Monday, February 10, 2014

Woody vs Mia: Parental Love Gone Horrifically Astray

When I was 14 and attending a private school, my mother said that I needed to try out for one of the school's many athletic teams. Sports being one of my (many) sore spots, I figured I couldn't go wrong with soccer. Gasping for air three hours into the open practice, with every muscle in my body on fire, I realized how wrong I'd been.

Once the cuts were announced and I hadn't made the team, I muttered, "What am I going to do? I have to be on a team!" A classmate, who had also been cut, asked me why. "Don't you HAVE to be on a team here?" I asked. He shook his head. "No, who told you that?"

I went home and confronted my mother. "Why did you tell me I had to be on a team?" I demanded. "I thought you might enjoy it," she replied.

The next year, I was 15 and in a new school in a different state (we'd relocated to Long Island over the summer). Before I met with a guidance counselor to set my schedule, my mother said that I needed to take an Advanced Placement (AP) science course. With that fact in mind, I arranged my sophomore year. Months later, I was not struggling in AP Biology. I was drowning. My average was so low, the guidance counselor advised, that if I did not drop the class and move into regular biology, I would have to take it during summer school.

"But I have to take an AP science class," I protested. "Why?" pressed the counselor. Not wanting to finger my mother as the culprit, I replied, "Well, don't I?" The counselor shook her head in disbelief. "No, it's not a requirement unless you were planning on going into a science-based college program." I shifted into regular biology (and in the remaining eight weeks of school, pulled my average high enough to avoid a summer inside a classroom).

I raced home, fuming, and once again confronted my mother. "Why did you tell me I had to take an AP science course?" I demanded. "I thought it would help you get into a better college," she replied.

These two examples are meant to illustrate how a mother with the best of intentions can inadvertently screw with a child's head. And I was a teenager, who could have easily turned to one of my peers and had either statement debunked.

Woody and Mia, 1989.
Dylan Farrow was seven years old when her mother – with questionable intentions – brought her to a pediatrician and said her father, film director Woody Allen, had sexually molested her. The doctor found no evidence of molestation or bodily trauma and suggested Mia take the girl to the Connecticut police, which she promptly did. And therein began a he said/she said Greek tragedy that continues to this day.

If you've made it this far, you can probably surmise that I've fallen into the Allen camp. I know that to a huge number of people, this places me immediately in the "you are a shithead" category. Among friends with young daughters, there is practically no one who believes Allen's side of the tale. And yet, I find myself correcting people when they stray from the facts:

"Woody was sexually molesting an underage Soon-Yi!"

No, she was 19 when the relationship started. That FACT comes from Mia's autobiography.

"Woody was Soon-Yi's father figure!"

No, that was Andre Previn. Her name is Soon-Yi Previn Allen.

It comes down to a torrid he said/she said. And frankly, Woody was doing fine until he took Soon-Yi to some basketball games, at Mia's urging (again, a fact from Mia's book).

Going into the Farrow relationship, Woody had two marriages that did not work out – Harlene Rosen and Louise Lasser. His public connection to Diane Keaton was over and he started to date Mia Farrow.

With 13 years of education in a convent, Mia had two marriages in her past as well. The first was to Frank Sinatra, when she was 21 and he was 50. As her career took off, Mia reneged on an agreement to appear in Sinatra's film THE DETECTIVE. In spite, he had divorce papers served to her on the film she made instead, ROSEMARY'S BABY, the movie that made her a star.

In 1970, Farrow became pregnant by Andre Previn (20 years her senior). Alas, Previn was married at the time. Upon hearing the news, Dory Previn had a nervous breakdown, received electroshock therapy, and subsequently wrote a song, "Beware of Young Girls," about the episode.

Farrow and Previn's relationship lasted long enough that they adopted several children together, including Soon-Yi Previn. When Woody entered the picture, Soon-Yi was a young child.

And Woody kept his distance, living in his own house and only interacting, it appears, with the children that he and Mia had in common (Moses, Dylan, and then Ronan). With Ronan, Woody admits he had virtually no relationship, as the boy was an infant post-Soon-Yi and Mia kept Allen as far away as possible.

Mia has chimed in that Ronan "looks like Sinatra" and could possibly be Frank's son. If it's a joke, it's a terrible one to play on Barbra Sinatra, who was Frank's wife at the time and is still alive. If it's true, then Mia was "cheating" on Woody well before he dallied with Soon-Yi.

