John Oliver took on the subject of public shaming on Sunday’s new Last Week Tonight, a phenomenon that has seemingly gotten out of hand over the course of the past several years — sometimes completely ruining the lives of people who didn’t ask for the attention in the first place. Oliver brought up the subject of Jay Leno, who just last week went on the Today show bemoaning the lack of civility in the current landscape of late night. Leno’s remarks smacked of hypocrisy however, as Oliver reminds us that back in the day the former Tonight Show host was relentless, making constant, gross jokes about then 20-something Monica Lewinsky. And while other comics (himself included) have later expressed remorse over those jokes, Leno has done no such thing:
“Those jokes have not dated well in any sense of the word. And they’re pretty rough, especially coming from a guy who just this week complained about late night TV saying he’d like to see a bit of civility come back. You know, like that time he did a bit with a fake book about Lewinsky titled ‘The Slut in the Hat.’ And if that’s what he means by civility, may I offer my new book, ‘Oh the places you can go fuck yourself Jay Leno,’ Look! Look how civil I’m being!”
Oliver later ran a pre-taped interview in which he sat down with Lewinsky, who — despite literal decades of bullying and being blacklisted from jobs, etc. — has turned out to be a remarkably well-adjusted, strong woman with a good sense of humor about what she’s endured. Not all of us would have been able to say the same, not the least of which “Alvin Oliver,” who already has a new name picked out in anticipation of his own public shaming scandal.
In addition, Oliver pointed out that shaming can be a slippery slope, as in cases we’ve seen in just the past week involving so-called Operation Varsity Blues and Tucker Carlson. The latter, in particular, was more than deserving of the scorn on Twitter in the wake of unearthed audio tapes making overwhelmingly racist and sexist remarks, prompting hashtags like #FireTuckerCarlson and #BoycottTuckerCarlson.
As such, Oliver made sure to add another hashtag to the pile: