On Wednesday, Monica Lewinsky said she believes cancel culture has become “a little too broad,” referencing the culture of shaming that has risen on social media and the internet in general.
Lewinsky made her remarks during an interview on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” with host Trevor Noah.
Lewinsky was promoting her new documentary, “15 Minutes of Shame,” that examines how public shaming has exploded in the internet age.
The former intern for President Bill Clinton said, “I don’t know what you think about cancel culture and the term ‘cancel culture,’ but I think, for me, it’s just become a little too broad.”
“I think that really what felt important was for people to come to understand what happens in these shamings, and what does it feel like to be on the receiving end of that tidal wave of negativity,” Lewinsky said.
She continued, “It has exacerbated from being just shamed; it also can be violence, and that violence — particularly for women — it doesn’t just live online.”
Lewinsky said she eventually realized that “what happened to me — and I made a mistake — but what happened to me was now happening to many other people, especially young people.”
She said this shaming culture was “very much about power.”
“Are there people in power who should face consequences? Absolutely,” Lewinsky said. “But are there people who are not in positions of power who are facing the same consequence and it’s ruining their lives in a way that is very different? Yes to that, too.”
Lewinsky’s documentary focuses on the history of public shaming, particularly after the rise of the internet.
In her documentary, Lewinsky calls herself “patient zero” regarding public shaming.
22-year-old White House intern Lewinsky had an infamous affair with former president Bill Clinton, who was 49 at the time and that relationship led to charges of perjury and obstruction and eventually impeachment for the President.
Clinton ended up being acquitted on all charges.
Lewinsky told Noah, “One of the factors – and we do take people through this in the film – is around the idea of how shame had been used since the beginning of time as a social tool. When the printing press was invented, it all of the sudden leap-frogged into being something that could now be commoditized.”
“Once the tabloid culture bled into every area of our culture, leading up to Princess Diana’s death – which was a function of paparazzi living in that world, the tabloid world, that’s where their income comes from – and so there was that moment,” she said.
“That was only five months before 1998, so we didn’t make a cultural shift,” Lewinsky added.
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