By Dave B.
RBG (2018, currently on Hulu) is a documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It reveals interesting details of her life from her childhood, to her time as a law student at Harvard and Columbia, through her current tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Regardless of one’s political preferences, it can’t be denied that Justice Ginsburg is an impressive person and RBG does an excellent job showing just how remarkable she truly is. The documentary contains interviews from childhood friends, family members, former clients, as well as political allies and adversaries. Not a one of the people interviewed is anything less than amazed at not only what Justice Ginsburg has accomplished, but also the drive, work ethic, and fierce intellect that made her accomplishments possible. My favorite part of RBG is when the documentary reviews landmark cases that she presented in front of the Supreme Court before she was elevated to the Federal bench. I didn’t know a lot about many of them and it’s fair to say that she’s likely the most important and effective women’s legal equality advocate of the late-20th century.
And that’s part of the problem with RBG. The impact of Justice Ginsburg’s life is bigger than any 96 minute documentary can adequately capture. Yes, she’s an interesting person, but she’s also a legitimate living hero and it can be hard for any documentary to provide an adequate historical context to people who are so important, still alive, and still an active participant in today’s current toxic political environment. That’s not to say that RBG is bad or should not have been made. But I can’t help but feel that a more compelling documentary about Justice Ginsburg’s life will be made after she is out of the spotlight and her contributions to society can be viewed through the lens of wanting her back, instead of appreciating that we still have her (and for some, desperately hoping that she does not leave the Court any time soon).
In short, RBG does a good job of humanizing Justice Ginsburg, while also offering younger viewers a fuller picture on her importance to the develop of our current and future society. But it often lacks the emotional weight of documentaries that other people of her stature gain from the distance of time from their subject. I recommend RBG, primarily as an educational/historical documentary, but slightly less so as a purely biographical one.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.