I had the pleasure of meeting Robynn Murray, the subject of this documentary, almost exactly three years ago. I was living in a community in Western Massachusetts and we were hosting a weekend event on peace. Murray was one of the speakers. About 50 college students were staying in the retreat house that weekend, and they were unloading from cars and vans, five, ten, fifteen at a time, all throughout the night on Friday. My job was to receive them, get them settled in.
She showed up on the porch, very late, maybe close to two a.m., with a friend. I invited them in, groggily, and showed them one of the free spaces left on the floor where they could possibly find enough room to unroll their sleeping bags. They dropped their things, and she asked if she could have some water. We stepped back over the snoring bodies, headed to the kitchen and started chatting, in whispers so as not to wake anyone up. I asked which college she was from.
“I’m not in college.” She said, “I’m Robynn Murray. I’m speaking tomorrow.”
I couldn’t believe it. She looked no different than the kids that had been showing up all night, except with maybe a few more piercings. Of course I apologized and explained that she would be staying in my room on the top floor: there was no way I was going to make her sleep on the floor! She would have the room to herself. She shrugged, like, “Okay. Whatever.”
Her speech the next day was raw, brave, and powerful. She focused a lot on the lies she was told by her recruiter, and she told stories of not just hardship, but regret and disillusion. I have been trying to view the documentary, Poster Girl, for three years, and last night, I saw it on Netflix. It did not disappoint.
While watching it, I couldn’t stop thinking about how young she was when she was in Iraq. A few years ago, when The Hunger Games was getting popular, parents were freaking out because it was about children, children!, killing each other. But the main characters in that book are 15, 16, 17 years old. Is there really that much of a difference between a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old?