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.
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.
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 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?
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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