Woody Allen Responds to Uncomfortable Rape Joke at Cannes, Blake Lively Says He's 'Empowering to Women'
The controversy surrounding Woody Allen continues.
After Ronan Farrow penned a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday blasting actors still working with Allen despite sexual abuse allegations against him -- which published the same day Allen's Cafe Society debuted at the Cannes Film Festival -- the director faced a pointed rape joke at the premiere. Master of ceremonies Laurent Lafitte, a French comedian, shocked the audience when he said, "It's very nice that you’ve been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S."
Allen -- who has strongly denied claims that he molested his ex Mia Farrow's daughter, Dylan Farrow, and has never been charged with a crime -- responded to the uncomfortable moment on Thursday. The 80-year-old director said he wasn't offended, instead, choosing to criticize the introduction itself.
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"It would take a lot to offend me," Allen said at a lunch for reporters, via Variety. "What bothered me most last night was the length of the show before the movie. I'm sitting there. I know I have a movie that's an hour and a half, I would like the introduction ceremony to be 20 minutes, half hour at the most. I don't want you to spend an hour on the show. By the time my movie comes around at the end, you're antsy in your seat. To me, that is the mistake of the show. It goes on for too long -- cut that down."
"I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want," he stressed. "I am a non-judgmental or [non]-censorship person on jokes. I'm a comic myself and I feel they should be free to make whatever jokes they want."
However, Blake Lively certainly doesn't share Allen's sentiments. The 28-year-old actress -- who stars in Cafe Society alongside Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, and Jesse Eisenberg -- made it clear she was definitely not amused by the controversial joke.
"I think any jokes about rape, homophobia or Hitler is not a joke," Lively said on Thursday. "I think that was a hard thing to swallow in 30 seconds. Film festivals are such beautiful, respectful festivals of film and artists and to have that, it felt like it wouldn't have happened if it was in the 1940s. I can't imagine Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby going out and doing that. It was more disappointing for the artists in the room that someone was going up there making jokes about something that wasn’t funny."
She also defended her own experience working with Allen.
"It's amazing what Woody has written for women," Lively said, via The Los Angeles Times. "It's very dangerous to factor in things you don't know anything about. I could [only] know my experience. And my experience with Woody is he's empowering to women."
Meanwhile, Allen also commented on Farrow's headline-making column during Thursday's lunch for reporters, which criticized the media for not asking the tough questions when it comes to artists accused of sexual assault. Allen said he didn't read it.
"I never think about it," Allen said. "I made my statement in The New York Times a long time ago. They gave me a lot of space."
"I think it's all silly," he added. "The whole thing -- it doesn't bother me. I don't think about it. I work."
Allen is referring to his New York Times piece in February 2014, in which he bluntly wrote, "Of course, I did not molest Dylan."
"Not that I doubt Dylan hasn't come to believe she’s been molested, but if from the age of 7 a vulnerable child is taught by a strong mother to hate her father because he is a monster who abused her, is it so inconceivable that after many years of this indoctrination the image of me Mia wanted to establish had taken root?" he added.
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In Farrow's column, he claimed his mother didn't press charges because Dylan was already "deeply traumatized" by the alleged assault and the subsequent legal battle. He later called out Allen's young collaborators including Lively, Stewart, and Miley Cyrus.
"Actors, including some I admire greatly, continue to line up to star in his movies," he wrote. "'It's not personal,' one once told me. But it hurts my sister every time one of her heroes like Louis C.K., or a star her age, like Miley Cyrus, works with Woody Allen. Personal is exactly what it is -- for my sister, and for women everywhere with allegations of sexual assault that have never been vindicated by a conviction."