Bestselling author Dinesh DíSouza delineates why he believes President Barack Obama is an America-hating anti-colonialist who wants to turn the United States into a socialist, impoverished, influence-free nation.
Letís get this out of the way: I will not be voting for Barack Obama come November 6th. He and I disagree on a few too many important things for me to hitch my wagon to him. I also will not be voting for his primary opponent, as Mitt Romney and I disagree on just about everything (including the merits of the works of L. Ron Hubbard).
Iím telling you this so you wonít think my negative reaction to this movie stems from any sort of partisan mindset. Sure, my beliefs largely differ from DíSouzaís, but thatís not why I so dislike this movie. I dislike this movie because itís laughable, strident, illogical nonsense.
Despite what everyone involved would like you to believe, this movie is not a documentary. It documents DíSouzaís repeated attempts to grasp at straws, but I donít think really counts. It is, instead, a rant, an attempt by one extremely partisan individual to find evidence to back up his nonsensical claims. Unlike any good, reasonable attempt to uncover a truth (like, say, The Thin Blue Line), DíSouza doesnít collect and examine evidence in hopes of reaching a conclusion; he instead works backward, manipulating, fudging, and inventing evidence to support a conclusion heís already formed. The manner in which he goes about this is obvious and naked, so messy and ridiculous you almost expect him to bring up the Chewbacca defense. I pity anyone who canít see through the bull.
This movie is an extension of DíSouzaís 2010 book The Roots of Obamaís Rage (which DíSouza quite naturally plugs a number of times over the course of the movie); the book was something of a full-length version of an article DíSouza penned for Forbes, which was roundly derided as a piece of full-bore malarkey, with even some staunch conservatives calling DíSouza out for making up what he claimed were facts. In the article, the book, and now the movie, DíSouza uses lay psychoanalysis on Obama, attempting to paint him as the product of modern socialism, radicalism, and anti-colonialism.
In DíSouzaís mind, Obama absorbed the teachings and beliefs of his absent father (a man who left his family when Obama was two years old), his mother, his maternal grandparents, and the socialists and radicals who served as de facto surrogate fathers, resulting in a belief system that, simply put, hates the American way of life and wants to see it destroyed. Thatís quite a leap in logic, and watching DíSouza make the leap is both funny and sickening.
Taking (unfortunately) a cue from Michael Moore, DíSouza injects himself into the proceedings. He narrates the movie, gets enough screen time to bolster arguments this is a vanity project in more ways than one, and attempts to parallel his life with that of Obama (making a big deal out of the fact that they were born in the same year and got married in the same year). The latter is a rather silly attempt at self-glorification.
See, DíSouza was born in India and was surrounded by anti-colonialist fervor, but he came to America to study and discovered that the white man is perfectly okay. Obama, on the other hand, was born in America (DíSouza deserves points, I suppose, for not bringing up that birther nonsense) but grew up overseas, his mind poisoned by individuals who hated America, and he therefore set out on a path that would take him to the highest office in the free world (which he attained, DíSouza argues, only because white liberals felt too guilty not to vote for him) and thereby allow him to reshape the country--and the world--as he saw fit.
What evidence does DíSouza have to back up these claims? Well, he has excerpts from Obamaís memoir, Dreams from My Father, presented here in the form of clips from the audio version. The excerpts are taken from passages in which Obama talks about wondering why his father wasnít around, knowing him only through what he learned from his mother and others. This, not surprisingly, led Obama to build some mythic version of his father, one that came crashing down upon learning from a half-sister of his fatherís infidelities and habit of abandoning his children. But almost all of the cited passages lack context; DíSouza has carefully chosen and manipulated the quotes. He wants you to believe that the boy who constructed an idealized simulacrum to replace his absent father never let go of that simulacrum, is still hoping to make daddy happy by implementing daddyís radical ideals (DíSouza thinks the use of ďfromĒ rather than ďofĒ in the bookís title is a big clue as to just how much the son follows the father. Alex Jones and Glenn Beck would be proud), and heíll go to whatever lengths necessary to create evidence to support his assertions.
The nadir of this approach comes when DíSouza travels to Kenya and chats with an elderly man who knew Obamaís father. This man says heís seen the junior Obama on television and sees similarities between the two men. Wow, talk about insightful. How could anyone hear that assertion and not believe the country is going straight down the tubes? Good grief. Thatís as stupid as Charlie Sheen saying 9/11 had to be an inside job because the planes he saw on television didnít look like any plane on which heíd ever flown. My god, most people put more critical thought into making a bag of microwave popcorn than DíSouza put into this entire movie.
