I WOKE up Thursday feeling fresh and invigorated, with no post-scandal hangover. I was one of the 17.5 people in America who didn't watch the Monica Lewinsky interview, and I have none of that sour sensation that follows when you realize you have just wasted hours watching some dumb, over-hyped show. I am not going to read her book or listen to her tapes of sex advice to the lovelorn, or whatever her managers concoct for her next.
I realize that my decision to boycott this allegedly momentous interview deprives me of an important currency of conversation: Monica chat. How will I be able to have an informed opinion on how she looked, whether she was truly sorry, whether I should sympathize with her suffering and whether I agree with her suggestions about educational policy? It's like not having an opinion about the O.J. Simpson verdict. I could be left an outcast at dinner parties.
I took the risk because I am so damned angry about the marketing behemoth Ms. Lewinsky's handlers have loosed upon us. The Senate has finally managed to end its impeachment circus, and still we, the public, are not allowed to escape the blather and self-promotion of the people who instigated and perpetuated it.
The majority of citizens has had the great good sense to resist the repeated Republican arguments that President Clinton had committed an impeachable offense worthy of the evils of Watergate. But if we really want this sorry episode to end, we must now resist a more insidious force: the marketing of Ms. Lewinsky, Linda Tripp and the various other women who will suddenly remember that they too have stories to sell.
For anyone who feels as I do, I urge you to be strong. Do not buy the cute Monica doll with its stained dress (someone will manufacture one) as a joke for your Uncle Harold. Do not buy her book. Resist the commercialization of her temporary celebrity, and maybe we can make that celebrity more temporary than usual in our fame-obsessed culture. Believe me, you'll feel better in the morning.
Carol Tavris is a social psychologist who writes frequently on behavioral research. She wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.
Pub Date: 3/08/99