The Notorious “RBG”: A Review of the Documentary


Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

“RBG” has garnered nearly 14 million dollars since its release in May and has inspired many viewers.

Maya Sabbaghian, Opinion Editor

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, yet few have known her powerful story, until recently. In the documentary, “RBG,” featured on CNN, viewers experience the challenges and triumphs of Ginsburg’s journey and witness the impact she has as a cultural icon.

The film, directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, weaves together interviews, dated images, clips and snippets of speeches to paint a multi-dimensional and inspirational story. Many visual and stylistic choices resonate with the viewer. In one powerful scene, an audio clip plays in which a young Ginsburg explains how women are seen as second-class citizens. As the audio of the speech quieted, images of women of all backgrounds with bolded words, such as “subordinate,” were shown against a soundtrack of emotional music.

The film balances deeper scenes with humor, including viral images of Ginsburg sleeping during the 2015 State of the Union and her face photoshopped on popular characters, such as Wonder Woman.

Throughout the film, viewers come to see Ginsburg as fierce and a tireless advocate for women’s rights. From her early days at Harvard Law School, Ginsburg felt the pressure of being at the top of her class as one of the only women in a class of 500 men.

After moving to New York City, Ginsburg could not find work at a single law firm, saying that her sex was “an impediment.” As a lawyer, Ginsburg focused on advancing women’s rights. In 1980, she was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter. Thirteen years later, President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, where Ginsburg began her currently 25-year run as a justice.

The documentary also informs viewers of Ginsburg’s presence in pop-culture. With “Saturday Night Live” segments featuring Ginsburg, tattoos and costumes of the justice along with edited photos of her, it is apparent many people admire Ginsburg. The film addresses some controversies surrounding Ginsburg, from her tweets expressing her views of President Donald Trump to her decision to remain a justice after President Barack Obama’s term ended.

In the end, “RBG” covers the life-long journey of an inspiring woman who fought for her place in the legal world and elevated women’s role in society. As Ginsburg said herself, “I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court,] and I say, ‘When there are nine.’”