Posted by Lambchop
2016: Obama’s America is a documentary film based in part on D’Souza’s bestselling book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage. Partnering with legendary film producer, Gerald Molen, D’Souza weaves a deeply compelling and articulate story of Obama’s past, his motivations, and how his experiences will define a second term as President – the most powerful office in the world.
D’Souza‘s film captures the mania of the 2008 American presidential election when Obama stepped into a role of a lifetime and was catapulted to stardom from nowhere. Americans clamored and Obama “rode the wave” while average Americans projected their hopes and dream onto the tabula rasa that was Obama. No one had ever seen anyone like Obama – they bought into his vision, without knowing fully what it was.
D’Souza narrates the film with surprising warmth and honesty about his own past – a past that is quite similar to Obama’s. The film leads us on a journey through India to America and the audience discovers that D’Souza and Obama were born the same year, lived overseas, and attended Ivy League schools. They even graduated and married in the same years and both share mixed nationalities and races. One gets the sense that D’Souza’s journey into Obama’s past is also a journey of self-discovery. One of my favorite scenes is a D’Souza narration of a “pony-tailed white guy” who showed up at an International Students meeting at Dartmouth. The liberal international student imposter repeatedly tried to win favor with D’Souza with a feigned interest in India (and little knowledge), sputtering that India seems so “liberating”. D’Souza’s ironic retortillicited a large laugh from the audience- that India was hardly liberating given the dowries, arranged marriages and caste system. I found myself wanting to know more about D’Souza’s life and perspectives.
The film goes on to explain that while Americans have lost 40% of their wealth since 2007, Obama has been focused on small issues and made contradictory decisions. Decisions and policies have included sending the bust of Churchill back to England; backing Argentina; rejection of the Keystone pipeline; funding Brazil’s drilling for oil while halting the United States drilling; changing NASA’s mission to an Islamic outreach center; going into Libya to prevent genocide while ignoring the much larger genocide in Syria; allowing Egypt to be delivered out of the hands of a stable ally in Mubarak and into the hands of the hostile and unpredictable Muslim brotherhood; refusing to stop Iran as it gains nuclear capability; slashing America’s nuclear capability; and taking Palestine’s side while ignoring one of our strongest allies – Israel. D’Souza’s realization is that Obama was not looking at America through the lens of an American liberal or even a African-American civil rights activist – but from the view of a third world anti-colonialist.
Obama’s story unfolds with interviews with family friends and scenic views of the places that Obama frequented – from his school in Hawaii to scenes from Indonesia. The sights and smells of third world are made real with an emotionally gripping soundtrack the quick cuts of the simple and sometimes brutal realities of daily life. As with the book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, the film takes a strong thematic turn and focuses on Obama’s 1987 visit to Kenya.
One interesting interview is with Obama’s half-brother, George, who had been previously discovered by the shocked western journalists living in a hut in Nairobi. The interview juxtaposes Obama’s anti-colonial views with George’s acceptance and realization that Kenya is still a “basket case”. George surmises that Kenya’s problems are most likely because the nation did not embrace the development provided by the white colonialists (as it happened in South Africa, Singapore and Malaysia). Kenya chose to kick them out.
Interviews with contemporaries of Barak Obama, Senior were also quite insightful – portraying the similarities between Barak, Senior’s ideology and Junior’s adoption of his father’s views as the turning point to solving the future President’s identity crisis. But Obama had to hide his real past in order to get elected and position himself as a redeemer. He used his race to get elected.
The film does a marvelous job of explaining the anti-colonialists viewpoint to the white, western audience: conveying suspicion and hatred of colonial countries toward the “occupiers” and their military, missionaries, and merchants. One can reason this ideology feeds Obama’s current obsession with raising taxes, empowering the federal goverment, siding with Muslims, and defunding the military. What better way to immobilize United States military domination than defunding the military and sacking its nuclear weapons? What better way to arrest capitalism than to cause it to crater with destructive economic policies and positioning the federal government to take over all industry? And what better way to freeze the spread of Christianity than to replace it with the United States of Islam?
While the film is even-handed, it is nevertheless chilling in its predictions for the future of this great nation with Obama at the helm. There is no dogmatic assertion that the viewer must see things a certain way –it is more of a complex revelation whereby the audience can draw its own conclusions about Obama’s instincts, motivations and vision.
This film is critically important and evocative. As D’Souza said (cautioning the audience to have empathy for Obama), “But…at the same time… I don’t want him to play out his psychological issues on the global stage.” Me neither.