Woody Allen is the perfect modern warrior against Cancel Culture
The Oscar winner has become a soldier in the most Woody Allen way possible: with a shrug of the shoulders and an almost inexplicable need to just keep on working.
The comedian/actor/writer/director has released almost a movie a year for decades, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a work that defines him more than his memoir, “Apropos of Nothing.”
While the book seems non-controversial on the surface — an autobiography by a filmmaker whose been in the business since Mia Farrow was a drawing name — it was canceled by its original publisher after walkouts by employees, emboldened by resurfaced allegations against Allen in the #MeToo era.
The book captures everything great about Allen as an artist — his unbelievable work effort, his quick wit, his humbleness and that X-factor that keeps people who aren’t even diehard Allen fans coming back to his films, this writer included.
At 84, there’s a lot of life to cover, and Allen moves as brusquely and cleverly through it all as he does in his films. The latter feel like breaths of fresh air in an age where Hollywood blockbusters throw a wrench into your entire day with their bloated run times.
Allen covers everything from his childhood to his film career to the controversies that have plagued him for decades — but no more so than in recent years — in the book. It’s well worth a read even for folks who give the cold shoulder to some of his films — again, this writer included.
On his parents, Allen describes them as “two characters as mismatched as Hannah Arendt and Nathan Detroit, they disagreed on every single issue except Hitler and my report cards.”
Hearing tales of his straight-laced mother and his rebellious father, we come to see the perfect aligning of the cosmos that had to happen to turn Allen into the filmmaker he is today. Through his art, Allen delves humorously, and sometimes heartbreakingly, into the pitfalls of relationships, the neuroses brought on by mundane existence, and the inner battle to be free through being true to oneself.
“They stayed married for 70 years — out of spite, I suspect. Still I’m sure they loved each other in their own way, a way known perhaps only to a few headhunting tribes in Borneo,” he writes of his parents’ inability to separate.
And lines such as, “I always took to anything that required solitude, like practicing sleight of hand or playing a horn or writing, as it kept me from having to deal with other human beings who, for no explainable reason, I didn’t like nor trust,” hit at the heart of the man who has always been able to look at life from his own unique perspective.
That same, blunt narrative style and almost joyful acceptance of life’s tragedies is peppered throughout the memoir, whether Allen is talking about falling in love with films or his chaotic relationship with his ex, Mia Farrow.
On the allegations from Mia and Dylan Farrow, Allen is matter-of-fact and he does provide new details, but anyone who has done any research on the matter or listened to past interviews with the man and all those involved will not be surprised by what the filmmaker says here.
The allegations are shaky at best, having been investigated and debunked multiple times, and suspiciously born out of a soured and toxic relationship.
That bond, of course got complicated by Allen’s own marriage to Farrow’s stepdaughter, Soon-Yi Previn.
The “Manhattan” director also tackles the recent consequences of those allegations, like his film “A Rainy Day in New York” being unable to acquire a US distributor and its lead actor, Timothee Chalamet, disowning the director — which includes donating his salary for the film. The young star’s reasons will come with little surprise for anyone distrustful of modern-day Hollywood and its constant virtue signaling.
Allen’s fans are loyal, and they have kept filling seats almost every year for years in honor of the director, sometimes treated with gems like “Midnight in Paris” or “Match Point,” interesting misfires such as “Whatever Works” and “Irrational Man,” or even punished with duds like ‘Melinda and Melinda.’
That loyalty and long-standing interest in Allen will guarantee they read and enjoy this book, but even those with only a passing interest should do themselves a favor and dive into it, not only because it is a worthy and interesting read by an undeniably intriguing artist, but also because it completely encapsulates Allen’s newfound standing as a rebel against cancel culture.
Allen doesn’t go on angry tirades about the state of the world. He simply regards it with his same shrug-of-the-shoulders attitude he’s brought to every decade.
And that’s what makes him special.
Like any true American artist, Allen’s best gift is just simply being as Woody Allen as he can possibly be. He’s true to himself and his artistic voice and he works nonstop to serve that voice and create, no matter how the world changes around him.
He neither tries to dictate the state of things nor capitalize and fight against it.
No one would likely ever use Allen as a political prop to promote the ideas taught by Ayn Rand or other libertarian leaders, but he truly is a shining example of the individualism at the center of the greatest American art.
‘Apropos of Nothing’ shows that perhaps better than any other work by Allen.
Zachary Leeman is the author of the novel “Nigh” and has written for publications such as Breitbart News, LifeZette, BizPac Review, and RT.