Conversation about Woody Allen at the NewYorker Movie Facebook Club
Richard Brody shared a link.
The idea of separating the artist and the art has always seemed absurd to me; art is where artists express and reveal themselves, both intentionally and involuntarily; and I've written about Woody Allen's new film, Wonder Wheel (which opens today), and my experience of watching his films in light of that self-revelation; it's a piece about the anguish of appreciation.
It would make life easier if Woody Allen’s movies were as easy and as right to condemn as his behavior.
Willem Van den Berg Richard, I really appreciate and learn a lot from your writings. Thank you.
Katie Hoffmann I've always hated Allan's films. They're so damn creepy.
Ken Eisner Go back to Annie Hall, Bananas, and Play It Again, Sam. Not creepy.
Katie Hoffmann Ok, that's great that *you* don't find them creepy. I do, and I always have.
I'm 45, BTW.
Ken Eisner Seriously, Bananas? Can you explain why?
Rodney Welch “Creepy” is a cliche that is used to describe everyone and everything people don’t like or that seems suspect at a purely superficial level. It no longer means anything, or at least it doesn’t to me
Katie Hoffmann 1.The women in his films, even Bananas are either fantasies or tropes, much like the women in Philip Roth's novels.
2. Creepy as in " Woody Allen gives me the creeps". I don't find him charismatic or sympathetic or even unique and interesting. He givesme the creeps, always has.
3. My age matters because I grew up when his reputation was still intact, therefore, my legitimate, visceral reaction to him is not based on later information about his personal life.
Ken Eisner Okay, I follow that thinking. I think the humour back then has a lasting value, but I suppose in the end he might have just been the smarter, funnier end of the Hugh Hefner spectrum.
Rodney Welch Peter Hoffman You make it sound as if I’m refusing to take some extraordinary and enlightening intellectual journey. I really seriously doubt that’s the case.
Rodney Welch Katie Hoffmann Is there a woman - or man, for that matter - in ANY movie who can’t be reduced to fantasy or trope?
Diane Lake Sexually sordid is an apt description of his films.
Katie Hoffmann His complete hatred for any woman who isn't very young and nubile is so apparent; I have a hard time understanding how any mature woman could enjoy his films.
Willem Van den Berg Strange how some people see (valid or not) problems in certain films that completely escape others. That is why personal preference luckily is never completely universal?
Joel Seligmann Certainly very few mature women fare well in his films, and some are outright murdered.
Katie Hoffmann Thank you Joel Seligmann; it's nice to actually have a man acknowledge this. You would not believe the abuse I've taken in debates about this very topic!
Rodney Welch Joel Seligmann Is that the basis of your argument? Whether women succeed and prosper in his movies? Some do and some don’t. But you’d be consigning a lot of male and female writers and directors to oblivion if that’s your main criterion.
Valda Vee Katie Hoffmann I’m a mature woman of 65 and was a fan of his from the very beginning of his career. I found his writing then to be deeply ironic and self aware without being didactic. I found his themes to be very much in tune with women’s identity and...See More
Rodney Welch Peter Hoffman Actually, that was Crimes and Misdemeanors — and It sure didn’t get a big laugh when I saw it at the theater. I do not recall that as being a laugh line.
Joel Seligmann Rodney Welch It's not so much that they don't succeed and prosper, or, as I said, "fare well," it's that two were just plain murdered for nothing more that being in the way.
Joel Seligmann In two movies by the same writer/director?
Rodney Welch Joel Seligmann I think if you scanned movie history you’d find similar examples. I don’t know what the big deal is, all this prattle about Woody Allen’s filmography being some sort of literal Rorschach blot of his life. Scratch out his name and enter the name of any other film director and I’m sure you could find just as many “disturbing” parallels.
Dennis M Robles I really think this retrospective assassination of an artist is a bit much. I grew up with Allen and have seen his films with eager. I have been disappointed in some of his works, but no filmmaker or artist is going to bat 1000 in every work. I always felt he was speaking to his perceptions of the zeitgeist at the time. His work as many other filmmakers is reflecting the mores of their time. To look back with current political correctness lenses is not just unfair but disrespectful to the times their works are made in. Anthropologists observing other cultures take note to understand the practices of the peoples they are observing reserving judgment and condemnation of practices. There is this moralistic bandwagon in which judging and condemning past actions without taking into account historical context is folly. There is an epigenesis in the embryo's development and no one says that one stage is better or worse than another.
Diane Lake Sounds like deflection, a la Weinstein. "I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I've learned it's not an excuse." In other words, Weinstein insists that he knows his age isn’t an excuse for mistreating women, but at the same time, he provides his age as an excuse for mistreating women. I think Richard Brody has done an incisive job in dissecting Allen' s penchant for treating women like prey throughout his career.
Dennis M Robles Diane Lake Sigh. It is so easy to retrospectively judge anybody's actions and intentions. Did you see Annie Hall? Where is the mistreatment there?
Maureen Daniels I agree, Dennis M Robles. Nowadays very many films, TV series and books are viewed with derision to horror when seen through current mores. That does not mean they are all without artistic merit. The baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston "To look back with current political correctness lenses is not just unfair but disrespectful to the times their works are made in. Anthropologists observing other cultures take note to understand the practices of the peoples they are observing reserving judgment and condemnation of practices."
If you study any era where progressives are finally beginning to see crimes that previously they hadn't thought unusual, they don't say, hey, let's not disrespect... What they do is admonish and get angry and change. Anthropologists are invested not just in objectively studying other cultures, but in showcasing how those who had been prejudiced against different cultures are vile, bigoted and wrong... they're looking in two directions: directly at other cultures, and towards a previous way of assessing other cultures that their predecessors' possessed and which they are intent on showing up. That is, they aren't often doing the job as well as you imagine them to be doing; they would never confirm a previous generations' prejudices of other cultures, for instance. Not ever. If it's between goodness and what they'll let their eyeballs see, it'll go goodness, however always summarized as objective truth.
So the detached stance you draw us to consider as preferable, needs to be called out as the conservative, abuse-enabling one, that one hears during times of progressive change. However -- though not if one is an anthropologist, who don't seem to recognize the existence of perverse cultures other than Western -- if one is a certain kind of psychologist, one who doesn't believe in good or evil but only in adverse effects of malign childhoods, then, sure, you should be trained to immediately here of a sick time and of sick people and not judge, but you're certainly going to qualify the respect you'd give them: you respect that they do exist in a state which is malign and which must change, but also that it isn't ultimately their fault. You certainly don't respect the idea that every human being in their adult form has got its negatives and its pluses. You assess worth, always to the more emotionally evolved form. People, our age, are/is getting better.
"Reflecting mores of their time"... why didn't you go with participating in and enabling the mores of the time, making him more akin to those who actually nurture and create the mores in the first place? Why suddenly turn him into a helpless baby? Diane Lake Dennis M Robles. Yes, of course I saw Annie Hall. It may be a case of not seeing until we can’t not see. I think Annie Hall is a great film, but it too has disquieting moments. Maybe easy to overlook at the time the scene where Alvy calls his best buddy Rob (Tony Roberts) in LA. When Rob complains, toward the end, that the call interrupted him in bed with 16-year-old twins, an otherwise unremarkable, casual one-liner about Hollywood depravity becomes a callous joke about incest and exploitation (if not quite statutory rape). How could it not?
Joel Seligmann What’s the “historical context” of child abuse and incest in America?
Vishy I have a question :) Please don't kill me :) If Woody Allen was a good person, would we have the same problems with his movies? For example, would we still be disgusted about the relationship that Allen's forty two year old character has with a teenage...See More
Joel Seligmann This discussion helped me remember this quote from Allen's Love and Death: "I have lived many years, and, after many trials and tribulations, I have come to the conclusion that the best thing [in life] is ... blonde 12-year-old girls. Two of them, when...See More
The newly-chilling themes that you can see throughout his movies
Diane Lake On separating the art from the artist. "But with Woody Allen, such a separation is impossible, because his movies are so thoroughly about himself, and about his own condition, and, as it turns out, the moral universe in which he exists—one in which there is no expectation of justice."
Ralph Benner So punishment is what's missing?
Diane Lake Read the Esquire article, link above, and the moral nihilism Richard Brody explores in his post.
Dennis M Robles The age of consent was 12 to 13 years of age for centuries. And only in the late 1880s was that moved up to 15 and 16. In Ireland it's 15. The jokes are not entirely inappropriate in this historical regard.
Joel Seligmann So Allen was just being historically accurate?
Sarah Fagan Greenberg Ralph, you said, "healthy sexual experimentation with peers. " What we're talking about here, I think, is not peer counseling in sex. It's the older man, with a younger girl who is not legally of age and thus incapable of giving "consent." Alabama law is concerned with more than the girl's age of consent. It defines any man over the age of 19 having sex with an underage girl as having committed "sexual abuse." I'm sure you would agree. As for the statute of limitations, responses to some allegations provide examples of why the victim does not come forward at any time. It's difficult. At least telling someone at the time it happened is regarded as corroboration. Why would you want to be dragged through the mud as "ruining" someone's career or marriage by reporting abuse? And, threats do exist: i.e. tell anyone and I'll see that you are sorry.
