Woody Allen, Aziz Ansari and the crucible of public judgement

Posted on January 22, 2018

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Read the full article on Firstpost, here: http://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/woody-allen-aziz-ansari-and-the-crucible-of-public-judgment-a-reel-versus-real-analysis-4314073.html

Ever since stories about sexual harassment and abuse of power/privilege began to tumble out of Hollywood’s closets, some of us have begun to wonder if we have any business commenting at all. It’s vital to come out against systematic predators like Harvey Weinstein, but what about some of the shades-of-grey cases (say, the controversy around Aziz Ansari)? Shouldn’t we leave them to courts of law? Of course, that’s not how we function in this age of social media, because we have to have an opinion. We turn into armchair judges. It’s the court of public law.

It’s not an exact comparison, but The Crucible comes to mind. Arthur Miller’s play is about the Salem witch trials of 1692-93, but the story about a hysterical community that tried and executed people they thought to be witches was an allegory for how the US government hounded people for being communists. “The Crucible was an act of desperation,” Miller wrote in The New Yorker. “I was motivated in some great part by the paralysis that had set in among many liberals who, despite their discomfort with the inquisitors’ violation of civil rights, were fearful, and with good reason, of being identified as covert Communists if they should protest too strongly.”

The Crucible was first filmed as Les Sorcières de Salem (1957), which was directed by Raymond Rouleau from a screenplay by Jean-Paul Sartre. The clip above (soundless, unfortunately) shows the hanging of the protagonist, John Proctor (Yves Montand), and two others. The scene is unnerving because of Proctor’s robotic acceptance of his fate. (We don’t hear it, but behind him, his accuser, stricken by guilt, is screaming that she lied.”) But what makes it even more chilling is what the judge says a little earlier. “There is no law that judges are infallible. But their sentences must be upheld. If you are innocent, forgive me.”

Continued at the link above.

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