Over the last few days, there’s been all kinds of confusion about what happened on the set of Last Tango In Paris. To be clear, even though the initial headlines that exploded all over Twitter certainly suggested it, Maria Schneider was not actually raped. My friend Jessica Allen wrote about the media misrepresentation of the situation yesterday, pointing out that what Bernardo Bertolucci did to Maria Schneider was really reprehensible on its own, without embellishment. The subsequent mangling of the story and resulting corrections have now undermined a legitimate and urgent conversation about inequality and abuse in the workplace.
The truth is both Bertolucci and Schneider agree that he treated her disrespectfully. In his words, “I had been, in a way, horrible to Maria because I didn’t tell her what was going on, because I wanted her reaction as a girl, not as an actress. I wanted her to react humiliated”. The only way for her to “react humiliated” was to “FEEL HUMILIATED”. He humiliated her, deliberately, by leveraging his power over her, leaning into that power imbalance as her director and as an older man. He took away from her the opportunity to prepare, to do her job, even though that courtesy was certainly extended to her much more experienced co-star Marlon Brando. Brando had the heads up. Brando went into that scene with full knowledge, with all the tools and information provided so that the legend Brando could do his work – but the young woman playing opposite him was just expected to roll with whatever the men around her had decided that morning, which was that there was going to be butter involved, a detail purposefully kept from her – in the workplace. As Nico Lang wrote in Salon this week, “A number of actresses can likely relate to that situation. Workplace abuse in Hollywood has been extremely common for decades, due to a toxic culture of gender inequality that skews the balance of power in favor of men like Bertolucci and Brando.” Not just actresses but female producers too. Later on his piece, Nico Lang astutely points out that while Last Tango In Paris happened over 40 years ago, in 2010 Casey Affleck was sued for sexual harassment in the workplace by two women on the set of his fake documentary I’m Still Here. One of the women alleges that Casey amused himself by forcing her to look at a crew member’s penis, basically making her the butt of his jokes, surrounded by other men. Casey Affleck is probably going to win an Oscar in February. Because nobody’s talking about how he may have been running his workplace, and whether or not women were treated as second class citizens there.
On Monday, SAG-AFTRA told The Wrap that what happened to Maria Schneider is unlikely to happen today because of provisions that the union has put in place. However…
The union said it receives a call “once every two or three months” about questionable scenes — usually from an actor’s agent, and almost always before the scene has been filmed.
SAG-AFTRA also made it clear: It takes these incidents very seriously and will send a business representative to the set if a member raises a concern. Moreover, the union believes there may be more incidents, but that they aren’t reported and encourages member actors to raise concerns within the organization.
Sure. It’s great that the union is a safe place for actors to come forward with their complaints, but why do they have to be in those situations in the first place? What is being done within the community to make sure this sh-t doesn’t happen, AT ALL?
Yours in gossip,