Like cicadas crawling out from the dirt after 17 years—or a few months, as the case may be—underground, August 28, 2018 has seen a plague of men seemingly laid low by the #MeToo movement swarming the pop-cultural landscape all at once. Louis CK. Matt Lauer. Roman Polanski is back in the news, thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s casting of a Polish actor to play the director/accused rapist in his latest movie. Even Woody Allen is making headlines for doing nothing—or, as The New York Post’s Page Six puts it, taking a “long deserved break” until he can find a financier for his next movie.
That’s according to an article by gossip columnist Richard Johnson, who’s been the subject of much gossip himself over the years. The article claims that Allen has been having trouble finding funding for his next movie, thanks to the re-emergent allegations of child sexual abuse leveled against Allen by Dylan Farrow, daughter of Allen’s ex Mia Farrow. Especially damaging, apparently, has been the pressure put on actors to make amends for their decision to work with Allen, and to promise not to work with him again. (Take note, Twitter activists.)
However, that’s not all that’s going on here; that same anonymous source says that Allen’s films haven’t been profitable in a while, and he probably would have had trouble finding financiers even without the #MeToo movement. His last movie, Wonder Wheel, got bad reviews—our own A.A. Dowd called it one of his “sourest, stagiest and most disturbingly personal movies”—and made a mere $1.4 million at the domestic box office. (Of the few awards it did receive, most of them were for cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.) Many directors, especially female ones, have spent much longer than a year in exile for less.
Now, we should take this all with a grain of salt, especially given that Allen’s team’s response to a request for comment was, “none of this is true.” But even if you’re the type of sycophant who refers to a man accused of serious sex crimes as “the Woodman” and verbally claps him on the back by saying he deserves a break—as Johnson does in this particular article—you can’t deny that Allen’s been hit or miss for 20 years now. And for every late-period critical favorite like Blue Jasmine or Midnight In Paris, there’s been a Cassandra’s Dream or You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger.
So if anyone from Amazon Studios—which The Hollywood Reporter says is considering breaking its five-picture distribution deal with Allen early (it’s done two so far, Wonder Wheel and the upcoming A Rainy Day In New York)—is reading this, please: Just cut him loose. Because really, what would be so earth-shatteringly terrible about Woody Allen retiring? It wouldn’t diminish the esteem critics have for his earlier work. If anything, Allen taking himself out of the cinematic conversation could be a tentative first step onto that “road to redemption” powerful men suddenly become so concerned with when one of their own gets exposed.