With the sudden disappearance of every single woman who stepped forward to accuse Donald Trump of rape, celebrities are looking for fresh bait to spark their self-righteous outrage. Jessica Chastain and a bunch of kindred spirits found such a burning ember in news that French actress Maria Schneider was the victim of a nonconsensual rape scene on set while filming Last Tango in Paris in 1972. A parsing of the words is key here, given that it was a rape scene, and not a rape. Also, the story has been around for over a decade, professed publicly by Schneider later in her life, and fully admitted to by film director Bernardo Bertolucci in an interview five years ago. However, times demanded that a number of women’s magazines re-present it as a new breaking story so Jessica Chastain could be “sick” and her Twitter followers list themselves as “literally shaking”.
The Last Tango in Paris remains perhaps the most critically praised pieces of avant-garde shitty cinema in history. Marlon Brando signed on to play the lead role of the older man who spends the entire film fucking the hot nineteen-year old French chick in an apartment. Because, why the hell not. Serious actors desperately wanted to work in important European cinema at the time. And three weeks of fucking isn’t such a bad way to get your accolades. Or a paycheck.
If you needed any evidence that Bernado Bertolucci was a self-satisfied pervert, consider that he’s an Italian filmmaker who wears fedoras. For the same evidence on Brando, witness the home videos of his manatee sized aged body swimming naked with his many Polynesian concubines. While filming Last Tango both Bertolucci and Brando saw a stick of butter on the floor of the apartment set and simultaneously got the same idea. Greasy anal rape scene. If you and your buddy ever come to the same conclusion when noticing a stick of butter, find a new friend.
Nobody told Maria Schneider until the morning of shooting that this churned cream sodomy bit had been added to the script. This was Bertolucci’s means to surprise his actress and get a super real performance. You can’t fake the face made when stinky breath Marlon Brando is slathering his cock with Lucerne and forcing it up against your ass cheeks. You can second guess Bertolucci, but that shitty porno won all kinds of important film awards. The movie was banned and decried just enough in America to make every upscale college grad on the coasts peer pressure each other into seeing the movie and discussing it over espressos and cloves.
Maria Schneider would later cite the moment as embarrassing, humiliating, and psychological damaging. That seems fair. I’d probably kill myself. But it wasn’t rape. Nor was it nonconsensual. They were shooting a fuck film. She was fucking. Schneider said she’d wished she’d been older and wiser or had agents around to help her stand up for herself, but who doesn’t feel that way about shit they did at nineteen? That’s rhetorical. It’s gross and obscene, but not rape. Most nineteen year olds in Hollywood are doing far worse merely to get in the door.
Hillary Clinton urged Americans to believe the accuser in sexual assault cases even before any evidence is adjudicated. Also, it’s cool to make up rape allegations from time to time to remind people how cruel men are. The Year of the Woman isn’t going gentle into the goodnight. Butter might help.