Woody Allen, Mia Farrow and What Popular Culture Wants to Believe
There are two stories. In one, a father molests his 7-year-old daughter. In the other, a mother coaches that daughter to falsely accuse the father. These stories, one proposed by Mia Farrow and her advocates, one by Woody Allen and his, clearly contradict each other. No sane person can accept both. Crucially, only one lets you feel mostly OK about watching “Annie Hall” again.
这里有两个故事。在一个故事里，父亲猥亵了7岁的女儿。在另一个故事里，母亲教那个女儿诬告父亲。一个是米亚·法罗(Mia Farrow)和她的支持者提出的，一个是伍迪·艾伦(Woody Allen)和他的支持者提出的，它们显然相互矛盾。没有一个理智的人可以同时接受二者。最关键的是，只有一个故事可以让你觉得，重新看一遍《安妮·霍尔》(Annie Hall)不是什么大问题。
I was a teenager in 1992 when this particular scandal broke, so I experienced them through the cracked prism of gender narratives absorbed from the movies and shows and stealthily read supermarket tabloids of the day: That a woman should be pretty but not too pretty, sexy but not too sexy, smart but not too smart, empowered but mostly in a way that means wearing boob-forward dresses and high heels — but for you! because you want to! — and doesn’t trespass on any actual power. A fun fact about high heels: They make it harder to run away. There were limitless ways, the culture informed me, that a woman could get it wrong — “it” being her body, her career, her accusations of abuse.
I can still remember an article, probably from The National Enquirer, that pitted celebrity women against one another according to their knees. The only star with acceptable ones? The “Entertainment Tonight” host Mary Hart. Her knees are truly lovely, the article read.
我还记得一篇文章，可能是《国民问询》(National Enquirer)上的，那篇文章对比了女性名人们的膝盖。唯一一位还算可以的明星是谁？《今夜娱乐》(Entertainment Tonight)的主持人玛丽·哈特(Mary Hart)。文中写道，她的膝盖真的挺好看。
I thought about these narratives while watching — twice, in a “Clockwork Orange,” eyes-clamped-open kind of way — “Allen v. Farrow.” A four-part documentary by Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick and Amy Herdy, now on HBO, it centers on one of the more involuted scandals of the early ’90s, the breakdown of the relationship between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and the accusations and counteraccusations and custody trial and appeals that followed. The couple met in 1979. They had a child together in 1987, Ronan Farrow (who changed his name from Satchel). In 1991, Allen formally adopted Mia Farrow’s two youngest children, Dylan, the daughter who has accused him of abuse, and Moses.
我一边看《艾伦诉法罗》(Allen v. Farrow)，一边想着这些故事——我看了两遍，像《发条橙》(Clockwork Orange)里那样把眼皮撑开来看的。这是一部由艾米·齐林(Amy Ziering)、科比·迪克(Kirby Dick)和艾米·赫迪(Amy Herdy)拍摄的四集纪录片，目前正在HBO播出，主要聚焦90年代初这桩格外复杂的性丑闻，伍迪·艾伦和米亚·法罗关系的破裂，以及随后的指控和反指控以及监护权审判和上诉。两人于1979年相识。1987年，他们有了一个孩子，那就是罗南·法罗（Ronan Farrow，他把自己的名字从萨奇尔[Satchel]改成了罗南）。1991年，艾伦正式收养了米亚·法罗最小的两个孩子，一个是指控他虐待的女儿迪伦(Dylan)，另一个是摩西(Moses)。
In January 1992, Farrow discovered explicit Polaroids that Allen had taken of another of her daughters, her eldest, Soon-Yi Previn, then 21. That August, Dylan Farrow has said, she was abused when Allen was alone with her for perhaps 20 minutes during his visit to Mia Farrow’s home in Connecticut. Concerned by reports from babysitters and by statements that Dylan allegedly made, Farrow took the child to a pediatrician. The pediatrician reported the suspected abuse to law enforcement. Allen sued for custody. A criminal investigation began. The news media chronicled it all with the kind of fervid enthusiasm you mostly see in circus parades. (Allen has consistently denied the accusations.)
Dick and Ziering’s previous work includes “The Invisible War,” an exposé of sexual assault in the military, and “The Hunting Ground,” which addressed assault on college campuses. Their last film, “On the Record,” explored allegations against the music producer Russell Simmons. (He has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.) So no, “Allen v. Farrow” isn’t exactly evenhanded. Then again, in cases of abuse allegations, is even-handedness exactly what we want?
