A few years back I read The Notorious RBG, a biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In fact, it was during my trip to New York City that took place on the tiny plane that I devoured the book. When you’re trying really hard not to look out the windows, because the plane is tiny and you’re feeling nervous, it’s always nice to have an enthralling book. And this one was. I remember crying when I read about Ginsburg’s husband Marty and how sweet and supportive he was, and his death in 2010. I just cried silent tears in the back of that plane, and tried not to sniff too loudly.
But none of this is the point. The point is that back at the beginning of the year, I heard about how there was a documentary that had been produced about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it would be out. Of course, I was newly busy with other things, and wasn’t going to be able to make it to the theaters to see the film. But it turns out that everyone else did! Or at least, lots of people who like RBG made it into the theaters, and the film made quite a lot of money. (That reminds me: must watch the Mister Rogers film at some point…) I was happy for the filmmakers that it did so well, but sad for myself that I didn’t get to see it.
And then – miracle of miracles – CNN bought the film. And decided to air it over labor day weekend. Granted, we were out of town for most of the weekend and got home that night and wouldn’t be in a state of mind to sit down and watch a movie, but clever me had thought to record the movie when it aired, and so it sat on our DVR for a month plus until we had time to watch it. And then one night when the baby had gone to bed early, and the Plated meal we made was a quick one, we sat down to watch something, and there it was on the DVR, just waiting for us. And clocking in at just over 90 minutes (with some added time for commercials since it was airing on CNN), it was a reasonable thing to watch on a weeknight (especially for a lady like me who needs to go to bed EARLY).
For someone who has read anything about the story of Justice Ginsburg’s life, there’s not a lot that’s surprising, but it’s awesome to get a glimpse into her life, to hear her talk, and to meet her family members. I think I knew intellectually that she had grandchildren, but seeing an interview with her law-school-graduate granddaughter was awesome. She’s someone’s Bubbe, and they love her and think of her apart from the memes. If you’ve heard about her workout (which sounds super-legit), you’ll have the chance to see it in action.
But the thing that struck me the most was watching the part with her confirmation hearings. She was so composed, and so immovable, unflappable, so appropriately dignified. It stood in stark contrast to another confirmation hearing that was in the news recently, and made me long for the days when people with unquestionable backgrounds were appointed, and acted in a manner befitting the station they were aspiring towards. It also made me realize that while I definitely had heard of her as a Supreme Court Justice, I hadn’t paid a lot of attention back when she was appointed (but granted, I was 10), and hadn’t thought much about her until the last few years when her pointed dissents became a thing in the hotly contended Supreme Court. She has become one of the public women I most admire in the last few years, and I will admit that I sent her fan mail a few weeks ago wishing her luck with the start of the most recent term of court.
The point is – watch the movie if you can. If you haven’t seen it already, and if you like Justice Ginsburg at all, you’ll LOVE IT. If you are neutral on her or don’t know a lot about her life, it will be incredibly informative. If you are a feminist and want to hear about the dream version of a marriage in the 1960s – where the husband let his career take a backseat to the wifes so she could achieve big things because he knows she’s smarter and has more potential – this is the movie for you. Of course, you could also just wait until the biopic of her life and work comes out this Christmas. But no matter how you do it, it’s a film that’s worth your time.
Details: RBG, Directed by [NAMES], available to rent on various streaming services, or on Blu-ray/DVD. Possibly also streaming on CNNgo, but I can’t figure out their system.