The Fear of Hollywood Allegations in the News

It is hard to miss the Time’s Up movement that has been hitting the news. In the wake of this information, it can be difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Allegations leave significant impacts on all parties involved. Allegations break families apart, damage careers, relationships, and leave the public to choose sides based on crafted news and information. While it is clear that some perpetrators are guilty, some cases aren’t quite as clear-cut. One of the most famous examples of an allegation becoming an all-out publicity war was the battle between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, when Allen was accused of sexually assaulting his adoptive daughter Dylan O'Sullivan Farrow.

Woody Allen has done his best to stay out of the spotlight on this issue, allowing the investigative conclusion to stand as truth. However, even with the evidence that found him not guilty, the resurfacing of this case is causing damage to his reputation and work. Due to the allegations that have been brought back to light in the face of the #MeToo, people are choosing not to work with Allen, donate money earned from his movies to charity, omit him in particular works, or are making public statements about where they stand on the issue. While stars like Diane Keaton and Alec Baldwin stand by Woody, others have been quite vocal in their opposition to him.

The children who grew up together when Mia and Woody were a couple gave staggering different accounts of what life was like growing up. The allegations ultimately led to a family divided where the children had to pick a side. While Mia was able to keep her children in her grasps for quite some time, the tides have turned, and new information has surfaced.  Moses Farrow, an adoptive son that grew up with Dylan Farrow (also adopted), has recently become more vocal about how coercive his mother was, and how she prompted and bribed Dylan Farrow to accuse her father. She was not only overly concerned about maintaining her image as a mother who adopted helpless children, but she was also vindictive, controlling, and abusive on multiple levels. Author Eric Lax wrote a book about Woody Allen, and Moses’s accounts of growing up shine a new and unknown light on a not so idyllic upbringing. An excerpt from the book gives a glimpse into his childhood, “Over the next few years, I continued to become more anxious and fearful. At that point, I had learned to fight, flee, or freeze. I often chose the latter two. For instance, as a young child, I was given a new pair of jeans. I thought they would look cool if I cut off a couple of the belt loops. When my mother found I had done this, she spanked me repeatedly—as was her way—and had me remove all my clothes saying, ‘You’re not deserving of any clothes.’ Then she had me stand naked in the corner of her room.”

Mia Farrow has a turbulent past and has exposed to the media from a young age. She has often found herself in the spotlight, in somewhat scandalous situations, and doesn’t seem to mind the attention on her or her family. Mia Farrow grew up in an unstable home, so it’s not surprising that the making of her own family has been disturbed. Mia Farrow had a difficult upbringing. Her hard-drinking, unstable parents never even ate with their seven children at the dinner table. Her father was a known womanizer and part of the Hollywood elite. She was nine years old when she contracted polio, often recalling this experience for why she adopts children who experience physical ailments. She was 17 and staying with her mother in New York when she cringingly ignored a night of phone calls from her father, who suspected (correctly) that her mother was having an affair. The next morning, he was found dead of a heart attack, still holding the phone. Not exactly a happy upbringing or a useful skillset to bring into the making of her own family.

Mia’s young adult life would continue in the spotlight. Mia started dating Frank Sinatra at the tender age of 19. Sinatra was 48, a relatively large age gap between the two lovebirds. The couple married, but the marriage lasted only about a year because Farrow would not give up her acting career. Mia was said to be devastated when the divorce papers were delivered. In 1969, at the age of 24, she became pregnant by musician André Previn, 40, who was still married to Dory Previn. This led to Dory Previn having a mental breakdown. After she divorced Previn, she connected with Woody Allen, they dated but never married. The birth of Allen and Farrow’s son, Ronan, reveals that things were not as peachy between Allen and Farrow as they seemed. Mia has made passing comments that Ronan is “possibly” Sinatra’s son, suggesting that Mia was seeing her ex-husband, Sinatra, long after their divorce, more than just good friends. A somewhat irresponsible comment to make given that her son probably heard it and the Sinatra family was not pleased with the offhanded nature of the statement.  Backtracking from Ronan’s age means that Farrow and Sinatra had relations in March 1987 when Mia was 42 and Sinatra 71. This means that the image that Woody and Mia portrayed as two of New York elite’s great lovebirds in a monogamous relationship, was not the truth. Neither Allen or Farrow were faithful partners, and they never had a traditional relationship.

