Three weeks ago, like many other pseudo-feminists around me, my friend Andrea and I jumped in the car, braved a horrendous rainstorm and drove the 30 miles to see the movie released in December of 2018, “On the Basis of Sex,” showcasing the early era of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice since 1993. Serendipitously, the “RBG” documentary hit theaters just months prior in May of the same year, so I watched that via Amazon on our big screen at home with my partner, Jimmy. I marveled at the synchronicity of two similar films having been created and released in the same year. Ginsburg has been active for half a century as a lawyer, judge and game-changer, so these movies could easily have happened any number of decades ago. But they didn’t. They happened now, nearly simultaneously.
As a Creativity Advocate and enthusiast, I always find it germane when artists slap culture in the face with similar stories. I remember Babe and Gordy coming out together when my kids were young, as well as A Bug’s Life and Ants. But there were also mainstream movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact, The Prestige and The Illusionist, whose plots seemed to be mysteriously expressing the same themes. With Hollywood movies, sometimes it can be attributed to the “buzz” in the industry, but even with this factor, it takes years to write a screenplay, raise funds, cast, travel, film, edit and distribute a piece. To me, this synchronicity is important because it points to some sort of collective movement that helps the human race evolve. But that’s just me.
Beyond the coincidental timeliness of these RBG movies, however, I also really appreciated how both filmmakers framed Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a similar light, with identical honor. In spite of the fact that one was a dramatization and the other a documentary, the message carried the same profound punch. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was quite the bad ass.
The writer (Daniel Stiepelman) and the filmmakers (Julie Cohen and Betsy West) highlighted more than RBG’s bad assery. They showcased the powerful phenomenon of Creativity at work in her. While most people might assume the inherent Creativity of a writer or an artist behind a work, I actually focused more on RBG’s Creativity than the artists’ who depicted her. I was more interested in the type of Creativity often overlooked by the Golden Globes, the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys etc.
Creativity is the force behind Ginsburg’s efforts at winning court cases and tirelessly pushing for law changes. For example, according to “On the Basis of Sex,” Ginsburg, an activist for women’s rights, chose to represent a man whose rights were stripped away, instead of a woman. This approach is a brilliant example of Creative problem solving, but it also helped to promote equality during an era when men felt extremely threatened by women’s rights. Another example of Creativity in action would be when the opposition tried to overwhelm her team with a truckload of hundreds of cases yet to fight, she figured out a way to use it to her team’s advantage, instead. She was able to invert the destructive into the constructive, fulfilling yet another mission of Creativity.
Theoretically, Creative acts derive from an individual’s divergent and convergent thinking skills, which clearly Ginsburg had plenty of. Creative acts start in an individual and then affect society. In the case of gender equality, her Creative acts literally transformed culture, and ultimately promoted unity.
After we finished watching the documentary, Jimmy turned to me and said, “One of the most profound components of Ginsburg’s work was her ability to be close friends with Judge Scalia, who held opposing political viewpoints.” He pointed out to me how one’s relationships on the micro need not be affected by one’s viewpoints regarding the macro. We marveled at RBG’s rare ability to be so tight with someone whose philosophies differ from her own, how difficult it must be to put aside those differences and maintain a good friendship. This type of connectivity is fueled by Creativity but hard to do without a little love.
At this time in history, biographies and documentaries seem to be guiding us into a more “wholistic” view of humankind and hopefully, with more and more folks flocking to their local theater and curling up to their Netflix streams, these ideas will spread. Through bad asses like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the movement of the collective will continue to catch on as Creativity continues to lead the way, rain or shine.