Scarlett Johansson is speaking out for the real victims in the Woody Allen abuse case–the actors who have worked with him and have faced marginal criticism for the association. While you may have thought that Dylan Farrow was the victim, you are wrong, and Scarlett Johansson is here to set you straight. You might remember that Johansson was named in Farrow’s open letter about her alleged sexual abuse, and in an interview with The Guardian, Johansson gave a troubling and confusing statement about the whole situation.
Interviewer Carole Cadwalladr remarked to Johansson that being named in a letter “must have been a very uncomfortable experience.” Apparently it was (as I’d imagine it would be), although Johansson seems to have taken it more personally than sympathetically. She responded:
“I think it’s irresponsible to take a bunch of actors that will have a Google alert on and to suddenly throw their name into a situation that none of us could possibly knowingly comment on. That just feels irresponsible to me.”
In theory, I understand how surreal it would be to wake up one morning and suddenly be linked to an incident that happened years ago, before you were in any way involved with anyone involved. But at the same time, the abuse allegations aren’t new. Allen’s always been married to his stepdaughter figure. Nothing in Farrow’s letter qualifies as a bombshell or as novel, so Johansson wasn’t blindsided. She made the decision to work with Allen anyway, which opens her up to criticism, and and she chose a public career path. But it seems that Johansson is most comfortable to the play the blindsided card, despite the remarkable improbability of it all. When asked about the backlash against Allen, she replied:
“I’m unaware that there’s been a backlash. I think he’ll continue to know what he knows about the situation, and I’m sure the other people involved have their own experience with it. It’s not like this is somebody that’s been prosecuted and found guilty of something, and you can then go, ‘I don’t support this lifestyle or whatever.’ I mean, it’s all guesswork.”
I don’t really believe that given that Google alert Johansson mentioned, she could possibly be unaware of the backlash. Or the fact that she’s being interviewed about the backlash might be a clue. I’m also a bit confused–if Allen were tried and found guilty of molestation, wouldn’t we all hope for a slightly stronger statement than “I don’t support this lifestyle or whatever.” In my understanding, the unwillingness to condemn Allen came from not having all of the information (until Allen stands trial, which he won’t, everything’s an allegation), but I had assumed that in the event that Allen faced an actual conviction, the support would die down.
Johansson closed the topic by saying the one reasonable point she’s made in all of this: “I don’t know anything about it. It would be ridiculous for me to make any kind of assumption one way or the other.” This is one hundred percent right. The multitudes of celebrities who’ve weighed in don’t really know anything one way or the other, so the blind support seems a bit ill-advised (although you could say the same about all the journalists and bloggers who’ve weighed in with their opinions slamming Allen, myself included).
It’s bizarre to me that Johansson wouldn’t just decline to answer the question instead of making herself the victim. In all the content that Johansson’s name appears in online, I don’t think Farrow’s was any worse or without some merit. At some point, everyone is responsible for the company they keep, regardless of supporting a lifestyle (“or whatever”). But aside from all of that–this isn’t about Johansson. It’s about a person talking about her experience of being abused. When a person reports abuse in any capacity, it’s everyone else’s job to sit down, shut up, and listen.
Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images