Weiner

“Good to see a bunch of political junkies like me,” quipped a beaming NHFF programmer as he introduced last week’s screening of Weiner. “You’d think most people have had enough of political scandals at this point. But not you”. The packed Music Hall Loft cheered in agreement.

I’ve been so busy feverishly reading everything I can find about the American election lately that I couldn’t help seeking out anything the festival had to offer on elections and the issues facing voters this year.

There’s nothing quite like a public meltdown. I’ve caught myself snickering out loud all morning just thinking about some of Trump’s most quotable sulking from last night’s debate. I didn’t know nearly as much about Anthony Weiner’s crash and burn so was looking forward to learning more with Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s documentary Weiner.

Directors Kriegman and Steinberg were given seemingly unlimited behind the scenes access to Weiner’s 2013 campaign for Mayor of New York City, just two years after his resignation from Congress after his first sexting scandal. Amazingly, everything seems to be going just fine with the campaign until another embarrassing photo resurfaces. Kriegman and Steinberg’s cameras are there from day one to capture his staff’s attempts at damage control and some seriously uncomfortable moments between Weiner and wife Huma Abedin.

“So, yes, I did the thing,” Weiner admits at the very start of the film. “But I did a lot of other things too”. His self-destructive habits, of which his fits of public anger are as damaging as his possible sex addiction, make it hard to find anyone but himself to blame for his downfall. But as tempting as it is to laugh at him (the festival audience laughed, cheered, and jeered at he screen so much you’d think you were at a midnight genre screening), a nagging feeling  of weird sympathy for him may give you pause. There’s something almost unjust about seeing a charismatic politician fighting so passionately for his constituents brought down by such an embarrassing scandal. Sure, the story plays well on late night comedy shows and his last name- hilariously appropriate to the fourteen year-old boy in all of us- makes his mistakes impossible to forget. But he did other things too. And this documentary makes a strong case that his wiener isn’t the only thing he should be remembered for.

Holy crap. Never mind. I literally just read an article about him carrying on texting a 15 year-old girl. Fuck that guy.

So…. still. It’s worth watching for the voyeuristic pleasure of watching an ambitious and prideful man dig a hole for himself. And it might just make you ask some important questions about what really matters when deciding who to vote for and about the media’s obsession with scandal.

 

 

 

 

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25 thoughts on “Weiner

  1. Christy B

    I was starting to see the sympathetic aspect and then got to the point where you changed yoru mind.. Wow, imagine if you had read that article AFTER publishing the post? I just hope he learned from the scandal and, well, has developed values. I can totally imagine the crowd cheering and jeering at the movie screen!

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    1. allendemir

      I don’t think he’s going to learn anything from it, it’s like the third time something like this has happened to the guy. I’ve heard some people debate whether there’s even such a thing as a sex addict, but he really seems like a textbook case with how blatantly and increasingly stupid his actions have been. He clearly has a serious problem and I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say it will happen again if he doesn’t get some serious therapy.

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    1. Matt Post author

      At one point in the film, Weiner raises the question if there needs to be something a little wrong with you to get into politics. You know, a pathological need for attention or something. I don’t want to defend him at all because of the whole 15 year-old thing but to his credit I’ll say that he never blames anyone but himself for the mess he’s in.

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      1. allendemir

        What’s weird is when you hear him talk, he sounds like such a rational and intelligent guy. And then he gets in a scandal even worse than the last one.

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  2. Brittani

    You nailed how I ultimately felt about Weiner too. It sucks that he got caught up in such a ridiculous scandal because he actually seems like a good politician and the times I’ve seen him on TV he’s said things I agreed with and made good points. But this 15 year old thing….ew. He’s completely ruined now.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I know, it’s all over. I do feel bad for wife. Her husband cheated on her multiple times and she had to endure the humiliation publicly and the judgements of people who shamed her for standing by him.

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  3. kmSalvatore

    Ohh I’m gonna pass on that one, mo doubt in mind.. the man has severe problems. Sexting with his baby in the same bed as him…sick just plain sick. And thank god His wife finally left him. And if he ever did any thing of importance..well I’ll be dammed I never heard about it.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Yeah, way worse stuff started to happen after filming of the documentary had completed. I don’t know enough to say whether or not he accomplished anything in particular of important but my understanding is that when he wasn’t drenched in scandal, he was quite well-liked among a lot of liberals for his passionate and often over-the-top speaking style.

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  4. DotedOn

    Matt, I’m not sure you’ll ever know someone who dislikes so much or knows less about politics than me. When I read that you are in search for more, my jaw dropped 😀 I don’t watch the news or read newspapers and I feel I’m overdosing in politics anyway!

    How sad for the man that he’ll never be remember for the lot of other things that he did too. 🙂

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  5. Steph-Spooky Scribe (@EclecticScribe5)

    I rented this for the voyeuristic pleasure of watching the shit show, but I found it more depressing than I’d expected, mostly because of what he did to his wife.

    It was kind of an interesting character study. Why did this guy keep screwing up his career like this? Why would he ruin his career over sheer stupidity? Why did he show so little concern for what he was doing to his wife? My takeaway was that he has sociopathic and narcissistic tendencies and, on some level, he was bored when he wasn’t creating drama. :-/

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    1. Matt Post author

      I wouldn’t guess that he’s sociopathic necessarily but definitely has an insatiable hunger for spotlight and can’t seem to control his fetish at all.

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