NPR Cuts Ties With Film Critic After Rape Joke

David Edelstein made 'Last Tango in Paris' joke after Bernardo Bertolucci's death
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2018 1:23 PM CST
NPR Cuts Ties With Film Critic After Rape Joke
Don Cheadle, right, takes part in "A Conversation with Don Cheadle" with David Edelstein at the Austin Convention Center during the South by Southwest Film Festival on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Austin, Texas.   (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

New York magazine film critic David Edelstein has been booted as a contributor to NPR's Fresh Air after an ill-advised joke made in the wake of director Bernardo Bertolucci's death. Edelstein posted a still shot of the rape scene from Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris that he captioned, "Even grief is better with butter." The scene from the 1972 film garnered new attention (and disgust) in recent years, when it came to light that Maria Schneider was not warned about the stick of butter Marlon Brando's character uses as lubricant to sodomize Schneider's character in the film. (Schneider did reportedly know about the scene itself, which does not depict an actual rape.) Actress Martha Plimpton shared a screenshot of Edelstein's post (which he ultimately deleted) on Twitter, calling for Edelstein to be fired "immediately."

NPR quickly agreed, USA Today reports. "The post is offensive and unacceptable, especially given actress Maria Schneider's experience during the filming," NPR said in a statement. "The post does not meet the standards that we expect from Fresh Air contributors, or from journalists associated with WHYY or NPR. We appreciate the apology David posted, but we have decided to end Fresh Air's association with him, and have informed David accordingly." That apology, released by New York on Edelstein's behalf, claims that the film critic was unaware of the scene's controversial backstory and that he now realizes his post was "in poor taste." HuffPost rounds up horrified reactions to Edelstein's post on social media, where many others are calling for him to lose his job. "It's a wonder how these privileged white men keep these plum positions," writes one. (Louis CK made a joke about rape whistles in his controversial return.)

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