Purging My Woody Allen Collection

by Patricia Henderson
Woody Allen

Well, I did it. I drove to a Goodwill donation center a few days ago, and dropped off the majority of my Woody Allen DVD collection. I didn’t want to sell them (it didn’t feel right), I just wanted to purge them. You may have some questions, such as: “Why did you do that?,” or, “Why only ‘the majority?’ of them?” I aim to answer those, and others you may have, in the following piece, if you’ll bear with me.

Art and Artist

People say things like, “well, the art and the artist are separate,” while trying to justify a star’s bad behavior. If you don’t like someone’s art, however, it’s much easier to condemn them, isn’t it? For instance, I dismissed R. Kelly as a pedophile I was “done with” — quite instantly, in fact — because I was never a fan to start with. Michael Jackson, on the other hand? I’ll throw hands defending him, and offer a laundry list of reasons why I think he was wrongly accused. Yes, both times.

I suppose it’s human nature (see what I did there?) to defend someone who creates things we love. We don’t know these people, but something about their work resonates with us and helps us know ourselves. This is what movies do for so many of us who love them. To paraphrase the legendary Roger Ebert, “movies are a machine that generates empathy.” There are issues, events, and experiences very different from our own, that we simply would not know or care about without the movies we’ve seen about them. Think about some of the films that have touched you most, and you’ll likely find that Ebert line to be true.

woody allen

image via Psychology Today


There comes a point where we just start to feel like garbage people for supporting garbage people. This is the point I have reached with Woody Allen. Over the years, people have said things about him, such as, “he married his own daughter!” I correct them, “actually, he married his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, whom he was never the legal father of.” Yeah… because that’s so much better, right? He had an affair with, and married, a person he’d known since their childhood. They said he molested his own daughter, and I said, “she was brainwashed by her mother during an ugly custody battle” (which I truly believed, until recently).

The time has come for me to acknowledge that Woody Allen seems to have a malfunctioning moral compass. Recent statements he has made about the #MeToo movement, and about his now-adult daughter’s updated accusations, have made me see the light. Or, more accurately, helped me see his darkness clearly. I’m done. This fandom ship has sailed.

woody allen

image via The Jacket Journal

Why Not Purge It All At Once?

I stated in the opening paragraph that I gave away “the majority” of my Woody Allen movie collection. Why not all of it? Well, to put it simply — I did was what I was capable of doing the other today. It was the first step in a difficult process. As of now, I’ve kept the Allen movies my favorite actress, Dianne Wiest, was in. Along with those is Midnight in Paris, which my favorite actor, Adrien Brody, was in. In my mind, those are part of different collections: they’re Wiest and Brody movies, not Woody Allen movies. Excuses, excuses.  I did, however, manage to get rid of several things I never thought I’d be able to let go. Guys, I got rid of Annie Hall, for God’s sake. It was a hard day.

To make a long story slightly shorter, I will be getting rid of the rest. I just couldn’t do it all today. It sounds (and feels) silly to be emotionally attached to a collection, but I’m sure some of you get it. Sometimes we have to search for quite a while to locate certain items (or titles, in this case), so when we find them, they become treasured items. Stuff like Whatever Works, however, that is straight up about a relationship between an older man and a teenager? That’s a no-brainer. Buh bye.

woody allen

image via New York Times

Woody Allen Isn’t The End of It

Now that the ball is rolling, I’m noticing other items in my various collections that bother me. For instance, I tossed Beyond the Sea into a donation bag. I think that may be the only Kevin Spacey movie I actually own, which is weird, because I always enjoyed him. So, that one is done. For the record, I own two Anthony Rapp movies (Adventures in Babysitting, and Rent). Yeah, one of my favorites taking down another of my favorites. That news was kind of surreal.

I find myself questioning everything. Like, what about the horrible things that happened in old Hollywood? What about early predators, like Alfred Hitchcock? What about the pedophiles who prowled the sets of movies like The Lost Boys, and License to Drive? How much art do we own that was created under shady circumstances by shady people?

