7 Bizarre Highlights From That Vulture Interview With Soon-Yi Previn
Just a week after Ronan Farrow put a stake in the slimy heart of
Les Moonves, his sister Soon-Yi Previn, who is married to his father Woody Allen (that sentence is both correct and disgusting), decided — totally all by herself — to sit down for a self-serving profile with Vulture's Daphne Merkin, Allen's longtime friend (40 years or 83 percent of Soon-Yi's life), because that's how legitimate journamalism works.
There have been other, also odd and disturbing, profiles of the couple that are obvious carefully contrived PR attempts to demonstrate that everything is perfectly normal about their relationship. It's like those cable infomercials where they sell you some space-age juicer that any reasonable person who's not my friend Mark knows is just a waste of space. Here are some highlights:
Mia Farrow Is Terrible, According To The Estranged Daughter Who Slept With Her Boyfriend And Her Ex-Boyfriend/Son-In-Law
Mia's malevolence has long been a theme whenever Allen has addressed the charges that he sexually molested their daughter Dylan Farrow. This time, Soon-Yi takes the mic on the diss track.
"[Mia] tried to teach me the alphabet with those wooden blocks. If I didn't get them right, sometimes she'd throw them at me or down on the floor. Who can learn under that pressure?"
"Mia used to write words on my arm, which was humiliating, so I'd always wear long-sleeved shirts. She would also tip me upside down, holding me by my feet, to get the blood to drain to my head. Because she thought — or she read it, God knows where she came up with the notion — that blood going to my head would make me smarter or something."
During our many talks, I ask Soon-Yi several times if she has any positive recollections from her years with Farrow. She unfailingly answers that she doesn't. "It's hard for someone to imagine, but I really can't come up with a pleasant memory."
Soon-Yi describes Farrow as a "lackadasical" parent who used her adopted (non-white) children as "domestics." Ronan and Dylan Farrow strongly disagree with this account.
Allen Suggested To Mia That Soon-Yi See A Therapist For Her 'Shyness'
"I hated him before, but I hated him double for saying this," [Soon-Yi said]. Her enmity wasn't lost on Allen. "You always look at me as if you're going to come at me from behind a closet with a knife," he once told her. Soon-Yi laughs as she recounts this. "He almost won me over with that comment because he was so spot-on."
Awww ... grooming "meet cute"! Not to discount Soon-Yi's abuse accusations, but she talks about Farrow the same way a teenager might talk about her "annoying" mother. She comes across less traumatized than "stunted adolescent." When discussing how Farrow pursued Allen during their initial courtship, Soon-Yi jokes, "that wasn't a turnoff? You didn't run the other way, run for the hills?"
You know, the greater the rage Soon-Yi (perhaps rightly) felt for her mother, the greater the likelihood that her attraction to Allen derived from an impulse to humiliate and wound Farrow. It's fairly textbook. Therapy might've been a good idea.
Soon-Yi Seems To Think Allen Is A Victim
"But what's happened to Woody is so upsetting, so unjust. [Mia] has taken advantage of the #MeToo movement and paraded Dylan as a victim. And a whole new generation is hearing about it when they shouldn't."
Allen has directed 26 movies since 1992, when Dylan's allegations became public. He's personally been nominated for nine Academy Awards and won another to add to his previous three. He has a net worth of $80 million. He even got one of Farrow's daughters in the breakup. He did all right.
A Connecticut state prosecutor believed there was "probable cause" to prosecute Allen on charges that he sexually molested Dylan. Social workers also believed Dylan. Arguably, Allen was spared because Mia agreed to not subject Dylan to a traumatic trial, which is generally speaking a weird thing for someone to decide if she's "obsessed" with "destroying" her ex just because he took nude photos of her other daughter.
Merkin claims that Allen's "fans have turned against him, everyone from New York Times movie critic A. O. Scott to my media-alert periodontist, who told me on my last visit that he'd never watch another Woody Allen film." Bummer. But I frankly think he had it coming after he dared mock Dylan.
Less A Highlight, Actually, But Merkin Subjects Readers To Sentences Like These:
There is a way in which Soon-Yi's very opaqueness enabled people to project their own fantasies onto her as if onto a blank screen. And, as it turned out, the series of events that came upon the heels of the couple's controversial romance quickly took on the aspect of a cosmic soap opera, in which gossip mutated into mythology and mere hunches about someone's guilt or innocence calcified into die-hard convictions.
Hillary Clinton Hurt Woody's Fee-Fees … Like A Boss
“I am a pariah," [Allen says. ...] People think that I was Soon-Yi's father, that I raped and married my underaged, retarded daughter." (As if to underscore his point, he mentions that his and Soon-Yi's contribution to Hillary Clinton's last campaign was unceremoniously returned.)
Did Allen expect a “ceremony" for a returned check? How does that even work? Was she supposed to call him and apologize for thinking he's gross and not wanting his Irrational Man money?
Two White People Bury Soon-Yi With Non-Ironic Condescension
Soon-Yi, a voracious reader with a slightly quirky sense of humor, is articulate and self-aware. "Woody says I can make jokes but I don't get them — I'm always looking deeper for the meanings," she says.
"Articulate" is always the faint praise compliment POC receive but pairing it with "self-aware" is a new one. So … Merkin thinks we should not remove Soon-Yi from life support? Also, if I suggested my wife was too stupid to get a knock-knock joke, I doubt I could save my ass by insisting it was because she was so "deep." (But I'm not 35 years older than Mrs. Robinson.)
"She was strong since she was 5 years old; it must be genetic in some way," [Allen said].
Yes, nothing good about her came from her harpy mother. Also, this is junk race science.
Woody Allen Is A Frail Old Man
Spending time with the two of them, I notice that Allen will take Soon-Yi's hand and hold it during dinner and that he occasionally ruffles her hair when standing behind her, while she is sweetly solicitous of him when they walk together into a restaurant and he is unsure of his steps. But neither seems big on sweeping expressions of passion.
What? She expects to see the elderly film director "get his freak on" in public? Merkin frequently seems unaware that Allen isn't still the guy from Stardust Memories. She describes him as an "unremitting hypochondriac." He's 83 in December. His hypochondria is now just "chondria."
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."