Yesterday (12.5) a Huffpost piece by Jennifer Brucceller, titled “Bernardo Bertolucci Misses The Mark In Response To Last Tango In Paris Rape Scene Controversy” and subtitled “He doesn’t seem to understand why people are outraged,” earned special attention. Or a certain passage did, I should say:
“Regardless of whether or not [Maria] Schneider knew of the violence, it should be noted that any addition to the scene, such as the butter, which was not previously agreed upon by Schneider, can be considered assault. Bertolucci doesn’t seem to understand that.”
Bruceller’s use of the phrase “such as the butter” suggests a problem with the substance. Let’s suppose Bertolucci and Marlon Brando had decided that butter wouldn’t work as the lubricant of choice, and that it would be better to go with Johnson’s Baby Oil. Or with Crisco shortening, Mazola corn oil or mayonnaise. I don’t even know what I’m talking about, and that’s partly Bruceller’s fault.
But let’s cut her a break. What Bruceller meant, I think, was that failing to tell Schneider about the butter in advance was the essence of what she called an assault. But does a refusal to confer and consult really live up to the definition of that term?
It seems to me that the term “assault” or “assaultive” should mean something that’s actually related to an assault as opposed to not showing respect by fully conferring in advance. That, to me, was Brando and Bertolucci’s uncool, uncaring act — declining to offer Schneider a chance to collaborate, mull it over, prepare, offer suggestions, etc.