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May 05, 2003

Monica, Monica, Monica

I note conservatives are whacking on Monica Lewinsky again, this time for her undoubtedly ill-advised but essentially harmless participation in that Mr. Personality dating show. Bill O'Reilly's column on Saturday is typical sort of thing in which he castigates Monica of cashing in on her particular brand of fame, saying "Since Ms. Lewinsky has no prior TV experience, one can assume that the only reason she is doing 'Mr. Personality' is that she did Mr. Personality, if you know what I mean," and likewise compares her to other Washington types who cashed in on their non-positive notoriety, such as G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, and Hollywood types like Wynona Ryder and Robert Downey, Jr. O'Reilly's moral is that bad behavior pays off.

Two things here. First, let's start with the admission that Monica's specific "crime," aside from not actually being a crime in most states, is pretty mild compared to, say, circumventing Congress to sell arms to a middle eastern country, or even shoplifting at the mall. It doesn't even really count as "bad behavior," since most women (and not a few men) do what she's done on a regular basis without the slightest fear of retribution (maybe not to the sitting President of the United States, admittedly. But like you can blame a girl for showing initiative).

But second and more importantly, while O'Reilly's correct in that Lewinsky's getting her gig because she's who she is, but it's worth remembering that Lewinsky's famous not because she came forward to the tabloids with her stained dress and tales of pizzas and thongs, looking to make a quick buck in a "gulp and gab" experience. It took her so-called friend Linda Tripp to make it happen, followed the hounds of the conservative press, who mocked her as a "portly pepperpot" for about a year before any of the rest of us even actually heard her voice. I don't want to say Lewinsky is entirely blameless for the whole fracas -- it was her oral cavity, after all -- but her elevation to scandal superstardom is almost exclusively the doing of others. Lewinsky would have undoubtedly joined the legions of women who serviced Little Bill with little more than the thanks of a grateful President had not more ideological forces intervened.

Therefore, the idea of conservative flogging her to make a buck now seems like hypocritical whining. They made Monica Lewinsky -- and indeed, it's Fox, home of the most ideologically transparent news organization in the US, which is giving her her current job -- so they've got no right to bitch about her persistence in the culture. They may be upset that she's not sticking to the script and fading into the background like the good and silly little patsy she was supposed to be, but that's just another example of conservatives theoretical plans getting knocked about by the real world.

Also, of course, I think it's entirely fair for Lewinsky to get a chance to have a generation of people remember her for something other than licking presidential Flipper. I personally wouldn't choose to be remembered as the host of a lame game show, but it's not my life, these are the opportunities presented to her, and it's not like anyone would let her have a life where she's just another gal in lower middle management anyway. Let her have her opportunities. You can't blame her for capitalizing on the fame, tawdry or otherwise, other people foisted onto her.

Posted by john at May 5, 2003 11:26 AM

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Comments

mark | May 5, 2003 11:56 AM

Well said.

_Jon | May 5, 2003 12:07 PM

"presidential Flipper"?

LOL

But, uhh, don't you have the capitalization incorrect? I mean, you're indicating that the "Flipper" is capitalized, but the "President" isn't?

Flipper....Ha!

Jon | May 5, 2003 12:39 PM

Fox does tend to do that, don't they? They spend a lot of time bashing celebrities and Hollywood types, but they're also responsible for a lot of those painful celebrity fluff stories. Michael Jackson's home movies come to mind.

This doesn't let the other networks off, of course, but Fox's news & entertainment arms do seem to at cross-purposes sometimes.

I'm also personally amused by your gratuitous use of the word "whacking."

John Scalzi | May 5, 2003 12:51 PM

It's not gratutious at all. Every word is hand-crafted and finely considered for maximum rhetorical impact. I'm a professional, damn it!

Jeremy | May 5, 2003 12:53 PM

I agree with most of what you wrote, but I don't think your argument that Monica's actions were ok succeeds. I thought the main conservative beef with her was that she knowingly got involved with a married man. That's the sort of thing that tends to set off conservatives and I am tempted to agree that that sort of behavior should be frowned upon.

Jon | May 5, 2003 12:53 PM

In that case, I'm amused in a dirty minded sort of way.

John Scalzi | May 5, 2003 01:02 PM

"I thought the main conservative beef with her was that she knowingly got involved with a married man."

If that's the case, Jeremy, that doesn't make them any less hypocritical, since some of the biggest Republicans at the time -- Gingrich among them -- were happily busy with their own extramartial affairs. Ultimately it didn't have much to do with anything else other one side trying score points off the other.

Lisa | May 5, 2003 02:58 PM

Ah, those were the days. What sweet, innocent memories. A wrongfully placed cigar here, or "flipper" there...

If we could only go back to those good times before pre-emptive strikes, illegal multimillion dollar defense contract awards, imperialism, and sleeping with the enemy, as well as the enemy of the enemy.

I did not agree with all of Clinton's policies and actions while in the White House, but I felt some level of security in the fact that the conservative tried so hard for all those years to pin him for something, and when they did, it was like, "is that the best you could come up with?"

Bowler | May 5, 2003 04:21 PM

Your double-entendre euphamisms sound like you had a lot of fun writing this one :)

Tripp | May 5, 2003 04:23 PM

I see no hypocracy here. The Republicans 'made' Monica, and they are simply continuing to use her.

RON | May 6, 2003 02:52 AM

If people are so eager to write about Monica in regards to her new TV show, then you can bet your tape recorder, a few people will be watching the show for the same reasons. For promotional puposes, one of the suitors will be, not to spoil the ending, Mr. Clinton himself. Should Tripp, in good conscience, be owed a commission for all this? ["Confidante" (femine) is and always will be an oxymoron. How many women have casually admitted to their spouse, "After I finished shopping, I had an affair, yesterday," while fully expecting their Camelot to remain idylic through spring, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and this secret known only to the speaker, herself? The woman should have kept the mask on her conscience. If a women can't keep her own secret to herself (exaggerated above), how can she expect non-disclosure from another women once the words have left the confessor's mouth?] At least Monika's new internship is better than a Playboy's foldout. Also, her show will send a message about courtship to the women in Iraq. With personality, isolated in a perspective suitor and all other things being equal, Monika has the proper credentials to be mistress of ceremonies of this new TV series, you agree? There's more relevancy between the show and Monika as its host, then all the press that originally brought Monika, her notoriety.