Bloomberg Businessweek

Becoming the Notorious RBG

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg began making the case for gender equality in the 1970s, she was anything but notorious. The page 10 New York Times story announcing her victory in the first case she argued before the Supreme Court didn’t even mention her name. It wasn’t until four decades later that she morphed into “the Notorious RBG,” a rock star in black robes, a role model for women and girls, and a cultural icon. How this happened says something about celebrity in the internet era, but it also underscores some essential aspects of a remarkable career devoted to promoting equality—one that ended on Sept. 18 when Ginsburg died at the age of 87.

Already in her ninth decade when fame found her, Ginsburg went viral. Little girls dressed up like the justice on Halloween. Young women got RBG tattoos. Her public appearances drew cheering standing-room-only crowds. , an Academy Award-nominated 2018 documentary co-directed by one of us (Julie), and , a 2018 feature film starring Felicity Jones, offered examinations of her life. Comic actress Kate McKinnon performed her own amped-up take on Ginsburg as a trash-talking, sexy-dancing motormouth in a recurring skit on .

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