Elisabeth Weidner, Soundgirls, highlights words of wisdom from the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and their application for a sound designer.
- OK, maybe not EVERYTHING
- It helps sometimes to be a little deaf
- My mother told me to be a lady
- Bringing up the next generation
- Fight for the things you care about
Ok, maybe not EVERYTHING, but what I mean to say is that I can (and do) apply RBG’s wisdom anywhere. We lost a champion of the people, a defender of equality, and a warrior among women when we lost Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and it’s up to us to make sure that her legacy is carried out for ages to come. It sounds lofty, I know. Carrying out her legacy does not mean that we need to be as notable as she was. It doesn’t mean that we have to decide the fate of millions of people. It just means that we have to stand up for what is right, and speak up for what we believe in. We can do this in our own little corners of the world. From the moment we wake up until the moment we close our eyes, we make decisions. Some decisions are small, and some decisions hold more weight and can affect more people. Let’s just take an extra breath and ask ourselves, “What would Ruth Bader Ginsburg Do?”
“It helps sometimes to be a little deaf (in marriage and in) every workplace, including the good job I have now.”
This seems like a strange way to begin a Sound Design blog, but hear me out, it’s impossible to hear the macro when we’re so focused on the micro. I don’t know if this is what RBG meant by this, but this is how I’m choosing to read it. It’s hard to see our place in the world when we can only see ourselves. I once composed an opening sequence for a show I was designing. It was perfect, I absolutely loved it and was really proud. During tech, we ran the opening. During the hold, the director looked at me, scrunched up his face, and said, “I don’t think the opening music is working.” It was really the last thing I expected him to say, and now I became hyper-focused and aware of that music. We ran it again, and I listened to the music. Intently. I closed my eyes, I moved to the center of the house, and I listened. The director said, “See what I mean?” No. I didn’t. So we ran it again, and this time I kept my eyes open, and I noticed a costume piece I had not seen before. It was bright. The actors in the opening light looked light and cheery. I wasn’t even listening to the music anymore, I was watching everything on stage, and I realized, my music didn’t match these elements. I had to be a little deaf to it to realize that.
“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”
This one is easy but still important. In the entertainment industry at large, we are compared to those that have come before us and even those that work alongside us. As designers, it is imperative that we have our own voices, thoughts, and ideas. What value is there in “doing it like the cast recording?” Stay far away from “this is the way we’ve always done it.” You don’t need that kind of negativity! “This is the way we’ve always done it” is not good for design, and it’s not good for growth. It’s ok to be the one voice that asks to do things differently.
“Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.”
This is ever so true for Sound Designers. We’ve all read the statistics. Sound Design is a heavily male-dominated field, and it always has been. What’s important to remember is that it won’t always be that way. We’re starting to be recognized, we’re starting to be sought after and appreciated, and the next generation will learn from all of these women. There has never been a lack of talented women in Sound Design. There has been a lack of belief and trust in those women. There’s been a lack of support, and now that is starting to change, but there is still work to be done.
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
There should not be one single aspect of your life for which this does not ring true. It does not matter how big or small the situation, if you care about it – fight for it…thoughtfully. I think about this when I’m designing if I come to a point where I’m defending an endangered cue. It’s at the forefront of my mind when advocating for students’ opportunities. When I’m questioning a policy, I remember these words. And when I’m being an ally and an accomplice in industry-wide equity, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s words give me confidence and grace.
Look, the fact of the matter is, I could have written this blog about any job in any industry and still been able to apply RBG wisdom. The reason why her words are so applicable to every situation is that they are always about the human experience. Let the small things go, be an individual, assert yourself, equality, equality, equality. One more little piece of advice from me: You can have a role model and still be an individual. If you’re looking for some enlightenment, it doesn’t get much better than Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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