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Woody Allen Family Messes Reflect Biblical Families

When 7 year old Dylan claimed to have been abused by Woody Allen I believed her not only because I too am a survivor but because Allen, as a much older man, was dating his ex-girlfriend's adopted,  daughter (although they had never lived under the same roof.) Learning of this courtship I easily and unsympathetically concluded he had sleazy sexual ethics. I stopped going to Allen’s movies in protest.  I knew children usually *always* tell the truth on the issue of abuse because it is too heinous for them to imagine this on their own -- unless there has been adult intervention, of course.

Yet, now the story has been resurrected once again by the family on the occasion of Allen being given a Golden Globe Lifetime Achievement Award. But this time around I realize my first judgment was based on my prejudice rather than facts. There are simply too many holes in Dylan’s story to be true, a fact that an impartial investigative group discovered as well. Not only did this group not believe the child’s story but they expressed suspicion that the child’s mother, Mia Farrow, had planted the story, most especially because there were significant changes in the story before and after talking to her mother, Mia Farrow. And Mia was at the time profoundly enraged that Allen had begun a romantic relationship with a much younger girl even though she herself had previously been such a young woman in the lives of older men.

Assuming this is true then Dylan’s tragic saga shows what can happen when parental scorned and  revenge enters the picture; a child is manipulated against the father she loves, the family implodes as the youngest children taking the mother’s side and the older teen (14 at the time) mistrusts his mother, believing his father’s protestations of innocence but steps out of the family craziness. But, dysfunctional families are nothing new and wealth and status do not prevent destructive parenting.

One horrendous marriage in the Bible is about a man who, as a Mama’s boy, becomes inconsolable upon the death of his mother and so marries a mother substitute by cutting a deal with the woman’s dad and brothers -- as was the custom. Then, the wife and husband, soon to be mom and dad choose opposite sons as their individual favorites preening over them so as to ultimately promote a rivalry  splitting the sons, and thus the family, apart – a breach that reaches into the next generation as intense family rivalry. Not having learned their lesson there are favorites there as well so much so that four generation later they are still playing the “favorites” game. Recognize the story?

Favoritism, jealousy, feeling scorned, revenge, using the children to “get even” all are themes in the Mia Farrow/Woody Allen story. (Farrow has denied Allen access to his two children throughout their childhood and adolescence.) What to do with this painful personal story played out on the national scene? The lesson for me is not to judge but rather to be compassionate. This is a family that imploded 21 years ago and has never recovered. And the lesson of Bible story? God can use us in spite of our dysfunction. But… just think what God could do if we all tried harder to open our eyes to our own flaws of self-righteousness and ego!

(The Mama’s boy was Isaac who married Rebekah and whose divided family included two sons who became rivals; Jacob and Esau. Jacob would later play favorites with his son Joseph, by giving a larger share to two special grandsons.)

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