Woody Allen’s upcoming period drama, Wonder Wheel, faces its UK release this month amidst a torrent of controversy surrounding sexual assault allegations made against the iconic American director. With mass support for the Time’s Up movement against sexual harassment within Hollywood, Wonder Wheel will undoubtably suffer at the box office upon its release in cinemas across the UK.
‘Can one separate the art from the artist’ has been a heavily discussed topic since the Harvey Weinstein accusations of October 2017 brought the pressing issue of sexual misconduct in Hollywood to the forefront of media attention. The industry, albeit often selfishly fuelled by financial concerns rather than ethical consciousness, distances itself from those subject to accusations.
With its American theatrical release landing on December 1st 2017, Wonder Wheel pre-dated the most recent allegations of sexual misconduct made against Allen by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, who accused the director in January 2018 on CBS This Morning of sexually abusing her when she was just seven years old.
These accusations are not new, stretching as far back as 1992, and with Farrow publicly making the same allegations in Vanity Fair in 2013, and in both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times in 2014. Yet it is within the changing Hollywood landscape that these accusations are finally being taken seriously.
Wonder Wheel will be boycotted by the UK cinema audience, not as a direct result of the inability to separate the art from the artist, but as a righteous stand of solidarity with the brave women who have come forward against the repeated male misconduct in Hollywood since the film’s initial theatrical release.
This is furthered still by considering who exactly is affected by the boycotting of the film. With a star-studded cast featuring the likes of Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, Juno Temple, Steve Schirripa and David Krumholtz, the boycotting of Wonder Wheel serves as neither a tarnishing of these actor’s reputation, nor their respective career prospects. Indeed, when considering the actions of Griffin Newman, Rebecca Hall and Selena Gomez, all of whom donated their salaries from Allen’s upcoming project, A Rainy Day in New York, to Time’s Up and RAIIN, the boycotting of Wonder Wheel may well be supported by many of the actors and actresses involved.+
Even the distribution company, Amazon Studios, is itself under scrutiny following allegations against and the subsequent resignation of former media president Roy Price; Amazon thus benefiting from the success of Wonder Wheel would not serve well in the recovery of the companies public image.
With both Hollywood and the general public increasingly standing against the persistent practices of sexual misconduct within the film industry, Wonder Wheel will rightly suffer from boycotting upon its 9th March release. Pop-culture is amidst a long awaited ethical upheaval, with the public realising the unfortunate necessity to sacrifice the art in the subsequent contextual influence it has upon changing things for the better.