In recent days, the long-forgotten allegations that Woody Allen sexually abused his stepdaughter Dylan Farrow have resurfaced. Now, in a 5,636-word article in The Daily Beast, Robert B. Weide—producer of the PBS special Woody Allen: A Documentary—has come out swinging.
In so doing, Weide has proven himself to be an irresponsible, arrogant man.
The crux of his argument is this: Mia Farrow is a liar and a cheat who probably planted false memories in Dylan’s mind. How does Weide know this? Well, he explains, he produced a whole documentary about Woody Allen. A two-part documentary! So, you see, he knows things.
Some of the things he says he knows:
- That the public has the facts wrong about Woody Allen’s relationship with Mia Farrow’s daughter Soon-Yi Previn. (In other words, Weide knows more than the public does about Allen’s private life.)
- That Mia Farrow may have been cheating on Woody Allen during their relationship. (In other words, Weide knows Mia Farrow is not to be trusted.)
- That Woody Allen is a claustrophobe, making it unlikely that he would have preyed upon a young Dylan Farrow in an attic, of all places. (In other words, Weide knows Dylan Farrow’s allegations just don’t sound right.)
- That the evidentiary videotape Mia Farrow made of young Dylan explaining what Allen did to her in that attic contains several starts and stops—so Weide asserts it’s possible that Mia was coaching her daughter’s words off-camera between segments. (Again, Weide knows Mia Farrow is not to be trusted.)
Perhaps most importantly, Weide knows that he’s engaging in victim-blaming—but he’s doing it anyway. He states: “I know I’m treading a delicate path here, and opening myself up to accusations of ‘blaming the victim.’ However, I’m merely floating scenarios to consider, and you can think what you will.”
The hubris behind this statement is staggering. Floating alternative scenarios to contradict the testimony of a survivor of sexual abuse is not something one “merely” does. It’s actually a big deal—and a dangerously irresponsible thing to do.
Weide needs to understand that his words on this matter have real-world consequences. Not just for Dylan Farrow, who is being told yet again that her experiences don’t count, don’t matter, don’t have weight; no. His words also have consequences for those who are currently victims of sexual abuse, and for all those who are survivors. He is sending a clear message:
Victims are liars.
Victims are not to be trusted.
Don’t bother telling—no one will believe you.
Your words are worthless.
You are worthless.
Weide’s article and his attitude are part and parcel of a culture that silences victims of sexual abuse every day, out of fear that no one will believe them.
They’re not just harmless words on a screen, Mr. Weide. They matter.
Read Dylan Farrow’s open letter in which she testifies about her experiences here.
Rebecca Hains is a media studies professor at Salem State University. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. You may also follow Rebecca’s blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at the top left of your screen.