My favorite movie is probably The Pianist, which was directed by Roman Polanski, of all people. An actual bonafide rapist and fugitive. Should I purge the rare South Korean steelbook of the movie, which sits on my Adrien Brody shelf? While we’re at it, should I jump ship from my Brody fandom, after some questionable things he said about art vs. artist?

woody allen

image via Syrena

How Much is Enough?

Where does it end? For me, I think progress is more realistic than perfection. Getting rid of items that make us feel awful helps one’s mental health. Like getting a tattoo of an awful ex’s name covered up, or something. If things you own are keeping you up at night, then get rid of them. When it feels like enough to you, then it’s enough.

For me, what I did the other day was enough… for now.

Thank you for reading! What are you thoughts on my purging of my Woody Allen collection? Comment down below!

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dbmoviesblog August 7, 2018 - 12:34 pm

I am going to be unfollowing movie babble. I thought this was a professional site not the arena to hear a childish and nonsensical hysteria.

You worshipped those films of Allen before and now cannot stand them. You are also selective as you won’t throw away all of the films – that does not make any sense. Those films of Allen remained the same films no matter who shot them. They remained gorgeous works of art. It is your perception which changed and if you want to attack Allen go with your slogans to Washington, but do not touch those priceless cinema masterpieces. People are not all warm and cuddly including artists. Even if a director is a criminal – his film could still be a masterpiece which can still be enjoyed. The films remained absolutely the same no matter the artist. I am also sure you will not be “disowning” any work of such nature if that work was bringing you any money.

While you are going to your dump to throw his films away, why don’t you also fish out any products that hint at the Hugo Boss label you or your family may have and trash them too, since you know that company was manufacturing for the Nazi Party once.

Nick Kush August 7, 2018 - 9:34 pm

We absolutely respect your opinion to feel as you do! All of us deserve to have our opinions in some capacity, and we certainly respect you and all you have to offer to this conversation.

We’re sorry to be losing your follow, though. Hope you have a good one!

VisitorInAStrangeLand August 6, 2018 - 12:19 pm

I also found myself unable to support the people involved in this. Woody Allen, Kevin Spacey, and all that crew will be ones I avoid.

I actually find myself avoiding Meryl Streep movies. This is just my personal feeling, but watching her interview where she defended Roman Polanski, her comments of calling Harvey Weinstein a “god” and then acting like she had no idea. I don’t believe her. Even if she knew, she would have looked the other way. She had no problem with Roman Polanski.

And then there’s Whoopi Goldberg who once famously said of Roman Polanski, “it wasn’t rape rape”. What is “rape rape”? He confessed to drugging a 13 year old and raping her repeatedly in Jack Nicholson’s basement.

How could they defend this monster for years? They even gave him a standing ovation when he was awarded an oscar for “The Pianist”. They had no problem with what he did to that child.

Just tired of the blindness of accepting “that’s just the way things are”. Maybe so, but I don’t have to support these people.

oblivioni August 1, 2018 - 12:42 pm

I know how you feel. I got rid of my collection of Bill Cosby LPs, which I’d had for 40 years. (I sold them, though. I need the money!) Funny thing is – when the original news came out about Woody Allen, that he and Mia were splitting up because he’d had an affair with her daughter, as far as I was concerned, I was 100% done with him. I would never watch another one of his movies. But when the second accusation came out, which seemed to me clearly to be a false accusation in the middle of a vicious family dispute, it gave me a little sympathy for him, weirdly. Though I was also sympathetic to her! Even if it weren’t true, I didn’t really blame her for wanting to get revenge on him. I still skipped his movies for a couple of decades, but recently my wife convinced me to try again. And you know, some of them suck; but some are great. I have ALWAYS preferred the movies without him in them, like Another Woman. But I decided it is OK to watch his movies. If you don’t you lose out on great performances Cate Blanchett, Gena Rowlands, Samantha Morton, and many many others. Maybe it helps that I just consider him a really really bad guy, and I don’t believe that he is a one-time pedophile, for all the reasons you’ve heard before. But this is what I think. And I think you should go ahead and enjoy movies starring Dianne Wiest.

Patricia Henderson August 1, 2018 - 4:25 pm

Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. “Another Woman” is a very good movie. Like you said, the ones without him in them aren’t quite as… creepy.

