I knew On the Basis of Sex, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic would be a great movie. I knew it because the title is terrible.
I should clarify—terrible by Hollywood standards. It’s difficult to remember, and it is not at all clear what the movie is about. The word “sex” is loaded and gives the wrong impression. By Hollywood standards, RBG would be a much better title (of course, it was already taken by the fantastic documentary the preceded and likely paved the way for this film). But Hollywood movie names need pizazz. I can imagine a bunch of Hollywood types sitting around the table, suggesting names like Marty and Ruth, Legally Brunette, or Ruth’s Truth.
The title refers to the fact that Mrs. Ginsburg spent her early legal career fighting to overturn laws that discriminated…you guess it…on the basis of sex. In other words, women couldn’t serve on juries, open credit cards in their own names, or attend certain schools solely because they were woman.
If the makers of the film fought to keep that awful title because it was so perfect to the actual story, I was confident the movie would stay (mostly) true to the actual story of Ms. Ginsburg and not stray too far into some portrayal that made her look more like Elle Woods.
And I was right. The movie is excellent, with enough dramatic Hollywood moments to keep things interesting, while all the while portraying the truth—that Ms. Ginsburg gained success through years of diligent, thankless, and technical work. She worked longer and harder than those around her and prevailed by knocking down sex discrimination laws one by one. This, by the way, was only her opening act. In her sixties she started her new career as a Supreme Court Justice.
When I was in Washington D.C. this past summer, I visited Arlington National Cemetery. I knew they had a section for past Supreme Court Justices, and I wanted to see where Ruth Bader Ginsburg will ultimately be laid to rest.
It was an all-day affair, looking for that spot. Her husband Marty Ginsburg is already laid to rest there, so it was his plot I was looking for. I wanted to pay my respects to the man behind beside the woman.
Finally we found the Supreme Court Justice section of the cemetery. I was looking at the headstone of Oliver Wendell Holmes when my mom called me over
“I think I found it!” she called.
I went running, and promptly stepped into a large hole in the ground.
My ankle screamed and I went down like a sack of potatoes. The whole was a foot deep, and was well-hidden by the overgrown grass. I rolled around in pain and my mom came running over, yelling for my dad. There wasn’t another person in sight and the cemetery covers over 600 acres.
What the heck were we going to do if I couldn’t walk?
Fortunately, after a few minutes, I was able to stand. My ankle was sore and a bit swollen over the next few days, but it wasn’t broken and it wasn’t sprained. Before we headed back, I insisted on hobbling over to Martin Ginsburg’s grave. I hadn’t come all this way to give up now.
I saw the spot and paid my respects to both Ginsburgs.
So go see the movie. And remember me hobbling around looking for the future resting spot of the great RGB.