The “Last Tango” Twitter Storm

hollywood_tweet1_jess

According to some, our current time should be called the Post-Truth Era, which has brought us our first Post-Truth President aided by (among other things) dozens of post-truth “news” stories, articles, statements, and tweets.

The “Last Tango actress was raped” story, which went viral these past couple days, is a good example of what Post-Truth looks like, how it behaves, and how hard it is to combat.

Some facts before I continue:

No, ‘Last Tango in Paris’ Director Did Not Say Marlon Brando Committed Rape
3 December 2016 5:54 PM, PST | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

The 1972 film “Last Tango in Paris” was pilloried across the internet this weekend over the belief that director Bernardo Bertolucci had admitted that a rape scene between stars Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider was an actual rape. But in an interview a decade ago, Schneider herself said that no sex of any kind took place during the scene, in which then-48-year-old Brando’s character uses butter to have anal sex with the 19-year-old Schneider. In fact, she said she felt “a little bit raped” by her director and co-star because they manipulated and coerced her into doing the scene, »
– Tim Molloy

I had to search for the Tim Molloy retraction article above. Every other publication (and social media, of course) went with the click-bait version that Bertolucci and Brando raped Maria Schneider on camera in a movie you’ve seen. And Bertolucci is finally coming clean after all these years.

Except, none of that happened. There was no rape. There was no real sex, consensual or otherwise. And the Bertolucci interview was from 2013, not now. Oh, and he didn’t say what those articles said he said. He said what Tim Molloy said he said.

There is an interesting discussion in this general area. Several actually. About power relationships (and abuses of same) in Hollywood and the wider world. About what is permissible in Art to obtain (or hope to obtain) a great performance. We could bring up the recent Profiles theater scandal. And talk about Balanchine. And that horrid studio director who made child actor Jackie Cooper cry on camera by telling him his dog had died. And the butter scene in Last Tango will be a good addition to that discussion. Along with dozens of other mindfucking directorial stunts from that era and before and after. We can talk about the psychic price of emotional coercion. And the extra responsibilities one should feel toward a young person that you’re about to turn into an overnight star.Truffaut clearly felt such responsibility, Bertolucci didn’t. He didn’t care about anything but his film.

I would love to have these discussions .. and many more on similar topics … and you’ll probably find that we agree on most of them. I’m not a fan of the tactics mentioned above. Or of the behavior. In the service of Art or personal pleasure or anything else.

What we can’t have is a discussion about rape in relation to Last Tango in Paris (1972). Because no rape occurred. And no sex happened, consensual or otherwise. It was rated X for nudity and language and adult situations as portrayed by actors. Not C for Crimes.

Here, let Maria Schneider tell you. Again. She stated that not only was there no actual sex in the infamous “butter scene,” but no real sex in the movie, period. “Not at all,” Schneider said.

Who starts these things? Who sat in a room somewhere, happened to see a three-year-old interview with Bertolucci who’s nearly 80 now and hasn’t made a film in years, decided to distort his statements just enough to get attention, then watched the Internet version of the Telephone Game spin out. Who does this? And what do they get from it?

I lost friends over this, by simply stating that the story didn’t happen the way they had heard it did. They were only Facebook friends, but, hey, in times like these we need all the friends we have.

And here’s a depressing thought. If it’s this hard to cry bullshit on fake 50-year-old movie gossip, how the fuck are we ever going to correct the record on stories of national import.

How will we ever get a real President again? One who’s sort of friendly to the truth. Who’s Post-Post-Truth.You know?

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