Blake Lively Criticizes Cannes and French Comedian for Woody Allen Rape Joke, Though Allen Was Not Offended

A joke at the opening ceremony of Cannes is causing a stir from the start of the festival.

On Wednesday (May 11) at the debut night screening of Café Society, emcee Laurent Lafitte took a jab the sexual assault allegations made against the film’s director Woody Allen through the biting remark, “It’s very nice that you’ve been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S.”

Though the line—a possible comparison to prolific filmmaker Roman Polanski who fled the U.S. after pleading guilty to raping a 13-year-old girl—drew a visceral response over the crowd, Variety reporter Ramin Setoodeh tweeted live with the following observation:

 

“I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want,” Allen elaborated to Variety. “I am a non-judgmental or [non]-censorship person on jokes. I’m a comic myself and I feel they should be free to make whatever jokes they want.”

“It would take a lot to offend me,” the director continued. “What bothered me most last night was the length of the show before the movie. I’m sitting there. I know I have a movie that’s an hour and a half, I would like the introduction ceremony to be 20 minutes, half hour at the most.”

Café Society actress Blake Lively was not so nonchalant about the jab. “I think any jokes about rape, homophobia or Hitler is not a joke,” she told Variety on Thursday (May 12) when asked about Lafitte’s opening statement. “I think that was a hard thing swallow in 30 seconds. Film festivals are such a beautiful, respectful festivals of film and artists and to have that, it felt like it wouldn’t have happened if it was in the 1940s. I can’t imagine Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby going out and doing that. It was more disappointing for the artists in the room that someone was going up there making jokes about something that wasn’t funny.”

“But it wasn’t just Woody,” Lively noted. “[Lafitte] made three homophobic comments in a row. A Hitler joke. And a rape joke. It was all within 30 seconds … What on Earth was happening? It was really confusing.”

This uproar directly after The Hollywood Reporter published a guest piece by Allen’s son, Ronan Farrow, which accuses the media of not adequately challenging his father over the allegations of sexual abuse drawn by his sister Dylan. “We are witnessing a sea change in how we talk about sexual assault and abuse,” writes Ronan. “But there is more work to do to build a culture where women like my sister are no longer treated as if they are invisible. It’s time to ask some hard questions.”

Neither Allen nor Lively had read the essay at the time of providing their feedback on the rape joke. “I never read anything about me, these interviews I do, anything,” Allen said to Variety. “I said everything I had to say about that whole issue in The New York Times. I have moved so far past it. I never think about it. I work. I said I was never going to comment on it again. I said everything I have to say about it.”