迪克和齐林之前的作品包括《看不见的战争》(The Invisible War)和《狩猎场》(The Hunting Ground)，前者是揭露军队中的性侵行为，后者是关于大学校园性侵的。他们的上一部电影《记录在案》(On the Record)是关于对音乐制作人拉塞尔·西蒙斯(Russell Simmons)的指控。（他否认了对所有非自愿性行为的指控。）所以，不，《艾伦诉法罗》并不完全是一碗水端平的。然而，在虐待指控的案件中，不偏不倚真是我们想要的吗？
Allen and Soon-Yi Previn declined to participate in the series, recently arguing, via a spokesperson, that the filmmakers hadn’t given them enough notice. Not that Allen has made his own case particularly well. In a 1992 news conference he appears whiny, aggrieved. Later, in a “60 Minutes” interview, he says that he couldn’t possibly have abused his child in that moment, because it would have been “illogical.” Is this how most men approach predation? With careful pro-and-con lists? (Also, here’s the title of Allen’s 2015 movie about a murderous professor who sleeps with his young student? “Irrational Man.”)
艾伦和宋宜拒绝参与该片的拍摄，最近他们通过发言人表示，制片方没有给他们足够的通知。艾伦自己的解释也不是做得特别好。在1992年的一次新闻发布会上，他显得牢骚满腹，愤愤不平。后来，在接受《60分钟》(60 Minutes)节目采访时，他说自己不可能在那一刻虐待自己的孩子，因为那样做“不合逻辑”。这是大多数男人处理性侵的方式吗？仔细列出要不要性侵的优缺点清单？还有，艾伦2015年拍的电影叫是什么？它讲的是一个杀人教授和年轻的学生上床的故事——“《无理之人》(Irrational Man)。
The documentary shows evidence supporting Allen, chiefly a report from the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital, which concluded that Dylan was either fantasizing or had been coached by her mother. On the other side is the testimony, in court and for the camera, of babysitters, family friends and Dylan herself. The judge in the custody trial ultimately labeled Allen’s behavior “grossly inappropriate.”
But at the arrhythmic heart of the matter were these two stories. Until very recently, the public preferred the one that allowed Allen to keep making movies, movies in which comparatively powerless young women willingly enter into relationships with older, more powerful men.
This past summer and fall, as my marriage was very quietly imploding, I spent what little free time I had jogging around the park near my Brooklyn apartment, trying, I guess, to figure out my own story, 3.3 miles at a time. While I ran, I listened to “You’re Wrong About,” an irreverent, stiletto-sharp podcast that often discusses maligned women of the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s — Anna Nicole Smith, Tonya Harding, Janet Jackson, Monica Lewinsky, half a dozen more.
去年的夏秋时节，我的婚姻悄然破裂，我把仅有的一点空闲时间都用于布鲁克林公寓附近公园里的慢跑，我想尝试着去寻找我自己的故事。我一次跑3.3英里，跑步时，我经常听一个名叫《你弄错了》(You’re Wrong About)的节目，这是一个不恭敬的、尖锐的播客，经常讨论八、九十年代和2000年代遭到诽谤的女性——安娜·妮可·史密斯(Anna Nicole Smith)、托尼娅·哈丁(Tonya Harding)、珍妮特·杰克逊(Janet Jackson)、莫妮卡·莱温斯基(Monica Lewinsky)，还有其他六七个人。
These stories run a big-haired gamut in terms of individual culpability, but in every case, popular culture found a way to blame the woman, often to excuse a more blameworthy man. Take, for example, Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate, a scandal that never touched Justin Timberlake. Or Monica Lewinsky, portrayed as a slut, as though that somehow negated the outrageous power imbalance in Bill Clinton’s relationship with her. This recalls another lesson I learned from ’80s and ’90s media: The only good victim is a perfect victim. That otherwise it was probably her fault.
这些故事中，每个人自身的责任大小存在很大差别，但在每一个案例中，流行文化都找到了指责女人的方法，通常是为一个更应该受到责备的男人开脱。以珍妮·杰克逊的“乳头门”为例，这一丑闻从未伤及贾斯汀·汀布莱克(Justin Timberlake)。还有莫妮卡·莱温斯基，她被描绘成荡妇，似乎这在某种程度上否定了比尔·克林顿(Bill Clinton)与她之间惊人的权力失衡。这让我想起了我从八、九十年代的媒体中学到的另一个教训：只有完美受害者才是好的受害者。否则那很可能是她的错。
This particular narrative re-emerges in the recent documentary “Framing Britney Spears.” That film shows news media at the turn of the century panting to tell a story about a star acting inappropriately, a party girl wilding out when she should have been at home. “Britney: Out of Control,” read an Us Weekly cover. Whose control? Conveniently, the tabloid framing lays Spears’s spiral at her own bare feet. It avoids impugning the people with actual power, the magazine editors and the record company executives who shaped and policed and profited from her image.
