What say you, Woody Allen?


Ghomeshi Courthouse Entrance (CBC)

The timing is helpful to the analogy.

Yesterday in a Toronto courtroom, Jian Ghomeshi, as part of a brokered deal which according to the judge the complainant had a lot of input into, signed a peace bond and apologized to Kathryn Borel for sexually harassing her at work eight years ago.

After the settlement, Borel took to the courthouse steps of Old City Hall to read her statement, which as I understand it now, was the sole reason for her “going along” with the peace bond process. Unfettered by a court of law, she would be able to take her opportunity to “draw blood” as one columnist described it.

And Borel “deliver[ed] the knockout punch” said Sandy Garossino’s in the National Observer.

“But she was just warming up,” added Garossino as she continued with Elmore Leonardian gusto.


Kathryn Borel, the complainant in the Jian Ghomeshi case, delivers a statement to media (National Post)

“Kathryn Borel then held Round 2 on the steps Old Toronto City Hall all by herself. Over the course of four minutes and twelve seconds she delivered blow after merciless blow to Ghomeshi’s reputation and future. His evisceration was so swift and devastating that, had this been a real boxing match, the ref would have stopped the fight.”

Howard Levitt in the Financial Post says, “Kathryn Borel, hurled a flame-thrower, re-accusing Ghomeshi of sexual assaults against her as well as “near daily verbal assaults for three years, and emotional manipulation.”

The Globe and Mail’s Elizabeth Renzetti, affected a wiser, sadder approach, but one that still had a bit of a bite. “I have a sense that the outcome of Jian Ghomeshi’s court proceedings is disappointing to anyone not named Jian Ghomeshi” was the way she opened her column.

Why the overkill on Ghomeshi?

Because we can turn the page to the entertainment section of the same newspapers and see a completely different scenario play out for alleged pedophile, Woody Allen, a man whose daughter, Dylan, has made repeated claims about being sexually abused by him and a man who married his children’s sister.

Ronan Farrow had a column The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday in which he reiterated sexual abuse allegations against his father and who said, “even at 5 years old, [he] was troubled by [his] father’s strange behavior around [Dylan]: climbing into her bed in the middle of the night and forcing her to suck his thumb.” He questioned Cannes’ continued embrace of Allen and chastised the press, who he said don’t ask “the tough questions.”

On March 22, the Globe and Mail on announced with anticipation that, “Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society” will kick off this year’s Cannes film festival … the third time the acclaimed American writer and director has opened the event with one of his movies.”

The CBC gave the premiere of the film the red carpet treatment with a picture of the cast including Allen, Blake Lively (wearing Versace), Kristen Stewart (in Chanel, of course!) and Jesse Eisenberg.


Ronan Farrow as a baby with parents Woody Allen and Mia Farrow and sister Dylan, in 1988. Photograph: Rex Features

The CBC article, syndicated by Associated Press, referenced Ronan Farrow’s Wednesday column in The Hollywood Reporter and went on to say, “no reporters asked Allen about Farrow’s column at the press conference.”

But then, to balance out the mention of the allegations, the article pointed out that that “Allen has previously denied that he molested Dylan, allegations first leveled in 1992 when Dylan was seven and Allen and Mia Farrow were in the midst of a bitter divorce.”

The National Post in its review of the film, which was also accompanied by a glamorous red carpet picture, called Café Society “a soufflé of a story that plays with a lot of themes – morality, violence, romantic fidelity and fame” and goes onto to document an amusing anecdote Jesse Eisenberg told about Woody.

“When I was 16, I was so inspired by discovering Woody Allen at that age,” Jesse said, “that I wrote a script that was based on him, and it got sent to agents because they thought it was funny, and it got sent ultimately to his lawyers who didn’t think it was funny.”



Woody Allen \ Dylan Farrow Responds (ABC News)

But reading commentary about the artful purpose of “separating Woody, the artist from Woody, the man” on the same day as reading a column by Sandy Garossimo who writes, “Weep no more, if you’re left feeling empty or angry by this abrupt ending to the Ghomeshi legal saga. This was justice at its finest—the court of public opinion has rendered a harsher and more enduring verdict than the criminal courts ever could,” leaves me sad and empty with the hypocrisy of it all.

Is it is because children have no voice and can’t stand on the steps of Old City Hall with a media phalanx ready to takes notes that allows us to avert our attention? How the devastating actions of an auteur can continue to be brushed aside so easily on the same day, in the same newspapers, I have no answer for.

The court of public option is fickle and defies logic, as does, apparently, our trusted media sources—a potent and dangerous combination.

According to Borel, the Ghomeshi’s harassment culminated in him “putting his hands on Borel’s hips as she bent over at her desk and grinding his pelvis against her, simulating intercourse.”

And this in a country where, in February, one instructor at an RCMP training school in New Brunswick was called out for “lying naked across the desk of a colleague.” And another instructor for appearing naked in the corridors … and announcing he had “just shaved his genitals before dumping the contents of his electric razor onto the table they all shared at mealtimes.”

Our revered Canadian institutions clearly have some—make that a LOT of—explaining to do. Workplace harassment is out of control in this country, at all levels.

But for me, I’ve been exposed to the physical, emotional and sexual manhandling of children—along with their mothers—enough to last me a dozen lifetimes, so I have no problem in saying that, given a choice on this day, that my pony is in the race that’s nailing Woody Allen’s arse to the wall.

Time to stop the overkill on Ghomeshi. And time take a good look at all the people standing on (and off) the red carpet next to that knob.


Author Photo 01 Sandy Tam Photography

Gail Picco is a strategist and nonprofit executive who has worked in the charity sector for 25 years, most of which as President of Gail Picco Associates. Prior to establishing Gail Picco Associates, she spent eight years working in a shelter for assaulted women and children. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, of Your Working Girl, a blog of memoir and commentary on politics, charity and popular culture, and writes a regular column for Hilborn Charity News. She is a Principal with The Osborne Group in Toronto and Chair of the Regent Park Film Festival.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: