On Tuesday Variety announced that Elle Fanning and Selena Gomez were joining the cast of Woody Allen’s next feature for Amazon Studios, bringing a, ahem, “youthful glimmer” to the film.
While details about the movie ― including its title ― remain under wraps, that hasn’t stopped critics from making predictions about the project based on Allen’s consistent cinematic past. As the AV Club put it, “we can assume that either or both of Fanning or Gomez will inevitably find themselves drawn to some sort of older male figure.”
For some, the news triggered familiar feelings of discomfort as more young Hollywood actresses sign on to work with a man accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter. Fanning and Gomez join Blake Lively, Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart and Emma Stone in choosing to work with Allen, an industry legend, despite the disturbing allegations lodged against him.
Not only do actresses continuously agree to work with Allen ― a filmmaker who, beyond the aforementioned allegations, makes pretty sexist films ― they vocally defend him. Lively praised Allen for writing roles that are “empowering to women” and Cyrus called him “a really great dad.”
In a piece for The Daily Beast, Ira Madison III questioned why certain (privileged, white) actors jump at the chance to work with Allen and eventually concluded: because they can. While people of color and non-celebrities might have reason to fear working with someone accused of committing despicable crimes, of being somehow abused and silenced because of Allen’s seemingly indomitable reputation and acclaim, Hollywood stars can rest assured they are not targets. They will be safe.
While it’s frustrating for some to see powerful young women agree to work with Allen time and time again, it’s also understandable why ambitious actors would be eager to collaborate with a four-time Oscar-winning cinema icon. The problem, for many, extends beyond individuals like Gomez and Fanning; it’s rooted in a cultural landscape that continues to award and idolize Allen, making the advantages of working with him outweigh the drawbacks every time.