Why Can’t I Enjoy Woody Allen Movies?

Authorship and art are inextricably tied, so what can we do when we love the art and loathe the artist?

Mister Lichtenstein


Part of the opening sequence of the masterpiece Manhattan, by Woody Allen, via Fandago’s Youtube channel.

Manhattan is objectively one of the greatest films ever made. It’s well written, well acted, well directed, well shot and well edited. There’s just one problem with it. I feel dirty watching it. Why? Because the film’s author is a credibly accused pedophile and, even if that’s somehow not true, he’s just personally icky. I mean, the guy married his girlfriend’s adopted daughter. Gross.

Will my feelings change? Yes, but it’ll be a while, because Woody Allen has to die first. I can’t stand the idea of helping a man who is just so demonstrably awful. A good analog is my abiding love of the genius that was Motörhead.

Lemmy doing his thing.

Motörhead was Lemmy Kilmister. Sure, Motörhead was a band in the technical sense, but while the membership of the band changed over time, Lemmy, its founder and lead singer, remained. Motörhead was the first true heavy metal band in the modern sense. Led Zeppelin may have given us the melodic tendencies of heavy metal, but Motörhead gave us its soul.

Lemmy had a picture of Hitler in his foyer. Yeah.

Now look, Lemmy wasn’t, by any account I’ve heard, a racist, but he did have this whole bad-guy-worship thing going on. He wore iron crosses when he performed and walked right up to the line of endorsing some very real very evil people. For that reason, I never felt comfortable supporting him via my listenership, until 2015. That’s when he died.

These days, Motörhead has a place in nearly every playlist of mine. Sure, Lemmy wasn’t Wagner-problematic, but at least now I can put both of those guys in a playlist and enjoy their excellent music without the nagging sense I’m financially supporting someone I don’t personally like. This…