The story of how actor John Tuturro got Woody Allen to co-star in his movie about a male gigolo (Tuturro) pimped by his washed up octogenarian agent (Allen) is a sweet one: Both actors shared the same barber who brokered, first a friendship, and then a deal, for the film Fading Gigolo–while brushing hair from their necks and trimming their ear hair.
That quaint tale (which explained the genesis of the film and was issued for promotional purposes before Allen was mobbed by MeToo for a crime he’d twice been cleared of) has now been replaced by Tuturro with a new story–told to The Independent to promote a new movie in which he appears, Gloria Bell–in which the actor assiduously back-peddles on his previously asserted personal relationship with Allen:
“I know Woody more professionally than personally,” Tuturro now claims. “…Honestly, I would not have thought of [casting him in Fading Gigilo] if that had come out before. I wouldn’t have approached him…I didn’t know anything about it, honestly. If I had, I wouldn’t have done that – I wouldn’t have thought it was a good idea.”
Tuturro currently maintains the above–even though, at the time he cast Allen opposite him (in 2013), the actor told Indiewire:
“This is something that happened a long time ago and there are going to be people on both sides of the dialogue…Nobody knows anything really, he’s my friend and he’s been working for 20 years since this all came into the papers…
Of course, actors are well-known to be among the most self-serving (and controversary-adverse) of artists—notorious for sticking licked finger to wind before answering anything remotely considered contentious in an interview.
But Tuturro’s blatantly contradictory statements—especially given his hiring of the twice legally exonerated Allen to play an elderly man pimping a male prostitute—signal MeToo has delivered a deep shudder into the very heart of Hollywood. And that, now, those celebrated in the movie industry would rather commit perjury in the public square than be caught on the opposing side of a societally sanctioned mob.
Perhaps the only precedence for this would be the McCarthy hearings, in which celebrated Hollywood figures like director Elia Kazan provided McCarthy and his committee names of fellow artists who had been members of the Communist Party. But, even during McCarthy, there were prominent artists who defied the committee and refused to name names, risking career for conscience.
Now it appears—outside of a handful of notables like Paul Shrader, who questioned the erasure of Kevin Spacey, and playwright and character actor Wallace Shawn, who defended Allen–that almost the entirety of Hollywood has chosen to abandon lessons learned in grade-school from the play written in response to McCarthy, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, to bow at the feet of a posse that has successfully cancelled—or seeks to cancel–many celebrated artists without due process.
For a while now, I’ve kept a list in my head—of those artists whose work I would favor given their courage (Shrader, the singer Morrissey for Spacey; actors Shawn, Javier Bardem and Diane Keaton for Allen) and a list of those (now too long to detail) whose work I would avoid given their spineless capitulation to the “woke” mob.
It appears conscience of any kind among artists today is nearly extinct. It used to be American artists didn’t lend their names to commercials that aired inside the US (yes, Allen among them) because they wanted their fans to believe that they stood for something—not just for the money they’d receive from endorsements.
Now, even actors A-list actors like Matthew McConaughey are ubiquitous on American screens, hawking automobiles, fast food and other wares. An actor like Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch can be seen to move seamlessly from his hit show to his more visible career as a relentless, cell-phone-service pitchman.
As a result of the power of technology (especially as expressed via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), artists now seem reluctant to hold any opinion that isn’t reflected in the preferences (likes) of the majority of those online. Virtues like courage and loyalty and innocent-until-proven-guilty seem quaint. Today, one can be cancelled in a split second for having the wrong views—for being on the wrong side of an issue that has been adjudicated by an online mob. Often this mob is led by an activist minority that gathers passive members who–wishing to belong—then pile on.
Of course, I don’t advocate consuming only the work of artists who have demonstrated courage of conscience. Some of our greatest artists have been rotten human beings. We must separate their great work from how they’ve conducted their private lives.
Therefore, the answer isn’t to be found in cancelling artists for personal failings. Even terrific artists who have acted cowardly (as I believe Tuturro has) deserve to have their great work (in Do The Right Thing, Barton Fink, The Night Of…) seen and heard.
Yet, if I’m honest, I must admit that—at least from this point on–the name John Tuturro (appearing or directing a motion picture) will no longer be a factor that sparks interest for me in that project.
Nitram Nosirrag (a pseudonym) is a writer, dramatist and film editor living in Oakland, California