’15 Minutes of Shame ‘delves into public shame with’ patient zero ‘Monica Lewinsky


Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

Starring Monica Lewinsky as a producer, narrator and self-proclaimed “patient zero” for its premise, “15 Minutes of Shame” is a thought-provoking, albeit slightly scattered, documentary that examines the nastiness of online culture, its tendency to wear instant judgments. and the devastation that can occur in the lives of ordinary people.

Author Jon Ronson, who wrote the book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”, talks about “social media justice” and how the net has become what Lewinsky calls “breeding ground for outrage and the ridiculous “.

Director Max Joseph then goes on to illustrate the dangers of that – and the gut answers that shame people, sometimes based on flimsy or incomplete evidence – designed to fuel digital platforms built around algorithms that foster hostility and amplify the loudest and harshest voices.

Coming amid recent Facebook reporting, it’s a sobering, if not entirely new, observation that Joseph explains through a series of case studies, including two of the strongest of the pandemic: Matt Colvin, the man from Tennessee who appeared to monopolize the hand sanitizer market during the early days of the pandemic in a New York Times article; and Laura Krolczyk, the New York health system worker who sparked a torrent of abuse with an article online about Trump supporters dropping calls for ventilators, for which she was fired.

If you don’t remember these stories, “15 Minutes of Shame” makes it clear that those involved still remember them, in some cases feeling the ramifications long afterward. Cultural historian Tiffany Watt-Smith emphasizes the power of the schadenfreude, with people rejoicing in the misfortune of others and rightly seeking revenge.

Throughout the documentary, the documentary convincingly demonstrates that society is “drowning” in this bitter stew, throwing itself in and punishing suspected offenders, as author Roxanne Gay observes, in a way that is too often lacking. nuance. “We have fallen too much in love with this new power,” she said.

One problem that this presentation of HBO Max cannot fully resolve is that some examples of shame seem quite justified. The problem is that digital vigilantes don’t always make important and necessary distinctions, which can lead to the aforementioned errors of justice and make the truth a victim.

The documentary functions as an unofficial companion to a separate project Lewinsky produced on, “Impeachment: American Crime Story”, the FX miniseries that sympathetically returns to the publicity ordeal she endured during the saga. of impeachment of Clinton.

In one of the darker spots of “15 Minutes of Shame,” it is noted that sites like Twitter thrive on conflict, essentially taking on the role of the third child on the playing field shouting “Fight!” when two classmates clash.

There is no denying that the digital playground can be a harsh and unforgiving environment. Whether “15 minutes” deserves 90 minutes of viewing to absorb this generally obvious lesson might be another matter, but at best, it’s a reminder to slow down and look both ways before joining the last media stack.

“15 Minutes of Shame” premieres October 7 on HBO Max, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.

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