For an intellectual, Woody showed that his brains were located below the belt when he pursued Soon-Yi. For all the arguments that "she was a smart woman," she was still under 21 and living in her mother's home. And her mother was in a relationship with Woody at the time. He behaved terribly, and received suitably shabby exposure in the press, which had embraced him for decades and seemed to want him to be as depraved as possible, to sell more papers and garner higher ratings.

A footnote – Mia gave Woody a Valentine in February 1992 with a family picture that had knives stabbing her in the heart and in the chests of their children. That's how Mia let Woody know that she had discovered the relationship, after stumbling on inappropriate, naked pictures of her 20-year-old daughter, who admitted that Allen had taken them.

Woody and Dylan, 1989.
Then Woody went to visit his kids at Mia's Connecticut estate and everything came crashing down. Mia herself was not present, but there were two nannies, as well as Moses Farrow (14), Woody's adopted son. After the visit, Mia began recording Dylan, asking her "what did Daddy do?" about the afternoon. Her questions were not recorded, only the answers, and she stopped and started numerous times. Ultimately, the tape she submitted as evidence was deemed not admissible.

So much has been written, 20 years ago and this past month, about what may or may not have happened that day in Connecticut. But it comes down to this – it's as much about what you believe Mia Farrow is capable of doing as much as what you believe Woody Allen is capable of doing. And frankly, based on their past histories, I have backed Woody. Do a tally of crazy, irresponsible things and you come up with ONE confirmed, unforgivable thing – starting the relationship with Soon-Yi. Now do a tally for Mia. Go on, I listed at least one thing for you.

For a man with no pre-existing interest in children PRIOR to his relationship with Mia Farrow, it's insane to believe that he decided, at age 56, to begin molesting one child in particular – his own adopted daughter. You have to believe, if it didn't happen, that Mia Farrow is a person so devoid of compassion for her OWN children that she would put her need for vengeance ahead of their mental health, well-being, and future happiness. But guess what? She never let that get in the way of anything else she ever wanted, such as having a child with Andre Previn.

Mia wanted Woody out of her life, but more importantly, out of the lives of her children. And she wanted him to suffer pain like she had suffered. Bottom line, Mia wanted Woody in prison. Perhaps killed in prison. That meant she needed him convicted of a horrific crime. If it meant sacrificing their daughter, so be it. Mia's mental status has to be questioned, considering the whacked-out Valentine she sent Woody only a few months earlier.

As for poor Dylan, she was a seven-year-old who lived to please her parent. A parent who spent the next 20 years bad-mouthing her father and telling Dylan how she had been molested, even though Mia wasn't even in the house that day. And the two nannies that were there, they both recanted their statements and got as far away from Farrow as they could.

When I was 14 (and then 15), I believed my mother, even though part of me knew, just knew, that there were other people not joining a team or taking AP courses. But I wanted to believe, I wanted to please her, I wanted to do well.

IN 1992, Moses Farrow was 14. He was in that house in Connecticut and saw nothing. He shunned his father and spent years listening to his adopted mother repeatedly talk about what a horrible man Woody Allen was and what he had done all those years ago. And Moses says, if he didn't show obediance, he was beaten. But Moses was different – he had been there. As the stories changed, Moses realized that they couldn't possibly be true.

Now 36 and a child therapist, Moses Farrow no longer believes his mother and has renewed his relationship with his father. Mia and his sister Dylan no longer speak to him, with Dylan saying "my brother is dead to me."

Parental love gone horrifically astray. Adults acting in their own selfish best interest with little or no regard for the affects of their actions on others. A media frenzy reborn that cannot be satiated, because none of the parties can back away from their accounts.

Too bad Woody didn't choose to ask his own mother for advice. Nettie Konigsberg lived until 2002. She missed seeing those grandchildren for the last decade of her life. A generation forgotten amidst all the chaos.

If your attitude is that Woody is guilty as sin, remember that he and Soon-Yi were allowed to adopt two daughters of their own. The allegations from 20-plus years ago bear no weight on his current marital and parental status. And believe me, Woody Allen does not care one whit what you think or what I think. But there's one woman, once a seven-year-old, whose entire life changed forever because Woody desired "what the heart wants" with Soon-Yi and he acted like a child himself.
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