How Do You Solve a Problem Like ‘Manhattan’?

Since the #MeToo movement, his once celebrated film “Manhattan” has emerged as the archetypal work of male-chauvinist art, a byword, for some, for everything that’s wrong with Hollywood and the patriarchy. “The grown women in ‘Manhattan’ are brittle and all too aware of death,” Ms. Dederer wrote in her essay. The piece was titled: “What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men?”

.. “Manhattan” practically seems pre-engineered to provoke debate in the post-Weinstein world.

Most glaring is its portrayal of a sexual relationship between a divorced 42-year-old TV writer named Isaac (Mr. Allen) and a 17-year-old high school student named Tracy (Mariel Hemingway). No characters in the movie seem very troubled by the ethics of the affair, nor did many critics at the time.

.. Ms. Hemingway: In her 2015 memoir, she wrote that Mr. Allen developed a real-life crush on her after filming and wanted to take her to Paris. She told him she wouldn’t go after she realized they wouldn’t have separate bedrooms

.. “‘Manhattan’ was always about a middle-aged man with a high school girlfriend. Back then, ‘Manhattan’ was made by Woody the Lovable Neurotic Nebbish, and now it has been made by Allen the Monster. And it’s the same movie.”

.. For years, quoting lines from “Manhattan” or another film by Mr. Allen on a date could be a romantic litmus test, a way to find out if a potential partner also loved E. E. Cummings, Paris, 1930s jazz and the sophisticated, cultured world the films often came to represent.

I read decades of Woody Allen’s private notes. He’s obsessed with teenage girls

Woody Allen is making a new movie. Just kidding: He doesn’t make new movies. What he’s editing now, “A Rainy Day in New York,” about a college-age love triangle, could, like any of his movies, instead be titled “A Woman Gets Objectified by a Man.” This, in his view, is the pinnacle of art, its truest calling and highest purpose.

.. I’m the first person to read Allen’s collection — the Woody Papers — from cover to cover, and from the very beginning to the very end, Allen, quite simply, drips with repetitious misogyny.

.. never needed ideas besides the lecherous man and his beautiful conquest — a concept around which he has made films about

.. His screenplays are often Freudian, and they generally feature him (or some avatar for him) sticking almost religiously to a formula: A relationship on the brink of failure is thrown into chaos by the introduction of a compelling outsider, almost always a young woman.

.. Allen did lodge a complaint about the Weinstein moment, warning the BBC about “a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer.” He seems to believe that coworkers wink at each other all the time.

.. And here is a riff he wrote to caption an imagined photo of the Spanish socialite Nati Abascal, who worked with Allen in “Bananas”: “Could she act? Yes, I learned and especially in her defense. She blocked my [hand] as I reached for her thigh and brought her knee up sharply into my groin as we discussed show business. . . . I pulled a contract out of my pocket and we both signed, but not until I told her about the sexual obligation that was a part of the job of any actress who worked with me.”

..  goes on: “I came to appreciate her body for what it was as time went by, namely, a girl’s body. . . . Soon she got used to my ways. Aware of my position as father figure on the set (a director is just that) I allowed her to come to me with her problems. When she never showed up, I came to her with mine.”

.. Allen seems to see the function of women in his life as their begging to be a part of it — even outside the sexual realm.

.. But wait: Allen creates wonderful roles for women! Well, sort of. The fact that his work has earned so many women Academy Award nominations and prizes for acting — Penélope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, Mariel Hemingway, Diane Keaton, Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, Dianne Wiest — is a nesting-doll joke: His trophies have trophies. Allen used Keaton and the others the way Harvey Weinstein used Meryl Streep: an Oscar lure shiny enough to blind aspiring acolytes to his darkness, though some of them recognized that darkness and decided to participate anyway.

.. In many ways, Allen frustrates people because he seems to relish dancing on the edge of the outrage

.. More than that, he seems not to care about bettering or changing himself in any way. He lives and thinks and creates as he did in the 1970s, nearly a half-century ago.

.. the tragic inception of his current marriage, which began when he started a sexual relationship with his then-girlfriend’s teenage daughter (now his wife of two decades). As he later described the affair: “I was paternal. She responded to someone paternal. I liked her youth and energy. She deferred to me.”


Here’s ‘what about’ Roy Moore that is different

We’re having a severe outbreak of whataboutism.

In mild forms, the primary symptom is a vulnerability to false equivalencies. Virulent strains, such as the current one, can cause victims to lose all moral perspective.

.. Moore denies the allegations of sexual misconduct but has not denied that he was involved with girls half his age when he was in his 30s.
.. That’s why Republican Ed Gillespie, in his Trump-style gubernatorial campaign in Virginia, ran an ad falsely accusing his opponent, Democrat Ralph Northam, of calling “restoring the rights of unrepentant sex offenders one of his greatest feats.” An ad by an outside group asked: “Does a convicted sexual predator work near your child? Ralph Northam doesn’t want you to know. . . . Tell Ralph Northam. Protect our children. Not predators.”

The end of shame

“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed,” Jonathan Swift observed

.. it feels, more and more, that we are experiencing the end of shame.

.. two oddly connected stories: Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and the tax bill.

.. For some, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and most of his colleagues, the answer has been a welcome yes.

..  To conclude that electing an accused child molester to the Senate is preferable to seating a Democrat is the epitome of shamelessness.

.. The White House line on Moore has descended from “if/then” to “let the voters of Alabama decide” to “we need the seat.”

..  Kellyanne Conway, who had once touted the no-Senate-seat-more-important line, found something even more important than defeating an accused child molester: “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

.. Mick Mulvaney .. once styled himself a deficit hawk and now is pushing a measure projected to add at least $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years.

.. the bill is so studded with gimmicks that the real cost is more like $2.2 trillion.

.. Mulvaney’s brazen willingness to admit that the price tag is phony — specifically the notion that individual tax cuts will expire. Mulvaney, making the rounds of the Sunday shows, felt no need to dissemble. “One of the ways to game the system is to make things expire . . . a lot of this is a gimmick,” he told NBC. And, on CNN, “It’s simply trying to essentially manipulate the numbers and game the system.” In other words, we’re lying to you to ram this through, and we’re not even going to bother to hide it.

.. If hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, what does it say, exactly, when our most senior public officials feel no such compunction?