Piracy is bad and wrong. But do you know what else is bad and wrong? Marrying your ex-wife's adopted daughter, and then praising yourself for buying her a croissant in Europe because you have a raging white savior complex. Also, being a rapist (allegedly).
It’s been a little over two years since we collectively remembered Woody Allen’s past in the form of Dylan Farrow’s open letter. Apparently, that was enough time to forget all over again. It started up again earlier this month, when he answered a question about marrying his child by saying he made her life better. Yesterday, he flicked off scathing claims from HIS SON Ronan Farrow as a “bad review,” and went on to receive a standing ovation at Cannes, where cheering reviewers rewarded his “bittersweet, lightly comic romance” Cafe Society with a blind eye to any man v. artist handwringing.
But none of this is new. Allen’s past is a gaping rat hole in a fancy restaurant, conveniently covered up with a framed print of a famous portrait. Every few years, it’s knocked down, and we remember the disturbing truth behind our lineup of beloved films, quieting our cognitive dissonance with affirmations of their delightfulness, as the painting is hung back in place. We’re all, “But… but even later works like Midnight in Paris are charming romps!” Or, “That lobster scene in Annie Hall turns a metaphor of impending doom into slapstick comedy!” Those are useless arguments, but they’re not wrong. Woody Allen is an auteur who has managed to capture a cynically endearing view of Manhattan life, one that is perhaps unrivaled in American film. Except, even in the titular movie set in his signature city, the self-insert character is pursuing a girl who is barely old enough to shop at Osh Kosh b’Gosh.
That’s the other thing. So often, Allen’s work contains the predatory sexual mode by which he allegedly operates in real life. By supporting his work, we’re not just excusing his condemnable track record, we’re paying for him to romanticize it with a love story set to playful jazz. Christ, even in that recent Emma Stone one, Magic In The Moonlight, the dynamic fulfills the Old Man Procures Young Woman motif. Emma Stone is 27, her love interest Colin Firth is an eligible member of the AARP.
A man v. artist argument shouldn’t apply when the art is just a cinematically idiosyncratic iteration of the man. And even if that takes the argument too far, this is a person who has been accused of sexually abusing his own daughter. We should feel sick condoning that full villain behavior, no matter what his filmography looks like. Except, apparently we don’t, because, I don’t know, Blue Jasmine was critically acclaimed?
Well, good news for anyone with some semblance of a conscience! I have a solution for our hip moral quandary, and there are no additional think pieces required: Let’s steal all of Woody Allen’s work. I’m serious. Let’s pirate the crap out of his entire catalog.
Let me really sell this to you. Can we take a second to picture this idea as an infomercial? It starts off in black-and-white. I’m sitting on the floor, grimacing while watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I feel a smile coming on, so I stifle it with a too-big spoonful of Chunky Monkey. Scarlett Johansson’s performance only grows more sublime, so I throw down the pint of ice cream, pulling at my hair in frustration. There’s a fat wad of white gook on my face, and, yes, the vibe is vaguely Law & Order: SVU.
A massive red X appears on the screen, as we hear the voice of an authoritative male narrator. “Do you like erotically serendipitous films, but HATE rape allegations?” he asks.
I break the fourth wall, nodding dumbly at the audience with sigh.
“Well, that’s all about to change,” he informs me. “It’s time you started using Pirate-A-Rapist!” Soon, the screen is in color. I’m smiling and I have a nice blow out. The camera zooms in to me Googling, “How to torrent Woody Allen.”
The narrator emerges in khakis and a button-up, places a reassuringly patriarchal hand on my shoulder, and says, “Now you can watch intelligent sensual comedies—without endorsing a systemic history of sexual abuse!” I wink, giving a thumbs up.
Haha! I’m sure that belly laugh was a welcome relief from this enduring ethical dilemma which continues to riddle our pop culture landscape. Except, giggling won’t absolve us from being complicit in allowing this monster to consider peddling his work at the cost of our integrity. Illegally downloading art is an unacceptable form of theft, but I feel comfortable saying that when it comes to Woody Allen, we can make an exception. He doesn’t deserve to profit from his legacy any longer, and seeing as we can’t seem to successfully catapult him from notoriety, it looks like our best bet is refusing to pay him even one cent of our hard-earned money.
In conclusion: Believe women, don’t support rapists, and feel free to hit me up if you ever wanna pregame to a stolen copy of R. Kelly’s “Ignition.”