Monica Lewinsky, who has called herself the “patient zero” of online shaming, debuted a new anti-bullying PSA on Monday about online comments. The ad features actors playing bullies and targets, and real-life people reacting to the harassment they witness.
During the In Real Life PSA, the actors recite hurtful online comments to targets on the street. At one point, a man walks up to a gay couple at a coffee shop and says, “I think gay people are sick, and you guys should just kill yourself.” At another point, a white woman walks up to a Muslim woman in a park and goes, “You know what? All of you Muslims need to go back to the hellholes your from. Can you believe this? Fucking terrorist.” The harassment in the PSA continues, until good Samaritans stand up to the bullies and defend those on the receiving end of the comments.
Speaking with People, Lewinsky said the PSA highlights “How people hiding behind a screen will write something they’d never say to someone’s face — and what that says about the inhumanity of their actions. It’s a stark and shocking mirror to people to rethink how we behave online versus the ways that we would behave in person.”
In recent years, Lewinsky has become an anti-cyberbullying advocate, drawing on her experience during the aftermath of her affair with Bill Clinton to shine a spotlight on harassment. Yet, Lewinsky once again found herself targeted just two weeks ago, when a Twitter user posted about her during the #TakeTheKnee protest. But Lewinsky stood up for herself and replied that there was “nothing funny about #TakeTheKnee.”
“There are many ways that I have been able to move forward but there are certainly times [like] with that meme that was going around, where I’m still held frozen in amber from incidents from two decades past,” she told People. “It reminds me once again what it’s like to be on the other side. And it’s sometimes made worse when I know people I care about — especially my family — see these memes, too.”