Sunday’s Washington Post carried an interview with filmmaker Woody Allen by movie critic Ann Hornaday. She noted Allen’s latest movie “evokes at least two of life’s most rewarding subjects to contemplate: the South of France and God.” Allen shot back: “At least the South of France exists!”
Hornaday oozed, “The zinger is vintage Allen, from its steadfast, playfully expressed atheism to its flawless timing.” She reported “he still evinces zero respect for organized religion, which the last time he met this reporter [in 2012] he called ‘a mindless grasp of life.’”
“I stand by that,” he says today. “The religions of the world have been pernicious. They’re economic and political movements — if God existed, they would have no particular special line to him. They’re just political and social corporations. And they’ve been responsible for so much misery and slaughter over the years, they have such an abysmal record. They run on defrauding the public. You see all these people in their fancy costumes laying down rules as to what you can do and what you can’t do, and telling you it’s come from God. It’s so silly, and people are so terrified of the situation they’re in that they buy into anything.”
By "the situation," Allen means the fear of death. The article concluded with his supposedly wise aphorism that “It’s the job of the artist, I think, to try and figure out how to get through life knowing that the worst is true.”
Hornaday, who likes to present herself as a feminist and a Christian, neither visibly pushed Allen back on religion, nor found it necessary to remind the reader of Allen's record of what she euphemistically calls "unexpected domesticity." As in: when Allen was 56, he became sexually involved with his lover Mia Farrow's 20-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn. Allen denied there was anything scandalous about it.
He’s surrounded by the fruits of a half-century of discipline, hard work and unexpected domesticity that arrived in the form of a late-in-life romance that began in scandal and resulted in a 17-year marriage and two children. (As for the controversy that erupted this year when his daughter Dylan Farrow revisited allegations that he sexually abused her as a child, Allen responded in a Feb. 7 New York Times op-ed, which has remained his last word on the matter.)
Hornaday actually allowed Allen to proclaim his belief in a moral life:
That message, in just about every Woody Allen movie a fan can name, is that morality is the most practical, rational way to get through a meaningless, ultimately fatally cruel, existence. “A moral life is a sensible life,” Allen insists. “It’s not just a good thing because of the Platonic beauty of morality. To be moral pays off.”
Then why is The Washington Post and Hornaday paying off Allen with the publicity?