Friday, June 24, 2011

My Moral Dilemma: Woody Allen

I’m not someone who judges art by the personal behavior of the artist. We all mess up, we all make bad decisions. I'll still watch Charlie Sheen movies, and though I think Sandra Bullock’s ex is an idiot, I won’t disregard whatever it is that he does for a living just because he cheated on his wife. What does he do anyway?

But there’s one celebrity I haven’t been able to forgive enough to welcome his art back into my life.

When I was younger I saw a number of Woody Allen films and liked most of them. But that changed - about twenty years ago, in fact. When his affair with Soon-Yi (Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter and for all practical purposes his daughter, too) was exposed, I vowed I would never, ever, ever do anything in any way to contribute to his bank account. In fact, even if I came across one of his films on television, I’d switch channels. It hasn’t been a difficult vow to keep. Until this last weekend.

I’d seen a couple previews for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and they intrigued me. And then I heard good rumblings about it too. But I never once heard or noticed that it was a Woody Allen film. I might not have been paying attention or maybe the promoters haven’t been pushing the fact. I don’t know. I just know I had no idea.

On Sunday at about 4:00, I glanced at the film times on my phone and saw that it was playing in ten minutes. My husband was game so we hurried to the theater. By the time we made our way to a couple empty seats - this wasn’t easy, by the way - the movie had started, but nothing much had happened. The beginning is a montage of shots of the beautiful city of Paris. But while these pictures are on the screen, stars' and producers', etc. names are popping up. And the last one listed was, of course, Woody Allen.

I gasped. I told my husband we couldn’t stay. Charlie (husband) has absolutely no sense or interest in things celebrity. He knows who Woody Allen is but he wouldn’t pay the least bit of attention to his personal life. Here’s kind of how our conversation went:

Me: Gasp. Oh, we gotta go.
Him: What?
Me: It’s Woody Allen.
Him: So?
Me: He married his daughter.
Him, after a pause: That’s disgusting.
Me: I know.

At that point, we were shushed by the people we’d walked in front of, those behind us and those in front of us. Husband shot me a look that said: should we go?

And, much to both my disappointment in myself and my sheer glee, we didn’t go. We sat through the movie and here’s the thing - I loved every darn minute of it. It’s sort of like what I'd heard, but there’s much more to it. It’s a movie for dreamers, artists of all kinds and people who just love to be entertained with a good and interesting story. I am horrified to say that I loved it, loved it! I’ll do my best to never see another Woody Allen movie again because I haven’t forgiven him, but if I was going to slip off my vow, at least I ended up enjoying the experience. Plus, it was a matinee, so not full ticket price. Yeah, that’s what I'll keep telling myself.


STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett
Okay, it's kind of a strange story with strange, totally bizarre and unreal things happening. The writing is more long-winded than I usually enjoy, but the words are all useful. There was something about this book that made me want to hurry back to it. I think (though I'm not really sure) it had something to do with the author's characterizations. Or maybe it was just the whole mystery and beauty and horribleness of the Amazon? Many books I choose to read are about places I'd never be brave enough to go but would love to learn about. I can't seem to pinpoint it, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.


  1. Laurie SchnittmanJune 24, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    I feel that way about Roman Polanski, too. But "The Pianist" was just one film that I really wanted to see - and I'm glad I did. It is complicated when it comes to separating the art from the artist.

  2. Complicated - exactly, Laurie! I'm also glad I saw MIDNIGHT. It really was well done.


  3. It's hard to separate the person's deeds from their creations. They are so intertwined. There are singers I refuse to listen to because of things they do to degrade women. Like Chris Brown. He's so talented, but he showed so little remorse for beating up his girlfriend, Rihanna. I just refuse to ever support his career in any way.

  4. Oh yeah, Chris Brown. I never was a big fan of his anyway, but he didn't seem affected at all by his bad behavior. I'm right there with you.


  5. Wait. She's his ADOPTED daughter, right? So, there are no funky genetic mix-ups going on? And the affair was consensual, right? No rape?
    Then my take on his personal life is: weird, but whatever floats your boat.
    I think Kourtney's example of Chris Brown's violence is much worse than this, but perhaps I'm missing some of the details.
    And we all have the things that irk us. I won't go to a local pharmacy because the owner came out publicly against plan B contraception. I don't even have a need for that, but his patriarchal, misogynist attitude in the newspaper article really made me want to smack him, so I refuse to give him my business. Plus, another local retailer was revealed as donating over a million dollars to help in the campaign to get tax dollars spent on private schools instead of public schools. Obviously, that guy is on my list of moral sinners and he doesn't have my business either.
    I'm glad you were able to enjoy the movie without feeling too much guilt. :)

  6. Yes, adopted, but . . . well, the details are too icky to go into.

    I think I know the million dollar retailer, but I don't know the pharmacist. I'd love to know - when we meet.

    Yes, I still feel a little guilt, only because I didn't stick to my guns, so to speak, but it really was a wonderful movie.


  7. Yes, we need to do lunch. I'll e-mail you. I'm glad you enjoyed your movie, though. :)