I am an 'out' atheist and welfare state liberal living in conservative Cincinnati. Yet these are not the most controversial aspects of my identity.
The most controversial aspect of my identity--if measured purely by response--is that I am an enormous (enormous!) Woody Allen fan. The expressions of disbelief and quick condemnation cuts across religious and political divides. Almost universally, my character clearly becomes questionable to many who learn this factoid about me, and, frankly, it leaves me jejune.
The objection is almost always couched in disapproval of Woody Allen's 'lifestyle', i.e., his marriage to Soon Yi Previn. If it's the age discrepancy, I'll tell you that my favorite uncle--and one of the nicest and most moral men I've ever met--was thirty when he married my aunt, and she was thirteen. He died recently, and I'm not kidding when I say that theirs was a noble and inspiring love story. If the objection is to the fact he married his girlfriend's foster child, all I can say is that I don't know enough about the context of their relationship to judge it.
The controversy doesn't stop there: I am even more controversial among my fellow Woody Allen fans, because I rank some of his most recent work among his best.
It's popular for folks to opine Woody Allen's most recent work, and to long for the days of Annie Hall. While I agree that Annie Hall is a great movie (among his undisputed movies, I watch Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Manhattan, and Crimes & Misdemeanors about 10 times a year each), I think Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Match Point, Whatever Works, Cassandra's Dream, and Melinda & Melinda are just as good, and I revisit them almost as frequently.
There have been duds, sure; Scoop, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and Hollywood Ending come to mind right away, but I would say that since Anything Else, Woody Allen's been on a roll.
His humor is as clear as ever, and his perspective has remained unique. I love the characters and the plots of his films. I love the dialogue, and appreciate his general approach to philosophy. Folks who are not offended by the fact that I admire the work of a man who married his girlfriend's adopted daughter are invariably thrown into a state of shock when I tell them I think Vicky Cristina Barcelona is just as good as Annie Hall.
When I am sick, or when I am in a rut, I can count on a Woody Allen film to put me back on track. When I tried to be a stand up comedian the summer after high school ended, I spent a lot of time reading Without Feathers and Getting Even (maybe that contributed to my failure as a stand-up, but it was my point of reference).
Not only is Woody Allen great, but he turned me on to jazz music and Humphrey Bogart too.
So, burn me at the stake. I have committed the excusable sins of atheism and liberalism, but alas, I am a Woody Allen fan in Cincinnati (and a deviant among Woody Allen fans to boot!). I can't renounce my crime, and I don't want to.
"Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" -from The Crucible.