Women’s History Month: 3 political documentaries to stream on Netflix before the election

In the time of COVID-19, it’s easy to feel completely out of control. Articles sweep across our timelines warning us that the virus may plague us for weeks, months, even years. Death tolls rise every day. Our jobs are at risk. Our social lives feel like they’re deteriorating. In the (only slightly exaggerated) words of myself and those around me, “The world is on fire.” True. The world appears to be burning. But as we sit in our houses, anxiously contemplating what the future holds, it’s important to remember that we do still have power over things. And one of the primary manifestations of our power is that of our democracy. We may not be able to go out and see our friends and extended family, to go see a movie on the big screen, or even to go earn the paycheck we need and deserve, but when the time comes, we’ll still be able to vote. Furthermore, as we sit inside our houses, we still have the ability to educate ourselves. 

As the nation becomes increasingly polarized, and politics appear to be spiraling out of control, our political engagement is more important than ever. Our ability to stay informed is also better than ever. However, our access to endless articles and videos on social media comes at a cost: namely, the fierce exacerbation of polarization by algorithms that only dish out media you’ll agree with. With that in mind, I want to advocate for the power of a different platform that evades these dangerous algorithms: the documentary. Well-made documentaries present a variety of information on a topic, not just the bits and pieces they know you want to hear. And they aren’t handed to you on the silver platter of social media; you get to pick which ones you watch. With that in mind, I present to you three political documentaries that I think are imperative to watch before you vote in November. As is our mission, they’re all made by women. The best part? You can stream all of them on Netflix while you’re stuck in quarantine. 

The first doc is very relevant to the internet algorithms just discussed. It’s called The Great Hack, and it single-handedly changed the way I view modern politics. It’ll do the same for you. In a nutshell, the film is a profile of Cambridge Analytica, an extremely powerful data analysis company that had a hand in both the Brexit campaign and in Trump’s campaign in 2016. The film explores Cambridge Analytica’s strategy of farming personal data from user profiles on Facebook, identifying persuadable individuals, and infiltrating those individuals’ feeds with political propaganda. If you’re skeptical of the credibility of such a film, know that it features extensive interviews with people who used to work for, and get paid tons of money by, Cambridge Analytica. People who saw firsthand what the company was doing, and know that it needs to be stopped. If you’re a Facebook user, I cannot stress enough how important it is to watch this doc, because the campaign manager who recruited Cambridge Analytica in 2016 is Trump’s campaign manager again for the 2020 election. The violation of our rights as members of this democracy made clear by The Great Hack will happen again unless we educate ourselves about it and, in turn, fight against it with our vote. Here is a link to the full review on our site: https://ff2media.com/thehotpinkpen/2019/07/23/the-great-hack-2019-review-by-ff2-media/

The next documentary examines a different subsection of American politics: abortion. It’s called Reversing Roe.  In tracing the legal history of abortion in the US, the film demonstrates how abortion, a practice that has been around for centuries, has in recent years gone from a matter between a woman and her medical practitioner to a matter between a woman and her local and federal governments. By tracing the development of abortion law from the Roe v. Wade court ruling right up to the election of pro-lifer Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court, Reversing Roe shows the real danger that Roe v. Wade is in, as state governments across the nation have undermined it so fervently with their legislature that the federal court ruling is now itself at risk. The documentary shows just how dangerous this development is, because it is a deliberate infringement on a woman’s human rights, used as a tool for political power. It fairly presents the views of both pro-choice and pro-life individuals and is not making a statement in either direction; it is, instead, making a statement about our country’s modern politics. Therefore, it’s a must-watch for individuals on both sides of the debate. Here is a link to the full review on our site:  https://ff2media.com/thehotpinkpen/2018/09/10/reversing-roe-20…iew-by-ff2-media/ ‎

The last documentary, and my personal favorite, is Knock Down the House. This doc follows four women, regular US citizens, attempting to overthrow the establishment’s control of federal government. These four politicians including, most notably, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, enlighten us to how insular politics really are, and how much of a money game it all is. The film documents the four women’s grassroots campaigns in which they appeal directly to the people as the people, demonstrating the importance of politicians who are members of regular society, who understand the trials and tribulations of being so, and who aren’t subject to the under-the-table bribes of the establishment. Knock Down the House shows us that we aren’t powerless to the establishment. We still have the ability to elect someone who is one of us with our vote. Here is the link to the full review on our site: https://ff2media.com/thehotpinkpen/2019/04/30/knock-down-the-house-2019-review-by-ff2-media/

Politics aside, these are all simply wonderfully crafted documentaries. They will make you laugh and they will make you cry. They highlight people you’ll fall in love with and people you’ll hate. They are thrilling and fascinating, and they’re cornucopias of information. 

Back to politics. The final point I want to make about these documentaries is that none of them are meant to push democratic or republican agendas; they don’t attempt to sway voters either way. I’m well aware of the near impossibility of such a feat, so swaying voters isn’t my purpose in presenting these docs, either. My purpose is, through these revolutionary political films, to show you the underbelly of our democracy so you can be more educated in your place as a citizen in politics in this critical time before the election. It is so that, by streaming these docs on Netflix, you can develop a greater understanding of the importance of your well-informed vote, without leaving your couch. 

© Julia Lasker (3/21/2020) FF2 Media

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