‘Bunny boiler’ movie reference explained amid Santos-Kennedy tête-à-tête

Bruno Cooke January 25, 2023
‘Bunny boiler’ movie reference explained amid Santos-Kennedy tête-à-tête
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images


Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana has called representative George Santos, of New York, a “bunny boiler,” the meaning of which may be lost on anyone who hasn’t seen the movie Fatal Attraction.

Fatal Attraction is where the phrase originated, but it has since entered the vernacular. And Kennedy’s deployment of it will likely shunt mainstream usage.

Santos has since replied to Kennedy. Calling him a bunny boiler “saddened” him, he said. He tweeted that he found it “hurtful and divisive.”

All the while, Internet users have been having a field day over the clip. Here’s what it means.

Photo by BONNIE CASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

What is the meaning of John Kennedy’s ‘bunny boiler’ comment, and what movie is it from?

When Senator John Kennedy called George Santos a “bunny boiler,” he was making a reference to the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction.

In the movie, Glenn Close’s character Alex Forrest places the pet rabbit of her ex-lover (Michael Douglas’ Dan Gallagher) in a pot of boiling water.

She does so to get revenge on him, while he is out of the house. 

Wiktionary categorizes the phrase “bunny boiler” as derogatory, humorous, and a slang phrase, the meaning of which is, loosely: someone who acts (or may supposedly act) obsessively or dangerously towards someone with whom they would like to be with, romantically.

What could the specific meaning behind Kennedy’s use of ‘bunny boiler’ have been?

It’s unlikely that senator Kennedy meant to describe Santos as the type of ex-lover who acts scornfully. Instead, he was referring to various “allegations” against him.

Vox writes that the “scandal” surrounding George Santos is “historically unprecedented,” adding that the newly elected Republican congressman’s story, already “fantastical and absurd,” has “spiralled” out of control in recent weeks. Meanwhile, New York Magazine has recently published an article titled, ‘Here’s Every Single Lie Told by George Santos.’

The magazine claims that he allegedly lied about where he went to high school; where he went to university; working on Wall Street; founding an animal charity; swindling a disabled vet whose dog was dying; his grandparents’ survival of the Holocaust; and more.

“If the allegations prove to be true,” Kennedy says in the video, “I would boot him.”

Santos is, however, entitled to due process – “like every other American.”

What has George Santos said in response to Kennedy’s ‘bunny boiler’ remark?

Santos said Kennedy’s remark “saddened him.”

He said he has respect for his fellow GOP lawmaker, but that the language he used was “hurtful and divisive.” 

Twitter users have since responded to Santos with opinions of their own. 

And Brazilian drag artist Eula Rochard has made headlines for circulating a photo she says is of Santos wearing a red dress and telling Insider she used to know him as a leftwing supporter of current president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, aka Lula.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Fatal Attraction came out the year before George Santos was born

The movie from which senator Kennedy’s “bunny boiler” remark came, Fatal Attraction, came out in 1987, meaning it will turn 36 this year.

Santos, meanwhile, assumed office on January 3, 2023, at the age of 34. He will turn 35 this coming July.

His full name is George Anthony Devolder Santos. His parents’ names are Fatima Aziza Caruso Horta Devolder and Gercino Antonio dos Santos Jr. They are both Brazilian.

Snopes reported this week that two people who claim to be acquaintances of George Santos’ told Reuters that he was part of the drag queen pageant circuit in Brazil around 15 years ago. He performed under the name Kitara Ravache, they reportedly claim. Santos denies the claims, describing them as “categorically false.”

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.