Fran Diamond Dennis M Robles the Middle Ages are not relevant to this discussion. Important to address the present times with the current ethics.
Maureen Daniels Fran Diamond, Dennis M Robles is not referring to the Middle Ages. The line is from 'Love And Death', which I'm sure you know is a spoof of 'War And Peace', and therefore references contemporary standards of the early 1800s.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Fran Diamond Referring to what was considered acceptable hits us with a bit of a dare. For they are arguing that it was a period where age of consent was much younger, but also trying to stop us from judging, not just by saying it was part of our evolution... Dennis' epigenesis, but by catching us out on our own disinclination to judge these periods not worth studying in an appreciate way. If we still love medieval art (and really, should we?), and the artists who made them were casually f*cking ten-year-olds, then if the artist is in the art, where exactly is our own psychic state, exactly?... there's a ten-year-old child-f*cker in us? I repeat that the only way to come to terms with the fact that Allen did produce some great art, is to keep our outrage at victimizers and automatic support for the abused, but also to develop a more psychologically sophisticated means of accepting what people have to do in order to articulate their own individuality and be artists (not as a universal concept, but more or less traditionally). During the 1920s, a whole culture adopted the castrating Freudian father as their idol, for he seems menacing towards the still-felt influence of smothering Victorian matrons. The 1930s, brought back the matron and withdrew the father... and the flapper also vanished from view. Source of sadism may lie in a fact we're intellectually drawn to necessitate recognizing, but which we dare not find ourselves compelled to do: sexually abused women, unloved, disrespected women, as mothers, do exactly what to their children?... provide them with with love from out of Jesus or the ether or earth spirits or DNA that they themselves never knew? or make use of them to make up for the love they never knew? abandon them when they turn away from them in an attempt to individuate? install in them a need to project Her onto other women and humiliate them, to demonstrate themselves not-victims? What was Weinstein's/Woody Allen's/Trump's mother like? How forlorn and abandoned was she, when she was finally gifted a child that would finally provide her unconditional worship?
Fran Diamond Patrick McEvoy-Halston well you all are for more completist and knowledgeable about WA’s ouevre. Whether done in art as humorous commentary that doesn’t justify monstrous decisions or grounded in reality today (cf Roy Moore) the refuge to the ethics of bygone Times is pretty poor reasoning.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Fran Diamond You're never going to find me pointing to ethics of a bygone time... because every era before ours was fabricated out of more disturbed human beings. It wasn't something they struggled under, an affliction that determined their course, but something fabricated out of the kind of abuse we're learning has been afflicted upon untold numbers of women, but to the whole populace as children... the ethics were natural to them; served their malformed but necessary psychic needs in order for day to day equilibrium. Refuge is suspicious right now: why isn't one for the further revealing of all the crimes that previously had been withheld? Why is one for finding some neat trick that causes accusers some delay in taking one down?
Dennis M Robles My point in all this is the historical context in viewing films and perhaps a film like "It Happened One Night" is a classic Rom-Com, attacking it for it being a "sexist" film, I believe is out of bounds. Allen and his generation group up in an era where having sex with "young" girls were on the border of acceptability. Allusions to this were more acceptable and eyebrows of disgust were not raised as much in the past (I remember in my teens hearing a Frank Zappa's song in which a character had an appetite for "chocolate covered 13-year-old girls and not knowing what to think while my comrades smiled.). Men's proclivities for sexual fantasies portrayed in films is frequently bravado and reflects male culture rather one likes it or not. Many men will not speak about their sexual inclinations with women because it has become so politicized. But jumping to implying pedophilia, misogyny, and predatory behavior because of the current zeitgeist is a bit much. Finally, I have had these debates in my professional work, as a psychologist I have worked with victims of sexual assault and have worked with a registered sex offenders, so I am not ignorant of these issues. I also recognize that we live in a culture infused with sex and violence, where there are laws, rules of conduct and mores that varies in so many ways, hence this discussion. I am taken aback by the venomous attack on some of the greatest films. No film is perfect as no artist.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Dennis M Robles But the point is that it wasn't the era that gave sanction to their intention to go after younger women. It was that they themselves were of the sort to be inclined to do so even if the era didn't tell them it was a-okay; good for both parties. And it is owing to so many people being built like that that the mores were accepted and not immediately repudiated. Mores change, and it owes to certain peoples suddenly emerging -- really, a whole collection of them -- that despite being saturated with a previous generations' norms, suddenly see through them, and find instead sanctioned abuse/prejudice. Where did this something out of nothing emerge? Did they all suddenly discover the equivalent of the Renaissance uncovering previously unknown Greek thought?... texts formerly kept out of view, suddenly back in view? In my judgment, no. What happened is that childrearing improved. A generation born out of a bit better love, required a different, more loving set of mores, to reflect their automatic, natural way of seeing the world.
Your concern that men won't speak is interesting. I had hoped that Franken might have been able to do so... that is, admit that he behaved towards women sadistically, intending to humiliate and harm them, that he knows that there is no way for a populace to digest this without it meaning he's a devil of some kind, but still pushing it forward as a mature population must try and grapple with the fact that some men can find themselves inclined to do this but still in other aspects, end up dedicating themselves to democratic, victim-decreasing goals. I would have loved it if he took the opportunity to do this, even as it would have been essentially the last thing we'd of heard of him... it would have been the most generous thing he'd of done in his career: the most fair to the victims (I wasn't hugging them: their experiences of what I was doing was valid -- I meant to use and humiliate them, when they were in a compromised state), and most fair to our contemporary situation, in that it would draw us, while recognizing the extent of the abuse and being rightly outraged about it, to think intelligently on why exactly a human being could be drawn to repeatedly find pleasure in the humiliation of another. I don't simply want confessions from men. I want a context where the priority is in hearing of all the abuse that we hadn't allowed ourselves to fully hear. All of it. Deep considered involvement with it. Then I want us to turn to the abusers in no mood to sanction or excuse, and quite frankly to call criminal behaviour, criminal, but also to see the child in him that had morphed into an adult form that did that. What does suffered abuse do to an individual, exactly? Does it breed, not only victims, but victims compelled to turn into sexual sadists?
George Merchant Ballentyne A valuable contribution to a debate that isn’t going to go away as long as Woody Allen keeps making films and we keep watching them.
Majid Mirmiran Although personality of the artist is part of his art, we should not judge his/her art by the artist real life personal events. Similar sexist criticism were made about Mark Morris work in ballet choreography.
Victoria Webb If only the audience for our politicians, our corporate leaders and most of the men in power were as disgusted and outraged as they seem to be with our artists. We'd be living in a different world.
Cathy Grabosky Manis I just finished a year of watching every Woody Allen film with a friend. This very perspective arose many times during our discussions. We have yet to resolve it.
Valda Vee That’s how I feel. Unresolved
Joe Procopio The fact that Brody doesn’t understand one of the simplest precepts of serious criticism—separating art and artist—is a major disappointment in a critic I usually find pretty smart.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston If the art seems better than the artist, then it can be we're not being entirely sophisticated in how we're assessing an artist. I've said this before in another post, but, for example, some psychologists argue that there is a thing called growth panic which can draw one into averse activities, but which only afflicts people who've been well-loved enough to even try and produce something new to the world. It's been identified with rock and roll stars becoming such alcoholics, for instance. I'm sure this is also true with Allen... we're going to go through a time when we can't quite be fair to the actual level of strength and goodness in him, because, for good purposes, we're more centrally interested in not waylaying the damage victims of such people have suffered... and suffered and carried while the predators prospered.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Without allowing ourselves to be more aware of why people can become such sadists, then all we've got to go on is this "must separate art from the artist" thing, this scolding, this mimicry of wise but intolerant elders thing, to keep the art safe. Problem with this is that most people who argue this are finding themselves out of sympathy with a cultural moment which is finally agreeing to have at every means where serial predators have found themselves protected in their crimes... that is, this rule, this more, this "absolute qualification of every serious person," is seeming just another Weinstein lawyer -- protector of abusers and waylayer of the abused. "We" raise this shield because "we" think #metoo can be made to be about mob-action, a witch hunt, a spreading cancer that'll dissolve every person of worth, but it's "our" isolation, "our" being protected in suspicious enclaves, which has us still do so, for "we" come across instantly as those who'd work to maintain things so that you can shut down a victim accuser, further render him/her, by remarking on their impertinence in face of a "righteous" principle/person. "We" seem to be thinking of how we might be touched by this; how something "we" have used to give safe venue for our own male-bro thinking, could lapse away from us, and some structural support for our daily equilibrium will be gone.
Miriam Bilsker Brody says this in all his reviews and in his Godard book, so I wonder how much you've been reading him
Miriam Bilsker It's not that you approve the character of the artist by liking his art or vice versa; it's that the personality and preoccupations of the artist-- things in his life-- must affect the art for the art to have any life. At least, according to Brody.
Miriam Bilsker What are you talking about? I don't know the man.
Helena Nagy No mention of Annie Hall. That was pretty wholesome, in a neurotic way.
Sofia Pimentel-Salles Neurotic
Diane Lake I think Annie Hall is a great film, but it too has disquieting moments. Maybe easy to overlook at the time the scene where Alvy calls his best buddy Rob (Tony Roberts) in LA. When Rob complains, toward the end, that the call interrupted him in bed with...See More
Ken Eisner Good catch ^^^
Helena Nagy Yeah, I guess all his movies are tainted with sexploitation. Yuck.
David Dean Daniel Just as he did with his review of the latest Louie CK film, Mr Brody has once again demonstrated an extremely unprofessional attitude and behavior in regards to maintaining a distance between his judgment of an auteur and his criticism of a piece of work. He simply is NOT doing his job and has lost all credibility here. Also, it's one thing for a member of the uninformed public to defame Mr Allen, who is innocent of wrongdoing, but for a would-be journalist to do so is unacceptable. It would appear that he has jumped onto a fashionable social bandwagon at the loss of his own journalistic integrity. I am disgusted and disappointed.
Willem Van den Berg Can a critic really ever be 100% objective and he at least much more informed than his readers. I like his writings whether I always fully agree or not.
David Dean Daniel I do too usually, but here lately, he has slipped up in a dramatically inept fashion.
Dennis M Robles Every time "Birth of a Nation" gets a large public notice the controversy between artist and his work comes up. Allen is no D.W. Griffith. What I have been drawn to his film is his humor, satire and social commentary. He pokes fun at the social conventions such as the good old days in his more recent "Midnight in Paris." The idea of putting on blinders and filters to seek out depravity is really a form of censorship. Allen is a great filmmaker and his works are as classic as Chaplin's.
Steven Erickson It makes sense to read MANHATTAN as an expression of the more dubious aspects of Allen's real-life libido and behavior, and many people have pointed out that the "separate the artist from the art" mantra is unevenly applied: a lot of criticism of GIRLS turns into personal attacks on Lena Dunham, while white male artists receive much less of this. But I think there's a growing danger that criticism will now turn into an analysis of artists' biographies and whatever negative behavior they've committed and how it's reflected in their films. It's totally possible for a filmmaker who has never done anything seriously wrong in their lives to write a narrative like CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS or MATCH POINT.
David Dean Daniel That would be Woody Allen, who is innocent of wrongdoing and also happens to have made those films.
Ralph Benner In nearly the exasperating way Shelley Winters loses audience sympathy in “A Place in the Sun,” Scarlett Johansson loses us in “Match Point.” The only point in watching is to see if Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, unlike Monty Clift, gets away with his solution. Does that mean Woody’s a misogynist?
David Kaiser The model for Tracey in Manhattan was a Stuyvesant High School student named Stacey Nelkin, who would have been 20 when Manhattan came out. You can find relatively recent interviews with her defending Woody on youtube. She does not seem to have any regrets. Jusst for the record. . .
Peter Grudin Both Wagner and Liszt were Anti-Semites. Should we stop listening to them? Is their music anti-Semitic?
Miriam Bilsker Has no one read Brody before? Brody always thinks the art is reflective of the artist's life (if by life, we means the interests, thoughts, preoccupations and personality of the artists, which include his reflections on his/her experiences and choices.) He thinks this in all kinds of films if he considers the film auteurist. For him it's a badge of honor, because if the art didn't reflect the artist, it wouldn't be art but merely commercial product.
Steven Erickson But when people say bad things, it doesn't necessarily mean they're bad people. I read a lengthy commentary section on an article about David O. Russell's bullying behavior, where eventually a number of people started arguing that fans and critics should be kinder to Zack Snyder over Russell. Well, I think the implicit and explicit politics of Russell's first 4 films and AMERICAN HUSTLE contradict the way he seems to treat people in real life, while Snyder's SUCKER PUNCH is appallingly misogynist and much more politically problematic than any Russell film. However, word is that he's a nice guy who treats women respectfully (at least according to the people in this thread.)
Joe Procopio I haven't read Brody consistently enough to see this trend until recently. I'll be reading even less of him now. Why did the New Yorker get rid of the smart one, David Denby.
Miriam Bilsker Denby's still there in the print magazine. Brody writes online. I love his criticism; I think it's some of the best in the business.
Miriam Bilsker Brody's
Joe Procopio Oh, well...
Joe Procopio Until now I guess I've responded mostly to Brody as a fellow cinephile (i.e., he's clearly watched a lot of movies), but any respect I might have had for his critical acumen took a big hit when he announced his silly inability to untangle the art from the artist. If he doesn't even get the elementary part of the job....
Ralph Benner There is Gudrun saying in “Women in Love” that “life doesn’t really matter—it is one’s art that is central. What one does in one’s life has peu de rapport, it doesn’t signify much.” Does anyone believe D. H. Lawrence’s breakthrough art isn’t significantly dependent on his life?
Steven Berson I disagree. As problematic as this can be, Chinatown is still one if the great experiences in cinema. Plenty of other examples, obviously. A great movie gives you insight into truth, regardless of who contributed to the film.
Susan Smart This is where I struggle the most: Roman Polanski. He is a great film maker but an abhorrent person. I have to separate the art from the person. Am I to boycott Chinatown, Rosemarys baby, etc?
Dennis M Robles I wonder what people think about Swept Away, a film by a woman director?
Ken Eisner She was raked over the coals, lightly, for the misogyny in her movies.
David Kaiser It is part of the insanity of our time,. it seems to me, that if you make one movie with a female character that does not represent some one else's idea of how a woman should act, you're a misogynist. I think it's a tenet of postmodernism that any artistic representation of any member of any oppressed group has to portray members of that group in a highly positive light. You can't create real art that way.
George Merchant Ballentyne Did this thread just jump the tracks and start with another subject? Are we done with Woody Allen now?
Joe Procopio We're all grappling with the nonsense premise that Brody stated in the first sentence of this post.
Dennis M Robles Actually it plays into the discussion, I think. If Allen had directed this...
Diane Lake To all the critics of Richard Brody's post here, and I think someone mentioned Louis CK as well: As a former journalist I never bought the myth of objectivity in either reporting or reviewing. Here's why: journalists/critics who candidly acknowledge their opinions are better at informing others than those who conceal their opinions from others or from themselves. One could argue that those whose thinking is shaped by unexamined, unacknowledged assumptions are more biased than those who have consciously examined and knowingly embraced their assumptions. That's because the refusal or inability to recognize one's own assumptions creates the self-delusion of unbiased objectivity. It places those assumptions beyond the realm of what can be challenged and thus leading one to lay claim to an unearned authority steeped in non-existent neutrality. Clearly Richard Brody has a wealth of knowledge on film, and is not reticent in expressing his extremely well-informed opinions. A lot of the criticism of his reviews is based on bias, and are, frankly, exercises in male fragility.
Joe Procopio Yeah....sorry, but dismissing our criticisms as male fragility isn't very helpful. I've a master's degree in literary critical theory and have seen and written about many movies in my lifetime. Believing that a work of art should be taken on its own terms and not judged by the life choices of the artist is neither a novel approach to criticism nor one grounded in the fragility of my ego. And if you were much of a thinker, you might understand the difference between reportage/journalism and art criticism.
Steven Erickson I don't think objective film criticism exists: it would consist of running the credits from the end of the film and the synopsis from the press kit (and even those are sometimes incorrect or biased - the press kit synopsis for Michael Haneke's HAPPY END consists of 2 sentences and seems like a "fuck you" to critics). But writing a review of WONDER WHEEL that spends 2/3rds of its length calling Allen a pedophile and not engaging with the form or content of the film itself seems like a waste of time at a moment when one can find dozens, if not hundreds, of articles about his alleged crimes.,
Diane Lake Joe Procopio What's your view of the difference between reportage/journalism and art criticism? (I called it reviewing). Asking for someone who isn't much of a thinker.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Joe Procopio "And if you were much of a thinker," to me is male bravado. I suppose one might say you're responding in kind, but I'd say overall you reinforce her claim. I wish you'd left that part out. You're dismissing people in gross ways.
I again argue that the way to redeem Allen's work is to remind people that anyone who is essentially... who is in essence a predator, would never create art of the calibre of Woody Allen. The two don't really go together, which is why artists who are Republicans (the party of predators, in that they exist to create more societal victims) always seem so insufficient compared with artists who are Democrats/liberal. People who may find themselves still loving and appreciating his films, may be responding to what good was fed into Allen's life that he could create something new to the world (knowing the foul isn't sufficient to potentially a great artist about it, as Brody seems to be arguing, but knowing foul after having known a great deal lot of good to source an inspired take on it). Personally, I also tried to introduce people to the idea of "growth panic," that is, that those people who go beyond what their predecessors accomplished... innovators, can experience a kind of fear, terror, guilt, beyond what those... who actually aren't as emotionally healthy, ever know in their adult lives for never having been given the emotional resources to try the same. These "horsemen" must be defeated or your own psyche crumbles, and it may be this that leads to gross victimizations of other people, and other perversities.
Diane Lake Re: the issue of male fragility. It was not intended as a smear, merely an observation of the factual response to what we've been seeng for the past month or so, in the world at large and here, whenever the spectre of whether art trumps humanity is raised. It is not factual to name call someone who you know nothing about as "not being much of a thinker" because you disagree with them. The male fragility consists of, in some quarters, much hand wringing by the likes of Woody Allen of all people, worrying post-Weinstein that the atmosphere is turning into a witch hunt. Men have had, it, dammit, with the calling out in the news and entertainment biz, and by the way, what about how you're innocent until proven guilty? Of course these cases are not going to court - sexual allegations are violations of company policies. The point being the gall of men feeling hunted after millenniums of treating women like prey. Must defend those transcendent artists who follow suit too. What to do but lash out. (Which would include at me, as not being much of a thinker).
Joe Procopio Diane Lake I’ll apologize for suggesting you’re not a thinker. It was a reaction to the hostility and dismissiveness I read in your comment, but I should have not met the insult in kind, and so apologize.
Diane Lake Apology accepted. There was nothing in my initial post that was intended to be hostile or dismissive. I was merely commenting on the age-old debate about objectivity in journalism. I was also backing up or agreeing with Richard Brody on the views he expressed in light of the many negative responses to his post.
Katie Hoffmann Ha, the vitriol coming from men on this topic would be laughable if it weren't so trite and predictable.
Joe Procopio Another person who takes a cheap shot, inferring misogyny in a discussion in which my comments have been solely about the age old question in critical theory circles that was mentioned in the opening sentence of Brody’s post and has been discussed by academics for about a century. But yes, I’m a predictable, trite sexist...thanks for that.
"The Death of the Author" (French: La mort de l'auteur) is a 1967 essay by the French literary critic and theorist Roland Barthes (1915–80). Barthes' essay argues against traditional literary criticism's practice of incorporating the intentions and biographical context of an author in an interpret...
Joe Procopio And if you care to read further about the history of the debate in academic literary theory, you can here.
New Criticism was a formalist movement in literary theory that dominated American…
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Katie Hoffmann A lot of people who had been abused and had been made to carry all ill-effects of this predatory behaviour while their abusers further used their culturally-enabled immunity to further savour their power of them, are discovering that there is finally an end to this hell. "You" weren't ignored because your concerns weren't sufficient. They were always sufficient, it was just that we were intent on making "you" feel like they weren't. I think it is fair for people to be rejoicing that we've evolved to a time when victims are heard and believed, and we can't be thwarted from immediately disposing the predator... almost regardless of rank (though, if ever there was reason to, would we ever take down Obama? Not without us going insane, me thinks). #metoo isn't only about what has happened to women, nor only to children... to me it speaks to emergence from a very long period where most Americans seemed to accept that there were going to be powerful people, who are immune to suffering, and then there is the rest of the populace... the carnage, who'll suffer and probably come to suspect themselves.
Thomas Zorthian I am disappointed that Mr. Brody finds Ms. Farrow's accusations credible. Unlike many woman who are now coming forward, Ms. Farrow was a very young child when the alleged incident happened, and memories from that part of a person's life are unreliable. The fact that Ms. Farrow believes she is telling the truth has little bearing on whether the incident happened.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston That idea that memories of a young child aren't reliable really held strong ground for a long time. The daycare child abuse in the '80s was thwarted by most people coming to agree with this premise. It was deemed a witch hunt, and it was open season on the psychologists who were ostensibly so bent on persecuting these ostensibly probably completely innocent parents.
I think what we'll end up learning is if the way a culture decided was fact concerning the reliability of childhood memories owed actually TO fact, or sort of to what we're find out here... that overall, for whatever reason, a whole age seemed determined to overlook, waylay, belittle harm done against vulnerable people. The end results of this #metoo moment could in fact be that we'll go back to the results of these 80s trials and decide the evidence was actually there, and we had further victimized people who were already victimized because... well, perhaps because we felt that our age had to be one that produced ample winners but also just as many people who would be used and abused and abandoned.
