Culture editor Emily Jashinsky: Netflix's 'Hillbilly Elegy' film misses the memoir's broader community story

Emily Jashinsky, culture editor for The Federalist, said Netflix’s recent adaptation of venture capitalist J.D. Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” focuses too much on Vance’s personal story of economic advancement without delving enough into the larger issues faced by working class Americans in the Appalachian region. 

The editor explained her critiques in an interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” emphasizing points the editor made in a recent opinion piece that “the film isn’t coherent enough to be insistent on any broader message at all — other than Vance’s personal path to success,” and “lacks the sense of place” that Vance’s 2016 memoir “crafted carefully.” 

“What I think the Netflix adaptation misses is, again, you already mentioned, that sense of community, that sense of place, but the book itself is an analysis, it’s very Putnam-esque, it has sort of Charles Murray-type data in it where he’s looking at the decline of community, the decline of civic institutions, and that’s all completely gone from the movie,” Jashinsky said on “Rising.” 

“The Left is applying some of the same critiques it applied to the memoir itself to the movie, which is that it’s too focused on ‘bootstraps conservatism,’ like you can escape poverty, the cycle ends with you, because you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” she continued.

“When it’s just one person’s story and that’s actually what he did, that’s actually what J.D. Vance did, that critique just completely misses the mark,” Jashinsky added. “But, I actually think it’s unfortunate that Netflix only focused on his story without folding in the story of the broader community, and that’s really what this misses.”

Watch part of Jashinsky’s interview above.