This is hilarious!

by Laura Demilio

Not only the parody about smug pretentiousness of pseudo-intellectuals and their hopefully, to them, academic babble about jazz artists, but the sardonic and VERY apt slam on these nerdy guys having "very beautiful much younger wives." Frankly, it always sorta turned my stomach that Woody Allen would cast himself as a romantic lead Lothario not tumbling in and out of liaisons with nice-looking women of his own age, (like the Frasier character in the TV show), but as this irresistible, totally sexually appealing geek who could win stunning fashion-model types an entire generation younger than himself -- most disturbing was Marial Hemingway's 17-year-old character in the 1979 film "Manhattan".

Of course, people get angry, spout that Allen is "an artist" and "a genius," and that I, let alone anyone else, have no right at all to criticize or at least express dismay about the man's very obvious -- and disturbing -- and sexist/elitist - proclivity. The revolting situation in the early 1990's with his still-teenaged-at-the-time adopted stepdaughter clinched it -- the guy thinks he is powerful enough and deserving enough to be able to live out his fantasies both in films and in real life.

The argument always goes, "Well, Mia Farrow and his other wives weren't that much younger than he!" or, "Well, in the films his nebbishy character always gets involved with troubled, histrionic women closer to his age, too!" But that wiff of vague misogynism always overtakes the snickering quasi-sexism -- the mature women characters in his movies are nearly always TROUBLE, always whining about what they talked about on their analysts' couch, always kvetching about their unhappy life situations, sexual affairs, and emotional hangups. Only the darling, and nonthreatening, and powerless very young girls or at least very young women seem to be free of issues and are totally devoted, compassionate, loyal, and deeply infatuated with the middle-aged man, who sometimes nervously blusters "This is WROWNG," in his Noo Yawk accent, but continues with the inappropriate relationship anyway. And the movie had its "happy ending" with kiddiewinkie giving up going to Europe, so she could be with him.

the film Manhattan came out when I was 18 years old and I was disgusted by the movie THEN -- and we girls freely admitted to having crushes on our 10 or even 20 years older high school teachers ourselves -- only these guys weren't blabbering, self-absorbed nincompoops nor so cartoonishly geeky that being coupled with a gorgeous (or average looking) teen could only provoke incredulity. Those teachers also didn't take advantage of the situation. Woody Allen based "Manhattan" on a true aspect of his life, a mid-1970's sexual relationship with a New York City high school girl who hovered on the edge of his elite intellectual circle, and once this film was made the young lady was understandably horrified -- and furious. And as she grew to maturity she indicated in interview articles that she felt even more bitterly exploited. Something which would have thrown any other middle-aged man in the slammer, even during the hedonistic late 1970's -- or at least would have gotten some very uncomfortable questions asked and a job jeopardized -- was looked upon as original, artistic "genius" because he was a successful creator of clever, humorous, quasi-autobiographical films. And for all the bawled disgust in tabloid articles about the Soon-Yi situation, he went on ahead with it anyway and defied interference on the basis that this teenaged girl had been an exploited victim, however willing. But because he's "brilliant," and "an artist," he got away with it. Doesn't seem quite proper, does it?

Posted on Jun 26, 2012, 8:46 AM

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