At this point a 24-year-old woman who has overheard the conversation interjects to correct them. “Oh, no, it isn’t!” she offers. “When I was that age, I had a 51‐year-old boyfriend, an architect. Parents just don’t look over their shoulders at their kids anymore.”

In this atmosphere of abdicated authority, “Manhattan” was bound to avoid certain criticisms. Tellingly, Mr. Allen’s love interest in the film, Tracy, isn’t even given a last name. Her parents never appear, and they are barely referenced. The tone of the film spares you even a moment’s tension wondering whether Tracy’s father is going to burst into Elaine’s, where his daughter goes to dinner with Isaac and his friends, and demand to know what, in the name of sanity, is happening.

Those friends, in turn, don’t question Isaac or his choices. The relationship seems perfectly reasonable in their view on the grounds that Tracy is “gorgeous” and “bright.” Isaac is presented as a man of unimpeachable character because he dislikes crass commercialism, narcotics and infidelity.

Mariel Hemingway, who played Tracy to great acclaim, spent her time on the set of “Manhattan” doing homework and jumping rope. She was 16. In a memoir published in 2015, she said that after the movie was made, Mr. Allen asked her to travel to Paris with him. She had not related that anecdote to suggest that he was “creepy,” she said in an interview at the time. But rather she was trying to convey the degree to which she had been on her own.

“My parents weren’t going to step up and say, ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Allen, you’re too old for our then-18-year-old daughter,’” she said. “It was always up to me to find my voice.”

For a short time in college, when so many of us are looking for ourselves, I attended weekly group therapy sessions with a woman my age who was dealing with the effects of a relationship that had begun, with her parents’ encouragement, when she was 15. The man was a decade older. As shocking as that was, I still did not make the sort of connections that might have left my affection for “Manhattan” in any way diminished.

The Allen-Farrow scandal broke in August of 1992, amazingly enough while the city’s tabloids were still well fed by the story of a Long Island teenager, Amy Fisher, who three months earlier shot and wounded the wife of the 38-year-old auto mechanic with whom she had been having an affair. Joey Buttafuoco quickly became an object of derision — an easy role to fall into when you lack the money and sophistication that so often smooth the rough edges of depravity. What was he doing with Amy Fisher? He was not taking her to the philharmonic. Still we were far away from a turning point. Jerry Seinfeld suffered less disapproval when, in 1993, at the height of his television stardom, he began to date a senior at the Nightingale-Bamford School on the Upper East Side whom he had met in Central Park. Fellow comics ribbed him; many ordinary people found the relationship distasteful. But a year later, People magazine, as if clearing up a misunderstanding, featured the pair on the cover under the headline: “Look Who’s in Love: Jerry Seinfeld, 39, and Shoshanna Lonstein, 18, make an unlikely romance work.”



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