Whither Woody Allen, his family, his publisher, his reputation, etc.

In the case of Woody Allen, what are we to think?

Hachette Book Group recently announced that it is canceling a contract with film director Woody Allen to publish his autobiography.

In the last few years, Allen’s reputation has gone from amusing to benign to toxic because of allegations that he molested his daughter, Dylan Farrow when she was too young to remember. The allegations began with actress Mia Farrow, once Allen’s partner, but Farrow, in turn, has been accused of coaching into her remembering the events. Two police investigations have failed to turn up enough evidence to charge Allen with any crime. Allen has vehemently and publicly denied those allegations.

Allen’s credibility, however, has not been helped by the fact that, after his breakup with Farrow, he fell in love with, partnered, and eventually married Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of Farrow. The romance began when Soon-Yi was in her late teens and Allen was in his 50s.

The allegations of sexual misconduct have been around since the 1990s.

Enter Ronan Farrow, Allen’s estranged son and Dylan’s brother. Farrow is now a famous and brilliant journalist who played a major role in uncovering the sexual misconduct of Harvey Weinstein. Farrow has come to believe his sister’s story. Farrow also has a book deal with Hachette, and when he heard about Allen’s contract, he wrote an open letter of protest.

That set off an employee walk-out of those who disagreed with Hachette’s decision. The company’s executives met with the protesting employees and announced its decision to void Allen’s contract:

“The decision to cancel Mr. Allen’s book was a difficult one,” a spokeswoman for the publisher said in a statement. “We take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly. We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books. As publishers, we make sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard.”

But she added that Hachette executives had discussed the matter with employees and, “after listening, we came to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible for HBG.” Source: Hachette Says It Won’t Publish Woody Allen’s Book – The New York Times

All of this leaves us, the public (me anyway), scratching our collective heads?

Has a falsely accused man been denied a chance to tell his story? Has a correctly accused man be denied the legitimacy of a well-known publishing forum?

Woody Allen, of course, has not been censored. He has plenty of options (including self-publishing) for telling his story in the way that he wants to tell it, and I fully expect that his autobiography will be published and available to those who want to read it.

But that is not the end of this story. There are too many questions and issues here that are representative of the complexity of our modern life — questions and issues that should be considered carefully.

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Jim Stovall, (JPROF.com) a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self-publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker, and beekeeper -- among other things. Subscribe to his weekly newsletter at http://www.jprof.com .
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