Take a good long look at that sign. Those proportions are correct.
The poster for the “book” reveals what it’s really about. But some slick publicist helped them make the movie look classier, more ambiguous about its true intentions. Make no mistake, this is a hate-fueled piece of propaganda garbage and I get to say so because I’m a blogger. I’m not a critic and I’m not a journalist. But I would never be one of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes for that very reason. I don’t have the audacity to call myself a critic.
Since anyone can call themselves a critic now and get on Rotten Tomatoes I generally regard that website the way I do Yahoo movies and IMDb as a collection of public opinion. It is useful in that way. But it is not, in my opinion, as useful as other aggregate sites that use reviews from major publications to gauge critics consensus. I prefer instead Metacritic, and Movie Review Query Engine mainly because, as I’ve said and gotten said shit for, any any Tom, Dick or Harry Asshole with a blog can get their reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and there doesn’t seem to be any quality checking.
Not to say Metacritic doesn’t have its own faults; for instance, there are many legit critics who aren’t yet on Metacritic and to find their reviews I either have to go to Rotten Tomatoes or else do a Google search. But for the most part they uphold the notion that to be a critic is a high honor and not just anyone can or should be able to call themselves one.
This came crashing down this morning when I happened to check to see how the right-wing propaganda grenade, 2016: Obama’s America, was doing with critics. It’s news because the movie isn’t an embarrassing flop like previous movies spewing out of the right’s cornhole. Generally speaking, left-leaning docs tend to do better because the audiences likely to pay for docs in the first place tend to be left-leaning. You’ll have to figure that one out on your own. Although maybe everybody of every ilk went to see March of the Penguins.
Along with the legit critic reviews, like Stephen Farber and Joe Leydon, up pops one from Avi Offer as an actual legit review from a site called NYC Movie Guru. If you look at the site, it is literally the easiest thing in the world to set up, with no other links about who runs it anywhere to be found — just so-called “reviews.” To me, this isn’t what I would consider a legit critic. So why should I trust his tomato? But to make matters worse, he will now, from this day forward, gain new recognition as the guy who completely fell for 2016: Obama’s America without any sort of objectivity. Perhaps he is a Republican to begin with, in which case his review simply says that he stands behind the racist nonsense therein. Here is his Rotten Tomatoes pull quote (and sure to be blurb on the poster and advertising for the film – believe me, the people behind this doc are very very rich men so marketing is no problem!):
Highly entertaining, eye-opening, scary and enraging. You’ll never look at Obama the same way ever again nor will you trust his empty promises.
Okay, fine, exposing his politics is probably the best compliment he could get here.
This paragraph definitely reveals his own personal bias:
D’Souza travels all the way to Nairobi, Kenya to try to interview Obama’s family, but only manages to get an interview with his step-brother, George Obama, who doesn’t mind that Obama only takes care of him indirectly by taking care of the world, i.e. reducing carbon emissions. His explanation sounds like bulls&*t as though he were hiding his true feelings about Obama, so D’Souza should have asked him more questions or sharper ones. Perhaps George was afraid to speak out against Obama, but that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself when you watch the interview. At least D’Souza remains calm throughout the interview. He doesn’t resort to raising his voice or annoying/intimidating his interviewees like Michael Moore tends to do.
He blathers on a bit about how the film states, and the “critic” doesn’t disagree with the notion that Obama is reducing NASA’s budget in order to strengthen international relations with the Muslim world:
Philip Ochieng, a good friend of Barack Obama Sr., states many frightening things about Obama Sr. such as his anti-colonialist, socialist ideologies which have now been passed down onto Obama Jr. Case-in-point: Obama has decreased America’s nuclear armament and refused to disarm the nuclear weapons of other countries such as Iran. Moreover, he has weakened NASA and required it to change its primary objective from exploring space to improving its international relations, particularly with the Muslim world.
And then he sticks his landing with his last money shot, including a helpful illustration that says: how many times did I check my watch?
On a purely aesthetic level, co-directors Dinesh D’Souza and John Sullivan, include crisp editing, fast-pacing, lively graphics and even a few moments of comic relief to make for not only an eye-opening, scary and enraging documentary, but also a highly entertaining one to boot. Even if you don’t completely agree with everything stated and argued in the film, you’ll definitely never look at Obama the same way ever again nor will you trust his empty promises.
