Recently I described what you need to believe about Woody Allen to in order to believe he molested Dylan Farrow. Today I’m considering the other side: what you need to believe in order to believe Allen’s version of events. Namely, that Mia Farrow coached Dylan to believe she was molested by Allen, and that this brainwashing has held for twenty-eight years. Once again, I’ll be relying on the facts established in court.
The mechanics of the plot
Before the alleged abuse incident, Allen was already in therapy for his unhealthy fixation on Dylan which involved his ignoring the other children when she was around, following her everywhere, etc. Mia Farrow therefore had a standing order for the household employees that Dylan was never to be left alone with Allen. The alleged abuse took place on a day when Farrow and her friend Casey Pascal were out shopping, but at the home were: Pascal’s three children, Alison Strickland, a French tutor, the baby sitter, Dylan, Satchel and Allen. The babysitter would later testify she had lost track of Allen and Dylan for a while, but didn’t tell Farrow about this until Dylan had alleged abuse. Ms. Strickland also testified that she had seen Allen kneeling in front of Dylan on the couch with his face in her lap.
For Allen’s version of this to be true, Farrow would have had to see in Allen’s fixation on Dylan an opportunity to frame him for molestation. She would have had to persuade the babysitter either to give Allen a window of time alone with Dylan but testify otherwise, or to lie flat out about Allen having been alone with Dylan (which would have been trickier because then one of the many witnesses at the house might well have had Allen in their sight the entire time). She also would have had to persuade Strickland to tell the odd story about Allen’s face in Dylan’s lap. I call the story “odd” because it’s not how most people imagine sexual molestation happens – they imagine flat out straightforward assault. But as most survivors can tell you, they often also engage in behaviors that are quasi-sexual or not sexual but still boundary-busting. And unfortunately law enforcement and courts are still often so ignorant that they might find a story like this less persuasive than if Strickland claimed to have walked in on Allen doing something overtly sexual to Dylan. So it’s a curious choice for Farrow in constructing her elaborate web of lies.
Allen believes Mia is so angry with him for dating and marrying Soon-Yi that she’s made all this up and sustained it for decades without any tangible reward, and that in order to achieve this she ruined Dylan’s life maliciously. The sort of person who’s capable of doing that to a child would be diagnosed (in the United States – classifications vary internationally) with either Narcissistic, Borderline or possibly Antisocial Personality Disorder. None of these personality disorders are known for their ability to sustain an obsession from a distance for more than a few years without some reward. Neither Mia nor Dylan seems to have made any money from this, gained any fame, etc. Nor have they had the pleasure of watching Allen’s career go down in flames.
If Farrow was obsessed with revenge, why didn’t she apply her amazing brainwashing skills (which we must believe worked not only on Dylan, but also the babysitter and Alison Strickland) to other young actresses with whom Allen has worked since then?
You have to believe she’s obsessed with revenge against Allen for dating Soon-Yi, and yet content to just spout some vemon every few decades. It’s not a consistent profile, and if there’s anything abusive personalities tend to be, it’s consistent – depressingly so.
The behavior of Mia and Dylan is more consistent with people who feel they were wronged and never got justice. It’s more akin to people identifying war criminals who are living under assumed identities forty years after the end of a war in which they were imprisoned or lost family. All those years, they stay quiet because there’s nothing to do but try to heal and focus on the future, and then they see someone “getting away with” what he did to them or their loved ones, and it all comes to a boil again.
This is the sticking point for me. When Dylan was allegedly first brainwashed by Mia, she was 7. She is now about twenty-nine. During that time, her brain will have undergone massive changes as part of the usual development process for humans. The teenage years alone are a time of rapid brain changes and reorganization, which is why most teenagers change their minds almost daily, exercise horrible judgment at times and rebel against anything and everything. In our twenties, as we begin to explore adulthood, our perspectives can change greatly – not as rapidly or chaotically as during the teen years. We often experience a lot of disillusionment during these years – this is when we find out the world doesn’t work like we were led to believe.
To believe Allen’s story, you must believe Dylan’s brainwashing by Farrow held steady through all those natural phases. That never at any point did her maturing mind overcome Mia’s brainwashing. To determine how likely this is, let’s think about a more common form of childhood indoctrination: strict religion. The more strictly you raise a child in a faith, particularly one that’s very rigid and demands adherence to a code not common in the child’s society (i.e., no sex before marriage at all, period, end of story), the more likely the kid is to question or even act out against those beliefs when she hits her teenage years. Then come the twenties, when we discover the world isn’t as simple as we thought and much of it is a big disappointment. People raised in a challenging faith – one that sets them aside from their culture – tend not only to question but to leave that faith for one that’s less challenging, or none at all.
Dylan Farrow was confronted with two major challenges to her personal narrative about this abuse: (1) tons of people insisted Mia Farrow engineered the whole thing, and (2) Mia Farrow continued to support of Roman Polanski, who pled to lewd and lascivious acts with a minor (and you only plead to a lesser crime than the one the police believe you committed). It is simply unfathomable to me that Dylan Farrow never questioned whether perhaps all those people who thought her Polanski-supporting mom brainwashed her were onto something. And yet, she still maintains the same account of events.