What should we do when an artist is a creep?

It doesn’t get much creepier than this:

What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie? Before you answer, you should know: when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.

It makes me happy when a writer (or anyone else)  I admire turns out to be a nice person — Stephen King, say, or Bobby Orr.  But ultimately it doesn’t matter.  As far as I can tell, John Updike was a much nicer human being than Philip Roth.  But I’d much rather read a Philip Roth novel.  The more you learn about Charles Dickens and the way he treated his wife and children, the less you’re going to like him.  Woody Allen apparently should be in prison, as should Roman Polanski.  And probably any number of other folks whose works I admire.  I don’t think Blue Jasmine or any other Woody Allen movie was worth Dylan Farrow’s happiness, and I won’t be rooting for Woody Allen at the Oscars. But ultimately we engage with the work of art, not the artist.

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5 thoughts on “What should we do when an artist is a creep?

  1. Once I was in an elevator with Woody in Manhattan Supreme Court. He was really weird. “Do I get on now . . . When do we get off?” It’s true we engage the work of art (otherwise who would listen to Wagner) but not even Wagner was this creepy.

    For what it’s worth I prefer Updike.

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      • Most novelists have a tendency to fade. Delillo has been treading water for years. And have you read Stone’s latest? Or, god help us, Pymchon’s?

        The best ( or worst) example of this is Hapworth 16, 1934, Salinger’s final (as far as we know) installment on the Glass clan. That was unbelievably bad.

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  2. Years ago the Post ran an editorial cartoon which showed, walking down a New York street, Woody Allen hand in hand with a little girl (presumably Soon Yi), and Michael Jackson with a little boy (Macaulay Culkin?). The caption was: “Double Dating in the 90s”.

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