Saving Woody Allen’s New York From Cancel Culture

A meticulous analysis of everyone's life would leave no one safe. Except, everything is relative today, and historical truths, contexts, and facts do not matter. Simply complaining or suspecting is worthwhile.

Talking about Woody Allen is talking about New York (PBS).

Spanish – To speak of Cervantes is to speak of Spain; of Degas, of France. To read García Márquez is to walk around Colombia, and to admire a Caravaggio is to contemplate an era. And the four of them have something in common: none of them is an untainted figure, free of all blemishes.

But the world would not be what it is without the works of Cervantes, García Márquez, or Céline. It would not be the same without the paintings of Caravaggio, Degas, or the surrealism of Picasso. Nor would it be the same without the music of Wagner, Strauss, or Michael Jackson. Some are wife beaters, stubborn misogynists, or alcoholics; others are admirers of tyrants.

A meticulous analysis of everyone’s life would leave no one safe. Except, everything is relative today, and historical truths, contexts, and facts do not matter. Simply complaining or suspecting is worthwhile. Then, this new culture arises. One of canceling or killing. Let us hide under it all those who built our world. Let’s cancel Italy, Spain, or Germany. Now they are going to New York.

Woody Allen has nowhere to publish his memoirs. Several publishers have rejected them. And although the last one, Hachette, agreed to publish them, it was forced to retract because of the media pressure achieved by the outraged employees and their chieftain, Ronan Farrow, the ruthless son. Allen’s films are no longer released in the United States, and the industry looks down on him. The same industry that years ago, licked his feet for his talent.

It doesn’t matter that after he was accused of abusing his daughter, a six-month investigation concluded that it was false. Nor does it matter that sometime later, an agency carrying out a fourteen-month investigation also absolved Woody Allen. Nothing indicates that his guilt has ever been established, or that no other similar accusations have ever arisen. The artist must still be destroyed.

But killing him is killing New York. And now it is not about saving a man but the portrait of a city. Because that is what Woody Allen has done in over fifty years of his career: he has drawn us to the New York that we recognize today.

The Guggenheim, the edge of the Hudson overlooking Brooklyn, the lake in Central Park, or the Empire Diner. A little restaurant, a street on the Upper West Side, or the reflections on the tiles of Lincoln Center. No matter what. Woody Allen didn’t lay a single brick, but he did build, in the minds of thousands, those corners that everyone looks for to experience a playset by a clarinet.

Despite the scandals, Woody Allen is being rewarded for what he did. He is honored and must be celebrated. But, as the New York Post wrote in its recent editorial, this is an “abuse of power” by Ronan Farrow and Allen’s inquisitors. It is an abuse against our freedom to enjoy even those whom others consider a monster. It is not only Woody Allen who must be saved, but that unique, quite extensive, and transcendent portrait of a city he invented.


‘Chapter 1: he adored New York City // For him, it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture // The same lack of individual integrity that caused so many people to take the easy way out was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in…’

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