Current trends in self-reproach & guilt serve interests of elites

In a recent commentary, writer Laura Kipnis addressed the ethico-political implications of film critic David Edelstein’s recent travails. Apropos the death of legendary Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, Edelstein made a tasteless “joke” on his private Facebook page: “even grief is better with butter.”

The statement was accompanied by a still of Maria Schneider and Marlon Brando’s infamous anal rape scene from Last Tango in Paris. Edelstein quickly deleted it (before the public outcry broke out, not as a reaction to it!) but actress Martha Plimpton had immediately tweeted it to her followers, demanding “fire him. Immediately.

Of course, this happened the next day: NPR’s Fresh Air announced that they were cutting ties with Edelstein because the post had been “offensive and unacceptable.” Especially given Schneider’s traumatic experiences during filming, which left her battling depression and drug addiction.

So what are the implications (or, rather, the unstated rules) of this incident? First, “there’s nothing inadvertent about inadvertent offence,” it cannot be excused as a momentary mistake since it’s now treated as revelatory of the true character of the offender.

This is why one such episode is a permanent mark against you, however apologetic you might be. “One flub and you’re out. An unthinking social media post will outweigh a 16-year track record.” The only thing that might help is a long permanent process of self-critical self-examination: “Failure to keep re-proving it implicates you in crimes against women.”

Thus, you have to prove it again and again since, as a man, you aren’t trusted: “men are not to be believed, they will say anything.” And this leads to Kipnis’s bitter conclusion: “maybe it’s time to stop hiding behind the ‘speak truth to power’ mantra, when women have power aplenty – we can wreck a guy’s career with a tweet!

Different Levels

Naturally, one has to introduce some further specifications here: WHICH women have the power to wreck WHICH guys’ careers? But the fact remains that we are witnessing a tremendous exercise of power unchecked by what would have been otherwise considered reasonable (a fair trial, the right to reasonable doubt…), and if someone just points this out, they are immediately accused of protecting old white men.

[Extract. Appeared in RT on January 11th 2019.]