People who ask why Dylan and Mia Farrow are bringing up old sex charges against Woody Allen right now — more than 20 years after the scandal first broke — aren’t paying careful attention to what Dylan and Mia are telling us loud and clear. It has everything to do with awards, including Golden Globes and Oscars.
Mia Farrow begin her Tweet campaign against Allen smack dab during the Golden Globes when he was being honored as a filmmaker: “A woman has publicly detailed Woody Allen’s molestation of her at age 7. Golden Globe tribute showed contempt for her & all abuse survivors.”
In Dylan Farrow’s letter to the New York Times, there is a specific focus on an industry that celebrates Allen. She says “that torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye … Actors praised him at awards shows.” If taken at face value she wants to change the way Allen has been talked about and recognized.
When Cate Blanchett won the Globe for “Blue Jasmine” she spent half a minute honoring Allen and when she won the SAG she praised him for “writing role after role after role after role for women and giving them the space to create them.” The last Oscar winner for a Woody Allen film — Penelope Cruz for “Vicky Christina Barcelona” — reflected these sentiments by saying to him “thank you for having written over all these years some of the greatest characters for women.” It was not necessarily wrong for either woman to say what they did, but it’s understandable why a woman potentially hurt by said man would find praise like this hard.
The Oscars are watched by over 40 million people in the USA alone and the lead actress race is arguably the most followed and replayed award of the night. Intended or not the biggest impact the controversy will likely have is what message people are exposed to if Blanchett wins. Will we hear praise for Woody? Will that praise be a large part of her speech? Will it focus on his roles for women?
Before the letter, the answer to all three questions would have been near certainties; now they are not.
Unless voters choose to take the moment from her, Blanchett will have to weigh sensitivity to potential victims of abuse with acknowledging the man who helped get her to the podium. It’s unfortunate and unfair that winning an Oscar will put her in this position. However, it shines a light on how entertainment awards and celebrity have a profound impact on the society in which we live.