How Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton films can 'inspire' young women

Both former first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have documentaries out about their lives.

Becoming, the Netflix documentary about Michelle Obama, was one of the streaming site's Top 10 films when it was released a few weeks ago. Now another American First Lady, Hillary Clinton, has her own docuseries - Hillary.

The four-hour show, consisting of interviews given by Clinton to documentary maker Nanette Burstein, explores all of Hillary Rodham Clinton's life, from her activism in the 1960s, her marriage to ex-US President Bill Clinton, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and her unsuccessful attempt to become US President in 2016.

Hillary puts forward the theory that the next generation of female leaders were galvanised by her election loss into standing for, and voting in, the Congress elections of 2018; with a record-breaking 103 women, including activists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, elected or re-elected to the House of Representatives.

"I know what I mean to many women, I hear it almost every day, someone will say it to me," Clinton told BBC News. "It's a heavy responsibility."

"I've tried to make my own decisions in keeping with who I am and what I stand for, but we still need role models, guides along the trail, 'if someone can do it then I can do it' - that sort of mentality. I'm very aware of it."

How Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton films can 'inspire' young women
Image copyrightPropagate
 

Becoming documents former first lady Michelle Obama's recent international book tour, as well as her meeting young African American women to encourage them in their ambitions. According to the film's director, Nadia Hallgren, she had "never seen anything like that energy before."

"What women seem to identify with," Hallgren adds, "was just her stories of being told you can't do something or being constantly underestimated throughout life. This idea that if you're a woman, if you're not male, if you're not white, if you don't tick all these boxes, that you don't belong at that table.

"I think that there is a huge need and hunger worldwide for stories like hers. Hearing Mrs Obama talk about obstacles that she encountered throughout her life, and being able to reflect on the now, taught me so much about my own life and obstacles that I've encountered."

Nanette Burstein, the director of Hillary, agrees that the visibility of the former first ladies is important, "particularly for the young".

"When I was in my 20s, and wanting to be a director, Secretary Clinton was just coming in as first lady - and as a very different first lady, one who would take on important initiatives such as healthcare. To me, as a young woman, that was very inspiring and life-changing.

"One of the reasons I said I'd tackle this story is so that people can understand what that means to a young woman."

How Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton films can 'inspire' young women

Michelle Obama has often called herself "hugger-in-chief" [pictured pre-coronavirus]

Image copyright Netflix

"It's also joyous to know both these 'former first lady' films are being made by women," points out Mia Bays, the director of Birds Eye View, a not-for-profit organisation that centres on the female perspective in film.

"I think Becoming in particular helps us reflect on why Michelle Obama is such an inspirational figure and necessary for the world to lift even higher - especially right now."

How Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton films can 'inspire' young women

Michelle Obama did a hugely successful book tour

Image copyright NETFLIX

 

By contrast, for women, Hillary Clinton has historically been a more divisive figure - in 2016, the Edison National Election poll found that though overall 52% of women voters had chosen Clinton, 64% of non-college educated white women had voted for Donald Trump.

Clinton says she's aware of the dislike she's provoked.

"It's wonderful to be liked, but if that's all you want, you're not there for the right reasons. There are scenes in this documentary I had forgotten.

"I am fighting for healthcare, and people were burning my effigy. People got really riled up about it, they disliked me and didn't like what I was doing. Often if you're not liked, it's because you're taking a stand.

"When a woman takes a very public stand in a controversial arena you just have to be prepared that you're going to be criticised and if you're not prepared, then don't do it," she says. "I'm very proud of the work I have done and the stands I have taken, and I don't have any regrets about that."

Clinton agrees that the documentary is a way of "setting the record straight".

"There is so much misinformation about me, so many ridiculous stories about me - to have my life portrayed in a way I recognise is quite a good step forward," she advocates.

But can these kinds of documentaries ever be entirely impartial? Becoming was produced by the Obamas' production company Higher Ground. While Hillary was granted 35 hours of interviews with Clinton, so was Burstein ever going to be able to be critical?

'You can never rest'

"I understood that I could be criticised for how I portrayed this story," Nanette Burstein replies. "I knew no matter what I did there would potentially be criticism. So I felt that I just needed to research as much as I could and be as honest as I could."

Clinton is adamant that women continue to need positive encouragement into leadership - whether in the media, industry or in politics.

"I think by telling my story, you can see a lot of change, but you can see how reluctant it is and how much of a backlash there is," she says.

"You can never rest, and it gets exhausting to be honest. It's like, 'wait a minute, we knocked down that barrier and we repealed that law - why is this still so hard?' Why do people still not appreciate or respect the role and the opportunities women have to contribute?

"So you know, the struggle continues."

All episodes of Hillary available from 11 June on Sky Documentaries and streaming service NowTV. Becoming is available on Netflix. BBC

 
 

Other News

.
Netflix removes content violating Vietnam's sovereignty
Netflix removes content violating Vietnam's sovereignty
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/09/2020 

Netflix has cut some scenes in the movie "Put Your Head on my Shoulder" that contains false information about Vietnam’s sovereignty.

