Monday, February 17, 2014

Scandals involving Woody Allen and Bill Cosby treated very differently

As is completely obvious from my last few blog posts, I'm fascinated by this whole Woody Allen vs Dylan Farrow saga and how it's playing out in the media. So I've been looking for info about it on a regular basis. Last night while Googling I stumbled upon an article that mentioned a similar scandal involving another famous comedian, Bill Cosby. Apparently it has been getting a bit of coverage lately because of the ongoing Woody Allen issue.

What happened was this: Starting close to a decade ago several women went on the record to accuse Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them. His alleged modus operandi often involved stealthily placing drugs in their drinks! After some legal wrangling that involved the paying of a settlement he managed to make the unseemly business go away.

Even though this scandal was reported when it first unfolded, this is the first I've heard of it. So there was hardly an international media feeding frenzy going on back then. Nor is there now, by the way.

This seems very odd to me, particularly when you consider all the publicity given to the Allen-Farrow saga. And remember, the present kerfuffle is basically a rehashing of what went on 20 years ago. There have not been any new revelations in it. (Also, at the time the courts found him innocent of the charges, concluding that Dylan had probably been coached in what to say, or had concocted the story herself.)

That said, there are many people who believe he was guilty anyway. And they may be right. But the disparity between the two stories in the level of media interest is quite remarkable. While sexually assaulting an adult woman is not as heinous as the sexual abuse of a seven year old girl, it's still a very serious crime. And this accusation didn't just come from one woman, but several. Then there's the fact that he paid a settlement. Cosby's guilt seems almost certain while Allen's seems quite unlikely. Given Cosby's immense fame, you really have to wonder why we haven't heard more about this whole issue.

I think there are a couple of reasons why we haven't. Firstly, it could have something to do with the different personas of the two comics. Woody Allen played a sex obsessed neurotic for decades. And he was clearly drawing from key aspects of his own personality. His lust for much younger women was obvious from the plots of his movies (most notably Manhattan) and of course there was the whole romance with Soon-Yi Previn. Then there's the fact that he just looks like he could be a paedophile. So it doesn't take much to make you believe that he actually is.

Cosby, on the other hand, never obsessed about sex in his comedy routines. They were all about being a poor black kid in "the projects" or being a daggy dad who was amused by his adorable children and wife. Given the lovable, fatherly image that he painstakingly created, you just can't imagine him slyly spiking young women's drinks and sexually assaulting them when they were out cold, or close to it.

Then there's the racial aspect. Could it be that many in the mainstream media, being overewhelmingly of the liberal persuasion, are just too frightened of covering the story for fear of being perceived as racist? I think this could have quite a bit to do with it ...

What do you think? Any other ideas?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Guilty or not, Woody Allen benefits from culture of tolerance

Still on the subject of Woody Allen and these sex abuse claims by Dylan Farrow: Regardless of whether he is guilty of child sexual abuse or not, the scandal has got me thinking about how the industry he works in deals with such accusations.

With this issue currently hogging the headlines, there is widespread condemnation of the director. And there seems to be potential fallout for others who have worked with him recently. For example, some industry insiders feel that Cate Blanchett, who starred in Allen's Blue Jasmine, may lose a deserved best actress Oscar as a result of the scandal.

That said, there's little or no talk of Allen's directorial career ending entirely -- or even suffering significantly. Unless the stoush winds up in court again and he's found guilty of being a vile rock spider and thrown in the clink, he's still going to keep making movies.

This whole issue was widely reported back in 1992 anyway. He was legally exonerated to a great degree back than. Still, much of the mud that was thrown certainly stuck to him. Yet his career recovered pretty quickly afterwards.

Numerous well known and accomplished actors and other film professionals jumped at the chance to work with him, even quite soon after claims that he abused his step-daughter Dylan were reported across the globe. You've got to wonder how many of them secretly harboured the belief that he was guilty of child abuse yet still collaborated with him.

Then there's the case of Roman Polanski. He clearly was guilty of child abuse -- the rape of a 13 year old girl, to be exact. He even fled the USA to avoid justice.

While he never got to make another movie on American soil, he has still directed many critically well-received flicks in the decades since. As well as working with the cream of the world's film technicians, his movies have starred household names such as Gerard Depardieu and Harrison Ford.

Then of course there was his recent extradition saga. Numerous Hollywood liberals sang his praises, sometimes even publicly slagging off his victim!

The industry seems to be just as tolerant of child sexual abuse as it is of the use of illegal drugs. Hate to sound like a moralistic ol' bore, but that's pretty disturbing, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen and the planting of false memories

I'm finding this whole Dylan Farrow versus Woody Allen battle fascinating -- unpleasant though it is. In the last week or so they've been hitting back at each other, and other family members are taking sides and offering statements to the media.

One of Mia Farrow's adopted children, Moses, has sided with the film director. He, like Allen, paints an unsavoury picture of his mother Mia as hateful and controlling.

