I was about 10 when the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal had surfaced to public knowledge. I was living in Patna at that time. I remember “it” because it was all over the news. The newspapers in Hindi termed it as ‘Yaun Sambadh’. I did not understand what it meant. I assumed they meant ‘young’ and did not know how to spell. Or pronounce.
I remember seeing Monica Lewinsky on T.V. and thinking she was pretty. I remember going to Ranchi and seeing that a small, dingy looking food hawker’s stall was named ‘Monica Lavansky Momo Centre’. I remember thinking what relevance did Monica Lewinsky have with his business? I remember thinking President Bill Clinton was handsome. I remember the news mentioning a ‘dress’ and some other terms in the news I was hearing for the first time. I remember a lot.
To sum up, I remember not understanding much except that something bad and shameful had happened.
I had not given much thought to the whole thing until recently when I completed watching the series, ‘Impeachment – American Crime Story’ on Hotstar.
The Impeachment is the third series of American Crime Story. I had loved the First Season on OJ Simpsons. The makers of this show deserve a lot of appreciation for both these series – 1 and 3 . (I did not watch the second series beyond 2 episodes). The drama is gripping, the dialogues are intelligent, and the acting is super. Every scene is intriguing and you cannot afford to miss a single dialogue.
Sometimes we do not know the masterminds
Far away in a different continent, as a child who had no clue what a scandal means, I still knew that something had happened between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. But it was not until I watched the show, that I got to know about Linda Tripp.
‘Some think I am a hero. Some think I am a villain’. Linda Tripp said.
There is a villain in every story. A villain who plans the downfall of someone more important. It is not unusual that amidst all the noise, sometimes the real villains remain unknown.
Not that I think Linda Tripp is a villain. I don’t think she was a hero or a villain. I think she was just bored, wanted some drama and took herself more seriously than she should have!
I was shocked to know that Sarah Paulson had played Linda Tripp on the show. I could have never guessed it. How did they change her completely!
What happened to the women?
Linda Tripp was an honest, hard-working woman. A single mother. A decent person. I felt bad for her even though she what she did to her ‘friend’ was nothing short of betrayal. Why did she record her friend? That too again and again! She seemed like such a decent, dignified, working woman with a clean track record until she made these choices.
In 2018, Tripp said that “She was the victim of ‘a real high-tech lynching’. She passed away in 2020.
May her soul rest in peace.
Linda Tripp and Paula Jones both had surgeries done after they became famous because both were judged harshly because of their looks.
Linda Tripp said that had she been prettier, people would have perceived her differently. I do not want to judge the choices Linda Tripp or Paula Jones made.
But they had not assaulted anyone.
Women are not forgiven for looking less than pretty. Men get away with alleged crimes!
This thought is so unsettling it makes me feel sick.
It was painful to watch what she went through. Nobody deserves that. Such a beautiful, smart, young woman. She fell in love with the wrong person.
Monica Lewinsky said on the show that she may never get married.
The man she was involved with was married and continues to be so!
I looked up Monica Lewinsky. There is a TED Talk of hers on YouTube, ‘The Price of Shame’. She is now an activist against cyber bullying. She is not married.
(It does not matter to me if she is married. I do not believe that marriage is an achievement. I am bringing it up because more than once on the show Monica mentions that she may never get married).
It was painful and shocking to know what happened to Juanita Broaddrick. We are talking 20 years ago. It was long before ‘Me Too’. What Monica did was consensual. With Paula Jones, it was a demand but nothing actually happened (as she says). But Juanita Broaddrick was allegedly raped! It is horrible!!
I felt bad for Hilary Clinton too, and Chelsea although Chelsea’s character on the show is limited to a one-time appearance and zero dialogues. The confrontation scenes between the Clinton couple are powerful.
There are so many victims in this story. It caused more damage to all the women than the one central man common to them.
The show gives us a haunting account of how common people can get into a legal mess. Monica Lewinsky came from an affluent family. She could afford good lawyers. She made it through, at least legally. What if it was someone much less privileged? What could have happened then?
There are other important female characters also such as Monica’s mother, Linda Tripp’s daughter. There was so much of collateral damage in this political power play of politicians, lawyers and journalists.
But the good thing about the show is we get to see the story from different people’s perspectives. Something that is a privilege, because history is more often than not written by those who distort it.