doesn't appear to get why dating Soon-Yi would have been so controversial. "[A judge] thought of me as an older man exploiting a much younger woman, which outraged Mia as improper despite the fact she had dated a much older Frank Sinatra when she was 19." Gah! It's not about an older man with some younger woman. This was her daughter!

As The Onion so aptly pointed out, "anyone who says that [Allen's innocent] is bound to sound like kind of an asshole, right?" But maybe with good reason? Lots and lots and lots and lots of children are molested. Because it's a crime whose victim, if they even speak up, is never thought credible (what with being a child), as well as the one generally considered the most heinous, it's kept tremendously secret, all the more so if the accused has a big-deal reputation to protect. We need to consider that Mia was furious at Woody at the time, but this could be what motivated her to finally speak out about something she'd known for longer. I mean, anti-Catholicism is a thing, but that doesn't mean the priest molestation scandals are the mere invention of Protestants and lapsed Catholics. No, we'll never know for sure, but this essay, clever as it is, didn't help his case.

2 comments:

caryatis said...

"One commenter notes the line that jumped out at me as well: "After all, I was a 56-year-old man who had never before (or after) been accused of child molestation." Not accused, not the same as never did it, hmm? ...he doesn't exactly deny ever molesting a child - he more denies ever having been caught."

The thinking here being that Allen is unscrupulous enough to molest a young child, but not unscrupulous enough to explicitly lie about it?

Wouldn't it feel a bit odd for an innocent person to say, "I have never molested a child"? It would almost feel like admitting guilt, just because, normal people don't need to say such things.

Phoebe said...

"The thinking here being that Allen is unscrupulous enough to molest a young child, but not unscrupulous enough to explicitly lie about it?"

Good point.