A.) How has no one else used my title as clickbait yet?
B.) Monica Lewinsky? Doing… a TED talk?
(This is my new “Chloe at Disneyland”. You’re welcome.)
Now, I try to be open minded when it comes to hearing what people have to say.
So, when I heard that Monica Lewinksy’d done a talk for TED, I tried my hardest to curb the eyeroll and hear her out. Unfortunately, as of yet, the actual video hasn’t been posted. Thus, I had to settle for a blow by blow (#firstofmanyzings) from article authors who’d actually attended the event. Seeing as I’d formulated what matched a public-popular opinion about her back in eighth grade, I’d have a lotta work to undo to decide what my real not-just-what-everyone-else’s feelings are about her. Granted, they may change once I see the legit thing for myself other than the 21 second clip. But from what I’ve read in direct quotes thus far? Sure, my overall attitude has shifted to one of compassion. Yes. But my overall sentiments of unease about her remain – and that’s because she seems to have matured only physically and in the realm of her delivering-an-emotionally-compelling-speech technique (which you’d expect from someone in her field – hanging around who she has). And that’s because the meat n’ potatoes theme of her speech was about something we can all agree on – that bullying is bad, and she can commiserate ‘cause it was done to her. That she’s a person with a soul and was referred to as “that woman”, “slut”, and so on for so long which was awful, adding “Who here didn’t make a mistake at 22?”
Yeah! I agree with her on all’a that. We all make mistakes.
But you know what makes mistakes more forgivable?
A.) Know what you’re apologizing for – and say THAT out loud.
B.) Take responsibility for it before talking about who else’s wrong about it.
C.) Don’t try to gain fame or make bank off’a your blunders.
With regard to thing “A”, what vexed me most was the foundation of her engaging speech – the opening line.
Per the TED site itself, it went like this:
“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss,” she says bluntly as she begins her talk on the TED2015 stage, her hands clasped in front of her. “At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences.”
After that, it’s immediately launching into victim mode (that antithesis of thing “B”, above) about the media whirlwind transmogrifying her into a tarty target – like a chunky Parisian bullseye (see: beret; which is surprisingly unfunny when she makes fun of herself for it). And, ya know, she’s not wrong. But it’s really not about her – the media will jump on any sexy distraction. If it bleeds, it may lead. But if it leads (the country) and it cheats, it leads even harder. Had the media made it a quieter, “boys will be boys” kindofa thing, public opinion may have been less coruscatingly hateful. In the 90’s it was our constant reminder of it on the evening news and in the checkout line at the grocery store that kept the disdain in our consciousness. Now that the internet’s basically living under my fingernails, the constant influx of fckkery-info makes it so much easier to sway us into a snide state lacking compassion. So, yeah, Mon. I get that follow-up. By the pre-part, not so much because you failed to detail. And I’m not talking about the man-sauce saucy details decorating your dress, either. I mean that you failed to detail what it is you did wrong and who it is you hurt. I can identify with this, Miss L., because I too conveniently forget the nature of an appropriate apology when I’m too shame-filled or selfish or egoic to point it out and shine a light on it. That’s why I sometimes trust a friend to dredge it outta me. So, allow me to be a friend now. Monica, you were kinda sorta a homewrecker of the casa blanca home. Whatever the terms of their marriage were (Swingers? Power-beard? Is that a term?), Bill and Hill were a bound and vowed duo. I’d say that “even at 22, I knew that”, but who’m I to say my 22 mistakes were any better than yours? That’s in the past. What we worry about is what’s happening now. And what’s happening now is that you opened your speech with a blunt statement, which is good.
But it should have been this: “At 22, I fell in love with my boss….and ruined his family and career because of it.”
(Well, maybe only the first thing. Everyone seemed to get over his part of it a lot quicker.)
I’m sure she knows this, so why would she be doing public events to rehash it?
Ride the fame wave like she-…?
Too easy. Too low a blow. #zing. Moving on. Thing “C” – in this case for “celebrity cultivated in culpability”.
I feel she’s done it because she hasn’t acknowledged that as being a fact, much less admitting that’s the underlying truth. Monica talks about empathy in her talk – which means being able to put yourself in the other person’s position. You know what I feel when I put myself in her position? When I do an eggshell dance around apologizing for what I really did wrong? Apologizing to Hillary? Now, I’ve never been a homewrecker myself (unless unknowingly – who knows what other lies exes have told me than what I’ve learned?), but when I try to empathize, what I feel is… resentment. I feel that femme-crazy feeling of “But it’s not ALL my fault. It takes TWO to tango! He was part of it too! She wasn’t fulfilling his needs!” All of those crazy excuses we use to justify our behavior in a desperate need to be right. That part I can identify with – the need to be right. The part where we forget that it doesn’t matter what other people are doing wrong; we can’t change them. Here’s the truth: what matters is what we did wrong – and to take accountability for that. Say anything else – point the finger anywhere else – and people will sense that desperate distraction you’re attempting. They’ll see through you, even if they can’t put their finger on what it is you’re doing. In the case of oh-so-many infamous fifteen-minuters, it’s clear that relevance is what they’re clinging onto: not do-gooding. They never got rid of fame’s taste when it came in their mouths. And they spend the rest of their lives dying to make it smile above them as they kneel before it again.
The other part of it, too, is that same thing that drew her to Bill: power. Remember that Underwood quote in House of Cards – “being close to power deludes some people into believing they wield it”? It seems like mayhaps she’s gotten older and realized all that’s gonna be left to her name is a stain on a frock, why not take advantage of the “delusion” from being in power’s orbit? Give a TED talk? Especially since – at your core – you really aren’t that sorry for your true transgressions of the past? So who cares if you use it to get ahead? Not you!
I don’t hatechya, Lew. No bullying here – simply honesty. You’ve just got some growing to do yet.
Your lecture could’ve even seemed less fame-whorey – had you supplanted that first line with some sincerity.
But much like an actual house of cards, ya built that ish on shaky ground.
Guess to speak from the heart, you gotta build one first.
Start there, darlin’.