Woody Allen Defends Nasty Jokes, Even Made at His Own Expense

"I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want," says Allen after being the target of a child-molesting jab at Cannes.


Lionsgate publicity still

Another spring, another film festival in Cannes.

And another Woody Allen movie, too, this one called Cafe Society and starring Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, and Corey Stoll.

And another joke made about the 80-year-old Allen's sex life, this time by the master of ceremonies during the big opening of the festival.

The emcee welcomed Allen thus:

"It's very nice that you've been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S.," said master of ceremonies Laurent Lafitte.

That's a reference to accusations that Allen molested his daughter, Dylan, whom he fathered with his ex-partner, the actress and activist Mia Farrow. The joke also references Roman Polanski's self-imposed exile from America after pleading guilty to a sex crime in 1978 (more on that in a moment).

On the eve of Cannes' opening last week, another of Allen's children, former MSNBC host Ronan, wrote in The Hollywood Reporter about how his father has not only gotten away with raping his sister, but has flourished professionally:

Amazon paid millions to work with Woody Allen, bankrolling a new series and film. Actors, including some I admire greatly, continue to line up to star in his movies. "It's not personal," one once told me. But it hurts my sister every time one of her heroes like Louis C.K., or a star her age, like Miley Cyrus, works with Woody Allen. Personal is exactly what it is — for my sister, and for women everywhere with allegations of sexual assault that have never been vindicated by a conviction.

In early 2014, Dylan Farrow wrote a piece about her experiences that Nicholas Kristof posted at his New York Times blog (Kristof wrote a column about the charges, too). Allen responded to those pieces with his own New York Times op-ed that cites court documents and personal testimony to argue (convincingly, in my view) that Mia Farrow persuaded Dylan and Ronan to believe their father molested his daughter after the director's relationship with Soon-Yi Previn became known.

And what about Roman Polanski, the Polish-born director who was under house arrest in Switzerland for 10 months in 2009 and 2010 after being arrested at the request of U.S. authorities while visting Switzerland for a film festival? It seemed likely that Polanski would be extradited to the United States for sentencing in a 1978 case in which the moviemaker had pleaded guilty to "unlawful sex with a minor." Polanski left the United States rather than face the possibility of jail time, choosing to live mostly in France, which generally doesn't extradite residents for such charges. (For those who only know about the case from the pro-Polanski 2008 documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, I recommend reading this masterful review by Bill Wyman at Salon.)

I no longer care much for Woody Allen's movies (yes, I'm one of those unbearable fans he slagged way back in Stardust Memories [1980] for preferring his early comedies to his "mature" films), but I was very much taken with his free-speech attitude toward Lafitte's joke:

"I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want," Allen said to a question asked by Variety. "I am a non-judgmental or [non]-censorship person on jokes. I'm a comic myself and I feel they should be free to make whatever jokes they want."

Independent of everything else, that strikes me as exactly the proper response, not simply for an artist (or a college faculty member!) but for anyone who believes in freedom of speech and an open society.

In 2010, during an event at Manhattan's The Box celebrating the dismissal of federal obscenity charges against adult filmmaker John Stagliano, Reason asked attendees ranging from Andrew Breitbart to Gov. Gary Johnson to CNN's S.E. Cupp, "What's the biggest threat to free speech?" Here's what they said:

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  1. “I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want,”

    That said Woody is part of those 60s comedians who thought that being offensive wasn’t bad and was usually good and sometimes their duty…

    1. I doubt he thinks that non-comedians shouldn’t make whatever jokes they want.

      1. I also doubt he thinks teenage girls should remain sexually inactive if they want to have him help their career.

        He’s a fucking scumbag.

        1. Shit, I’m confusing Allen with Roman Polanski. Woody Allen just fucked his adopted daughter for fun. Polanski is te one that diddled kids and promised to help their careers.

          My bad.

          1. Wasn’t his daughter. Was the adopted daughter of the woman he was sleeping with but not living with who was an adult at the time of the affair.

  2. I wish I could coast through life on the good(ish) work I did thirty or more years ago.

    1. Like Paul Krugman?

    2. Like Metallica?

    3. I still say that his schtick always sucked, and he can’t hold a candle to Mel Brooks.

    4. Like Donald Trump, amirite?

    5. Like Hitler?

  3. S.E. Cupp is pretty. That is all.

    1. I dunno, man. She kind of looks like she was designed by scientists. For desert warfare.

      1. I like to think that she was designed by scientist for me.

    2. I dunno. She has a kind of brittle edge that isn’t my thing.

      1. Go on…

    3. Her name reminds me of Essie Kupcinet, so wouldn’t.

  4. If I was actually persuaded that Allen had sex with his own daughter, of course I’d be disgusted, as someone who used to watch some of his stuff.

