In WaPo, Richard Morgan has a column titled “I read decades of Woody Allen’s private notes. He’s obsessed with teenage girls.”
Now that’s what I call a clear headline.
Who knew, but apparently Woody has bequeathed Princeton University with a 56-box, 57-year collection of personal archives, which is still growing to this day.
According to the staff at Firestone Library’s rare-books wing, I’m the first person to read Allen’s collection — the Woody Papers — from cover to cover, and from the very beginning to the very end, Allen, quite simply, drips with repetitious misogyny. Allen, who has been nominated for 24 Oscars, never needed ideas besides the lecherous man and his beautiful conquest…
Allen’s archive is a garden of earthly deletes — decades of notes and stories and sketches that the prolific filmmaker exiled, for whatever reason, to the shadowlands in between whole-hearted commitment and half-hearted possession. His screenplays are often Freudian, and they generally feature him (or some avatar for him) sticking almost religiously to a formula: A relationship on the brink of failure is thrown into chaos by the introduction of a compelling outsider, almost always a young woman.
Allen’s work is flatly boorish. Running through all of the boxes is an insistent, vivid obsession with young women and girls: There’s the “wealthy, educated, respected” male character in one short story (“By Destiny Denied: Incident at Entwhistle’s”) who lives with a 21-year-old “Indian” woman. First, Allen’s revisions reduce her to 18, then double down, literally, and turn her into two 18-year-olds. There’s the 16-year-old in an unmade television pitch described as “a flashy sexy blonde in a flaming red low cut evening gown with a long slit up the side.” There’s the 17-year-old girl in another short story, “Consider Kaplan,” whose 53-year-old neighbor falls in love with her as the two share a silent, one-floor-long elevator ride in their Park Avenue co-op. There’s the female college student in “Rainy Day” who “should not be 20 or 21, sounds more like 18 — or even 17 — but 18 seems better.” That script includes a male college student but gives no description of his age. Another of Allen’s male characters, in a draft of a 1977 New Yorker story called “The Kugelmass Episode,” is a 45-year-old fascinated by “coeds” at City College of New York. In the margin next to this character’s dialogue, Allen wrote, then crossed out, “c’est moi” — it’s me.
Allen’s shiksa obsessions are a part of his real life (e.g. Diane Keaton; Mia Farrow; casting a 16-year old 16-year-old Mariel Hemingway as his love interest in Manhattan) and his fiction:
Sometimes Allen is in his work, but even when he isn’t, his characters are often obvious stand-ins. In a story that takes place wholly in the mind of a man named Moses Rifkin, he writes: “Unlike the Jewish girl — the shiksa is not guilt-ridden — not a complainer — she is abandoned, fun-loving, and above all promiscuous. The shiksa will perform any sex act.”
We already knew that Woody is not exactly an ally for defusing the stereotype of the sex-perverted Jew (e.g., the whole episode of his seduction of his then-teenaged stepdaughter Soon-Yi Previn, etc.), but one now wonders whether the Wood Man will tidy up his archives.