Bleats

Woody Allen’s Secret Teenage Lover Is Exactly Why We Need To Stop Separating The Man From The Art

Can you separate the art from the artist? More importantly, should you?

A former model who claims to have dated Woody Allen when she was 16 has spoken about their relationship for the first time, in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Babi Christina Engelhardt, who just goes by Christina Engelhardt now, met Allen in 1976, when she was 16 and he was 41. They met at Elaine’s, a popular New York restaurant, when she dropped a note on his table with her phone number. The note read, “Since you’ve signed enough autographs, here’s mine!”

Allen soon invited her to his penthouse, and this kicked off an eight-year long relationship that was consummated before Engelhardt had turned 17, which is the legal age of consent in New York. Allen knew she was still in high school and living at home in rural New Jersey.

According to the interview, Engelhardt is still trying to process the relationship, decades later, particularly in light of #MeToo. She’s proud of herself for enchanting a ‘celebrated genius’, and holds herself primarily responsible for remaining in the relationship as long as she did. Despite this, she feels she had little agency in their relationship, and feels that Allen often regarded her as “little more than a plaything”.

During their relationship, Allen released Manhattan, a film about a 42-year-old divorcee, played by Allen, who dates a 17-year-old, played by Mariel Hemingway. The film is often referenced in criticisms of Allen as an example of his inappropriate relationships with young girls.

Engelhardt’s interview has reignited the debate around ‘separating the art from the artist’, a debate that people have been having about Woody Allen for years. In the case of his relationship with Engelhardt and 1979’s Manhattan, it seems that the artist himself has made no attempt to separate himself from the art.

Allen’s movies are often semi-autobiographical – he often plays a character that is like him in almost every way, requiring very little in the way of acting on his part. If an artist has repeatedly demonstrated that their art is an extension of their self, is it even possible to separate the art from the artist, and divorce the art from the context in which it was created? Possibility aside, is it even ethical to do so?

Much like the way we teach students of history to consider the actions of historical figures within their historical contexts, I’d argue that art should also always be considered in the context it was created in.

‘Separating the art from the artist’ has enabled men like Allen to dodge accusations of impropriety for years and emerge relatively unscathed, while their movies continue to be hailed as classics. If the #MeToo movement is serious about tackling harassment and misogyny in Hollywood, we need to stop letting art exist in a vacuum, and instead look at the people who’ve created it and what messages they might be sending us through their work.

Hannah Gadsby Is Tired Of Good Men, Good White People And Good Straight People And It's A Big Mood

Unsurprisingly, men are offended.

Hannah Gadsby delivered the opening remarks at The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Hollywood Gala on Wednesday, and her speech was a searing criticism of good men, and good white people, and good straight people, who criticise bad men/bad white people/bad straight people, but do so while constantly shifting the goalposts of what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

 

Gadsby started by saying she wanted to talk about good men, which garnered applause from much of the room. She followed that up with “…you’re going to regret that clap.”

In her speech, she mentions the abundance of ‘Jimmys’ on late-night television and in the public arena who are given the space to condemn ‘bad men’ while reminding everyone that they’re one of the good guys.

“But the last thing I need right now in this moment in history is to have to listen to men monologue about misogyny and how other men should just stop being “creepy,” as if that’s the problem.”

Gadsby’s issue with these men and their monologues is that, to them, there are two types of bad men: irredeemable men like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, and the ‘FOJs’: the Friends of Jimmy, like Louis CK, who are otherwise decent men who made a mistake. “These are apparently good men who misread the rules — garden-variety consent dyslexics.”

Gadsby’s issue with this is that men often draw a different line in the sand of acceptable behaviour for different occasions.

“They have a line for the locker room; a line for when their wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters are watching; another line for when they’re drunk and fratting; another line for nondisclosure; a line for friends; and a line for foes.”

Gadsby says that we need to talk about this line, because only good men are the ones allowed to draw it, and all men believe they are good. Good men get to draw the line to suit their own needs – if they make a mistake, and, say, masturbate in front of colleagues without their consent, they can just move the line so that their behaviour isn’t ‘completely unacceptable’ but simply ‘a mistake’. And their friends, the Jimmys, will support them in this. (And sometimes, women can be Jimmys too.)

In Gadsby’s words, “they move the line for their own good”.

She doesn’t just stop at calling out ‘good men’, though.

“Now take everything I have said up until this point and replace “man” with “white person,” and know that if you are a white woman, you have no place drawing lines in the sand between good white people and bad white people. I encourage you to also take the time to replace “man” with “straight” or “cis” or “able-bodied” or “neurotypical,” et cetera, et cetera.”

