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7.14.2016

Weiner : The Documentary

A lot of food for thought here in this fly on the wall documentary about Anthony Weiner's two scandals which brought about the end of his career as a politician.  I guess I'll focus on two principle women.

Huma, his wife.  Always impeccably dressed.  Made the documentary appear a bit staged in this respect.  I mean, she always looked so fucking good.  Those adorable dresses, the form fitting leggings. 
Even when she's just wandering around her house on a Saturday.  What I mean to say is, I'm not sure if we ever saw the raw Huma.  With her hair down, in sweat pants.  Not that I cared about seeing her like this, but I was interested in her raw reaction to the scandals.  In once scene (just after the 2nd scandal surfaced, where Weiner'd been using the name Carlos Danger), she said that it felt like living through a nightmare for the second time.  Ok, that was kind of raw.  But other than that, outside of some few weighty, heavy, dark looks, where she looked downright depressed, I get the feeling that she, well, just didn't want to expose her reaction to the camera.  

Obviously I felt bad for her.  I get the feeling that she's an only child and maybe she felt terribly alone in all of this.  But I also felt bad for Weiner in the way she reacted; she didn't exactly stand right by his side the entire time--she allowed him to go alone to the polling booth on Mayorial Election day.  In the context of his recent scandal, her absense was glaring.  And of course he did earn it, but you saw how intensely the media grilled him regarding her absense.

Which is maybe the essence of the film; I felt as though I was watching someone being attached to a rotisserie and charred.

And the other woman.  Sydney Leathers, his 'other woman' who caused all the scandal.  Ok, we all know there were well more than one.  But this one had a face, she was interviewed by Howard Stern, and she actually showed up at his post-election party with the intention of confronting him.  

Maybe I find it hard to pinpoint how objectionable this action was.  In the first respect, for Leather's own sake, she just looked so trashy being there.  She was dressed like a low-end hooker.  And, well, there's nothing respectable about being the woman who brings a successful man down--in the context of the scandal she's personifying sleaze.  For her own sake, she really needed to stay out of the limelight.
Then for Huma's sake, her appearance had to be horribly humiliating.  Since as Weiner's other woman, Leather's was somehow on par with Huma.  Yet, like I said, she was so trashy, with the tiny red dress, the full-body tatoos, the huge breasts.  And Huma, who on the other hand's so clean and cutely dressed and wholesome looking--well, it must have been humiliating to be juxtaposed with such a woman.
And for Weiner, having her show up was like being shot 15 times with a machine gun and then having someone stab you through the heart with a knife.  Simply through revealing the online relationship Leather's brought about his irreversible demise--her physical appearance was a totally gratuitous stab.

Yet she didn't get any of this at all - in the film, after she literally chases down the Weiner entourage as they enter the party through a back route via McDonald's in order to avoid her, she reacts by saying "He'll go that far to avoid seeing a 23 year old?"

Which I guess to me highlights just how dangerously trashy, stupid, and clueless she really is.  

I guess what I'm saying is that this documentary, coupled with the Alec Baldwin interview that I heard with him two months ago, solicited a visceral response and left me with deep empathy for Weiner.

And perhaps I'm failing to see in Weiner  "a narissiscist with Olympic capacity for vanity and self-delusion".1  Because I found him likeable.   And sidestepping any insight into the director's fundamental theme; "how our media functions today, and how much the political conversations and our culture in general is driven by this insatiable appetite for spectacle and entertainment." 2  Nor allowing myself to be disillusioned that this is yet another example of Jews creating a movie about a Jew.  

Somehow, I can't shake how inhumane it felt to watch this man charred by the media nor how tragic to see a charismatic and talented man bring about the end of a promising career.




1 Weiner Review - A Political Scandal in Slow Motion Wendy Ide, The Observor, July 10 2016



2 Interview: Josh Kerigman and Elise Steinberg: Running with "Weiner". Stephen Saito, The Moveable Fest. May 21, 2016

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