As the 2012 Presidential race gathered steam, we saw political candidates and political pundits working overtime to acquire vital gains in votes. That is obvious given the nature of the closely-fought election. But we also had filmmakers and authors working within their respective media to produce materials that were bound to influence voters. At one point, in 2012 year alone, there were six anti-Obama books in the Amazon’s top-100 best-sellers list. To name a few books: Paul Kengor’s “The Communist,” Dinesh D’Souza’s “Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream” and “The Roots of Obama's Rage” on which this film is based, then Mark Levin’s “Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America,” David Limbaugh's “The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama's War on the Republic,” and Edward Klein's "The Amateur." On the funny side, one has to give credit to our President; his name brings money to big publishing houses and keeps writers busy all year around.
It was a matter of time when an anti-Obama film would be released, just in time for the election cycle to enter its final phase. One such film, “2016: Obama’s America,” is a documentary by a conservative political commentator, Dinesh D’Souza. After seeing the film, I can say this: D’Souza’s film for this election cycle would be what Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” (2004) was during Bush’s reelection campaign in terms of presenting the truth about the presumptive Presidential candidates. Truth about politicians, as we know, is all subjective, depending on which side of the political spectrum one supports, with each side tweaking facts to highlight their agenda. It is no surprise that D’Souza’s film has gone on to become the second highest-grossing documentary of all time, right after Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
Indeed, there is a reason why there are so many books and now the films on Barack Obama. In the political circle, Obama is still seen as an enigma--a person who was largely unknown until he became a U.S. Senator for two years before he started his Presidential campaign for the White House. With Obama, there was always a big question about his past, at least in the minds of conservatives. The speed of his fame and the manner with which he convinced voters in 2008 with his “Change is coming to America” theme made him the most celebrated political figure in the United States. Republicans are still scratching their head about how this happened. After all, previous U.S. Presidents like Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr. and Jr., Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon were well-known political figures before they got elected to the Presidency. But that was back in 2008, and by 2012 the mood had changed.
D’Souza with his film attempts to address one simple question: What is Barack Obama’s identity? D’Souza’s logic is to cross-examine Obama: to trace his roots through the old friends who influenced him and to understand his social policies and anti-rich stance. D’Souza employs this idea to examine what he considers Obama’s failures and his ideology, at least from a conservative point of view.
D’Souza begins the documentary with a boring, ten-minute introduction about his own life growing up in India and then tries to draw similarities between his father’s life in India and Obama’s father in Kenya. He gives the impression that he understands what it is to grow up in a foreign land, and in some indirect ways he alludes to the idea that Obama was born in Kenya; it’s all nicely wrapped up by a smooth-talking D’Souza. As the opening segment plays out, D’Souza says Obama and he share the same mixed race background--although whether he means mixed race by birth or by marriage is not clear. Nonetheless, D’Souza somehow tries to persuade us that he can relate to Obama’s ethic roots. Obviously, the initial comparison makes no sense. It only makes one wonder if he is saying “I am the right person to examine Obama’s ethic roots because I have ethnic roots, too.”
To validate his framework, D’Souza interviews many people. First he interviews a psychologist, Paul Vitz, who talks about the psychology of kids who don’t have any father. According to him, fatherless kids are hostile when fathers are not around. He believes that Obama has created a paintbrush image of his father without any flaws. The reasoning here is completely flawed, as it incorrectly assumes that all fatherless kids are hostile in some way. We don’t hear the percentages of hostile kids in this situation, and we never get any insight about whether the kids’ anger also has to do with their upbringing. Somehow D’Souza projects Obama as a disturbed person because of his father’s absence. D’Souza, therefore, falsely concludes that Obama is unfriendly to the American people because he was fatherless.