    But who on earth can tell which accusations hurled in the course of a bitter break-up are true, and which are not?

    “women everywhere with allegations of sexual assault that have never been vindicated by a conviction.”

    You mean accusers who accusations haven’t been verified by a court judgment – bearing in mind that even a jury verdict or guilty plea can still mean the person is innocent (though by that time it’s much less likely).

    In this case, no charges were ever brought in a criminal context.

    So who should I believe?

    I could do some in-depth research into the Allen family situation, or I could just say it’s not proven. I’ll take that last option.

    1. I don’t care at all. He could be a mass murder and if he made a good movie, I’d watch it.

        1. Dovzhenko’s Earth.

      1. Same here, to a point. My sister was upset with me one Xmas for sending some huge chocolate Thomas The Tank Engine lollipops for stocking stuffers, because that was a Disney character and Disney supported unmarried spousal benefits, donchaknow. No I didn’t know, but even if I did, so what? Would she have refused delivery if they had come from a reputable-to-her source but shipped by a company with unmarried spousal benefits? What if the driver were gay or otherwise suspect?

        Once you start down that politically correct road, it has a zillion branches all leading in circles that you can never imagine, and you either live like a hermit or stop fretting.

        1. So much this. The whole “personal is political” shtick is one of the biggest reasons leftards are a drag to be around. The spread of this attitude is a curse upon society.

  5. These pretzels are making me thirsty.

  6. In Polanski’s case, I understand that he doesn’t claim to be innocent, he just claims the judge was a meanie and might have given him an excessive sentence.

    Of course, that meanie judge from the 1970s is dead, so I’m not sure what arguments his supporters rely on for him not coming here to face the music.

    And what’s up with the French? “Thank heaven for little girls” wasn’t supposed to be a part of the penal code.

    1. And what’s up with the French?

      These are the same people who believe cheating doesn’t count unless you get caught.

    2. It’s not “the French” so much as “the rest of the planet”. The US is somewhat insane with its age of consent sex laws compared to, well, everywhere else.

      1. While that is true in Polanski’s case it wasn’t a matter of just age of consent, it would still have been rape if she had been 18.

        He basically roofied a 13 year old girl

        1. again, that seems to be A-ok in most countries. If Gary Glitter roofied someone that age, he’d never have been imprisoned.

    3. It’s also the country that gave us this guy.

      1. Huh. Is that where the term “boogered up” comes from?

  7. I think that one picture shows more range from Kristen Stewart than I’ve ever seen in one of her films.

    1. She smiled… and her face didn’t break. I’m shocked.

    2. Didn’t she play the doll in Lars and the Real Girl?

    3. Maybe Woody Allen was intrigued that she played a teenager who dated a much older…entity.

  8. Annie Hall is a pretty good movie.

    1. What’s Up Tiger Lilly is so awesomely stupid i think it will be hailed as an avant garde masterpiece 1000 years from now

      1. So it’s like the mid 20th century version of SeaLab 2021? Awesome! I’ll give it a watchin’ sometime.

      2. +1 secret recipe

      3. One of my favorite movies of all time. The best part about mother is… she can take a good punch!!

        1. I think that the Japanese Super-Spy’s name is “Phil Moskowitz” is something of a stroke of genius

    2. Hitler was a pretty good fascist dictator

      1. The Best.

  9. This is no surprise: Allen is an old-style liberal who advocates the right to offend.

    That right is nearly absent in progressive circles today–just ask Jerry Seinfeld how his relatively mild routines have been received on the campus of the average American university.

    1. If the safe spacers think Seinfeld is offensive, Sam Kinison’s routines would have made their heads explode.

      1. Even Lisa Lampanelli

      2. I really wish George Carlin were still alive and touring campuses. Holy fuck.

      3. “You see this? This is SAND! Nothing GROWS in it!”

