The great thing about every Republican presidency is that it truly unmoors at least one Hollywood star in a manner from which they never seem to return. For instance, NASA has sent out a probe to find Sean Penn’s sense of reality since the George W. Bush years without any success.
While we’ll continue looking for as long as we can, we may need to redirect resources to the case of Robert De Niro. The frequent Martin Scorsese collaborator’s behavior during the Trump administration has become as erratic as his character’s in “Taxi Driver.” (Or “Goodfellas.” Or “Analyze This.” Or “Raging Bull.”)
His latest Trump-related declamation — which actually didn’t involve asterisks, so thumbs-up there — was that life under the Trump presidency was like “living in an abusive household.”
Here’s where that whole reality and being moored to it thing comes into play here: De Niro is currently facing a lawsuit that he was abusive toward one of his assistants.
De Niro decided to go there during a Monday appearance on Stephen Colbert’s CBS show, in which the political opinions of a man who once led a rousing chant of “f— Trump” at an awards show were actually taken seriously.
“It’s a really, really serious situation we’re in,” De Niro said.
“It’s like a pall around certain things,” he continued. “It’s like living in an abusive household. You feel you don’t know what’s going to happen next, what crazy thing is going to happen next, what’s going to make you say ‘what the hell’s going on?’”
He went on to call Trump a “fake president” who “calls everything fake because he knows he’s fake, so he’s projecting” (hey, yeah, so speaking of Freudian projection), but that’s not quite the issue here. (Although, again, why we care about what an aging thespian with a questionable taste in roles over the past decade thinks about the president is really anyone’s guess.)
Instead, we should probably mention that De Niro didn’t have the self-awareness to not mention being abusive when he’s being sued for being abusive:
Now, it’s worth noting that this is a countersuit to a $6 million lawsuit in which De Niro’s people claim said assistant misused thousands of dollars and binge-watched “Friends” instead of doing work. Perhaps that puts a spin of doubt on these allegations. Nevertheless, they are serious.
Graham Chase Robinson, who was De Niro’s longtime, personal assistant alleged the actor engaged in a pattern of troubling conduct, accusing of him of “years of gender discrimination and harassment.”
“She eventually quit because she could no longer endure the hostile work environment,” the October lawsuit claims, according to CNBC. She’s seeking $12 million in damages.
“De Niro made demands of Ms. Robinson that he never imposed on males,” Robinson’s lawyer said.
“De Niro’s treatment of Ms. Robinson was inappropriate, demeaning, abusive, and intolerable, and he needs to be held accountable.”
The suit claims that De Niro joked about “his Viagra prescription,” “urinated during phone calls with her and met her wearing only his pajamas or a bathrobe,” asked her to scratch his back and “also stood idly by while his friend slapped Ms. Robinson on her buttocks.”
“Robert De Niro is someone who has clung to old mores. He does not accept the idea that men should treat women as equals,” the suit claims.
As legal disputes go, the circumstances surrounding this one certainly qualify as odd — but that still doesn’t mean that they can be ignored.
De Niro is talking about the country being like an abusive household when he’s accused of being abusive toward his personal assistant. In Colbert-world, this is totally OK; nobody batted an eye about this. To be fair, nobody’s batted an eye about having him on any other show, either, or letting him air his opinions there, as part of his media tour for “The Irishman.”
In this case, the metaphor should have at least induced an eyebrow to raise. If it did, I certainly didn’t notice.
For what it’s worth, De Niro should again be congratulated that this wasn’t an asterisk-friendly performance. Pity he left his self-awareness behind. Now to prepare that reality-finding probe.
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