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Why Woody Allen's Amazon Show Is a Huge Step in the Wrong Direction

We weigh in on the director's new TV project

Sadie Gennis

Even as people continue to protest and cut ties with Bill Cosby, Woody Allen continues to thrive, signing on Tuesday to helm his first ever TV series for Amazon.


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The answer is, sadly, quite simple. Unlike Cosby, who is alleged to have abused more than two dozen women over a span of four decades, Allen has only been accused of abusing his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow. A simple he-said-she said is easier to disregard than a he-said-she-and-20-other-women-said.

When deciding to sign Allen, did Amazon consider the message this sends to the victims of sexual assault? Probably not. But here's what they're saying: They're saying that for a victim of sexual abuse, your story, your voice, your experience does not matter unless the number of victims who have come forward hits a certain quota of believability. It says that making money and blindly believing rich, influential men is more important than the violation of women's bodies. It says that the Bill Cosby scandal hasn't changed anything in Hollywood after all.

Maybe it was terribly naïve, but after the public crucifixion of Cosby, I hoped that Hollywood's unspoken motto to "separate the artist from the art" might be falling out of favor. I especially thought more of Amazon, whose original programming up until now has been defined by Transparent, a forward-thinking and revolutionary show centered on a transgender woman's coming out.

Dylan Farrow pens open letter detailing alleged sexual abuse by Woody Allen

Transparent made such waves that it even won Amazon its first two Golden Globes on Sunday. In truly touching moments, both creator Jill Soloway and star Jeffrey Tambor gave acceptance speeches that placed the focus on social justice rather than self-congratulations and shoutouts to lawyers and agent. But while Amazon was willing to throw its power behind increasing awareness, understanding and acceptance of the trans community, it doesn't seem at all concerned with aligning itself with one of America's most notorious rumored sexual predators.

Allen's affinity for young women has been part of his brand from the beginning. Nearly all of Allen's work centers on a May-December romance, frequently with Allen himself playing the cradle-robbing leading man. Is that why no one seems to care about the accusations against Allen? Because the idea of Allen preying on young women isn't as shocking as Cliff Huxtable drugging and raping two dozen women?

In 1997, Allen notoriously married his ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow's adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn after beginning an affair years earlier when Previn was only 19. In 1992, Vanity Fair wrote a scathing editorial exposing Allen's concerning behavior, revealing the filmmaker had allegedly abused his daughter Dylan. "There was an unwritten rule in Mia Farrow's house that Woody Allen was never supposed to be left alone with their seven-year-old adopted daughter Dylan," Maureen Orth's now-infamous expose began.

Allen managed to survive the initial scandal this accusation sparked and his career continued without a hiccup. That is, until Dylan wrote an open letter detailing the abuse last February - nearly twenty years after the initial accusation. "What's your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me," Farrow wrote.

Unlike Cosby, who has remained silent, Allen defended himself in his own open letter in which he fervently refuted the claims. (He has never been arrested, indicted or convicted on any charges related to Farrow's accusations.) That same year, Allen's film Magic in the Moonlight earned more than $10 million at the box office, Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for her starring role in Blue Jasmine, Allen's musical Bullets Over Broadway received six Tony nominations and he shot a new movie starring Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix.

All the latest on Bill Cosby

In her open letter, Farrow called Allen "a living testament to the way our society fails the survivors of sexual assault and abuse" and on Tuesday, she was proven right once again. Maybe if Farrow had written her letter in the weeks to come, it might have forced Amazon to reconsider their relationship with Allen. But the initial blowback over her accusation has passed and unfortunately, it has once again become an accepted part of Allen's narrative rather than a pressing scandal. That doesn't mean Allen has or should be forgiven. We still remember. And you should too.