A ONCE-TIDY NARRATIVE BECOMES COMPLICATED

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It’s not my natural style to traffic in Hollywood gossip. But as a man who was gulled into becoming a father by a manipulative, devious, conscience-lacking asshole of the upper-middle classes, in ’79 (“Don’t worry, I can’t get pregnant: doctor says there’s too much scar tissue on my cervix!” no doctor, no scar tissue), a woman who’s been playing the New Age Saint ever since, surrounded and supported now by mutual college friends, some of whom couldn’t stand her when we were all young, I find this compelling. Because (this shouldn’t need to be pointed out): all women aren’t saints and all men aren’t monsters. There are gradations of each extreme nicely distributed among all genders. But Gods save you if you are a not-monstrous man who gets mixed up with a monstrous woman and anything happens as a result.

Moses Farrow has written an interesting article, titled A SON SPEAKS OUT , and,  in the name of brevity,  I will assume you’re already familiar with the vague shape of the narrative to which his article refers. Whether or not Moses Farrow, 14 at the time, knows what did or didn’t happen to Dylan Farrow, 7 at the time (though Moses Farrow’s recollections, regarding that, seem solid enough; at least as solid as Dylan’s), the bulk of his piece is so damning of Mia Farrow that it serves to disrupt our most hypnotically dishonest mantras regarding gender.

Yes, Woody Allen was a bit (!) of an insensitive asshole, dating his girlfriend’s adopted daughter when said daughter was 20; it all reeks of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, no? Allen, powerful enough to have chosen quite a few women instead, clearly meant to hurt, or one-up (was he already aware that his supposed son, Ronan, was probably Sinatra’s?) Farrow. Reading Moses Farrow’s article, it’s obvious that Soon-Yi, the daughter,  would have wanted revenge on her adoptive mother as well. The principal “grown-ups” had already been behaving very badly when Mia Farrow decided, it appears, to escalate things.

How badly? Regarding Farrow herself, Moses writes:

Soon-Yi was her most frequent scapegoat. My sister had an independent streak and, of all of us, was the least intimidated by Mia. When pushed, she would call our mother out on her behavior and ugly arguments would ensue. When Soon-Yi was young, Mia once threw a large porcelain centerpiece at her head. Luckily it missed, but the shattered pieces hit her legs. Years later, Mia beat her with a telephone receiver. Soon-Yi’s made it clear that her desire was simply to be left alone, which increasingly became the case. Even if her relationship with Woody was unconventional, it allowed her to escape. Others weren’t so lucky.

Most media sources claim my sister Tam died of “heart failure” at the age of 21. In fact, Tam struggled with depression for much of her life, a situation exacerbated by my mother refusing to get her help, insisting that Tam was just “moody.” One afternoon in 2000, after one final fight with Mia, which ended with my mother leaving the house, Tam committed suicide by overdosing on pills. My mother would tell others that the drug overdose was accidental, saying that Tam, who was blind, didn’t know which pills she was taking. But Tam had both an ironclad memory and sense of spatial recognition. And, of course, blindness didn’t impair her ability to count.

The details of Tam’s overdose and the fight with Mia that precipitated it were relayed directly to me by my brother Thaddeus, a first-hand witness. Tragically, he is no longer able to confirm this account. Just two years ago, Thaddeus also committed suicide by shooting himself in his car, less than 10 minutes from my mother’s house.

My sister Lark was another fatality. She wound up on a path of self-destruction, struggled with addiction, and eventually died in poverty from AIDS-related causes in 2008 at age 35.

For all of us, life under my mother’s roof was impossible if you didn’t do exactly what you were told, no matter how questionable the demand.

The summer between first and second grades, she was having new wallpaper installed in the bedroom I slept in, across the hall from hers on the second floor of the Connecticut house. I was getting ready to go to sleep, when my mother came over to my bed and found a tape measure. She gave me a piercing look that stopped me in my tracks and asked if I had taken it, as she had been looking for it all day. I stood in front of her, frozen. She asked why it was on my bed. I told her I didn’t know, that perhaps a workman had left it there. She asked again and again and again.

When I didn’t give the answer she wanted, she slapped my face, knocking off my glasses. She told me I was lying and directed me to tell my brothers and sisters that I had taken the tape measure. Through my tears I listened to her as she explained that we would rehearse what should have happened. She would walk into the room and I would tell her I was sorry for taking the tape measure, that I had taken it to play with and that I would never do it again. She made me rehearse it at least a half-dozen times.

That was the start of her coaching, drilling, scripting, and rehearsing – in essence, brainwashing. I became anxious and fearful. Once, when I was given a new pair of jeans, I thought they would look cool if I cut off a couple of the belt loops. When Mia saw what I had done, she spanked me repeatedly and had me remove all my clothing, saying, “You’re not deserving of any clothes” and making me stand naked in the corner of her room, in front of my older siblings who had just returned from dinner with their father André. (After I spoke to People magazine in 2014 about how I was treated, Dylan called it a “betrayal” and said that I was “dead to” her. She later publicly dismissed my recollections of my childhood as “irrelevant.” This from a woman who now styles herself an “advocate for abuse victims.”)

Fighting back was not a viable option. One summer day, Mia accused me of leaving the curtains closed in the TV room. They had been drawn the day before when Dylan and Satchel were watching a movie. She insisted that I had closed them and left them that way. Her friend Casey had come over to visit and while they were in the kitchen, my mother insisted I had shut the curtains. At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore and I lost it, yelling, “You’re lying!” She shot me a look and took me into the bathroom next to the TV room.  She hit me uncontrollably all over my body. She slapped me, pushed me backwards and hit me on my chest, shouting, “How dare you say I’m a liar in front of my friend. You’re the pathological liar.” I was defeated, deflated, beaten and beaten down. Mia had stripped me of my voice and my sense of self. It was clear that if I stepped even slightly outside her carefully crafted reality, she would not tolerate it. It was an upbringing that made me, paradoxically, both fiercely loyal and obedient to her, as well as deeply afraid.

In short, it was not a happy home – or a healthy one. Which brings us back to August 4, 1992.

It’s all worth a read. Why? Because unless Moses Farrow is taken to court and forced to recant, the bulk of it is True. The Truth, these days, isn’t popular… but perhaps it will make a comeback. Better late (and transient) than never.

Full article here

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