In the documentary “15 Minutes of Shame,” which she executive produced, Lewinsky refers to herself as “patient zero” for public shaming. In recent years, she’s been very open about struggling to move past her scandal, having suffered from an early version of being canceled.
During an appearance on “The Daily Show,” Lewinsky addressed cancel culture and its wide-reaching effects.
“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 not be commoditized,” she explained.
WARNING: The video below contains graphic language.
“15 Minutes of Shame” examines several real-life stories of non-celebrities who have been canceled or publicly shamed through various means. It also examines the history of shaming, dating back several centuries.
“Once the tabloid culture bled into every area of our culture, leading up to Princess Diana’s death – which was a function of the paparazzi living in that world, the tabloid world, that’s where their income comes from – and there was that moment,” she recalled. “That was only five months before 1998 [when the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal broke], so we didn’t make a cultural shift.”
Monica Lewinsky sais that cancel culture has become ‘too broad.’ (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Webby Awards)
She continued: “The internet being there when ’98 happened, it then grew from there.”
Lewinsky said that today, public shaming and cancel culture is “very much about power.”
Best known for having an affair with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Monica Lewinsky is now an anti-bullying advocate. (Getty Images)
“Are there people in power who should face consequences? Absolutely,” she said. “But are there people who are not in positions of power who are facing the same consequence and its ruin their lives in a way that is very different? Yes to that too.”
Ultimately, Lewinsky said that cancel culture and the term itself “has become a little too broad” for her taste.