Kelechi July 31, 2018 - 12:58 pm

I appreciate this, Patricia! Thank you for taking a stand.

K.L. Allendoerfer July 30, 2018 - 2:10 am

I understand your ambivalence and mixed feelings. I love the movie Shakespeare in Love, but you get to the end and you see Miramax and Harvey Weinstein’s name on the screen . . . it’s gross. I decided that for now I am going to keep loving the movie anyway. I like all the actors in it and I’m not going to blame them for Weinstein’s misdeeds. But that may be easier to do with that movie than with Allen’s because you don’t have to look at Weinstein’s face!

flash2day July 22, 2018 - 7:32 pm

Its like the Nike shoe issue few years back, if you know underage kids were abused in the making would you buy them? Unfortunately, its not as easy to determine for the artwork in question – was its creation was fuelled by anothers abuse? And so I choose to understand what exactly is it that I loved about the artwork – if its sth twisted , gets thrown out!

Olaf Lesniak July 21, 2018 - 8:32 am

Hey! Unpopulr opinion here. I never saw the need to distance oneself from a work of a potential predator/pedophile/etc. as they’re only a piece of works. If your intention is not provide to a director then you’re doing the exact same thing to the people involved with the project who are in no way, shape or form responsible for specfied atrocious acts.

It’s also hard to choose any side especially that I’ve heard more and more cases where we start holding every step out of the line to its extreme. #MeToo’s reliability hasn’t been the best. Truth be told, we’re all human and I think we should aim at not what makes us feel morally better becase you’re only solving 1/10 (understatement) of the problem without realizing it. You could also be hurting 10 times the number of people’s careers because you decide to disconnect yourself from one. We don’t always need to decide. You’ll never know the full story so why make decisions based on what you don’t know? Focus on what you know and help those around us with support and empathy.

Nick Kush July 21, 2018 - 9:24 am

Totally respect your opinion, Olaf! It’s such a difficult spot — I honestly don’t know what to do with it (which definitely hints at what you have to say). What I really appreciate is that Patricia’s article was incredibly open and vulnerable — truly fascinating and introspective stuff. It really just comes down to the individual, so it’s interesting to see one perspective on it.

Patricia Henderson July 21, 2018 - 12:07 pm

I appreciate your view, Olaf. It’s not so much about punishing the person or destroying their career (for me, anyway… I’ve seen plenty of that with others, though!). For me, it’s about feeling creepy about owning things and wanting rid of them.

samuelthornley July 20, 2018 - 5:22 pm

Interesting piece and I face this myself quite a bit, given I adore The Lost Boys and Pulp Fiction but am aware of the shady people involved. Since you mentioned Old Hollywood and Michael Jackson, do you think it’s easier to look at a film or piece of art when people involved are dead? I remember I only really listened to Michael Jackson’s music after his death, as growing up I only knew of him from his child molestation trials and avoided him at the time because of it.

Patricia Henderson July 20, 2018 - 5:51 pm

You know, I did consider that. Death does seem to exonerate, in a way. For people who are living, and still creating things, it feels like supporting them and their lives. Like handing them money. I think the passing of people, and the passing of time, makes us feel better about it.

I was always Team Michael, though. ;)

peggyatthemovies July 20, 2018 - 4:26 pm

I feel this. I read a great article once that basically said exactly what I feel. I believe both of them. I believe Mia Farrow did some nasty shit and I believe Woody did some really nasty shit. So honestly, I would purge both if I owned any of them. .. my take.

Patricia Henderson July 20, 2018 - 4:49 pm

Yes! Exactly! They’re both shady. Neither is “innocent” in this.

P.M. Henderson July 20, 2018 - 4:25 pm

Wow, obviously, I didn’t make myself clear enough in the article.

I made the “judgement” AFTER Allen’s responses, not based on the original accusations. His responses are what made me jump ship. Sorry I didn’t make that clearer (though, I did mention it).

Prior to that, I firmly believed his previous assertion that it was Mia Farrow’s doing (for the custody case). That their daughter was brainwashed.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt for YEARS, so please don’t say it was a snap judgment. I’ve agonized over this.

Also, please don’t hold this article against Nick Kush, when my name is in the byline. Thank you. Sorry, Nick, I certainly don’t want you taking blame.

