Dylan Farrow’s Small Soul


Last year I explained to you how and why

Sheryl Sandberg -> VIR Oak Tree -> dead people in plane

Now I’ll explain to you why Hollywood is totally okay with child rape.

It would help, of course, if you read the previous article. The advertisers here would appreciate it. (Or they will, once I get some.) But if you don’t feel like doing so, I’ll explain the gist of it in a paragraph that can be easily skipped by anyone who did bother to read the other article. And here we go:

In his book Godel, Escher, Bach Douglas Hofstadter discusses the differing values we each assign to the “souls” of other people. How much they are worth to us. Most people feel that the soul of their favorite celebrity or musician or scientist or combination thereof is “worth” more than, say, that of a random child in Africa. Given the choice between having to kill their favorite author right before he or she finishes a new book or, perhaps, a busload of “insurgents”, most people will choose the latter. It’s commonly believed that the souls of people who create or perform an at unusually high level is somehow more worthwhile than the souls of regular people.

Okay, we’re all back together! One of this week’s biggest pop culture discussion concerns an open letter from Dylan Farrow to the Hollywood establishment. Woody Allen, the subject of Miss Farrow’s allegations, chose to respond with an op-ed that seemed just as devoted to trashing Mia Farrow as a dirty, cuckolding, insane whore as it did to clearing his name. Dylan Farrow then responded to the response.

It would take more investigative ability than this writer possesses to determine the truth of the allegations. Insofar as Miss Farrow and Mr. Allen actively disagree on specific matters of fact related to the investigation, it seems frighteningly unlikely that the full truth regarding the issue will ever be known. This much is certain: a daughter and father are permanently estranged, beyond reconciliation, whether because of childhood abuse or “coaching”.

More interesting, and more relevant, are the reactions of various celebrities to Miss Farrow’s open letter. Cate Blanchett opined that “It’s been a long and painful situation for the family, and I hope they find some resolution and peace.” Well, that’s really saying something.

No, wait, that’s really saying nothing. Alec Baldwin’s response was more honest:

“What the f&@% is wrong w u that u think we all need to b commenting on this family’s personal struggle?”

Well, perhaps people think you should comment on it because you are directly profiting from being associated with the man named as the abuser, Mr. Baldwin — but given that you are on record as acting in an abusive and hateful manner towards your own daughter, perhaps you just aren’t that bothered by the allegations.

Note, however, the first half of Blanchett’s non-answer to Miss Farrow: “It’s been a long and painful situation for the family.” The allegations are nothing new. The drama, the recrimination, the hazy nature of the guilt, are nothing new. For as long as many of my readers have been alive. Woody Allen has been accused of sexually molesting his daughter. He was also involved with various other young women in various other borderline-inappropriate ways. But Hollywood has never taken a single step to punish him for it. You couldn’t keep your job at a local Home Depot if people kept accusing you of molesting children, but Woody Allen has earned millions in a system that tacitly supports his actions.

Nina Burleigh, she of the famous Clinton-blowjob comment, suggests that

There’s a tacit assumption among the aristocrats of consciousness that Great Men are entitled to whatever it takes to juice their creativity… Hollywood enablers are not alone. We, as a society, are O.K. with it too. Mr. Allen’s preference was never hidden. He cast 16-year-old Mariel Hemingway as his own lover in Manhattan.

She then goes on to frame it in terms of “male privilege” and “rape culture”. That’s fine, it’s her frame, it’s how she views things. But she is completely, utterly, wrong. The reason America’s ruling elite didn’t care about Woody Allen’s rape case, or J.D. Salinger’s behavior, or Roman Polanski’s rape case, isn’t because the victims were female. Had young men made the allegations, the reaction would have been the same.

No, the reason everyone winks at Roman Polanski anally raping a thirteen-year-old girl or Woody Allen forcing a seven-year-old child into a closet is simple: society, as a whole, has decided that the souls of the abusers are bigger, and more vibrant, and more important than those of the victims. After all, Polanski directed the admittedly brilliant Chinatown. What had that girl ever done for anyone? And Woody Allen made all sorts of films that, if they perhaps fell flat in flyover country, resonated deeply with our privileged coastal overlords. Measured next to those brilliant pictures, who cares about Dylan Farrow’s vagina and what’s been in it?

Once you internalize that viewpoint, it only takes the shadow of a potential doubt for you to rationalize away the actions of the Great Man (or Great Woman). In Polanski’s case, there was no doubt, but the rage of the elite was turned on the Mean Old Government who insisted on treating a sexy adventure between a man and a barely teenaged girl of the world as a criminal matter. Who hasn’t been fucked up the ass by some middle-aged Frenchman? What’s the big deal? She should be grateful; it could have been Michael Bay or someone without talent.

It’s well understood that the truly talented among us are fundamentally different from everyone else; I’ve made that argument myself before. But there has to be a limit to that, and it has to be enforced by society. If Perry Farrell wants to make his bandmates miserable and screw them out of money and noodle around doing DJ work instead of writing music, that’s his business. If he wants to abuse children or torture animals, that’s society’s business, and society should step it. There is no soul so weighty, so large, so brilliant that it should be excepted from the basic underlying rules of humanity.

Because when you break the rules of humanity — “don’t fuck kids” being a primary one — you become less than human. When you endorse people who are less than human, you place your own humanity at risk. When the entire creative class of a major cultural influencer like the United States loses part of its humanity, it’s reflected in the products and ideas that they create. Those products and ideas, in turn, influence all of us. So it’s easy to see that Dylan Farrow may well have been Woody Allen’s most helpless victim — but if what she wrote is true, every one of us is worse off for it.

