Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins

by Karin McKie

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday August 28, 2019

'Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins'
'Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins'  

Journalist Molly Ivins was a raconteur and provocateur whose voice is sorely missed in today's political dystopia. Janice Engel's rollicking documentary "Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins" unspools the iconic "best-loved and most hated columnist."

Engel employs a rich array of archival talk show and C-Span clips, plus interviews with friends, like Cecile Richards and Ann Richards, and journalists including fellow Texan Dan Rather.

Ivins was born in Texas, and spent much of her writing career there, chronicling the "American identity on steroids," from the redneck "shitkickers" to the Bush family dynasty, coining the mocking monikers "Dubya" and "Shrub." She also called her home state the "national laboratory for bad government" and infiltrated the good ole boys' network to lay bare and lampoon the patriarchal political hypocrisy during a time in which the government went from being referred to as "we" to "they."

At six feet tall she stood out physically, and always loved to read. She learned French and studied in France as a teenager. She went to Smith, like her mother and grandmother, then Columbia. She wrote for various publications around the country, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the New York Times, for whom she wrote Elvis Presley's obituary, calling him a "plump corpse." But when she wrote what she was hired for, her "teenage rebellion that lasted 35 years," she rubbed some editors and readers the wrong way.

Yet her humor kept most from being angry at her. She could and would also drink most folks under the table, a talent that eventually earned her an intervention.

Back in Texas, she constructed a good ole girl persona, then became that, noting that she wanted to bring her views home because they don't need liberals in Berkeley. Her eventual Texas-based column was nationally syndicated to hundreds of papers. She got a lot of hate mail, probably because she was so prescient about institutionalized racism and dark money in elections.

Molly Ivins was indeed a political prophet. She saw that fear could be weaponized. She said, "We are so frightened that we think we can make ourselves safer by damaging our own freedoms."

"You're not safer," she warned. "Just less free."

She also fulfilled the role that Stephen Colbert now claims: She made constituents feel like they weren't crazy. And she wanted fans to have a good time while fighting for freedom.

Her last bit of advice was that politicians are scared to death of us.

"Use it," she said.



Director :: Janice Engel
Writer :: Janice Engel
Executive Producer :: Leslie Berriman
Executive Producer :: Katy Bettner
Executive Producer :: Lisa Kaufman
Executive Producer :: Mark Kaufman
Executive Producer :: Nion McEvoy
Producer :: James Egan
Producer :: Janice Engel
Producer :: Carlisle Vandervoort
Cinematographer :: Kristy Tully
Film Editor :: Monique Zavistovski

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com