Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Monica Lewinsky, Public shaming, Jay Leno, Christchurch

John OliverWe’ve been in the thick of a run of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver episodes as of late, and of course, we were expecting tremendously funny things from the one tonight. How do you follow up last week’s slice of brilliance all about robocalls? Well, you’ve gotta get pretty creative, for starters.

Before we get into anything regarding a main segment tonight, let’s kick things off with something serious — the recent Christchurch mosque tragedy in New Zealand. The country has often been a hotbed for parody on this show, but that’s mostly because there are a lot of smaller, silly stories that come out of there and most of it is done within good humor. Tonight, Oliver shared his admiration for the country and why he enjoys poking fun at it so much. Beyond just the shooting, Oliver did also focus on some of the reaction, in particular the controversial Australian politician that was hit with an egg by a young man — who was, in turn, hit in the head.

Following a discussion on Christchurch, Oliver then shifted into a subject that he always enjoys — Brexit! He showed some Parliamentary footage, which is mostly great in that British viewers can’t see it (a running joke), and also so Americans can see just how ridiculous the entire process can be. Here’s your general thesis on the Brexit segment tonight: Everyone is spinning their wheels. Nobody is really getting anywhere and at this point, it feels like all parties involved are just buying their time.

And now, Sean Hannity is Irish

Before we got to the main segment tonight, we got a series of reminders of the Fox News host’s heritage — including a joke about a six-pack and a potato that he said time and time again. We did actually learn about Hannity here … mostly because we’ve never seen the show.

Main segment: Public shaming

This was an appropriate one, largely because there are SO many examples of internet outrage out there. There are also so many different kinds of shaming — going after a public figure for something they said publicly (Oliver notes Tucker Carlson as an example), and then also going after someone who is an ordinary person. Take, for example, a woman whose story about a lawsuit and her nephew ended up causing her to be known as the “worst aunt ever.”

So if you are going to take part in public shaming, how should you assess it? Context is a big part of it. The same goes for whether or not you make your living by being in front of the public. A great example of this was his conversation about Olivia Jade, the daughter of Lori Loughlin. That’s a difficult issue — she’s the daughter of a celebrity and by that regard, someone who shouldn’t be a target because of something that her mother did. However, she was also a social-media influencer and someone who used being at USC as a way to build money for her brand. That, in his mind, made her a target for public ridicule.

A different example, meanwhile, was Monica Lewinsky — someone who wasn’t a public figure before the scandal with Bill Clinton, didn’t strive to be one, and ended up being attacked for years. This led to Oliver kicking off a rather scathing attack on Jay Leno, someone who humiliated her with a number of jokes and never really apologized for any of them after the fact.

There were a lot of funny one-liners in this segment (including Oliver reading a review for one of Olivia Jade’s beauty brands), but the true highlight came via an interview with Lewinsky at the end of the episode. Here, he discussed how she managed to get through such a horrible time in her life and how she is working now to try and combat online bullying and negativity on the internet. She also discussed why she never wanted to change her name or be a different person after what happened.

This was an important segment and also an important show, but we also have to be aware of the fact that it’s probably not going to change anytime soon. The people who need to hear this (i.e. most of Twitter) were probably not watching. Maybe someday they will, and that’s all we can ever really hope for.

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