Ronan Farrow, the estranged son of Woody Allen, has penned an op-ed slamming both his filmmaker father as well as the media for not devoting as much press to the director’s alleged sexual abuse as they do to his new films. Farrow’s critical piece arrives on the same day that his father’s new film Cafe Society opens the Cannes Film Festival.
Farrow’s op-ed was published in The Hollywood Reporter, which last week featured a glowing cover story on his father and the director’s new film. In that piece, the allegations of sexual abuse levied on Allen by his daughter Dylan Farrow were never broached in the interview and limited to a parenthetical aside within the story itself.
Farrow opened the op-ed by expressing disappointment in himself for his role in a December 2014 interview with Bill Cosby’s biographer, with Farrow admitting that he suppressed questions about the comedian’s alleged sexual assaults. Later in the piece, Farrow, who at the time had just been hired by MSNBC, reveals he asked his sister Dylan to scale back her allegations against their estranged father. In both situations, Farrow has come to terms with his own shortcomings, both as a journalist and a sibling.
“I believe my sister,” Ronan wrote of Dylan’s sexual abuse claims against Allen. “This was always true as a brother who trusted her, and, even at five years old, was troubled by our father’s strange behavior around her: climbing into her bed in the middle of the night, forcing her to suck his thumb — behavior that had prompted him to enter into therapy focused on his inappropriate conduct with children prior to the allegations.”
Farrow notes that a New York Times article about Dylan Farrow’s claims received roughly 900 words on the newspaper’s website; a week later, the newspaper’s print edition dedicated a column twice that length on a benign profile of Allen.
“Very often, women with allegations do not or cannot bring charges,” Farrow wrote. “Very often, those who do come forward pay dearly, facing off against a justice system and a culture designed to take them to pieces. A reporter’s role isn’t to carry water for those women. But it is our obligation to include the facts, and to take them seriously. Sometimes, we’re the only ones who can play that role.”
In the case of both Cosby and Allen, Farrow writes, “The allegations were never backed by a criminal conviction. This is important. It should always be noted. But it is not an excuse for the press to silence victims, to never interrogate allegations. Indeed, it makes our role more important when the legal system so often fails the vulnerable as they face off against the powerful.”
However, Farrow notes there is a “sea change” in the way the media has tackled these sexual abuse stories, and while it’s unlikely Allen will face such inquiries at Cannes, the director will eventually have to face “some hard questions.” “But there is more work to do to build a culture where women like my sister are no longer treated as if they are invisible,” Farrow wrote.