In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Scarlett Johansson was asked how she felt about Woody Allen. Hollywood is in the midst of a great change in how it treats women and sexual harassment.
And this question is posed decades after Allen was first accused of sexual assault by his adoptive daughter. She replied: “I love Woody, I believe him, and I would work with him any time… I have been very direct with him, and he’s very direct with me. He maintains his innocence, and I believe him.”
On one hand, I could argue that everyone has the right to their own opinions and judgements. I can feel the way I want to feel about Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson can feel the way she wants to feel. But on the other hand, the voice of a celebrity as big and influential as ScarJo has an impact, and right now Hollywood is in a state of flux about how the #MeToo movement will evolve.
To provide you with some context, Dylan Farrow says that Woody Allen, her adoptive father, sexually assaulted her on Aug. 2, 1992. I won’t go into the details, but Farrow tells a story that is, according to Maureen Orth of Vanity Fair, “…consistent with the testimony of three adults who were present that day.” Allen was never charged with a crime and investigations ended up claiming no molestation took place and that it was more likely that Dylan Farrow was coerced by her mother, Mia Farrow. However, a judge by the name of Elliott Wilk came to the conclusion that there was no evidence that Mia Farrow coerced her daughter in any way, and that Allen’s behaviour towards his daughter was extremely inappropriate.
Essentially, nothing’s official.
Some could argue that everyone is “innocent until proven guilty.” But here’s how I see this situation: Dylan Farrow has been telling the same story again and again for years, and she didn’t do her first television interview until January 2018. In fact, these claims against Woody
Allen have been persistent since 1992. I feel that if claims have been going on for this long, with little amount of public attention drawn to Dylan Farrow, the idea that someone is innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law is no longer valid. Johansson claims to stand by the #MeToo movement but comments like “I love Woody, I believe him,” voicing her love for Allen, send the message that she fails to grasp the fact that even the men she trusts or likes are capable of such terrible acts.
This isn’t the first time Johansson has made arrogant and ignorant statements. I’m referring to the time she was the lead in the film Ghost in the Shell (2017) and was criticized for whitewashing the character. This movie is based on a Japanese manga created by Masamune Shirow in 1989. In an interview with Marie Claire, she apologized; “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.”
About a year later when it was announced that Johansson would be playing a transgender man in a film called Rub & Tug, she was criticized so heavily she simply dropped out of the project. In my eyes, her defence of Woody Allen is just an addition to the list of her problematic traits.
Although I’ve always enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s films and acting career, she is, without a doubt, ignorant (whether it be willfully or not) and hypocritical. She has the right to stand by her colleague and friend under the guise that no allegation has been confirmed. However, with the years and years of fighting from Farrow’s side, taking Allen’s side seems like a bad move. Scarlett Johansson has voiced her support of the #MeToo movement and TIME’S UP, an organization which supports “safe, fair and dignified work for women” and whose mission is to stop and prevent sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. She has even gone as far as making a speech at the Los Angeles Women’s March in 2018. “I am proud to be representing Times Up, an organization made up of some of the bravest, most determined, most inspiring women that I have ever had the great privilege of sharing with and learning from.” If she genuinely supports victims of sexual assault, Johansson should re-evaluate her position and her reasoning as to why she stands by Allen. Her support will only encourage others to get away with their own acts. In the end, she messed up, but she still has the chance to make things right and denounce him.
In the words of Scarlett Johansson herself, “We must take responsibility, not just for our actions but for ourselves.”
Ultimately, the things Johansson has done in the past are relatively forgivable. She was accused of whitewashing with her role in Ghost in the Shell, for which she “apologized,” moved on, and didn’t get the point. People forgot about it. She was criticized for being cast as a trans man, but she dropped the role before production. People forgot about it. Now, she’s defending a man who we can safely believe sexually assaulted his daughter when she was seven years old. I really hope people don’t forget that.