You could spend weeks picking this movie apart. The volume of half-truths and misrepresentations alone is enough to get you through ten days or so. DíSouza knocks Obama for increasing Americaís debt, supplying a helpful graph to show just how much the national debt has grown since the days of Washingtonís presidency; but when the shot of the chart finally gets down to George W. Bushís line, it suddenly whips past, glossing over the huge leap that occurred in those eight years. He derides Obama for halting work on the Keystone XL pipeline, a move he says was economic folly. But does he mention that the Republican governor of Nebraska, Dave Heineman, favored halting the project until a route that doesnít have the oil flowing through Nebraskaís primary source of drinking water could be found? No.
Thereís more! DíSouza says Obamaís decision to dismantle a chunk of Americaís nuclear arsenal will weaken the country and give rise to a ďUnited States of Arabia,Ē a coalition of nations in the Middle East just looking to launch an attack. A ďUnited States of ArabiaĒ? Yeah, good luck with that. That old bit about the bust of Churchill is brought up again, this despite the fact itís already been explained to hell and back. There is a clip of Obama having trouble articulating the economic feasibility of his health care plan, DíSouza using it to illustrate what he views as yet another sign of Obamaís inability to lead. Not to be petty or juvenile, but for someone who voted Republican in 2000 and 2004 to pull something like that is, well, let me put it this way: make the pie higher. And then thereís the biggie: Obama has spent much of his time in office coddling the Muslim world. Really? Is DíSouza unaware of what went down on May 2, 2011? I donít know how he couldíve missed it; it was all over the news.
In a movie full of silly moments, the silliest involves a sit-down between DíSouza and George Obama, the younger half-brother of the president. George lives in a cramped shack in Kenya, and DíSouza thinks itís odd that Obama hasnít helped his brother out, hasnít brought him out of poverty and helped him establish a new life. DíSouza thinks this is obvious evidence of the presidentís anti-colonialism, as a successful individual giving economic assistance to someone living in a third-world nation is what colonialism is all about. All this scene does is prove that pretzel logic is more than just the title of a Steely Dan album. The path DíSouza takes--using loaded questions and misinterpreted answers along the way, ignoring Georgeís statements that he lives where he does because he wants to--to make that claim is like one of those dotted-line gags from ďThe Family Circus.Ē Try to make sense out of it and your brain is likely to start oozing from your ears.
When you get right down to it, this movie is nothing more than masturbatory character assassination. DíSouza attempts to portray himself as a shining example of the American dream while simultaneously excoriating both men named Barack Obama. The elder Obama was a third-world nutcase who drank and fooled around, activities which led to his early death and are exactly the sort of behavior youíd expect from a godless radical; he passed his worldview down to his son, who is now using this inherited hatred of all things good and holy to destroy everything the Founding Fathers worked so hard to achieve.
Too bad for DíSouza (who has blamed 9/11 on the American left, saying the sexually permissive culture promoted by liberals is a thorn in the side of Islam [which I suppose means the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was spearheaded by Larry Flynt]) that the release of this DVD coincided with the revelation heíd been involved in some moral malfeasance while attending a Christian conference a few months back. This caused quite a stir among his peers, eventually leading to his resignation as president of Kingís College. Iím no believer in karma or anything, but I do like it when someone gets whatís coming.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer is a bit odd. Thereís the expected disparity in quality between the new footage and the news clips, stock footage, etc., but in this case the new stuff actually looks weaker. The interviews and whatnot often look flat and slightly murky, like the work of people who didnít know how to light any given location and were employing low-grade digital equipment. The only bits that truly look good are the scenes shot under the bright Kenyan sun.
The only audio option is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The mix is a bit more open and active that you typically get with documentaries (real or fake), but that proves to be a problem here. Music (not surprisingly, the score is ominous, full of spooky percussion and minor-key piano tinklings) gets tossed to the rears throughout the movie, but itís mixed at a higher level than the dialogue and narration, obscuring them at times. The dialogue and narration are also a bit flat, and they waver in quality and volume at add moments. English subtitles are available.
No extras are included.
DíSouza refers to himself as a ďthinkerĒ in the opening minutes of this movie. Iím not sure he knows what that word means.