The final image of Knock Down the House, the hit documentary about a quartet of 2018 congressional primary candidates, shows Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her boyfriend newly arrived at the east plaza of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. She has just been elected to Congress, but not yet taken office. They both start to cry; the waterworks run at a low gurgle throughout the movie, and at this point the viewer won’t be alarmed by another eruption.
Suddenly scooters appear, and the couple, with infectious delight, takes off in zigzags across the plaza, which is usually closed to tourists. The image thus combines three elements—Millennials, scooters, and trespassing—that seem designed to make a certain kind of conservative Republican’s head explode. The poor fellow will probably view the film as an exercise in trolling, a giddy, unapologetic version of his worst nightmare.
But it takes two to troll. Most viewers will be intrigued rather than annoyed by Knock Down the House; some will be inspired. The filmmakers, the wife-and-husband team of Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick, set out to record a political movement at the moment of its creation, and there’s no mistaking the uplift implied by their final shot: Let the word go forth, from this time and content provider (Netflix), that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, come of age in this century, tempered by two wars, disciplined by piles of student-loan debt, proud of their multicultural heritages. And they will be arriving on scooters.