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Minnah Stein
Culture

Hillary: A Review

I have always been obsessed with Hillary Rodham Clinton. I have read all of her books, own a physical woman card from her campaign and I can often be heard talking about her like she is one of my closest friends I have affectionately nicknamed “Hillz.”

A few weeks after the 2016 election, I remember talking to my dad in the car on the way to school about how much I was aching for Hillary Clinton. My dad told me that I needed to let it go and come to terms with the mess we were left with and refocus my energy into making change. He was right. Nothing gets done dwelling on the past, we have to focus on what we can do to make a better future. However, I did not let that sentiment deter me from funneling my post-election depression into making weird art. 

Hillary heart
Minnah Stein

This is my Hillary heart. I made it the night before my dad and I had the conversation about focusing on the future, and I never travel anywhere without her. Hillary embodies this idea of not getting bogged down in the past and focusing on making a better tomorrow; a theme in her Hulu documentary series, Hillary. 

The project started as a campaign documentary, with nearly 1,700 hours of behind-the-scenes footage, but the director and producer, Nanette Burstein, saw there was an opportunity for this to be much more. So, after 35 more hours of interviews, Hillary became a chronicle of the life and career of one of the most influential and polarizing women in history. 

I won’t lie, it’s tough to watch. You see so clearly all the things we could have had is she was president, and all the ways our country and the press have wronged her. And with all the footage from the 2016 election, it is as if you are living through that campaign all over again. I re-felt the hope, pride, and amazement of witnessing Hillary Clinton become the first female nominee of a major political party. And then, I re-felt the devastation of her loss. I cried happy tears and sad tears, all four hours an emotional roller-coaster of hope and sadness. 

There is a lot that can be learned from Hillary’s story. Not only about her as a person and her experiences, but also about the role of women in politics. The ways in which gender influence the portrayal of women in politics is a main focal point of the film. 

In 2016, Hillary was criticized for coming off as too cold and uncharismatic. But she had learned that from her law school days where, as one of 27 women in her graduating class at Yale, she had been forced to be unemotional to be taken as seriously as her male counterpart. Hillary was also accused in 2016 of “playing the woman card” to get attention. Years earlier, however, when she was the first lady of Arkansas, she was criticized for being not feminine enough. She didn’t wear makeup, she was outspoken, she had a job, her hair was unruly, she didn’t take her husband’s last name, and people didn’t take her seriously because she didn’t fit the stereotypical role of “first lady.” Being a woman in politics is a catch-22. And through Hillary’s story, as portrayed in this documentary, this becomes painfully clear. 

But Hillary does have a message of hope. Because Hillary is the trailblazer. She didn’t become the president, but she made it so another woman could. She inspired a whole wave of women to run for Congress, and she showed a generation of girls that running for office, any office, doesn’t have to be something you just dream about, it is something you can actually do. 

Hillary always looks forward. In the documentary, she is very honest about where she has made mistakes in her life. But she learned from them, and she used what she learned to continue trailblazing. Even after losing the election, Hillary continues to fight for a better tomorrow where more women run for office and win. 

When asked about the film and women’s rights in the future, Hillary responded, “I hope people see Hillary, yes, as my story, but as my story embedded in all the changes, particularly for women, that took place in the last half of the 20th century. Because none of that is secure. There’s no guarantee that any of these rights that have been won and barriers that have been crossed won’t be pushed back on. I just want everybody to understand that.”

So yeah, I’m obsessed with Hillary Clinton. I subtly dress like her on her birthday and I wear t-shirts with her riding unicorns in front of the Whitehouse on them, but it’s not without reason. Hillary Clinton paved the way for all young women to have an equal future in politics. Hillary shows, through the story of one woman, just how much has changed for the better for women over the years, and the huge hand Hillary Clinton has played in bringing about those changes. Hillary is still polarizing; people still dislike her without any particular reason. But no matter how you feel towards her, hopefully, after watching Hillary, you can understand her. 

Hillary and me
Minnah Stein

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Minnah Stein is a Florida State University Dean’s List student in her senior year. She studies Media & Communications and Film. She is a writer and a passionate activist, working to educate students on power-based personal violence. Minnah is an intern in the Florida State House of Representatives, and when she isn't working to make her campus a safer place, she enjoys embroidering and watching old movies.
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