Saturday, 1 February 2014

Monsters Come In All Forms (Some Have Even Made Us Laugh)

I have never seen a Woody Allen movie, but I have found his quotes hilariously funny. Perhaps the first one I remember is his parody of the prophecies of Nostradamus, which went something like this:

""Two nations shall go to war, and only one shall win." This is believed to refer to the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. Considering that the prophecy was made in the 17th century, it is truly remarkable."

As the years passed, I came across many more. Some were profound truths about life:

"I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it's the government."

"Eighty percent of success is showing up."

"You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred."

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."

"It seemed the world was divided into good and bad people. The good ones slept better while the bad ones seemed to enjoy the waking hours much more."

And the poignant

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."

And then there were the simply funny one-liners:

"Bisexuality immediately doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night."

"I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in twenty minutes. It involves Russia."

"In my house I'm the boss. My wife is just the decision maker."

"Some guy hit my fender, and I told him, 'Be fruitful and multiply,' but not in those words."

"Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go, it's pretty damn good."

It's the last of these that takes on an ominous meaning with the recent revelations of Woody Allen's adopted daughter Dylan about how he sexually assaulted her when she was seven years old. Note that this is different from the accusations of sexual relations that he had with his other, adult, stepdaughter Soon-Yi Previn (who is now his wife). The scandal that erupted in 1992 around the affair with Previn initially seemed to damn the man but ultimately fizzled out into a standard extramarital affair deserving of nothing worse than a divorce, because it wasn't incestuous (the two were not biologically related) and it didn't involve a minor (she was 19).

However, Dylan's accusations are far more serious, and it now appears that the Previn affair was used as a lurid smokescreen to divert attention from them. The world is also a very different place from 1992. We have gone from being a society that largely refused to believe in accusations against respected public figures to a widespread understanding that people in a more powerful position with respect to others are also prone to abusing that power. How the Catholic church has fallen, for example!

I don't think Woody Allen is going to get away with this. Even if no criminal charges are filed or a conviction secured, the man is now damned in the public opinion. Much against his wishes, he is going to achieve immortality through his work - his worst acts.

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