There is little tolerance for any public person, film star or talk show host, who makes inappropriate comments of a sexual nature, either on or off air. NPR has parted ways with film critic David Edelstein after his offensive comments on the rape scene in “Last Tango in Paris”, following the death of director Bernardo Bertolucci.
Bertolucci died on Monday. He directed Last Tango in Paris – infamous for its terrible rape scene – in 1972. In 2007, actress Maria Schneider had said that the sex scene was unscripted and that she felt bullied by Bertolucci and unsupported by her co-star Marlon Brando.
Schneider, who died in 2011, said “I was crying real tears.”
On hearing about Bertolucci’s death, David Edelstein posted a photograph of the rape scene on Facebook, with a caption that said ‘Even grief is better with butter.’ The post received a huge outcry from women, including calls for Edelstein’s firing from actress Martha Plimpton.
At a time, when movements like #MeToo have gained immense support from around the globe, there is no space for something offensive, no matter when the film was made.
Edelstein said he wasn’t aware of Schneider’s comments. Replying on Facebook, he said he realized the joke was “grotesque” and deleted the post.
“I didn’t remember (the scene) as a rape and I didn’t know the real-life story about Maria Schneider,” wrote Edelstein. “The line was callous and wrong even if it had been consensual, but given that it wasn’t I’m sick at the thought of how it read and what people logically conclude about me. I have never and would never make light of rape, in fiction or in reality.”
David Edelstein was a long time contributor on NPR’s “Fresh Air”, reviewing hundreds of films on the program. He is still employed as a staff critic at New York Magazine, whose spokesperson said they are “reviewing the matter internally.”