We — as writers and critics, as consumers of popular art, as a culture — have a lot of rethinking to do. One of the mantras of the moment is that “everybody knew” about what the predators, rapists and gropers were doing, and that the ubiquity of such behavior was an open secret. That’s a tricky phrase, of course, and it invites observers of the industry to assess our own complicity. Is the open secret that men in power frequently behave despicably and with impunity? Or does it involve the particular things Mr. Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Mr. Lasseter, Mr. Ratner, Dustin Hoffman and others (so many others!) are alleged to have done? What did we know, and how did we know it?
DARGIS All I ever heard about Mr. Weinstein was that he was a bully. Being a jerk isn’t a crime — a lot of executives would be in jail if it were — and it wasn’t news or novel. It was largely hearsay in an industry that runs on fear (which encourages silence) and traffics in gossip, some malicious, some diversionary and some strategic, as we know from too many Oscar campaigns. The difference now is the dozens of women who have publicly accused Mr. Weinstein and the investigations into their allegations by The New York Times and The New Yorker, which have turned hearsay into news. There’s a preponderance of evidence, which brings me to Woody Allen.
In 1992, Mia Farrow learned that her longtime lover, Mr. Allen, then 56, had been seeing her daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who was around 21. Later that year, allegations surfaced that he had sexually molested Dylan Farrow, his 7-year-old daughter with Ms. Farrow. The judge in their custody case wrote that evidence of abuse remained inconclusive and Mr. Allen was never charged. For her part, Dylan Farrow has been steadfast in her accusations that he assaulted her. I think that a lot of critics read about this case and tucked that information away. Jump to his latest, “Wonder Wheel,” which is about a desperate, morally reprehensible middle-aged woman whose lover, an Allen surrogate, ditches her for her bodacious, much younger stepdaughter.
I’ve liked and loved some of Mr. Allen’s movies, and loathed others, but I’ve always put the allegations against him aside because he…