Monica Lewinsky recalls Clinton’s ‘lethal charm’ that left her ‘intoxicated’: ‘I was enamored with him'

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Fox News 08 September, 2021 - 10:15am 17 views

Can you watch impeachment on Hulu?

Not on a traditional streaming service, no. Like we said above, you won't be able to stream Impeachment next-day on Hulu. The series won't even be available on any big streaming service until it hits Netflix in 2022, according to The Hollywood Reporter. VultureHold On, Is Impeachment: American Crime Story Not on ‘FX on Hulu’?

Is American crime story impeachment on Hulu?

But “Impeachment: American Crime Story” will not be available on Hulu because of licensing agreement that 20th Century Fox struck back in 2016 with Netflix for exclusive global SVOD streaming rights to the “American Crime Story” franchise from executive producer Ryan Murphy — prior to the studio being gulped down by ... VarietyWhy ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’ Is Not Available to Hulu On-Demand Subscribers

Monica Lewinsky gets her say in 'American Crime Story: Impeachment'

MSNBC 08 September, 2021 - 02:01pm

“That woman” was, of course, Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern who would quickly become shorthand for “cautionary tale.”

What a weird and unsettling time to come of age. It’s no wonder that more than 20 years later, we are still unpacking the damage

When I was a 10-year-old girl, Lewinsky’s life experiences seemed light years away from my own. But I knew enough to understand that she was not to be admired.. Her shame and humiliation, her pain after being betrayed and used as a pawn by a dear friend and her denigration at the hands of some of the most powerful people in the world became little more than tabloid fodder. Her humanity barely registered.

But it’s that humanity which is front and center in Ryan Murphy’s new mini-series, “American Crime Story: Impeachment,” which premieres Tuesday on FX. The series tells the story of the events leading up to Clinton’s impeachment through the eyes of Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson) and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford). And this time, the story isn’t just being told about Lewinsky, but by her. (This is literally and figuratively true; Lewinsky is a producer on the series.)

She looks so young, I thought.

She is so young.

She was so young.

Feldstein is 28. When Lewinsky’s sexual relationship with Clinton began, she was just 21. When the relationship became public, she was 24.

At the time, I thought of Lewinsky as more of a symbol than a human being; she was an idiot girl whose questionable sexual obsessions and irresponsible confessions, taped secretly by her much-older friend Tripp, had inadvertently threatened to take down a president. I knew about the blue dress and the cigar and the oral sex — details that would kick off years of hand-wringing about the lessons us tweens were absorbing about blow jobs — and I knew, implicitly, that Lewinsky wasn’t supposed to be interpreted as a sympathetic figure. This was not because my parents were walking around our home denigrating her — “Republicans want to impeach the president for getting a blow job,” was the overarching sentiment I remember most from that time — but rather because a but rather because a disdain for Lewinsky became a ubiquitous cultural staple of the late ‘90s."

Disdain for Lewinsky became a ubiquitous cultural staple of the late ‘90s.

She was the butt of cruel, body-shaming, sexually explicit, misogynist jokes on “Saturday Night Live” and by late-night hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman.” (“American Crime Story” deploys original footage of these events to great and disturbing effect.) In 1998, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd referred to (extremely tame, fully-clothed) photos taken of Lewinsky for Vanity Fair as “pornography,” accusing Lewinsky of being “so eager to get her scandal trophy that she didn't stop to consider that these photographs shriek '’I'm not a serious person’’ and brag ‘I was the President's sex kitten.’” A 1999 episode of “Law & Order: SVU” featured a character referring to oral sex as “getting a Lewinsky.” A former high school drama teacher of Lewinsky’s who had been involved in a sexual relationship with his former student, went on TV to proclaim Lewinsky as a person “obsessed with sex,” and the media painted him as a victim of her seduction. Meanwhile prominent feminists failed to come to Lewinsky’s defense despite the vast power differential that existed between an intern and the president of the United States.

“It’s like every girl’s dream,” author Elizabeth Benedict said during a roundtable discussion printed in The Observer in February 1998. “You can be the president, but you can f--- the president, too.”

As a girl whose understanding of my own burgeoning sexuality was inevitably impacted by the whole affair, I don’t exactly remember this scenario being the dream. Most of us absorbed the media frenzy surrounding the Clinton impeachment as a guide to what not to do; we laughed along with the masses at Lewinsky and sought to avoid becoming her. In the years following the Starr Report, when she was trying to make money to pay her exorbitant legal fees by selling handbags and partnering with Jenny Craig, we rolled our eyes.

One of the most striking things about how “American Crime Story” treats the impeachment is its emphasis on the complicated people and events surrounding Lewinsky. A combination of Clinton’s alleged serial predatory behavior (which, to be clear, I believe likely occurred), cynical political plotting and plain ol’ bad luck conspired to place a young woman in her early 20s in the middle of a national firestorm that would fully subsume the following two decades of her life.

It is only in the last handful of years that we have begun to step back and collectively re-examine the many ways in which Lewinsky was wronged. In a searing 2014 essay for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky wrote: “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress. I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past.”

The Me Too movement erupted and a dam broke, releasing a flood of stories about sexual assault, misconduct and abuses of power.

