The Coen brothers’ 2008 film Burning After Reading Trends on Twitter after a Capitol Rioter Spy Attempt mirrors the plot of the film.
Burn after reading is all the rage after a rioter on the U.S. Capitol allegedly stole a laptop from President Nancy Pelosi’s office earlier this month and attempted to sell it to Russia. This attempted spy act closely mirrors the plot of the 2008 film Coen Brothers, which follows two silly gym workers (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt) who come across the stray memories of a former CIA analyst. (John Malkovich) and mistake them for classified government documents. Much like the rioter on Capitol Hill, the two attempt to sell the Russian Embassy what they believe to be sensitive government information.
The FBI is currently examining a Pennsylvania woman, Riley June Williams, as a suspect in the laptop theft case. A witness claims Williams stole a laptop from President Pelosi’s office and said she intended to sell the computer to a friend in Russia, who will then sell it to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. Unsurprisingly, the plan failed for undisclosed reasons. Authorities are still investigating whether Williams still owns the computer or if he destroyed it. In the Coen Brothers film, Frances McDormand’s character efforts resulted in a very different result, as she ultimately extorted the CIA to pay for the cosmetic surgery she desperately wanted.
After news of the botched spy attempt broke Uproxx and other sites, users took to social media to highlight its eerie similarities to the plot of Burn after reading. One user joked: “This story is a couple of dummies in a gym running out of an actual take on @CoenBros Burn After Reading. Like many of the Coen brothers’ films, Burn after reading features many quoted lines of dialogue that resurface on Twitter in light of history. Check out some of the best tweets below:
“Is this Osbourne Cox? … I’m sorry to call at such a time, but I thought you might be worried … For the safety … of your shit.” https://t.co/fRVI0i58FI
– Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) January 18, 2021
Although often overlooked in the Coen brothers’ filmography, Burn after reading is one of their wackiest and funniest comedies alongside the cult classic The great Lebowski. The film also showcases an abundance of acting talent, including Oscar winners Frances McDormand, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, JK Simmons, and Tilda Swinton. Burn after reading is streaming on Peacock and is a must-have for its topicality and pure entertainment factor.
While espionage is a very serious crime, especially when it comes to a country that has recently and actively attempted to hack into the United States government, shedding light on this story can provide much needed levity. Similar to recent Master and Commander situation on social media, this latest example of life imitating art provided an opportune moment to discuss an underrated film.
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