The Resurrection of the "Bunny Boiler"

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Oct. 23 2009 2:57 PM

The Resurrection of the "Bunny Boiler"

Jessica Grose Jessica Grose

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

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In the past week, the Today Show has done lengthy segments on two women scorned: Ali Wise, the former Dolce & Gabbana flack who hacked into her ex-boyfriend's voice mail account, and the even more psychotic former ESPN production assistant Brooke Hundley , who harrassed the wife and children of her ex-lover, ESPN analyst Steve Phillips. Both the tales had sexy, new-media twists, Wise with her voice-mail hacking and Hundley because she bothered Phillips's son on Facebook.

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Wise is more of a garden-variety loon, or as Gawker's Hamilton Nolan puts it , "The most fascinating thing about Ali Wise's craziness is its very pedestrian nature-pedestrian on crystal meth, maybe, but still." Brooke Hundley went much further. According to the New York Post , "Hundley drove to the Phillips' home, where she dropped off the frightening letter before speeding off when she Marni arrived, hitting a stone post on the way out." The Post printed the letter , and Hundley rags on Phillips's wife for being a stay-at-home-mom in the most demented way possible: "While he's glad you decided to stay home," Hundley writes, "he enjoys being with me because I have more of a passion and drive to really do something with my life."

I wonder if these Fatal Attraction -ish cautionary stories-the pitting of terrifying career woman against sanity and family-are all the rage these days for a reason that Janet Maslin puts forth in her review of that film from 1987. They are part of the national hangover from a gilded age:

Years hence, it will be possible to pinpoint the exact moment that produced ''Fatal Attraction,'' Adrian Lyne's new romantic thriller, and the precise circumstances that made it a hit. It arrived at the tail end of the having-it-all age, just before the impact of AIDS on movie morality was really felt. At the same time, it was a powerful cautionary tale. And it played skillfully upon a growing societal emphasis on marriage and family, shrewdly offering something for everyone: the desperation of an unmarried career woman, the recklessness of a supposedly satisfied husband, the worries of a betrayed wife. What's more, it was made with the slick, seductive professionalism that was a hallmark of the day.

We just left another age of recklessness, financial and moral. Are these women Glenn Closes of the Internet age?

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