Next, we meet a cold-war historian, Paul Kengor, who has written a book, “The Communist,” about Frank Marshall Davis, around which several conspiracy theories about Obama are centered. Many perceived Davis as an anti-American because of his criticism of America’s social and military policies. He was a Communist in his thoughts and was hunted frantically by the FBI. Kengor says Obama also chose his friends carefully, from Marxists professors to structural feminists, and these friends were prominent in Obama’s circle: an anti-American old friend linked to his father, a Marxist Harvard professor, and a communist Davis who had an impact on Obama. Again, this imperfectly assumes that only these people had any influence on Obama’s life, and as if these were the only people Obama ever interacted with in his life. Kengor and D’Souza employ the “guilt by association” model, implying that Obama’s policies are the result of his old acquaintances. Given this, the documentary makes no attempt to talk about other people in Obama’s life--when he was in Harvard at law school and as a Senator in Congress. D’Souza goes on to determine that the reason Obama won’t sanction offshore drilling on U.S. soil is because he is an anticolonialist, trying to redistribute wealth to other countries at the expense of the colonists.
D’Souza also thinks that Obama is an anti-capitalist--a model that is the foundation of modern America. He validates his claim by saying that other countries like India, China, and Indonesia are embracing capitalism, as they see long-term benefits in this model. But, he fails to mention that the aforementioned countries have adopted only elements of capitalism as they see fit, and that these countries have socialist components as well. India is still an unfriendly place to foreign business; China because of its communist model is still circumspect of foreign business. Further, D’Souza never mentions anything about why India and China were unscathed by the 2008 credit crisis that still has a crippling effect on the U.S. Even though China and India are adopting capitalism, they have procedures in place to ensure that capitalism remains in check.
Another of the ludicrous analogies about Obama’s personality comes from a Senior Fellow at Hoover Institute, Dr. Shelby Steele. He discusses what he calls the “gratitude” factor in white people. He believes Obama was naturally born to bargaining, and he always makes other persons important. I agree. But, Steele goes on to say something like, Whites would support a black person if they’re not angry. By angry, Steele means that blacks couldn’t think about slavery when interacting with whites. This reasoning hardly makes sense, because both the races cannot be simultaneously thinking about the past and then evaluate each other. Steele further goes on: “Whites would support blacks more than they would someone else. So I think Obama realized from childhood on that was a mechanism in American society. This gratitude whites feel not being judged.” How can Obama realize this from childhood? This logic basically says that Obama somehow knew he could convince 53% of voters to vote for him in 2008, using the “gratitude” factor. Surely, Obama’s Presidency would not have been possible if he was angry, but according to Vitz, Obama is hostile. So, where does the gratitude come from?
Ever since Obama got elected to the White House, there have been hues and cries from Republicans, mainly, claiming that America had elected a Communist, a socialist, and an anti-American President. This documentary makes no bones about this fact. D’Souza presents a preposterous logic that only functions as a conspiracy theory and nothing more. All the nice décor of a travelogue that D’Souza utilizes in this film can be broken down in only twenty minutes instead of a ninety-minute documentary. Films such as this one are meant to put a question mark in the mind of undecided voters. It’s a classic propaganda tact, feeding lies and broken analogies. On 10/24/2012, the “New York Times” reported that a 30-person Republican focus group was doing direct DVD mailings of three films in Florida: Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016: Obama’s America,” “The Hope and the change,” and “Dreams of My Real Father.” Also, there have been reports that a major cable provider is offering a notorious anti-Obama movie to all its subscribers for free. The company in question is Armstrong Cable, operating in six states including Pennsylvania and the critical swing state of Ohio. Anyone who can analyze D’Souza’s arguments in the film can see that his claims are completely outrageous, broken, and false.
Lionsgate presents this documentary in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The colors appear fine and vivid, and the print is blemish-free.
Lionsgate has included a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. This is a dialogue-driven movie, and the dialogue remains clean and audible for the duration. In addition, the movie can be watched with English subtitles.
There are no bonus features for this release.
Dinesh D’Souza’s “Obama's America: Unmaking the American Dream” was a desperate attempt to misguide voters before they went to the polls on November 2; it does never gives a complete story of Obama. The movie is obviously partisan and fails to mention any of Obama’s achievements during his tenure. The film only misrepresents facts from his past, to which he might be linked only remotely. In addition, D’Souza deliberately misconstrues passages from Obama’s book, “Dreams of My Father” and uses them with own interpretations. D’Souza concludes that Obama is anticolonialist because his old friends were anti-colonialists, therefore making Obama anti-American and socialist, too. Given this hollow reasoning, D’Souza’s final conclusion is utterly laughable.