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Featured DVD Review: 2016: Obama's America

October 14th, 2012

2016: Obama's America - Buy from Amazon

2016: Obama's America started out in limited release in the summer, but thanks in part to the GOP convention boosting political enthusiasm among conservatives, it managed to climb into the top ten and expand truly wide. In the end, it became one of the highest grossing political documentaries since Fahrenheit 9/11 set the gold standard for the genre. That film went on to win an Oscar. Will this film do the same?

The Movie

In a word: No.

The film begins Dinesh D'Souza describing his childhood and his days in college. This goes on way too long. Dinesh D'Souza is not an interesting enough person to be the subject of a documentary, nor is he charismatic enough to listen to while he talks about himself. It is close to ten minutes into the film before Dinesh D'Souza finally starts to focus on Obama; however, it isn't long after that before he begins a series of misstatements.

It begins right away when Dinesh D'Souza brings up a myth about souring relations between the U.S. and the U.K. In 1960, the White House added a bust of Winston Churchill to its art collection and this bust is still there. During George W. Bush's term, a second bust was loaned to the White House, but only for the duration of his term. When his term ended, it was to be returned to the British ambassador. Obama didn't return it to Britain as a slap in the face to the British. It was returned because it was scheduled to be returned. Obama supported Argentina over the Falkland Islands? Really? If that's true, why was Argentina upset with Obama over his position with regards to the Falkland islands? Obama blocked drilling in America? Domestic oil production in America is growing now, but it was falling under Bush. Obama increased NASA's budget and the focus switched from returning to the Moon to going to Mars. I would call that increasing their horizon. And yes, convincing the Muslim world that science and mathematics is a worthy pursuit would be a great thing. Dinesh D'Souza doesn't mention how much effort Obama has put into stopping genocide in Syria, only to be blocked by Russia and China each time. He never mentions Hosni Mubarak was a dictator in Egypt and it was the Egyptian people who rose up and removed him from power. When he speaks about Iran, it shows he has no idea how complicated that situation is. Threatening war with Iran, which is the only thing Obama hasn't done to stop their nuclear program, would kill the democracy movement in Iran. Hell, any interference in Iranian politics is likely to backfire given the history in that country. Speaking of nuclear weapons, America has enough operational nuclear warheads to nuke every urban center with a population of 1 million or more, five times over. This includes cities within the United States. So unless you think Milwaukee might start trouble, reducing America's nuclear arsenal won't leave it vulnerable. Dinesh D'Souza also ignores the inconvenient fact that Ronald Reagan was the one to start nuclear disarmament back in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan dreamed of a world free of nuclear weapons. Obama's position on Palestine is the one supported by most American Jews, and many Israelis. However, it is not the position of the GOP or of the current far-right wing government. Being to the left of the GOP or Benjamin Netanyahu is not a curious position to take for a Democrat, so I'm not sure why Dinesh D'Souza is confused.

So after going on for ten minutes about Obama's positions and actions, getting most of them wrong, Dinesh D'Souza tries to figure out why Obama acts in ways that don't make sense to Dinesh D'Souza. What follows ranges from clueless to ... well ... even more clueless to "This is making my brain hurt!" level of cluelessness. This is preaching to the choir, 100% preaching the choir. Some of the theories put forth are only one step away from Birtherism. I was going to catalogue all of the stupid things Dinesh D'Souza spoke about, but there's just too much. Not only is what Dinesh D'Souza saying stupid, but the way he says it hurts the film. Dinesh D'Souza isn't a charismatic speaker and there's often an awkwardness to the way he speaks. He can handle a short interview on TV just fine, but he can't carry a movie by himself. This is especially clear when we hear excerpts from the audio version of Barack Obama's book, read by Obama himself. The two styles are so different that even surrounded by the crazy accusations, Obama comes across as the more thoughtful person. There are also some bad reenactments that are puzzling. Interviews are conducted over the phone, but we see both Dinesh D'Souza and his interview subject on the phone. If he could send a camera crew to his interviewee, why couldn't Dinesh D'Souza go himself? There are only two reasons I could think of. Firstly, pointless style. Secondly, it is easier to selectively edit a phone interview than a live interview. Since the co-director, John Sullivan, was one of the producers of Expelled, this is a real possibility.

The only thing I learned from 2016: Obama's America is that Dinesh D'Souza is either a liar or a moron or, more likely, a bit of both.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

2016: Obama's America is garbage. Granted, it has high production values, but Dinesh D'Souza doesn't have the charisma to carry a film like this, while if you know the facts, his pathetic conspiracies fall down almost immediately. The DVD has no extras and it is not even worth a rental.

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Filed under: Video Review, 2016: Obama’s America, Dinesh D'Souza