Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
With much of Hollywood mute on the subject, and others all too verbal about their adamant refusal to comment, Lena Dunham has emerged as, perhaps, the most rational voice in the conversation. In yesterday's episode of WTF With Marc Maron, Dunham plainly says she stands by Dylan Farrow, but the discussion of Allen's work has damaged the conversation. While she acknowledges that she hasn't watched his work in years, largely because of its quality, Dunham cut through months of muddled dialogue over the artist-versus-man debate.
"I'm decidedly pro Dylan Farrow and decidedly disgusted with Woody Allen's behavior. But, for me, when people go through his work and comb through it for references to child molestation, that's not the f*ckin point...I'm not going to indict the work. I'm not comfortable living in a world where art is part of how we convict people of crimes." Dunham further explains, "You can decide that you don't want to support the work of someone who has molested a child — that's a completely appropriate choice. But, going through and saying, 'Look, he's told us in 57 ways that he rapes kids!' — that's not the thing. The thing is to look at the actual evidence that exists in the world, which I think strongly suggests that Woody Allen is in the wrong."
Presumably, Dunham alludes to the myriad critical pieces that emerged in the last three months, pointing out "clues" in movies like Manhattan (featuring Allen's character dating a high school girl) or Love & Death (in which his character says, "I have come to the conclusion that the best thing in life is blonde 12-year-old girls. Two of them, whenever possible."). In retrospect, those moments are easily perceived evidence of some kind, but, in doing so, many following this complex story have conflated reality with film — a persistent problem with Allen's career as a public figure.
Host Marc Maron, a much-admired figure in the worlds of comedy and podcasting, also jumped in to voice his stance, at least when it comes to Allen's work. Though Maron clearly restrains himself from taking a stance on the subject, it must be noted that the comedy community has met this scandal with resounding silence, a fact that many fans have expressed outrage over. After all, as Maron points out, Allen "defined a generation of comedy."
"If you're going to sit there and dismiss an entire body of work retroactively because of a personal transgression, I would imagine that there's a good deal of art that needs to be thrown out."
Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Maron continues, referencing the 2012 authorized documentary Woody Allen: A Documentary (directed by Robert B. Weide whose Daily Beast op-ed was cheered by Allen supporters), "When I saw that documentary and found out just how much of the screen persona was fabricated, I was disappointed. It seemed calculated. It was a clown. He created a clown that worked." (For contrast, Dunham's take: "I thought that documentary was so masturbatory.")
Beyond these measured, considered takes on what has been a loud and bloody battle in the press, it's heartening to hear an intelligent take on one angle that many have been too scared to address:
"People who really believe Woody Allen is guilty have not felt comfortable saying that, because they're so afraid of losing their attachment to his work. And, I feel like people need to understand that you can hold two positions in your mind. You can know that someone's made work that's meaningful to you and also know that they have most likely molested their daughter. I was so disappointed in people's ability to think in less binary ways and just experience the ambiguity."
Check out the full episode, where Dunham and Maron get into everything from art to love to the issues of race and feminism on television here.