When Lena Dunham’s first movie, Tiny Furniture, came out, many critics made favorable comparisons to Woody Allen’s films. But maybe there was something deeper to the fact that the film’s hipster-doofus jerk (Alex Karpovsky) reads Woody Allen’s book, Without Feathers. Turns out, Dunham hadn’t been a fan of Allen’s work for some time, and after Dylan Farrow’s explosive open-letter outlining allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather, Dunham has been extremely outspoken on the matter, especially on Twitter. Now, she tells Marc Maron on his WTF podcast that she’s “nauseated with [Allen].”
Maron was asking about Dunham’s upbringing as a child of two artists, and the actress brought up Allen as the most vivid example of not judging the art by its artist. “In the latest Woody Allen debate I’m decidedly pro-Dylan Farrow and decidedly disgusted with Woody Allen’s behavior,” she said. “But for me, when people go through his work and comb through it for references to child molestation, that’s not the f–king point.”
“I’m not gonna indict the work,” she continued. “I think that you can decide that you don’t want to support the work of somebody who has molested a child. That’s a completely appropriate choice. But going through it and saying, look, he’s told us in 57 ways that he rapes kids — that’s not the thing. The thing is to look at the actual evidence that exists in the world, which I think strongly suggests that Woody Allen is in the wrong. But for me the point is not to go through his one-act plays looking for references to child molestation. Because I’m not comfortable living in a world where art is part of how we convict people of crimes.”
Maron, who came of comedy age worshiping Allen, conceded that the filmmaker had an established history of being inappropriate but was more cautious about convicting him in the court of public opinion. “It’s definitely a slippery slope,” Dunham responded. “I mean for me, I haven’t wanted to watch his movies for a long time, partially because of who I think he is and partially because I think they got really bad.”
Maron stuck to the safe stance that indicting the artist shouldn’t impact the art — and presumably vice versa — and pointed out that many great artists or leaders haven’t been exemplary human beings. “It’s totally true,” Dunham said. “People who really believe Woody Allen is guilty have not felt comfortable saying that. Because they’re so afraid to lose their connection to his work. And the thing is, I feel like people need to understand that you can hold two positions in your mind. You can know that someone’s made work that’s meaningful to you and also know that they have most likely molested their daughter.”
In February, after Dylan Farrow published her renewed accusations against Allen, Dunham was one of the most-vocal celebrities to immediately applaud and support Farrow’s public letter.
Grateful my timeline is full of so much love and respect for Dylan—
Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) February 02, 2014
Most victims NEVER speak up. Most never feel they can. These are not stories we tell for fun, attention or revenge.—
Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) February 04, 2014
We should all be thankful to Dylan. We must begin to heal, to change the way in which we process and respond to stories of abuse.—
Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) February 08, 2014
Based on her exchange with Maron, Dunham seems to be someone who’s been disgusted by Allen’s behavior over an extended period of time, presumably since Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn became romantic, a gross betrayal of Soon-Yi’s stepmother and his then-girlfriend Mia Farrow. Dylan Farrow’s letter seems like the nail in the coffin of Dunham’s judgment of the man. But as much as she is entitled to her opinion, as well as everybody’s unanimous support for victims of sexual crimes, “the actual evidence that exists in the world” on the matter that she speaks of leaves intelligent, well-intentioned people on opposites sides of the Woody Allen divide.