It takes a lot of cojones (or maybe just complete stupidity) to make the same mistake twice. But that's just what New York mayoral candidate and former congressman Anthony Weiner managed to do when he got caught up in yet another sex scandal. In keeping with tradition, the newest issue of The New Yorker features a clever cartoon cover (say that three times fast) mocking this latest piece of news from the nefarious world of politics.
In the illustration for the August 5 issue, we see Anthony Weiner à la King Kong, straddling a strategically placed Empire State Building, but with a slightly, shall we say, risqué twist. As you've probably noticed, Weiner's scandal lends itself to countless parodies, late-night talk show jokes, and other sorts of fodder for hilarity. (Seriously, his name is Weiner.) But the barrage of media attention and comedic content inspired by his sexual indiscretions is nothing new or unusual. Rather, Weiner's scandal is just the latest in the slew of politicians' sordid affairs that have sparked full-on laugh riots in the comedy world. From fake campaign commercials to parody songs to just straight-up hilarious commentary, these are some of our favorite reactions to political sex scandals.
John EdwardsNorth Carolina Democrat John Edwards was once a state senator, nominee for Vice President, and candidate for President of the United States. But his political ambitions were dashed when news broke that he had fathered an illegimate child with his mistress and former campaign worker Rielle Hunter. The scandal, which caused a national outrage, also inspired an abundance of humorous parodies, including several Saturday Night Live sketches. And we can't forget MadTV's "Viva La Cheata," a musical parody of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" starring Jerry O'Connell as Edwards.
Herman CainPresidential candidate hopeful Herman Cain was a frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination in 2011, but he was forced to suspend his campaign when four women sued him for sexual harrassment and misconduct. When the fourth season of Arrested Development premiered on Netflix this summer, fans were introduced to a new character named Herbert Love. Mr. Love, a bizarre conservative politician who has an affair with Lindsay Bluth Fünke, is an unmistakable caricature of Herman Cain. If you have a Netflix account, check out his role in the latter half of Season 4. And if you don't, change that.
Mark SanfordWhen South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford went missing for a few days in 2009, it didn't take too much investigative reporting to discover that the married politician was visiting his mistress in Argentina. On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart had a few hilarious choice words about the scandal, calling Sanford "just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis."
Bill ClintonNothing epitomizes the political sex scandal quite like President Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky affair. There are too many jokes, songs, commentaries, and parodies to count, but one of our favorite takes on the scandal is Billy Bob Thornton's sleazy, womanizing American president character in Love Actually. Also, when the creators of baracksdubs decided to put together a presidential version of Robin Thicke's suggestive "Blurred Lines," there was no better fit than good ol' Bubba Clinton.
Eliot SpitzerIn 2008, New York governor Eliot Spitzer made headlines and was forced to resign when The New York Times reported that he had been a patron of a high-priced prostitution service called Emperors Club VIP. In all legal proceedings, Spitzer was referred to as Client #9, a moniker that inspired a musical parody of the scandal, set to the melody of Love Potion No. 9. Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler also had some hilariously incredulous commentary on the subject in their signature "Really!?!" segment.
Arnold SchwarzeneggerCalifornia governor and Kennedy husband Arnold Schwarzenegger seemed to have it all. That is, until it was revealed that he had an illegitimate child with one of his longtime household employees. The Governator's scandal prompted yet another brilliant "Really!?!" sketch (unfortunately sans Amy Poehler)
David VitterWhen Louisiana senator David Vitter was identified as a client of the the "D.C. Madam" prostitution service, he did not face criminal charges because of the statute of limiations. The Republican congressman did however face a wave of mockery from the press and public alike. Funny Or Die put together a fake campaign commercial with video footage of Vitter accompanied by captions like "David Vitter has a diaper fetish."
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.