Love her or hate her, there's no denying that Hillary Rodham Clinton has made her footprint in our country's politics and helped push our country forward in a vision of Progressivism.
Party affiliations aside, Hulu's four-hour documentary is razor-sharp — thoroughly examining her political life from her youthful days at Yale Law School to First Lady of the United States, from Senator of New York to Secretary of State, from her 2016 Presidential campaign to where she's at now. Hillary premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, was picked up by Hulu and premiered for streaming back in mid-March. This four-part bio-doc willfully explores Mrs. Clinton's life in and out of the public eye. Director Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture) not only shows Mrs. Clinton's progressive accomplishments but also exposes Mrs. Clinton's fight against sexism and right-wing critics. Yet, Mrs. Clinton is not perfect and she has her flaws — as do all politicians. Burstein moderately studies those flaws and how they have affected her throughout her career. Burstein conducted 30 hours of interviews with Mrs. Clinton and used 2,000 hours of 2016's campaign footage.
The opening title sequence for Hillary rapidly flashes photos of Mrs. Clinton aging throughout her years, yet her eyes are always fixed and focused in the same spot. Her photos and age may be changing and evolving but Mrs. Clinton's eyes never do — a nod to her vision for women everywhere to keep pushing forward. This fierce title sequence is backed by The Interrupters' 2014 rockin' “Take Back the Power." Hillary spends a great deal of time talking about her bruising Presidential loss to Donald J. Trump back in 2016. A loss that many found shocking, as did I. In the doc, Mrs. Clinton refused to mention Mr. Trump by name — referring to him as "my opponent" or "he". This keeps the documentary focused on Mrs. Clinton and not her "opponent" who tends to suck out all of the air in the room. Between the conversations about Mrs. Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign, the viewers are given chronological flashbacks of her career. Parts of Hillary may seem rather simplistic for her robust career and four-hours is not enough to cover everything she's done.
Yet, it's the little moments in Hillary that shine brightest — i.e. in 1995 when First Lady Clinton delivered her "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights" speech in Beijing, China. Mrs. Clinton's moving speech became a key moment in the empowerment of women from around the world. Hillary has a lot of groundwork to cover, Burstein examines everything from her advocation of healthcare reform as First Lady to the Lewinsky scandal, from her being the first female Senator elected in New York to her draining Democratic Presidential primary race against Bernie Sanders. Facing excruciating rage from toxic hardcore Bernie fans, Mrs. Clinton lets loose on her feelings about the senator. “He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it." In the words of Rhett Butler, "frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn", Mrs. Clinton lays everything out on the table and has nothing left to loose. Mrs. Clinton has normally held back from this type of talk but after 2016, her attitude has changed.
Looking back at the past, Mrs. Clinton was born into a Moderate Republican family in Chicago, Illinois. She grew up with Conservative-Methodist parents and family members and was affiliated with the Republican Party throughout her teen years and early adult life. Mrs. Clinton later volunteered to campaign for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in the U.S. Presidential election of 1964. In 1965, Mrs. Clinton enrolled at Wellesley College, where she majored in political science. During her first year, Mrs. Clinton was president of the Wellesley Young Republicans. This Conservative group at Wellesley College was known as "Rockefeller Republican", which supported the elections of moderate Republicans. Back then, Mrs. Clinton would describe herself as "a mind conservative and a heart liberal". However, it was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Civil Rights movement, and the Vietnam War that helped evolve Mrs. Clinton's political affiliation from a Republican to a Democrat. In 1969, Mrs. Clinton entered Yale Law School, where she would study to get her Juris Doctor (JD) degree and meet her husband, Bill Clinton. In 1977, Mr. Clinton was elected Arkansas Attorney General and Mrs. Clinton moved down to Little Rock, where she joined the Rose Law Firm.
During her time in Arkansas, Mrs. Clinton started encountering many instances of sexism — most notably because, at the time, she chose to keep her maiden name (Rodham). This upset many traditional Arkansasians. Mr. Clinton announced her presidential bid and won in November of 1992, defeating incumbent Republican opponent George H. W. Bush. During her time as First Lady (1993 — 2001), Mrs. Clinton was often regarded as the most openly empowered presidential wife in American history, right after Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Clinton also became the first First Lady to have her own office in the West Wing. First Ladies normally have an office in the East Wing. Because of this, Mrs. Clinton was part of the innermost circle vetting appointments to the new administration. Her choices filled eleven top-level positions and dozens of lower-level ones. Mrs. Clinton's biggest focus during her time as First Lady was healthcare reform. Sadly, Mrs. Clinton's bill for healthcare reform was killed after the 1994 'Republican Revolution' led by Newt Gingrich. The GOP took back the House after being in the minority for 40 years. Nevertheless, Mrs. Clinton played a leading role in the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the Adoption and Safe Families Act, and the Foster Care Independence Act.
Mrs. Clinton also traveled to 79 countries during this time, breaking the record for most-traveled First Lady previously held by Pat Nixon. Yet, with all that being said, Mrs. Clinton's image was damaged due to the Whitewater controversy and the Lewinsky scandal. Even though the Lewinsky scandal was Mr. Clinton's fault and his fault alone, Mrs. Clinton still took some criticism due to her choice to stay with him and reaffirm her commitment to their marriage. In 2000, Mrs. Clinton decided to run for Senator of New York — winning and becoming the first female Senator elected for New York. During her tenure, Mrs. Clinton was a noble advocate for medical benefits for first responders whose health was damaged in the September 11 attacks. “Everything changed on September 11th,” Mrs. Clinton said. “It looked like hell. I mean, any depiction — Dante’s Inferno — paled in comparison. It was the most terrible sight I’ve ever personally seen. I think about it all the time.” Yet, Mrs. Clinton reaffirmed her thankfulness of President George W. Bush and his leadership after the events of 9/11. “For all of my disagreements with President Bush, I will forever be grateful to him for guaranteeing we got the money we needed to rebuild New York.” During the Obama administration, Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.
The doc explores the Benghazi and 'emails" exploitation some Republicans used against Mrs. Clinton at her time as Secretary of State and during the 2016 Presidential election. We all know that the 2012 Benghazi attack was a failure in the State Department, yet some GOP members and Fox News used Mrs. Clinton as a punching bag. There were 10 Benghazi investigations — six by Republican-controlled congressional committees — none of which found any faults from high-ranking Obama administration officials. And yes, Mrs. Clinton made mistakes with the email controversy, however; this controversy was vastly exploited by right-wing pundits, who used it as an opportunity to label her as 'untrustworthy'. Which brings us to the present, Hillary is a razor-sharp documentary that shows us how Mrs. Clinton's robust career was unable to, at times, keep control of her own narrative.
Mrs. Clinton has gone from being viewed as an empowering symbol for all women to two-faced or secretive, from passing progressive bills to being too submissive to her husband, from being a torchbearer for equality to being too corporate-focused. All of this led our nation to one of the most polarizing elections we've ever seen in modern history. Our country is and has been ready for a woman president, yet the misogynistic views ingrained into some voter's minds have held our country back. History will look back at Mrs. Clinton's definitive legacy and the impact she had on our society. Love her or hate her, there's no denying that Mrs. Clinton's political footprint has been established. Finally, I will leave you with some of the lyrics exclaimed by The Interrupters, let these words sink in both as a virtue for inside and outside of politics: "What's your plan for tomorrow. Are you a leader or will you follow. Are you a fighter or will you cower. It's our time to take back the power."
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