16 Replies to “Dylan Farrow’s Small Soul”

  1. jz78817

    you’ve summed up one big part of why I think “Hollywood” – nay the entire entertainment “industry” – is one big sleazy, corrupt, evil machine.

    These “people” truly believe they are better than everyone else. They exist in their own reality, specially crafted for them by teams of managers and PR flacks, each with his/her own personal Zarniwoop.

    and you know what? We *deserve* it. We enable these pieces of trash, by hanging on their every word, and slavishly listening as they spout their opinions and proclamations about causes they usually don’t even understand.

    I’m getting really tired of it.

  2. Blaze

    Well said/written. As a resident of “Flyover” country, with adults in my life who exposed me to Woody Allen at a young age, I couldn’t agree more with your comments. One need look no further than Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton. Sure she was an adult but c’mon what kinda of f$%^in’ sleaze ball does that with an intern? And modern feminists think Bill is the whole Fing show!

    I hope your recovery is going well; your writing is as sharp as ever.

    Thank you,


  3. Tomko

    This story is as old as the world itself.

    To think it confined to Hollywood is an exercise in American navel gazing.

    Power corrupts: total power corrupts totally.

    This is as true as any law of physics. And to think it is limited to the male of the species is an act of misandry.

    Many thanks to Jack for citing current examples from our culture to allow us to understand this reality in relevant and accessible terms.

    • jz78817

      I’m not claiming it’s somehow confined to Hollywood, rather that we (as a society) adore and worship celebrities and give them all sorts of passes for crappy behavior. As opposed to politicians, where we consistently revile at least a large portion of them at any given time.

      Sadly, we seem to have decided that the value of a person hinges on how much attention he/she can get. And people will subject themselves (and oftentimes their children too) to an depressing amount of mistreatment in order to be famous.

  4. Jim

    What about Gary Glitter or Jeff “The Frugal Gourmet” Smith? Hockey games and public television haven’t been the same since these guys became taboo.

      • Jim

        Sorry to be less than clear. Both deserved to be ostracized. What I didn’t have the energy last night to explain is that they serve as a counterpoint to Jack’s argument, as both of these guys arguably provided the world something of value, and paid a heavy price for their egregious conduct.

        However, as Larry Hillblom proved, most of those with intelligence and resources can get away with anything and still be admired.

  5. mattm

    Jack, while I appreciate the sentiment, I kind of think you are entering the corner too hot and stuffing the nose of that Neon into a spot that you might ‘own’ due to the rulebook but that will not result in a positive outcome.

    I used to live just blocks, long blocks in NYC lingo, but still just blocks from Woody’s mansion on the park on the east side. My wife used to teach at school nearby and if Woody had been identified as someone of interest he would have not been able to live in his mansion. I don’t have to explain to you what kind of ramifications that would have.

    After reading your missive, I find myself disappointed. All of your talk about hollywood and flyover country I feel misses the mark here as this is all about money.

    The biggest fundamental difference is not talent, it is money. We can review multiple members of the ‘lucky sperm club’ and their various dalliances with law enforcement and see the same truths bubble to the surface. The reality is that people with money are different than the rest of us. If talent was the arbiter, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis would have never been hassled, but it is not. Money talks, here as in everything else.

    • Jack Post author

      I’d suggest that people with money get away with murder (or molestation) for different reasons. But you’re right, money is always relevant. However, the parents of the “Affluenza” kid couldn’t have gotten away with openly molesting a string of young women.

  6. jz78817

    “I used to live just blocks, long blocks in NYC lingo, but still just blocks from Woody’s mansion on the park on the east side. My wife used to teach at school nearby and if Woody had been identified as someone of interest he would have not been able to live in his mansion. I don’t have to explain to you what kind of ramifications that would have.”

    none at all. he’s a celebrity, celebrities get to do whatever they want with no ramifications whatsoever. your entire post is mealy-mouthed equivocating. “Celebrity” is “money.” If you’re famous, you’re rich. If you’re both, you get to do whatever the hell you want, with no consequences whatsoever. You are above the rest of us vermin.

  7. Domestic Hearse

    Money? sure. Celebrity? yes as well. White and famous? no question. Talented? well, that’s for the critics to decide, but certainly a factor.

    All of it/them, viable excuses.

    But, even more-so, when Roman and Woody rape a child, it’s art. Art!

    They’re excused because without “experiencing the full tableau” of twisted, emotionally-distraut, angst-ridden, and deprived immoral acts, they could not realistically portray such situations on the screen. For our pleasure. For us to experience vicariously.

    When Woody rapes his daughter and casts a young Mariel as his lover in a film, he’s doing us a favor, you see. Society a favor. He’s depicting the taboo, forbidden, debauched. Scratching an itch, so we don’t have to, you know, actually get our own fingernails dirty. Or so the logic and rationalizing goes.

    So it’s okay. It’s all in the name of art. Consider incest and rape R&D for Woody’s cinematic vision.

    All of this hardly needs to be explained to wealthy, coastal-dwelling sophisticates. This is all merely clarification for those of us here in fly-over regions, like myself, now suffering a ball-freezing winter of my discontent in Jack’s least-favorite major American city.

    • disinterested-observer

      Not to split hairs when it comes to playing the race card but neither Woody or Roman are really “white”. Jackson was not (originally) white or R.Kelly either and they got to rape kids too. Not that I disagree with your overall point, and I am sure for crimes other than child rape being white probably helps. It’s like Dr. King’s dream, that one day all men will be judged not by the color of their skin or that they raped and peed on children, but by the content they created.

      • Domestic Hearse

        A fair point. Strike white. Leave fame. It would seem that Michael Jackson got away with his share of child molestation, too, and he was, erm, well I’m not exactly sure.


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