Nick Kush July 20, 2018 - 5:44 pm

We all support you, Patricia!

Monique Desir July 22, 2018 - 9:27 pm

I think you were quite loud and clear. :) By the way, you might want to check out this fascinating website on detecting lies and deception. I copy and pasted the link specifically about Woody Allen. http://www.eyesforlies.com/blog/2018/01/dylan-farrow-did-woody-sexually-assault-her/ Enjoy! :)

Patricia Henderson July 22, 2018 - 11:49 pm

Thank you!

Monique Desir July 23, 2018 - 5:13 pm

You’re welcome.

Rakkelle July 20, 2018 - 3:37 pm

Another great article, Nick, but (long exasperated sigh)….I mean, the way things are going your entire movie collection might be gone soon. Every time I turn around there is another accusation – Remember accusations are allegations, only that. Doesn’t he deserve his day in Court in order to prove his innocence before we go tossing out our entire WA collection? (Sigh).

Patricia Henderson July 20, 2018 - 4:58 pm

I understand your take. Thanks for reading.

Kristen Marie July 20, 2018 - 2:41 pm

This is such a hard area. In any other industry, like science for example, if a scientist discovers something great, and later it comes out that they’re a horrible person that’s done horrible things, that doesn’t discredit their finding.
In film, however, it’s entirely different. And that’s so frustrating. Take Kevin Spacey, for instance. He was one of my favorites. He’s been in some incredible films. The news breaking about him was horrible. But, does that discredit the films he was in? I mean, so many other people worked really hard on those.
It is different when the horrible person is the writer or director. I feel like more of themselves are in the films that way. I mean, I can’t even watch the film Manhattan without it creeping me out.
Polanski is one that’s hard for me to come to terms with, in regards to not watching/owning his films. What he did was bad. Period. He literally cannot come back to the United States. But, Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown are two of the best films of their decades. They are so important within the realm of film history, and you can’t just ignore that. And, again, so many other people worked on the films, and they deserve to have their work seen, ya know?
Obviously, I’m conflicted.

Patricia Henderson July 20, 2018 - 4:58 pm

Yes! So many of his movies are about nebbishy writers having affairs with young women/girls. It’s creepy.

JR July 20, 2018 - 12:52 pm

I struggle with this same concept for several aspects of my life. I want to use cruelty free makeup, but if a brand I like says not tested on animals what do I do if their parent company does test on animals, should I swear of this “cruelty free” brand as well? Because of who owns them? I don’t know where it stops but I’m subscribing to the same way of thinking you used at the end. What feels like enough for me right now, is going to be enough for me. Until something changes.

Patricia Henderson July 20, 2018 - 5:17 pm

Great example, JR. There’s always so much to consider with just about every purchase these days. It’s tough.

gary loggins July 20, 2018 - 12:09 pm

sigh that’s today’s world – guilty until proven innocent.

P.M. Henderson July 21, 2018 - 3:36 pm

I’m not saying he for sure molested his daughter when she was a child, and I’m not calling for his arrest. I’m simply saying statements he himself has made recently have caused me to rethink owning his films. Especially considering the subject matter of many of them.

I do appreciate your opinion, though. Thank you for reading.

Deborah July 20, 2018 - 12:06 pm

I think, in this particular case, you have made a judgement after only hearing from one side, and that’s unfortunate. I’m not defending WA but I’m just commenting on what I observe from your actions. Has he been charged and convicted? Other than that, it’s all hearsay.

Patricia Henderson July 20, 2018 - 5:00 pm

To be fair, I made the judgment after hearing Allen’s “side,” so to speak. I appreciate your thoughts, though, thanks for reading.

Mark Tulin July 20, 2018 - 12:02 pm

I hear you with the Woody issue.

P.M. Henderson July 21, 2018 - 3:37 pm

Thank you. I’m glad someone understands. It’s just my feeling that I’d rather not own most of these films anymore. It’s not that I want to destroy his career, or have him tossed in prison. It’s about my own conscience.

Mark Tulin July 21, 2018 - 4:44 pm

It’s symbolic. 🙏🏻

Nick Kush July 20, 2018 - 11:45 am

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