Fuck You, Woody Allen

After falling in love with Annie Hall in college, as college sophomores living in NYC are wont to do, I remained a die-hard Woody fan for a good stretch of time, until finally, over the course of the past four years, I’ve sunk into the realization that I fucking hate Woody Allen.  My reasons for coming to loathe Woody are so cliched and varied that I won’t list them here; instead, I will quote from Joan Didion’s 1979 dissent in The New York Review of Books:

“‘Overeducation’ is something Woody Allen seems to discern more often than the rest of us might. ‘I know so many people who are well-educated and super-educated,’ he told an interviewer for Time recently. ‘Their common problem is that they have no understanding and no wisdom; without that, their education can only take them so far.’ In other words they have problems with their ‘relationships,’ they have failed to ‘work through’ the material of their lives with a trained evaluator, they have yet to perfect the quality of their emotional consumption. Wisdom is hard to find. Happiness takes research. The message that large numbers of people are getting from Manhattan and Interiors and Annie Hall is that this kind of emotional shopping around is the proper business of life’s better students, that adolescence can now extend to middle age. Not long ago I shared, for three nights, a hospital room with a young woman named Linda. I was being watched for appendicitis and was captive to Linda’s telephone conversations, which were constant. Linda had two problems, only one of which, her ‘relationship,’ had her attention. Linda spoke constantly about this relationship, about her ‘needs,’ about her ‘partner,’ about the ‘quality of his nurturance,’ about the ‘low frequency of his interaction.’ Linda’s other problem, one which tried her patience because it was preventing her from working on her relationship, was acute and unexplained renal failure. ‘I’m not relating to this just now,’ she said to her doctor when he tried to discuss continuing dialysis.

“You could call that ‘overeducation,’ or you could call it one more instance of ‘people constantly creating these real unnecessary neurotic problems for themselves that keep them from dealing with more terrifying unsolvable problems about the universe,’ or you could call it something else. Woody Allen often tells interviewers that his original title for Annie Hall was ‘Anhedonia,’ which is a psychoanalytic term meaning the inability to experience pleasure. Wanting to call a picture ‘Anhedonia’ is ‘cute,’ and implies that the auteur and his audience share a superiority to those jocks who need to ask what it means. Superior people suffer. ‘My emptiness set in a year ago,’ Diane Keaton is made to say in Interiors. ‘What do I care if a handful of my poems are read after I’m dead…is that supposed to be some compensation?’ (The notion of compensation for dying is novel.)

“Most of us remember very well these secret signals and sighs of adolescence, remember the dramatic apprehension of our own mortality and other ‘more terrifying unsolvable problems about the universe,’ but eventually we realize that we are not the first to notice that people die. ‘Even with all the distractions of my work and my life,’ Woody Allen was quoted as saying in a cover story (the cover line was ‘Woody Allen Comes of Age’) in Time, ‘I spend a lot of time face to face with my own mortality.’ This is actually the first time I have ever heard anyone speak of his own life as a ‘distraction.'”

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