Not only did Mia break up an existing marriage, but she also cheated on Allen with Sinatra, after she was already divorced from Sinatra. Among these marriages and relationships, she continued to adopt children. One has to wonder if scandal, divorce, and infidelity were good things for children to be a part of. The obvious answer is no, but Mia continued to adopt them anyway. A stable home is critical to a healthy upbringing, and Mia seemed very lackadaisical about her choices considering that she had a hoard of children watching her and learning about relationships. Or rather, what not to do in relationships. Her adoptive son Moses drives home an essential aspect of her character. He said, “This, I can speak to with confidence. Mia’s ability and intent to mold her children to do her bidding was matched by her living in constant fear her secrets of abusive parenting would be divulged and the reputation she built as the loving mother of a large brood of adopted kids would be destroyed. My biggest fear was that we would be rejected, excommunicated rather, from her and the family. I lived in constant threat of this happening. As an adopted child, there is no bigger fear than to lose your family.” That’s a pretty bold statement to make about your adoptive mother, but Moses made this statement as a reflective adult who works as a family therapist.

The Woody Allen allegations have recently flared up again. Hollywood elite has been distancing themselves from Allen. Moses Allen spoke out publicly on Twitter that Allen did not molest Dylan Farrow and that she was coached by her mother, Mia. Moses tweeted, “So many times I saw my mother try to convince her that she was abused - and it has worked. Some day, I hope Dylan can escape from my mother, confront the truth and begin her own healing. #truthislouder” 
Following that Tweet with, “What breaks my heart the most is while I know that my sister, Dylan, believes what she says, I also know from my own experience, that it simply never happened. #truthislouder”

Also backing up Moses’s story about Dylan being coached by Mia was Monica Thompson, a nanny who said in a sworn deposition that “another baby-sitter and one of the couple’s other adopted children told her they had serious doubts about the molestation accusation,” according to a 1993 story in the Los Angeles Times.

Additionally, the investigation team found the allegations unfounded on multiple accounts. Dylan’s accusation was thoroughly investigated by the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital which interviewed Dylan Farrow nine times. As reported in the New York Times on May 4, 1994, Dr. John M. Leventhal, the acclaimed doctor who headed the Connecticut investigation, concluded that either “these were statements that were made by an emotionally disturbed child and then became fixed in her mind or she was coached or influenced by her mother. We did not come to a firm conclusion. We think that it was probably a combination.” On the pro-Allen side, there’s a report by a team from the Yale-New Haven Hospital Child Sex Abuse Clinic, brought in by the Connecticut State Police, which determined that Dylan had not been sexually abused and suggested there may have been coaching by Farrow. The New York State Department of Social Services also found no credible evidence of molestation.

As for Mia Farrow, if you want to imagine about the effects of having a fairly unstable upbringing, paired with a young adult life filled with divorce, becoming the ‘other woman’ in an existing marriage, adopting over a dozen children, and leaving the children to observe an all-out public battle between her and Woody, it can’t have that healthy of an outcome for an individual. While the family has been in the spotlight over the years, one can imagine that the amount of attention given to the topic could be quite damaging to all parties involved.

Fear and manipulation are powerful tools. No other allegations about Woody have been made since Dylan. In the wake of the #MeToo, no one else has come forward accusing Allen. Allegations are allegations, not necessarily the truth. However, Hollywood is treating each claim as truth, and those accused are left with a bad name, often fired, or like Woody, left with a tarnished brand after a lifetime of cinema accomplishments. In Wake of the allegations reopening, Allen, who normally keeps to himself and doesn’t make public statements is sticking up for himself. Allen said, "Even though the Farrow family is cynically using the opportunity afforded by the Time's Up movement to repeat this discredited allegation, that doesn't make it any more true today than it was in the past," said Allen in a statement, AFP reports. "I never molested my daughter -- as all investigations concluded a quarter of a century ago."

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