这种特殊的叙事在最近的纪录片《陷害布兰妮·斯皮尔斯》(Framing Britney Spears)中再次出现。这部影片展示了世纪之交的新闻媒体如何迫切地想要讲述一个明星行为失当的故事，一个本该留在家里的派对女郎跑出去发疯。《美国周刊》(Us Weekly)的封面上写道：“斯皮尔斯失控了。”谁的控制？小报很省事地把斯皮尔斯的丑事归咎于她自己，而不去指责那些拥有实权的人，那些塑造、监督她的形象，并且从中获益的杂志主编和唱片公司高管。
I asked Sarah Marshall, a journalist and a host of “You’re Wrong About,” why popular culture likes to portray women as complicit and deserving of contempt. “It justifies subjugating them,” she said. “If women are randomly taken down for possessing what we see as an alarming degree of power, even if it isn’t, then maybe they’ll be more fearful about how they wield it.”
Has popular culture finally moved on? In a recent telephone interview, Anne Helen Petersen, a celebrity gossip expert and the author of “Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman,” discussed sympathetic attitudes toward Allen, Michael Jackson and R. Kelly in the ’90s and 2000s. “I don’t think we were equipped to deal with stories of abuse at that moment,” she said. Now she sees “a larger shift in our apparatus of language to understand and condemn when it comes to abuse,” she said.
那么流行文化终于翻过这一篇了吗？在近日的一次电话采访中，名人花边新闻专家、《太胖、太淫、太吵：不羁女性的崛起与称霸》(Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman)一书的作者安·海伦·彼得森(Anne Helen Petersen)谈到了90年代和2000年代对艾伦、迈克尔·杰克逊(Michael Jackson)和R·凯利(R. Kelly)表现出的同情态度。“我认为我们当时还没准备好面对这些关于虐待的故事，”她说。现在她看到，“在我们的语言组织上出现了一种更大层面的转型，以理解和谴责虐待问题，”她说。
We can perhaps trace that shift if we survey the celebrity scandals of the past year — involving Marilyn Manson, Shia LaBeouf and others. Then again, when it comes to gossip and censure, the scales for men and women remain differently weighted. Armie Hammer had to allegedly ask to literally eat women in order to provoke outrage. (He’s denied the accusations.) All Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion had to do was rap about female arousal. A few weeks after they released “WAP,” Megan Thee Stallion accused the rapper Tory Lanez of shooting her in July, a charge Lanez has denied. Some social media users then suggested that the shooting was somehow her fault.
我们也许可以通过审视去年的名人丑闻来发现这种转型的痕迹——这包括了玛丽莲·曼森(Marilyn Manson)、希亚·拉博夫(Shia LaBeouf)等人。不过，在说闲话和谴责方面，男性和女性的判别尺度依然是有差异的。阿尔米·汉莫(Armie Hammer)都已经直说要吃女人了，才引起舆论哗然。（他否认这项指控。）而卡迪·B(Cardi B)和梅根·西·斯塔林(Megan Thee Stallion)只需要在说唱里提到女性欲望就足够了。在《WAP》发行几周后，梅根·西·斯塔林指称说唱乐手托里·拉內兹(Tory Lanez)曾开枪打她，拉內兹否认存在此事。一些社交媒体用户随即表示，枪击事件出于某些原因是应该怪她的。
The “Allen v. Farrow” series, in part because it sides so unequivocally and uncritically with Mia Farrow, will convince some but not all. Still, no matter what did or didn’t happen in that Connecticut crawl space in 1992, and even though we know, or we should know, that child sexual abuse is frighteningly common and that false reports of abuse are rare, there was one story that our culture believed. Here’s how a now adult Dylan Farrow put it in a CBS interview from 2018: “What I don’t understand is how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?”
How? Because that story reinforces norms of power and control. Because it supports an idea of women as conniving and untrustworthy. Because making women wrong — for their knees, for their autonomy — is what our culture loves to do. And if a woman like Mia Farrow — pretty, successful, comparatively wealthy — could be exposed as a villain, it becomes that much easier to delegitimize the rest of us, particularly women of color, who are more likely to experience sexual violence and less likely to report it.
If you believe Allen, his story is a happy one, at least until #MeToo came along and complicated it. He marries Previn. He makes movie after movie. He even wins another Oscar. If you believe Dylan Farrow, you recognize she grew up knowing that her abuser went unpunished, that his career flourished. That’s a terrible ending. What attitudes would our culture have to sacrifice to imagine a better one?