Excavation of ancient tomb reveals unknown history
Excavation of ancient tomb reveals unknown history
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/09/2020 

The two-month excavation of an ancient brick tombs unearthed at Gia Thuy Primary School in the northern province of Ninh Binh has shed new light on its shape, scale and structure, according to Dr Nguyen Ngoc Quy from the Institute of Archeology.

Exhibition tells Vietnam’s path to independence
Exhibition tells Vietnam’s path to independence
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/09/2020 

A photo exhibition is underway at the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi, offering visitors an insight into Vietnam’s path to independence throughout history.

Young artist makes tiny Vietnamese food
Young artist makes tiny Vietnamese food
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  04/09/2020 

A 28-year-old architecture graduate in Hanoi has been crafting Vietnamese dishes barely larger than a coin. 

Hanoi to open world’s first digital exhibition on Italian Renaissance
Hanoi to open world’s first digital exhibition on Italian Renaissance
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/09/2020 

Hanoi is poised to become the first city in the world to host a digital exhibition showcasing the work by Raphael, one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance period.

Photo exhibition opens to showcase ASEAN land and people
Photo exhibition opens to showcase ASEAN land and people
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/09/2020 

A collection of over 200 photos selected from among 10,000 artworks by 1,248 artists from ASEAN member states have gone on display at an exhibition underway in Hanoi.

AFC to consider postponing U19 Champs 2020
AFC to consider postponing U19 Champs 2020
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/09/2020 

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have stated that they are considering a postponement to the U19 Championship 2020 and several other tournaments due to complicated developments of COVID-19.

National flag making village in Hanoi
National flag making village in Hanoi
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  03/09/2020 

Located 30 km south of Hanoi, Tu Van village in the capital’s Thuong Tin district is famed for its embroidery and weaving. It’s the village that has made millions of national flags for 75 years.

Photo exhibition spotlights Vietnam-Czech traditional relations
Photo exhibition spotlights Vietnam-Czech traditional relations
VIETNAM & WORLDicon  03/09/2020 

A photo exhibition on Vietnam’s development and renovation is underway in the Czech Republic to mark the 75th anniversary of Vietnam's National Day (September 2) and 70 years of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

More ancient slabs with engravings of terraced fields found in Yen Bai
More ancient slabs with engravings of terraced fields found in Yen Bai
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/09/2020 

Six ancient slabs engraved with images of terraced fields were found in Lao Chai commune, Mu Chang Chai district, in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai, in July.

Watch VietNamNet’s concert “Things Everlasting 2020” online
Watch VietNamNet’s concert “Things Everlasting 2020” online
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/09/2020 

The concert “Things Everlasting 2020” with the theme "Long Live Vietnam" is now available on VietNamNet.

VietNamNet’s concert “Things Everlasting 2020” to go online
VietNamNet’s concert “Things Everlasting 2020” to go online
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  01/09/2020 

This year, VietNamNet’s annual concert “Dieu Con Mai” (Things Everlasting), which has been organized on the National Day (September 2) for over 10 years, will come to the audience in a special form.

Photos of Vietnam in 19th century
Photos of Vietnam in 19th century
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/09/2020 

A recently published book featuring 261 monochrome photos taken by French photographer Pierre Dieulefils (1862-1937) sheds light on Vietnam in the late 19th century.

Stamps tell the story of a nation
Stamps tell the story of a nation
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/09/2020 

More than just a way of paying to send a letter or parcel, stamps are also a kind of cultural commodity that convey a country’s political, cultural, and social message. And they tell stories about the nation in its own language.

V.League to return on September 26
V.League to return on September 26
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  02/09/2020 

V.League football will return on September 26, the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Company (VPF) announced late last week.

Leading costume designs for Khanh Van at Miss Universe announced
Leading costume designs for Khanh Van at Miss Universe announced
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  01/09/2020 

A shortlist of eight designs in a contest held with the aim of selecting a suitable national costume to be worn by Vietnamese representative Khanh Van at the upcoming Miss Universe pageant has been revealed.

Netflix asked to remove movies with content infringing on Vietnam's sovereignty
Netflix asked to remove movies with content infringing on Vietnam's sovereignty
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  01/09/2020 

The Department of Radio, Television and Electronic Information under the Ministry of Information and Communications has requested Netflix to review and remove movies and TV programs with content that violates the sovereignty and laws of Vietnam.

Book series featuring works by President Ho Chi Minh released
Book series featuring works by President Ho Chi Minh released
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  01/09/2020 

A book series featuring publications written by President Ho Chi Minh has been released to celebrate National Day on September 2 and the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Tran Van Khe Foundation to be launched
Tran Van Khe Foundation to be launched
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  01/09/2020 

A group of cultural researchers and artists in HCM City plan to launch the Tran Van Khe Foundation, a non-profit organisation named after late Professor Tran Van Khe, 

Literature icon releases book comprising selected stories
Literature icon releases book comprising selected stories
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  01/09/2020 

Nguyen Huy Thiep, one of the most influential Vietnamese contemporary writers, has released a special publication to mark his 70th birthday.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN