Like his near-namesake sausage, we’ve wolfed down Anthony Weiner’s sorry saga with relish. It’s puerile. But the story was like a gift from the fifth-grade gods.
Monday’s inevitable apology led some to suggest that the famously flashy Weiner was shrinking. Others strove to get the view of his staff on the view of his 'staff'. How we chortled when one tweeter bemoaned the fact that Boehner wouldn’t stand up for Weiner.
Should we be surprised at this outburst of adolescence, arguably belonging in the schoolyard but rife everywhere from news outlets to late night comedy shows? Probably not.
Innuendo is as old as the hills. While some human phenomena, such as cave painting, letter writing, cassette recording and Mel Gibson have fallen by the wayside, innuendo just keeps hitting our giggle spot.
Double entendre was good enough for Geoffrey Chaucer and it was good enough for Charles Dickens, so why shouldn’t it be good enough for writers of a lesser caliber? Thinly-veiled filth inspired us as children just as it inspired the urban legends we grew up with. If Dickens could identify one of Fagin’s gang members interchangeably as “Charley” and “Master” Bates, why shouldn’t the creator of the “Captain Pugwash” comic strip take it one step further? Journalists at “The Guardian” and “The Sunday Correspondent” found out to their cost that he didn’t.
Any ambiguities in comics or classic literature pale in comparison to the innuendo we’ve witnessed on screen. Most British youngsters have come to understand sexual overtones courtesy of the “Carry On” film series. Here’s some choice dialogue from 1968’s “Carry on Doctor”:
Matron: Young chickens may be soft and tender but the older birds have more on them.
Patient: Yes. And take a lot more stuffing.
American readers may not be familiar with the “Carry On” franchise. And that’s little short of a tragedy. I implore you to watch at least one film. No, that’s a lie. I implore you to watch only one. There may be 30-odd movies, but when you’ve seen one, you’ve actually seen them all.
From “Monty Python” to “Family Guy,” TV writers have offered up an abundance of insinuation over the years. But if Weinergate tells us anything, it’s that innuendo is a dish best served in an unscripted scenario.
Sexual suggestion in sport is an old favorite. People play with balls, for goodness’ sake. It’s an open invitation. And commentators seem unable to purge the possibilities. Think of a rowing boat’s steersman or either of the two Olympic weightlifting events, and you’ll get the idea.
My personal (CNN.com-friendly) sporting examples include Ross King asking relay runner Phil Redmond about his amazing third leg, and Steve Ryder’s acknowledgement that Seve Ballesteros felt much better after a 69 the previous day.
Double entendres are an infinite delight – and they’re fair game in a modern media. Though I will spare a thought for the publisher of Canada’s second-oldest magazine,”The Beaver”, who was heartbreakingly forced to change its name to “Canada’s History” early last year.
We writers can strive all we want to create some crafty wordplay on the Anthony Weiner scandal. But the basic fact remains this exhibitionist Congressman-turned-exhibitionist tweeter has a name allied to his prize exhibit. And you certainly can’t script that.
Catch News Stream with Kristie Lu Stout weekdays at 8pm HKT/ 12pm GMT / 8am ET on CNN International.