Years later, the #MeToo movement erupted and a dam broke, releasing a flood of stories about sexual assault, misconduct and abuses of power. Other maligned women of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s — Lorena Bobbitt, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Marcia Clark, Tonya Harding — were the subjects of films, TV shows and documentaries which asked viewers to at least reconsider the way they had been viewed and treated. And Lewinsky began taking baby steps into the public sphere , talking about public shame and becoming an advocate for anti-bullying efforts. She has also been honest about the nonlinear path to healing; The New York Times reported she had to work with her trauma therapist throughout the making of “American Crime Story” because of her post-traumatic stress disorder.

Maybe “American Crime Story” can serve as a bookend: a way for Lewinsky, and the rest of us, to put a period at the end of a very long cultural chapter. If nothing else, it is an important reminder to resist reducing women to proverbial punching bags.

“When you have made a colossal mistake like I did so early in your life, and lost so much because of it, the idea of making a mistake is catastrophic,” Lewinsky told the New York Times’ Jessica Bennett during a recent interview. “And yet in order to move forward, I have to take risks. I have to try things. I have to continue to define who I am.”

‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’ review: Show depicts the saga between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky but it feels like a dodge

Oil City Derrick 08 September, 2021 - 02:01pm

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LONDON (AP) — British writer Susanna Clarke won the prestigious Women’s Prize fo…

I’m not sure how anyone can come to the resulting television series, FX’s “Impeachment: American Crime Story” — which is about (among other things) a powerful man taking his penis out in the workplace — without stopping to note how something it is (gross? ironic? expected?) that Murphy initially intended to base the show on a book written by ... a powerful man who exposed his penis in the workplace, as Toobin did last year.

Toobin did not serve as a consultant on the show, the show’s creators noted during a panel interview with members of the Television Critics Association last month.

But introspection about this turn of events has been absent from the many media profiles that have preceded the show’s premiere, suggesting that Murphy and his collaborators — including executive producers Brad Simpson, Sarah Burgess and cable network FX — would prefer you forget this unfortunate detail. To do otherwise might tank the marketing strategy, which has positioned the show as a reassessment of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky saga as told through the experiences of Lewinsky herself, who is a producer here; she worked closely with the writers as well as Beanie Feldstein, the actress who portrays her.

I can’t help dwelling on it, though. Like Bill Clinton, Toobin also had an extramarital affair with a woman in her 20s. He would later father a child with her; we know this because it was reported in 2010, after a family court judge ordered Toobin to pay child support. This was public information when, years later, Murphy would pay money to option “A Vast Conspiracy,” which wasn’t even essential to the making of the show; there’s no shortage of reporting on the lead up to and eventual impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Perhaps this all circles back to a reticence among the Hollywood establishment to talk openly about how systems function and become entrenched in ways that deliberately and often unfairly protect and enrich certain people while pillorying or discarding others. That’s one of the stories “Impeachment” aims to tell. But it is also the origin story of this very project.

Is it worth watching? I’m not really sure. There are so many details. So many moving parts. So many household names in wigs and pointless prosthetics. And yet the inner lives of the key players remain elusive, as the show moves from the carpeted hallways and creamy walls of the White House to the drab, echoey offices of the Pentagon to various personal residences. The show is tawdry but absorbing, which you could say about any of Murphy’s projects. Even his more serious efforts are always flirting with camp, and I found his previous “American Crime Story” entries — about the murder trial of O.J. Simpson and the serial killer Andrew Cunanan — deeply off-putting.

“Impeachment” doesn’t stray from that stylistic approach. Line readings are sometimes melodramatic or over-the-top, yet the entire thing is intended to be taken seriously. I never know what we’re meant to do with this tonal uncertainty, or what’s even being conveyed. Critics were given access to the first seven of the season’s 10 episodes; I watched them in rapid succession and they stayed with me for days. That’s saying something. I’m unsure how that viewing experience will compare for audiences seeing it in a weekly rollout, and I’m curious how the show will play for anyone who lived through this moment (and actually has an interest in revisiting it) versus those who are new to this level of minutia about Clinton’s history of alleged sex scandals, which go beyond Lewinsky.

The first half of the season focuses on the dynamic between Lewinsky — a one-time White House intern transferred to the Pentagon when her presence in the West Wing is deemed problematic to Clinton’s reelection campaign — and Linda Tripp (played by Sarah Paulson under layers of padding), a fellow colleague at the Pentagon who was also a former White House employee, now disgruntled and looking to settle scores.

I’m fascinated by Lewinsky’s level of involvement in “Impeachment,” because there’s so much desperation and childlike entitlement in this portrayal — she feels entitled to a position back at the White House and entitled to Tripp’s willingness to talk at all hours about the mind games Clinton was playing with her — and I don’t know that you can interpret that as anything but radical honesty from the real Lewinsky. Was working on the show a cathartic experience for her? Even if it wasn’t, you have to think the practical considerations that led her to sign on were considerable: Why be content with other people telling your story — and profiting from it — when you have the opportunity to be involved as well?

