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+2 votes
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I just finished watching FX's third installment of American Crime Story called Impeachment, about Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the late 90's. I've generally enjoyed these American Crime Story series (the first was the OJ Simpson trial, the second was about how Gianni Versace was killed), mostly because they take me to a not-distant past to events I'd heard about when I was very young but didn't have any sort of larger understanding of - neither of the events themselves nor of the cultural underpinnings leading up to or spiraling out from these events.

Impeachment features 10 episodes centering Linda Tripp and then Monica Lewinsky at the center of the story throughout the affair, investigation, and then release to the public. From a historical perspective, I found it fascinating to watch. From a cinematic perspective, there were points where the story lagged, dragged, and got bogged down with all the complicated components it wanted to involve but not overwhelm the viewer with. There were certainly parts dramatized for the effect of the show rather than probably how they truly played out in real life (as is expected in any "based on true events" story). But all in all a good watch, with some interesting "hindsight" points dropped in there to make it seem like *this* is the reason we find ourselves where we are today...which, I won't go into here.

What I found interesting about the show is its attempt to provide a more nuanced, humanistic view of the three women most affected in the scandal than they were treated or portrayed at the time: Monica, Hillary, and Linda. Having personally heard jokes about Monica Lewinsky and Hillary for many years in the aftermath of the scandal (though never hearing about Tripp probably because I was too young), and given the way the internet has completely upended our culture for quick consumption, soundbites, and "cancelling" people, I can understand why there would be motivation for this deep dive on a well known story. The real Monica Lewinsky herself was behind the making of this show, and has become an anti-bullying and particularly anti-cyberbullying activist. I will say that while they somewhat tried to humanize Hillary as a wife scorned by a cheating husband (who so happened to be the POTUS), the show was otherwise obviously villainizing the Clintons for all their shady sidedoor dealings and stiff-arm threats that never could quite be traced back to them.

But anyway, without going into too much more detail about the show, I wanted to come here and ask folks who were of more solid cognitive mind at the time of the events than I was, during the scandal between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. I'm curious, what were your feelings on the whole ordeal at the time, the people involved, etc., and with all this time that has passed, what do you feel/think about it all now? Does it still matter or are there lasting repercussions?

in Entertainment by (79,390 points)

4 Answers

+2 votes
 
Best answer

I found this quite interesting as someone who follows US political history. Otherwise, I didn't really enjoy the cast. 

The use and abuse of political power is as relevant today as it was when this investigation was conducted. Clinton knew better but so did Lewinsky, she was left behind, a women scorned. The fact that someone has done something unjust or dishonest is no justification for acting in a similar way. The ongoing abuse she received from this scandal I thought was harsh, however, as a smart young women in her position she too should have thought of the consequences. She became famous for it nonetheless. Clinton and Lewinsky were both extremely foolish adults. Hillary forgave her unfaithful husband as many wives do. Husbands also forgive their wives in likewise situations.

In this life the good guys sometimes suffer, whilst the corrupt and the most powerful live out their lives apparently unmoved by the injustices that they have perpetrated. I remember the economy booming back then during the Clinton years. Unfortunately this scandal left a huge stain on those good years. The Clinton/Gore administration had the largest surplus in history. Bottom line politics is no different today then it was yesterday with trying to get can get away with everything they can, lol. Again, my sole interest in these type trials is simply out of my interest in political history. 

by (125,260 points)
+1

Thanks for your thoughts, Sam. For my thoughts on the cast, I thought Clive Owen did a really interesting job at playing Bill Clinton, given that he had to get prosthetics to look like him and significantly change his voice. Over the course of a few episodes, I found myself believing the character. Edie Falco as Hillary however, not so much. Granted, she wasn't given anywhere near as much airtime for us to get the chance to suspend disbelief. For that, I blame the writers and show creators for keeping that character in the background for most of the show (rather than the actor for not being good at playing her part). Beanie Feldstein as Monica, she was alright - I think the real Monica wanted everyone to see just how innocent and vulnerable she was, and while I can appreciate giving Monica the chance to tell her side of the story, I felt this was a little too self-disparaging to garner a new wave of pity and empathy. Lastly, I think Sarah Paulson is just great at everything she does. I looked up what Linda Tripp really looked like, and Sarah Paulson got it spot on (granted, also with a fake nose and a fat suit). But of course, given that I am too young to really have impressions of these real life people, I'm sure my take on the cast is quite different than those who more directly lived through the events!