As Gadsby explains, everyone believes they are fundamentally good. Of course people are going to give themselves the benefit of the doubt, and of course their friends are too. But that’s exactly why it shouldn’t be up to those people, or their friends, to determine what is an isn’t acceptable; to determine where the line is drawn.

Naturally, some men responded poorly to Gadsby’s remarks:

https://twitter.com/seankent/status/1070651302919708672

Here’s the thing, men who see themselves as good: if you genuinely are a good person and supporter of women, you won’t worry about what someone who’s never met you, and who isn’t specifically talking about you, has to say about you. You’ll just get on with the job of holding other men accountable and not shifting the goalposts whenever a ‘good man’ you know is accused of something unsavoury.

Or you could just go on Twitter and demand congratulations for not having assaulted anybody, because apparently the bar is that low. That’s another option.

You can watch the speech here, or read a transcript over at Vulture.

Jameela Jamil Wants Airbrushing In Ads To Be Made Illegal But It's Only Part Of A Much Bigger Problem

Tahani would probably disagree.

Jameela Jamil, AKA Tahani on The Good Place, wrote an opinion piece for the BBC over the weekend in which she explained why she thinks airbrushing, particularly in ads, should be made illegal.

She writes,

“I think it’s a disgusting tool that has been weaponised, predominantly against women, and is responsible for so many more problems than we realise because we are blinded by the media, our culture and our society.”

Her reasons for banning airbrushing are:

  1. It misleads consumers – if you buy a product because the person in the ad supposedly looks the way they do because of the product, you’re bound to be disappointed when you realise they’ve been airbrushed
  2. It’s bad for the person being photographed – she explains, “If you see a digitally ‘enhanced’ picture of yourself, you run the risk of becoming acclimatised to that level of flawlessness and it makes it harder for you to accept your actual image”
  3. It’s bad for the public, especially young women, who are vulnerable to body image issues and things like eating and body image disorders

In a follow-up tweet, Jamil highlights the double standards discussed in her article. Men’s flaws are less likely to be airbrushed away, while women are airbrushed within an inch of their lives to look as young and flawless as possible.

 

There have been many memorable airbrushing fails over the years, including the time GQ Mexico airbrushed out Chrissy Teigen’s nipples:

Or the time a magazine gifted Oprah with an extra hand:

Or the time Jezebel acquired unretouched photos of Lena Dunham from her shoot for Vogue:

(If you’re obsessed with celebrity retouching disasters, follow CelebFace on Instagram.)

The worst thing about airbrushing photos of celebrities is that they’re already thinner and more beautiful than the average person, so what message does it send when even their natural looks aren’t deemed ‘good enough’?

Jamil makes a pretty standard feminist argument against airbrushing, and she raises some good points. What she doesn’t do is explain why she feels this is something the law needs to be involved with – criminalisation is a pretty extreme response to something that could probably be dealt with through proper media regulations, and requirements for disclaimers when advertisements and magazines do use airbrushing.

It also only addresses one part of the issue. Young girls can be affected by what they see in magazines and on television, but airbrushing isn’t the only thing that has negative effects. Constantly and exclusively seeing depictions of incredibly thin and gorgeous women (like Jamil herself) who have a team of hair and makeup artists to make them look as good as possible before they leave the house can’t be good for anyone’s self-esteem, either.

Nor can things like the Victoria’s Secret fashion show that celebrate a very narrow body ideal and deliberately exclude anyone who falls outside of that. Or jokes made at the expense of fat people that crop up in almost every single comedy show, because they’re so normalised that nobody thinks twice about making them.

Letting female celebrities look more like themselves in photoshoots and on magazine covers would be a great start to combatting the plethora of problems contributing to young women’s body image issues. But the buck doesn’t stop with photo retouchers: it should include makeup artists, facialists, dermatologists, personal trainers, and plastic surgeons, too.

Entire industries rely on women hating their bodies, and the women of Hollywood (and, indeed, any women with influence) could and should be doing more to challenge those industries and the power they have over vulnerable young women.

Jamil’s article, and the fact that she hasn’t allowed photos of herself to be airbrushed since she “finally [got] the clout to refuse” are a good first step, but airbrushing is only one facet of a much larger problem.

Banning airbrushing, but not improving representation of diverse people and bodies, and not challenging how society talks about things like dieting, weight loss, and thinness, is like cutting off one of the Hydra’s heads only to watch ten more grow back in its place.

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