The version of Lewinsky we see on screen is naive. So naive. Petulant and privileged. And obsessed. This might ring true to anyone who has ever found themselves irrationally consumed by a toxic relationship — or has watched someone in their orbit be overtaken by a similar fixation. Feldstein plays Lewinsky as entirely human: Personable and smart but lacking an intellectual seriousness and the kind of cynical Washington instincts that wouldn’t have made her such easy pickings for Clinton and Tripp’s competing manipulations. Lewinsky was seeking intimate connections in all the wrong places, in all the wrong ways, and we never see her contemplate that this could be bad for her career. She was too immature to be working in the White House and maybe that was why she was unable, or unwilling, to detect the angles being played at her expense before it all came crashing down.

What did she see as her endgame? We’re meant to experience this from Lewinsky’s point of view, but the show sidesteps this and other questions: Did she want to work in the White House for reasons other than physical proximity to the president? Did she even like her job? Was she any good at it? What was she interested in beyond waiting by the phone for her man to call, like she was cosplaying some 1950s cliche? (The show omits that she was seeing someone else during this period as well.) Maybe she wasn’t thinking beyond the here and now. That would be true of many 23-year-olds.

Lewinsky and Tripp’s interactions are depicted here as self-serving and transactional. They were mutually needy, but for entirely different reasons; Lewinsky wanted someone to indulge her endless ramblings about Clinton, and Tripp disingenuously egged her on in order to secretly tape their phone conversations and expose it all.

The version of Tripp we see in “Impeachment” is an unhappy busybody, looking to make trouble and convinced of her superiority and indispensableness. She clings to status markers and her self-worth is rattled when she loses that cushy White House gig; the show goes out of its way to give us scene after scene of her seething outrage at the indignity of sharing cubicle space at the Pentagon, or sitting at home in front the TV smoking a cigarette and staring into the abyss. It’s not clear if Tripp was thinking more than one step ahead either, as she set her trap.

Clinton is played by Clive Owen, who eschews the loose-limbed folksy patina that usually undergirds Clinton’s public persona, but he embodies the idea of a man who is an operator, both incredibly smart and incredibly not. There’s the occasional smile playing around his lips in unexpected moments, particularly during a deposition late in the season. But Owen doesn’t lose himself in the role so much as manifest his performance through a layer of latex. That’s true of Paulson’s Tripp as well, and her weight gain and padding are emblematic of the ways Hollywood enforces specific beauty standards, as if the best person for the role is always famous and thin in real life and that fatness is merely an unpleasant costume to be shed once the cameras stop rolling. Paulson belated acknowledge as much in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, saying: “There’s a lot of controversy around actors and fat suits, and I think that controversy is a legitimate one” and she regrets “not thinking about it more fully” before accepting the role and that she “wouldn’t make the same choice going forward.”

Paulson’s an excellent actress and she gives it her all. So does Feldstein. But like so many other reassessments that don’t seem to have much to say, the show takes a book report approach to history. Was there a more unexpected way into this story? Watching “Impeachment,” I started wondering if Clinton’s Oval Office secretary Betty Currie (played by Rae Dawn Chong) might have been a more interesting point of view character. In 1998, the Washington Post ran a long profile on her and this paragraph jumped out: “Betty Currie’s friends and her own grand jury testimony suggest that at times she was having a difficult inner struggle between carrying out her boss’s wishes and following her own sense of what was right. In the end, it appears, Currie sided with the voice that told her to respect her boss’s privacy and shield him from scrutiny.”

What was going through her mind while all of this was happening, both before and after the walls started closing in? As a Black woman, was she put in an even tighter situation than most — expected to make clean what was so obviously not, expected to both see and not to see at the same time?

The show also gets into the Matt Drudge of it all, the Ann Coulter, Ken Starr and Paula Jones of it all. To watch this show is to constantly gauge your appetite for revisiting this period in time. If you’re up for it, I’d recommend going back to the 1998 movie “Primary Colors,” based on the roman a clef about Clinton’s first presidential campaign.

Like 1997′s “Wag the Dog” (which I chose not to revisit; everyone has their limits!) it reveals the apparatus that’s firmly in place to better facilitate terrible behavior, or simply keep it out of view. That infrastructure wasn’t unique to Clinton — it has always existed in various forms for various people, usually white men, in positions of power — but this is perhaps what emboldened him to begin an affair with a White House intern and not consider how predatory and alarmingly out-of-bounds those power dynamics actually were. He never had to consider it. Everyone around him made sure of that. Until they couldn’t.

There’s a scene in “Primary Colors” that took me by surprise when I rewatched the film: Early on, an adviser played by Billy Bob Thornton arrives at the newly established campaign headquarters, sizes up a woman he decides needs putting in her place and … exposes himself. “Primary Colors” may be thinly fictionalized, but it’s pathetic that this particular detail appears to be a running theme through all of this. The character isn’t swiftly kicked off the campaign. Of course he isn’t, because so often this sort of thing isn’t considered job-ending behavior.

Nobody comes out well in these tellings. Rarely does a larger point emerge. Even so, “Primary Colors” and “Impeachment” make for fascinating companion viewing, with the events of one setting the stage for the other.

Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)

Where to watch: Premiered Tuesday on FX

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