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Monica Lewinsky says 'we are all guilty' for indulging in Depp-Heard trial, says it is 'courtroom porn'

Business Insider US
Monica Lewinsky on Wednesday, October 16, 2019
  • Monica Lewinsky wrote an op-ed on the Depp-Heard trial that has grabbed national attention in recent weeks.
  • She wrote that viewers are "drenched in the taint of the dirt and aggression of the social media wars."
  • Lewinsky was at the center of a sex scandal with former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Monica Lewinsky says "we are all guilty" of indulging in the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard as if it's "courtroom porn" for the last few weeks.

On Tuesday, Lewinsky's commentary was published as an op-ed for Vanity Fair, where she is a contributing editor. As a TV personality and activist that was at the center of a sex scandal with former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Lewinsky said she is no stranger to antagonism in media.

"I became a social representation," she wrote for Vanity Fair in 2014, "a social canvas on which anybody could project their confusion about women, sex, infidelity, politics, and body issues."

In the Tuesday op-ed, Lewinsky said she gave in to her "guilty fascination" in the Depp-Heard trial that has captivated many others and has tuned in to bits and pieces of it. 

"We are drenched in the taint of the dirt and aggression of the social media wars," she wrote.

Lewinsky noted that viewership has been obtained through video clips and social media tidbits.

"It's like going to the opera and reading a couple of translated supertitles but not understanding Italian," she wrote. "Our consumption, therefore, has tended to be biased, curated, and cursory," she continued, adding that most commentary on social media has vilified Heard.

An expert previously told Insider's Erin Snodgrass that social media has played the role of an instigator in this defamation case in an unprecedented way.

Lewinsky wrote that she believes the phenomenon — which she dubbed "courtroom porn" — helps people feel better about their own lives or dissociate from the world. However, she wrote that the cultural impact of such wide-reaching viewership impacts not only Depp and Heard but also domestic violence survivors and the #MeToo movement.

"It's not just the two individuals and how you feel about them or this situation; it's the cultural collateral damage," she wrote. "In the end, the ways we have contemptuously co-opted the trial for our own purposes are a sign of how many of us, the social-media-mongrelized, have continued to devalue our dignity and humanity."

Depp is suing his ex-wife Heard for $50 million after she published a 2018 op-ed alleging abuse. Though she did not name him, he claims it ruined his career and adds that she was the abusive one in the relationship. 

Heard is countersuing for $100 million.

"The obsessive chatter around the Depp-Heard trial is just one small example of the ever-expanding, ever-demanding search for schadenfreude and titillation," Lewinsky wrote in the op-ed. "No matter whom the jury's verdict favors — be it defendant Heard or plaintiff Depp — we are guilty."



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