Love him, hate him: One reviewer’s take on ‘2016’
Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of Barack Obama? Conservative author-turned-co-director and narrator, Dinesh D’Souza, has an answer that should be regarded as a “thesis,” “premise” or “warning” that the young life of the now President of the United States was strongly influenced by men who held non-traditional American beliefs.
His “documentary” in the vain of Michael Moore – “2016: Obama’s America” – has a chilling agenda. It’s far from balanced but plays well on the big screen. Scenes shift from the landlocked states to Kenya, Indonesia and Hawaii. The mixture of interviews, news clips, and reenactments resonate, with one exception: the snips of candidate, Senator and President Barack Obama detract from the film’s somber mood.
Starting as a comparison between two sons from immigrant roots – D’Souza from India and the Hawaiian-born Obama (thankfully, no ‘birthing’ dispute argued) – the film softly preaches that his single parent (or grandparent) raising through Obama’s own exploration in “Dreams from My Father” predisposes him to detest the nation’s accomplishments. D’Souza’s argument is that the President harbors anti-colonialism ideals which will translate into a dismantling of American stature, culture and wealth.
Pointedly, the film says that Obama has a hidden agenda to punish current Americans for the sins of ancestors who colonized countries in a British manner that made the colony bow to the monarchy. More specifically, the film suggests that, to Obama, even the poorest homeless American is “rich” by Third World and/or colonial standards, so his connotation of “wealth” contradicts that of Americans; his definition of poor and impoverished comes from a scene out of “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Since much of the movie has been shot in developing or under-developed nations, a majority of interviewees and bystanders have missing teeth, mostly speak inarticulately, wear shorts (not pants, but they are in warmer climates) and either flip-flop or are barefoot bicycling crowded streets. One particularly effective shot inserts the deserted slums of (presumably) Detroit as a future given should the African American president win re-election.
Actually, you might think I’m too harsh on the ‘documentary’ which has been labeled ‘infomercial’ by some and potentially right-wing propaganda by others. No, I’m challenging the representation of the thesis, not the high quality production values that maintain audience interest in a similar manner to a summer action or fall horror flick.
Far from allegedly ‘preaching to a (conservative) choir,’ the production awakens the curiosity of apathetic or undecided voters, who do not share the loud hands clapping finale. Instead, I tip a hand to D’Souza’s psychological persuasion abilities. Having purposefully (prior to viewing) not read or researched the Forbes article, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” or “Dreams from My Father,” the prediction of Obama’s agenda is derived from his past mentors, teachers and (according to the film) an idolized absent father who after the age of two visited him once.
Salute the filmmakers, they have produced at least a superficially seductive, moderately compelling and marginally convincing hypothesis (reinforced in the film by an un-vetted psychologist) awaiting fact checking to discern its credibility.
Remove “2016” and its reality quotient moves upward; inject the narrator’s logic and it’s a leap beyond faith. Too many early influences and not enough dot collecting for the conjecture of anti-patriotic ambitions of the adult Obama. Buoyed by an out of nowhere rock star-styled rise, the then candidate’s good looks and calm conversing charisma overtakes intended frontrunner Hillary Clinton. As a political newcomer, the president’s “past” has been subject to strong criticism and apparent vagueness, but “Obama’s America” demonizes him.
Like any political drama, questions arise in swallowing what becomes anti-Christ villainy. A lesson – if you aspire toward public service where you are elected by majority vote, be careful with whom you associate from the day of your birth. Unprincipled spin, insatiable campaign managers, and commentator scrutiny can rival an out of control insurance defense attorney digging through past rumors, thoughts to gain the precipitous 51 percent for “a preponderance of the evidence” advantage based on a multitude of grays or outright falsities.
What’s missing or awaiting questions? To accept the “2016” crystal ball, you assume that the title character injected no thoughts of his own or of influences from Illinois, other than those of whom the film asserts. The communist/socialistic writings of Frank Marshall Davis are put in the storytelling arc, then mysteriously dropped. The massive spending and rise in national debt fails to mention a recession compared to the Great Depression. The writer/director’s hope and racist redemption election fable fails to assert the President’s fluctuating approval ratings based on the most recent current events. The “radical” post-Civil Rights era excludes a legitimate factor for presumed natural anger from years of second-class discrimination. Strong white hatred views of his Chicago “preacher” drop into oblivion too.
What’s his motivation for the projected betrayal of his nation by taking it from a world leader to a third world nether land? That Kenya’s independence did not lead it to “developing nation” status similar to South Africa, Malaysia, or the United Arab Emirates, which stands only on the shrink’s “father” theory and an admittedly philosophical writing by the young Obama. Further, his half brother, George, denies as exaggeration the admission of living on “less than a dollar a month” and Barack being abandoned by the Obama family in a very brief interview.
Using fear to influence the opinions and actions of others toward a specific end fits the fear mongering definition. Add this from a legal dictionary: Creating a problem (often where one does not exist) and making people feel like they must act now.
Applying this to the orchestrated dark clouds over the White House and doomsday percussion would presumably explain a viewer’s “we gotta let him go” uttering at feature’s end. I’m likely to agree with the woman who stated, “this ought to be shown in every college dormitory”
My addition: With a mandated moderated discussion that follows the screening allowing those who “love” or “hate” the Chief Executive to make their best political points.