But just because she seems to be a nasty piece of work doesn't necessarily mean that Dylan Farrow is lying about being abused. And if she sincerely believes she was abused by Woody Allen at age seven, does that put the matter beyond doubt? Many people would say that it does.

But the fact remains that memories can be planted. There have been many high profile cases in which this was shown to be the case.

Clearly, people can be manipulated to an almost unbelievable degree -- sometimes by others with the very best of intentions. This phenomenon has a lot to do with power. Some individuals are relentlessly domineering in ways both overt and subtle. They become so adept at their manipulation techniques that they seem to own the minds of those whom they control.

Take the case of convicted killer Simon Gittany. He had near total psychological control of Lisa Harnum. Then when she found some inner courage and planned her escape from him, he murdered her. Not only that, he has managed to convince family members of his innocence and even has a new and beautiful girlfriend (eerily reminiscent of his victim in physical appearance) zealously defending him on national television!

Clearly, some people are past masters at getting deep inside the psyches of others and bending them to their will. It looks very much to me like Mia Farrow is one of these people.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dylan, Mia and Ronan Farrow vs Woody Allen

Just on this truly nasty ongoing stoush between Dylan and Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. I actually think the comedian is innocent of these charges -- and that's not just because I'm a fan of his movies. He seems to have too strong a moral code to have abused Dylan Farrow.

Sure, he had a romance with his adopted teenage daughter. That's a bit creepy. But they are still together, remember. Sexual abuse of a seven year old child is depraved, animalistic and predatory in the extreme. It's in another realm to what happened between him and Soon Yi.

Then there's the questionable character of Mia Farrow, that Allen points to in his defence.

I pause here for a quick word on the Ronan situation. Is he my son or, as Mia suggests, Frank Sinatra’s? Granted, he looks a lot like Frank with the blue eyes and facial features, but if so what does this say? That all during the custody hearing Mia lied under oath and falsely represented Ronan as our son? Even if he is not Frank’s, the possibility she raises that he could be, indicates she was secretly intimate with him during our years. Not to mention all the money I paid for child support. Was I supporting Frank’s son? Again, I want to call attention to the integrity and honesty of a person who conducts her life like that.

I think he makes a very good point there. She seems to be a truly devious and vengeful woman.

If you look at photos of Ronan Farrow he's clearly Sinatra's son. How could you possibly doubt it?

The young man seems very bitter, too, considering what he's tweeted about Allen. You've got to pity him. Considering all the wealth, glamour and privelege he was born into he should be one of life's most fortunate people. But all those advantages, when combined with the selfishness of other family members -- Mia Farrow in particular -- have proven to be a huge curse.

Well, however you look at this clan, it is undeniably screwed up. There's a lot to be said for the traditional nuclear family in which mum and dad remain faithful to each other, and in which the kids are certain their father is actually that!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The sad, sordid death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Obviously a shock to hear about Philip Seymour Hoffman buying the farm. Needless to say it's sad -- a terrible waste of life and talent.

When I first heard about his death I thought maybe he chucked a hearty and carked it -- not unlike that chubby African newsreader Komla Dumor. But it turns out a heroin overdose was the cause.

Yet again, you've gotta ask: Why are so many successful and accomplished performers so prone to addiction? In recent years so many have carked it as a result of this affliction it's not funny. Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston -- the list goes on.

But Hoffman's death was clearly one of the worst. Heath Ledger's passing, for example, while similarly sad, was not quite so sordid. It was caused by a combination of prescription drugs, after all. So the bad judgement of various medical professionals could well have been a factor in it.

But meeting your maker on the end of a syringe full of smack? That's gotta be one of the most unedifying ways to pop your clogs there are, surely!

When you read about such events the facade of glamour and success that is Hollywood is shown for what it is. Makes you wonder how many other famous and seemingly highly functional people are actually living in a drug-fuelled haze, soon to shake hands with the Grim Reaper ...

And there's clearly widespread acceptance of this weakness within the film industry and others like it. That disturbs me. Numerous big name actors are expressing their shock and dismay about this latest untimely death. But they also seem kinda resigned to it -- almost as if they knew it was coming (and hell, some of them probably did).

High profile professionals in other fields die from drug overdoses from time to time, too. But this does not occur with the monotonous regularity it does in the entertainment industry. (Granted, these premature expirations are less newsworthy. But even taking that into account there's clearly a disparity.)

Would any other industry be so tolerant of the scourge of drug addiction if it reached the same level it has in Hollywood? I doubt it.

Of course many people believe that creative talent and drug addiction are two sides of the same coin. Frankly, that's a crock. This article supplies an example. It describes the late actor as "Meryl Streep with a beard".

The brilliant Streep herself has never been at risk of early death from drug or alcohol abuse. She seems to be as emotionally healthy and stable as she is talented.

Then there's that other Hoffman, Dustin. He may have had a few struggles in his time, I'm not sure. But if so he's certainly shrugged them off and is still going strong.

This belief that talent and addiction go hand in hand is clearly utter nonsense. It would be great if the artistic community stopped perpetuating it. If it did, premature deaths like Hoffman's might not occur as depressingly frequently as they do.