Since sexual abuse in Hollywood is on everybody’s minds, accusations against illustrious director Woody Allen are once again under scrutiny. In 2014 Allen’s stepdaughter Dylan Farrow penned a heartfelt letter to the New York Times, alleging that the director molested her throughout her childhood. These allegations have been a topic of fan and media scrutiny ever since. Particularly of interest to the media are actors who have worked with Allen: Ellen Page, Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, and Greta Gerwig are just a few of those who have expressed regret for their contributions to his films. Hall donated her salary from the forthcoming A Rainy Day in New York to the Time’s Up movement, as did co-star Timothée Chalamet. Now, the spotlight has fallen on Blue Jasmine star Cate Blanchett—and her response isn’t exactly satisfactory.
In an interview with Christiane Amanpour for Amanpour, Blanchett waffled about the accusations.* When Amanpour asked her how she “juxtaposed” being a #MeToo and Time’s Up supporter with being a Woody Allen star, the actress responded:
I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve stayed silent at all. At the time that I worked with Woody Allen I knew nothing of the allegations, and it came out … at the time that the film was released. And at the time I said, you know, “It’s a very painful and complicated situation for the family which I hope they have the ability to resolve.”
And if these allegations need to be reexamined—which, in my understanding, they’ve been through court—I’m a big believer in the justice system, and setting legal precedents … If the case needs to be reopened I am absolutely, wholeheartedly in support of that … Social media is fantastic about raising awareness about issues, but it’s not the judge and jury. And so I feel that these things need to go into court …
Fans of the actress may be surprised to hear Blanchett’s version of events, since she openly praised Allen in her 2014 Oscars acceptance speech. The Oscars took place one month after Farrow’s accusations went public, and several months after the film’s release. Her implication that the allegations have been resolved in court is shaky as well. Allen has never been charged with a crime, and a Connecticut state’s attorney said in 2003 that although he had “probable cause” to prosecute, he wanted to spare Farrow from having to testify in court. (Allen has always denied the charges.)
Court findings from Allen’s custody battle with Mia Farrow, however, found him responsible for sexually abusing his daughter; the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court ruled that certain evidence “suggest[ed] that the abuse did occur,” and stated that their review “militate[d] against a finding that Ms. Farrow fabricated the allegations without any basis” in response to Allen’s 1994 custody appeal. In 1993, Acting Justice Elliot Wilk of the New York State Supreme Court denied Allen custody and visitation rights for all three of his children from Farrow.
Blanchett’s understanding of the situation is also tone deaf because she appears to imply that abuse victims should not be believed until their allegations are corroborated by a court of law. Such a standard dictates that an overwhelming majority of abuse victims must not be believed: according to RAINN, roughly 30% of women report their cases to police, just 5.7% of reports lead to an arrest, and only 1.1% of cases are referred to prosecutors. Forget that less than one percent of rape cases lead to a felony conviction—most victims’ cases will never go to court to begin with. This is especially true of incest cases like Farrow’s. In cases of incest, embarrassed or ashamed families may be reluctant to advocate for child victims, and abusers have greater access to their victims within the family structure.
Let’s be clear: it’s not Cate Blanchett’s job to prosecute Allen, or to offer any statements on the Farrow case at all. If anything, it’s been interesting to see how Allen’s female actresses are put under intense scrutiny for their roles in his films while male participants like Justin Timberlake, Owen Wilson, and Jesse Eisenberg stay silent. The issue with this interview is that it demonstrates Blanchett’s misunderstanding of the Farrow case and the legal climate surrounding rape in general.
In a time when tired myths about false rape accusations and victim behavior are once again in vogue, facts are powerful. Hollywood needs prominent #MeToo and Time’s Up advocates like Blanchett—but not if they’re operating under misinformation.
Correction, March 24, 2018: This post originally misspelled Christiane Amanpour’s first name.