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Opinion: Cate Blanchett’s Oscar speech not a statement on Woody Allen scandal

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Cate Blanchett on stage during the 86th annual Academy Awards March 2 in Los Angeles. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Cate Blanchett onstage during the 86th annual Academy Awards March 2 in Los Angeles.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Cate Blanchett took home the Oscar for Best Actress Sunday night for her riveting performance in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” but the focus has not been so much on the actress’ beautiful portrayal. Instead, her acceptance speech has been the topic of conversation.

Blanchett thanked Allen, the writer and director of the film, for casting her in the lead role of Jasmine and giving her the opportunity to play the part.

“Thank you so much, Woody, for casting me,” the Australian actress said. “I truly appreciate it.”

Apparently this is controversial, in the wake of Dylan Farrow, Allen’s adopted daughter, accusing her father of sexually assaulting her as a child in a letter published in The New York Times Feb. 1. This wasn’t the first time Allen was accused, but Farrow even called Blanchett out in her letter, asking, “What if it had been your child, Cate Blachett?”

Sexual abuse is incredibly serious. No one, especially not a child, should have to experience this kind of trauma. Farrow’s letter took a lot of courage to write, and I am not in any way saying I think she’s lying.

However, as Times columnist Nicholas Kristof mentions at the beginning of the letter, it is important to mention no charges have been brought against Allen in this case, and he has consistently denied these claims. Farrow’s claims, too, have stayed the same. Unfortunate as it seems, the allegations remain he-said-she-said accusations.

However, Allen is Blanchett’s director and put her in a position to win the highest professional acting award there is: the Oscar. It would have been ridiculous had she not thanked him.

Last month, “Salon” writer Daniel D’Addario called for Blanchett to forgo a nod to Allen in her acceptance speech.

“Perhaps Blanchett’s refusal to thank Allen could be the first step toward artists reevaluating why it is they want to work with someone against whom allegations have existed for decades, an acknowledgment that to accept a role because it helps one’s career, even as further career success for Allen obfuscates whatever may be the truth, is problematic,” he said.

But why does this responsibility fall on Blanchett in her acceptance speech? She has no involvement in the allegations between Allen and his daughter. How is it that she must now face scrutiny for this?

I understand that this is a very polarizing topic, but it isn’t Blanchett’s job to avoid offending Dylan Farrow. Not to sound harsh, but whatever crime Allen might or might not have committed to Farrow is none of Blanchett’s concern, professionally.

An actress thanked a director. An actress did not come out in support of alleged sexual abuse toward a child. The fact that this is even being discussed is somewhat ridiculous to me.

Different media outlets have described the applause after this as “muted” or “hesitant,” which in my opinion is a little presumptuous. In fact, if you watch the video, the audience interrupted Blanchett’s speech with applause as the actress was continuing her thank-yous when she mentioned Allen’s name.

In the end, I don’t think Blanchett’s speech furthered any controversy that hasn’t already existed in the back and forth between Farrow and Allen. I do think, though, sometimes human beings look for scandal in places where it doesn’t exist. Blanchett’s Oscar acceptance speech is one of those places.

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