Are you ready for your closeup, Avi Offer? What did he miss in his review? A lot.
The film was funded by very rich Republicans — the difference between Michael Moore and D’Souza is that Moore didn’t ever, not once, set out to make a propaganda film for any Presidential candidate and did not need personal political contributions to get his film made. D’Souza couldn’t have gone to any studio to get funding — he would have been laughed out of town. But rich folk wanting to see a movie that isn’t necessarily an embarrassment secured its release in order to do what scared Republicans have been doing since the beginning: fan the flames of racism and fear to oust the President.
D’Souza likes to invoke Moore as a way to weasel out of being called a right-wing Propaganda mouthpiece but there is a significant difference between the two. Moore is not a front-man for the money elite, or any elite. He makes films he’s passionate about. D’Saouza’s nonsense furthers a Republican agenda. Full stop. Moreover, Moore has called out Obama in his last film, Capitalism a Love Story, something you will never see D’Sauza do to the Right.
Finally, what is there to say when even the smarter people in the Republican party can smell a rat and this critic can’t. From the NY Times:
Some of Mr. D’Souza’s theories have been widely criticized by prominent conservative and Republican Party leaders. The columnist George F. Will urged Republicans to “recoil” from such views, and wrote last year: “To the notion that Obama has a Kenyan, anticolonial worldview, the sensible response is: If only.”
If Mr. Offer had, in any way, done what Joe Leydon did, for instance, write a fair review that acknowledges what right-wing money can buy, good production value, while also calling out the film for what it really is, I would not have to call him out:
For the bulk of its running time, the pic comes off as a cavalcade of conspiracy theories, psycho-politico conjectures and incendiary labeling — “breathtakingly anti-America” is only one of the epithets tossed about like so much confetti — as D’Souza and assorted interviewees question Obama’s patriotism, deny his support of Israel, decry his Big Government programs, and generally recycle claims, charges and dire warnings D’Souza (and others) have previously promulgated in books, lectures, op-ed screeds and various Fox News guest appearances.
To his credit, D’Souza pointedly avoids the extremes of birther fanatics — early on, he announces Obama was born in Honolulu, and that’s that.
As such, as one of the critics on the tomato-meter, this goes beyond “hey, it’s just his opinion, man.”
Stephen Farber nails it to the wall as well:
The film really goes off the rails in the last half hour, when it veers from biographical data to speculation on how Barack Obama Sr.’s anti-colonialist sentiments turned his son into a radical who aims to dismantle America’s traditional values. To prove his tendentious point, D’Souza trots out a familiar cast of characters. Frank Marshall Davis, a friend of Obama’s grandfather in Hawaii, was indeed a card-carrying member of the Communist Party, though the film fails to mention that when Davis joined the Party in the 1940s, such membership was perfectly legal. We hear about “Obama’s Chicago pal” Bill Ayers, though D’Souza admits that Obama met Ayers in 1995, 25 years after Ayers’ involvement with the Weather Underground. D’Souza also points out that Obama took a class at Columbia taught by Edward Said, the renowned pro-Palestinian scholar. Do any of these marginal associations prove that Obama aims to introduce socialism to America and undermine the state of Israel?
Other bits of “evidence” are just as obviously cherry-picked. The filmmakers show Obama fumbling when trying to explain his healthcare bill at a rally, but they mute the sound of the hecklers who clearly contributed to the President’s disorientation. D’Souza implies that Obama is sympathetic to radical jihadists while ignoring the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The film concludes by suggesting that if Obama wins a second term, America will be a completely different country by 2016. And it ends with the ominous words, “The future is in your hands.” No one doubts that the country faces major challenges in the next four years, but there is one safe bet: The future is unlikely to be affected by this simplistic documentary.
We are living in a time when our Presidential election is about to be bought legally and sold in plain sight. Thanks to the Citizens United decision, you now have men being able to throw their billions around to fund all manner of media propaganda. Perhaps, in a way, this has always been so. But we need our journalists to be able to see through that greased up mask, or we are truly lost.
Most repulsive of all is how the filmmakers have dragged Schindler’s List in their shit trail, stinking it up, borrowing its credibility: