Apart from the most fantastic speculations and severe condemnations by self-appointed lay judges, concerning accusations that Woody Allen sexually abused his own stepdaughter, an array of sophisticated debates has arisen among intellectuals and connoisseurs of Allen’s work about whether they will be able — if the allegations are proven — to view his films at all.
It simply fascinates me. First of all, people who take every opportunity to turn their noses up at tabloid journalism, scandals and celebrity news promptly start to rummage around for — and become absorbed in — the most unsavory details. The principle is always the same.
Second, many people otherwise capable of critical thinking and appropriate skepticism succumb to bloodlust, and after the fashion of Internet-debate popular tribunals, skip the phases of investigation and courts — not to mention the presumption of innocence — and on the basis of one touching letter, they’re ready to throw their one-time favorite into the pit of hell.
And finally, for some, their favorite’s connection with a possible crime is much stronger than the bond with his work, which is curious. Most people who say they like Woody Allen don’t really know him as such — and probably have never even seen him in person. They only know his films, but they will stop watching them because they’ve heard something unseemly about the director.
The reality that someone can be a great artist and at the same time a pervert, or even a criminal, is not only possible, but actually also common. It doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t be punished for his crimes and misdemeanors, but it also doesn’t mean that criminal law should play any role whatsoever in the appraisal of artistic works.
I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool Woody Allen fan, but I’ve seen nearly all his films, and some I will gladly watch again. I will continue to do so regardless of how the whole matter turns out, and I believe that Allen will make another film: perhaps, on the bad conscience of an unpunished criminal — he’s always done well at that.