As someone interested in psychology, I'm very interested in seeing if this happens (and I know it will). For a very intelligent but, in my judgment, misguided man, Frederick Crews, has a good portion of his reputation tied up in how he dismantled this ostensible "witch hunt," and he, more than anyone else, has been the one that we all have used to make Freudian psychoanalysis a giant hoax of a kind as well. If he takes a hit here, those who want to be able to introduce psychoanalysis back into helping understanding our times, will feel the context is safer for them to do so again. With psychoanalysis, with focus on the pre-oedipal period with the mother, we can get at why boys coming out of certain childhood circumstances (you hurt people so you feel less susceptible to being hurt; sadism out of known experiences of sadism) can feel so bent on inflicting sadistic damage on women or on children. Outside this understanding we're left with men are evil, for why otherwise the massive prevalence? for if men have been doing this for thousands of years and getting away with it, either the evil is always in them or they're incredibly apt to make use of whatever latitude was gifted them by their evil predecessors and so too must be heavily watched, all of them, which needn't even take us in a progressive direction. For if our culture is turning more populist rightwing than it is evolving progressive, this could be used to argue that men mostly can't help themselves, and the sexes need to be kept apart and women need to cover up, while men repent into some kind of promise keeper mass of fascist bros.
Thomas Zorthian Mr. Allen is 82 years old and there have not been any other accusations against him, even in the current climate. I think this speaks volumes about his innocence of this heinous accusations.
David Kaiser Woody Allen's case is also different in that the accusation was revealed at the time and thoroughly investigated by two separate government agencies, Connecticut police and New York social workers. Both decided prosecution was not warranted.
As fpr the younger women in his life, Stacy Nelkin, the model for Tracy in Manhattan, has never expressed any regrets about her affair with Allen, which began (like Tracy's) when she was 17. She has defended him in recent years. As for his current wife, surely their more than 20-year stable relationsh[p, complete with marriage and kids, puts a somewhat different light on the matter?
I am not aware of a single actress who has come forward to accuse him of trying to exploit power sexually on a movie set.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Millenials and Gen Xers are accusing all generations over them as essentially being predators. Their incomes went down, while boomers kept making sure they were themselves taken care of. People might end up using Woody Allen's "situation" to not have this guilt revisited upon them; it's in the film. Sacrifice of the young as something an older generation can come to find righteous, and failing that, still tenable. They've all been Woody Allens.
The film is also about not being able to keep fictions and contrivances and power from keeping untenable truths from eventually sneaking up on you and possibly exposing you to insanity, a total loss of personal equilibrium. I think that's a useful thing for people see and explore in a film because it seems likely that more and more of us are going to find ourselves in this situation, now that the media who puts out our preferred view of things out there everywhere, is contested by so many mischievous alternative media that is making louder how we do false news too. Our preferred image of ourselves is not reliably being reflected back at us. These other voices sneak in, with the momentum of guilt that can no longer be kept at bay. Every day there is a shock, as for example we find out someone we thought one of our own, to be counted on against the racist mob, may or may not be themselves a homophobe. We find a way to patch this up, but the next day there's another -- a senator we thought was with us and whom we might have seen our own selves reflected in, has been a serial predator -- and so what, then, of us? We patch this up, but another blow, and when we go at our opponents, we're seeming a little more erratic and less steady, a la this film's Ginny.
And why we insist on blaming them for it.
David Kaiser That is absolutely correct, Patrick McEvoy-Halston, and there is some truth to what they are saying, particularly on the economic front. But we have not equipped them to make reasonable moral judgments. They believe in perfection.
Steven Erickson I don't think all the "artists should be completely perfect in the politics they express in real life or their films" views are coming from millennials. It is way too easy to engage in generational warfare. I'm 45, and I hated it when baby boomers did it to my generation.
Ralph Benner After reading David's review of "Everybody Lies," I'm slowly being convinced that at the heart of so much animosity about sex is that we're not having good sex anymore. Maybe we never did. We've been lying all along. http://historyunfolding.blogspot.mx/
A historian's comments on current events, foreign and domestic.
Patrick McEvoy-Halston Just to be clear David and Steven, I most certainly wasn't warring against millennials. The opposite, really. And I disagree that "we" haven't equipped them to make reasonable moral judgments; rather, they make full sense that "we" can't see. "We're" the ones who need work.