  10. This Allen character has to be a tranny of some sort. Pre-op…….there is some definite LGBTQ activity going on here.

  11. OT: I recently was bored and decided to watch Star Wars. I summoned all of my cynical hipsterdom and was determined to hate-watch it. Other than the “diversity quota” some people have picked on there was nothing bad at all about episode 7. It had no surprises, in a good way. It is a totally fun and acceptable retelling of the star wars fable updated for the times. It was like poetry, it rhymes.

  12. Allen’s a douchebag who groomed his adopted daughter for sex and marriage later. Arguably not illegal but about as amoral and scumbaggy as it gets. It’s all well and good that he said what he said here but citing him on this website is counterproductive. He’s so loathsome it almost makes me want to rethink my support of free speech.

    1. Possible, or it is possible that they legitimately fell in love. Either way I find the denial of HER agency to be despicable. The fact of the matter is that she has been married to him for 19 fucking years, that does not in any way shape or form sound like the result of someone who was just being groomed as a sex toy.

      As far as the accusations with Dylan, I honestly find it hard to say I think it is equally likely that either of their stories is true.

      And note, I say this as someone who generally finds woody allen to be an insufferable boor and his movies to be massively overrated.

      1. I respect your opinion but I find it misguided. The fact that they’re still together makes it no less wrong. She was groomed by a powerful and rich man who’s powerfully charismatic for some reason to some people. She was victimized and he is a scumbag. Parents shouldn’t marry their kids, even their adopted ones.

        1. You keep asserting that he groomed her….

          Prove it, where is your evidence?

          Oh and the “she married her stepfather as an 18 year old” bullshit is not even evidence forget proof. It might have been usable as evidence 20 years ago when their relationship first started WHEN SHE WAS 21 years old.

          This is what SHE had to say on the issue…

          “”To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable,” Soon-Yi said. “My parents are Andre Previn and Mia, but obviously they’re not even my real parents. I came to America when I was 7. I was never remotely close to Woody.”

          Is it possible that it is all a lie and that he had groomed her since she was a teen? Sure but you keep asserting that you know for a fact that is what happened when the evidence points elsewhere.

          1. Not stating that I know it for a fact, just that it is my opinion that that’s the most likely scenario. Their relationship ending up as a marriage is highly unusual and that alone makes it suspect. You’re welcome to believe what you wish to believe, of course, but I suppose we’ll just have to disagree on this one.

    2. I hope Allen never endorses bathing, you and John would end up so encrusted with dirt they’d grow wheat on you.

      1. /just busting your balls

    3. Can’t you separate the artist from the product? I find many creative types to be horrible people and yet I can enjoy their creations.

      1. Sure, I absolutely can. Polanski’s a great artist-rewatched Chinatown last night-great movie. That doesn’t mean he should get a pass. I feel the same about Allen, although I’d personally not consider him “great,” although plenty of people certainly disagree.

      2. I always assume artists are shitty people until sufficiently persuaded otherwise.

      3. I find many creative types to be horrible people and yet I can enjoy their creations

        +1 Gotterdammerung

    4. “He’s so loathsome it almost makes me want to rethink my support of free speech.”

      And that’s the problem with free speech these days. People either withdraw their support of free speech from assholes, or do mental gymnastics to convince themselves that the assholes speaking freely are actually great people.

      No one seems to want to go: “Hey!! You’re a fucking asshole!! Feel free to continue speaking as you see fit.”

      1. That was hyperbole on my part. Unfortunately, a lot of people see it just as you describe it. As far as I’m concerned, he should to be able to say anything his neurotic little heart desires.

  13. Is there any chance whatsoever that Dylan is Woody’s biological son? I mean, that kid looks exactly like Sinatra.

    1. Dylan is the daughter he is accused of molesting, and Ronan is the son with the blue eyes.

      1. Oops.
        Good thing Woody didn’t make the mistake of mixing them up as well.

  14. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask and Bananas were his best movies.

    Albert Brooks was a superior filmmaker, and he probably never got into bed with his young daughter and had her suck her thumb.

    1. Albert Brooks, lol

  15. Why all the comparisons of Brooks and Allen? Just because they’re both women black gay old Jewish comic filmmakers???

    Stop pitting Hollywood Jews against Hollywood Jews!!

    You people sicken me

  16. Is it me, or have all of Woody Allen’s movies for the past two decades been attempts to justify becoming romantically involved with his own stepdaughter?

    1. I think it’s just you.

  17. I have to give Sarandon props for calling this shit out. Should have happened years ago. Allen is scum.

    1. Polanski is also scum.

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