I appreciate your perspective with your interest in political history, and recognizing that what happened then is really no different than the way things are now or the way things have always been. That's fairly refreshing to hear, given what feels to be the very bleak times we're in. Granted, of course the booming economy and large surplus of that time is not at all what we're in now, but in the grand scheme of it all, the players are always the same. What's that saying: same shit, different day. I recently read a book about the politics of the time of Manifest Destiny/westward expansion, and the Whig Party, etc. It all read just as polarized and vitriolic as things sound today. It's both comforting and depressing, hah :)

+2

Thank you for your thoughts too, Sapph1! I really enjoyed reading yours and everyone's opinion here. Only 5 different opinions, can you only imagine what they're like worldwide? Oh yeah! 

I lived through all this in real time, reason the cast didn't impress me much as presumed. Seeing this  through your perspective was interesting, as well. Thank you for the feedback, and for accepting mine.

+1

Thank you Sapph1 for BA. Nice surprise!

+1 vote

He was very sorry he didn't get away with it, the big fat Cheetah!

by (4,272,141 points)
+1

True that! The entitlement was uncanny.

+2 votes

Since law is definitely in my wheelhouse, I would love to comment on this, Sapph. Unfortunately, I have not watched it yet. As always, I do believe it depends on who you ask, because bias and opinions will always play a major role in anything and everything political.

by (329,720 points)
+1

Smart!!

+2
Thanks for your thoughts, Sandy. I'm more curious about opinions on the real life events rather than the show itself, though I reference the show so heavily because that's my primary source of information on the matter currently. And yes, I recognize that there will be different opinions on the matter, not only given the political nature, but also due to differing opinions on infidelity, and media invasion of privacy (among other things related to this matter, I'm sure). Bias impacts all experiences and opinions, it's just a matter of whether or not we're aware of them :)
+2

Exactly, Sapph. And, you're welcome!

Sapph, in my office I have many quotes/plagues that I live by. Some are powerful quotes,  some are powerful meanings to words.  Some of my plagues were suitable personal gifts from those who listen to my advice over and over for many years. Some I created myself for the powerful message they can give.  For example I had a plaque made that states the powerful meaning of right vs wrong; "Doing the right thing is an act that is in accordance with the law, justice, and morality while doing the wrong thing is an act that is not in accordance with morality or the law. The right way is one which is proper, appropriate, and suitable while the wrong way is one which not suitable or appropriate." I live my life looking through that lens. That powerful meaning of right vs wrong, should (in a nutshell) clearly sum up my feelings on this unfortunate, and ugly scandal. 

I look forward to watching Impeachment when I can. As always, thank you, Sapph.


+2

I appreciate this perspective, thanks Sandy! I can't help but notice in the quote you shared how doing wrong is not necessarily something not proper or not in accordance with justice; it is so common that many people do and try to justify wrong things in seemingly proper ways and for what they think are the right reasons. 

+1

Sapph, in the meaning of right vs wrong, when referring to wrong it states: doing the wrong thing is an act that is not in accordance with morality or the law. Then later continues the wrong way is one which not suitable or appropriate."  

In my mind wrong is wrong with no wiggle room here or there. However, I do agree that people will try to justify or wiggle a wrong into a right when there is no justification. Human behavior is definitely complicated. Making the law just as complicated. Therefore, looking for those loopholes will always be. Lol.

As always, thank you for the interesting conversation. 

+1

Thanks for the clarification, Sandy. I think we're saying the same thing but I was not as articulate as you on the matter. Having worked with lawyers in some of my career, I believe they are some of the most articulate people out there! It seems to be a necessarily skill that comes with the territory :)

+2 votes

Sapph,

    I remember when this happened. Every one of my family members didn’t care one way or another about Clinton and his personal affairs,  because they liked him as a president. I was  the only one who saw him as someone who had done something wrong. My thinking was, if he acted this way towards his wife, what was he doing to the country? Another president, Kennedy, did the same thing with Marilyn Monroe only worse: he and his brother shared her between the two of them—and may have had something to do with her death.  I had seen a documentary on the subject and it was somehow fond out that because she knew about and talked about Jack Kennedy’s relations with Cuba, and talked about it out loud to others, they wanted to silence her. 

  About the actual happening with Clinton (and he admired Kennedy, very ironic):  I do believe that he might have just allowed her to have oral sex with him and that’s all—but still, to me it was wrong. Many think it was more than that, and it could very well be.  So my thoughts about him as a president went down—and I often wondered why his wife would allow such a thing and not do anything about it. I’m sure she suffered greatly from it. As for Monika—what was she thinking?—is my feeling about her. She was foolish to let herself get involved with a president—and a married president at that.  I believe it was as the tabloids said—perhaps it was because she was attracted to powerful men, and it made her feel important. Some women are like that. But was incredibly naive and foolish of her to do what she did. I’m sure today she is not very proud of that. 

by (1,251,750 points)
+1

Did you watch this trial, Amy? Or are these your thoughts from when this happened in the late '90's? I'm just wondering as you mentioned before you don't like trials/trial movies'.

+1

Thanks for sharing your opinion on the issue, Amy. I think your questions on how far his inappropriate behavior went is valid, and I guess that can be asked about anyone who does any wrong: how much more wrong will they do if they think they can get away with it? Will it always be the same kind - infidelity, in Clinton's case - or would it grow to become/is it an indication of other wrongs as well? It's fairly clear that the more power and privilege someone has, the more opportunity for turning to vices they have, and so therefore they are just shown for who they truly are. I think Linda Tripp felt compelled to expose Clinton because she also feared it was an indicator of larger wrongdoings, abuse of his position, but the show primarily focused only on this particular scandal.

And I agree, Monica was incredibly foolish for what she did and how long she let it go on for, regardless of how genuine their attraction or connection to each other might have been. The show shines light on how this power dynamic is somewhat of a pattern for her, and so therefore it seems as though regardless of where she worked at that time in her life, she would have let herself get involved in an inappropriate relationship...it's just that the circumstances were 'right' for it to be the absolute worst kind of inappropriate relationship. So to me, I don't think it really mattered to her that he was the President, per se, just that he was superior to her and more important than her, and because he gave her special attention, like you said, that made her feel important.

Interestingly enough the show also did this weird dance of making it seem like all the women involved in this scandal wanted to feel more important than they were, in some ways sadly, in other ways poignantly. To me it highlighted how at this period in time, while in many ways women's rights have come very far, they are still so clearly second class to men because of how much they are belittled, ignored, cast aside, vilified. That, to me, seemed to be one of the big takeaway themes from the show, which maybe wasn't as much of a talking point at the time of the real life events (possibly?)

+2

Sam, that was so long ago- the mid 90's, that I can't remember. But I read plenty of it in the newspaper, and that had the information about the trials. I'm sure you know it was seen on the news as well. I  can't remember that far if I ever saw the trials on television- sorry. 

+1

Sapph, yes, I think that it was his power and place in the gov't (the highest place anyone could ever achieve) that made it a kind of gamble for her--and very daring as well. Maybe she was high on the fact that this could acutally happen to her, a kind of power trip. I think I read somewhere that she bragged about it to her friends. 

<To me it highlighted how at this period in time, while in many ways women's rights have come very far, they are still so clearly second class to men because of how much they are belittled, ignored, cast aside, vilified. >

    It is sad that we are still very muich behind men in this country. We've come so far as you said--but the time has been incredibly slow for us to achieve what we have. I still cant get over the fact that women make less for the same jobs men have.  Some claim it's because men are usually the head of the household, but that's been changing for decades. And yes, it's sad also that she became infamous for this. Women don't realize that we can be very empowering--or be an embarrassment to the rest to the rest of us.

  PS I saw a segment or documentary on Linda Trips' experiencce and totally believed her. You're right--I think she did it when the Lewinski case came out. 

+1

Thank you, Amy. I'm thinking we are around the same age. I'm 66, 67 this year. Our point of view is quite similar. Living through these years is quite different in my opinion, than watching a remake years later. There's nothing wrong with it, just different. I wasn't that impressed with the cast in Impeachment, but that's me. As Sapph pointed out it could be because it lacks that feel that I had in real time.

+1

I have not seen that movie, not sure if i want to see it. I wasn't interested in the whole situation, just disappointed in our leader at the time. I remember the comments made at school, too, something like "He can do anything he wants, as long as he's a good president...."  I probably felt the same way as I felt about Trump in knowing about his dealings with women. Only with Trump I was more disgusted!  Yep, we are about the same age. I am 65 and will be posting a new picture soon. 

0

That's fine, Amy, I'm interested in political history. I decided to watch it because of that. I didn't care for the whole redo or cast myself, as  stated in my answer. I find that our presidents tend to dissapoint one way or another,  unfortunately. Thank you for answering.

+1

You would like so many others that were political history doucmentaries I've seen on Netflix or Prime. The one on Marilyn Monroe was very good, I recommend it.  No need to thank me for just answering! :) but you're welcome just the same. 

+1

Amy, thanking you is just part of my charm, lol. (jk)

I'll have to check out that Marilyn Monroe one soon 9n Netflix. I know only the gist of that story. 

+1

It's very interesting but very sad. Hope you get to see it. 

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