The subtitle reads, “Love Him, Hate Him, You Don’t Know Him.” It is this premise upon which filmmakers Dinesh D’Souza and Gerald R. Molen base their conservative political documentary, Obama’s America 2016. Aiming to reveal secrets of the President’s pre-White House life, which ostensibly shape his public policy in ways destructive to the advancement of America, D’Souza and Molen take viewers on a journey through “exotic locales across four continents…(in a race) against time to find answers to Obama’s past and reveal where America will be in 2016.”
Initially premiering in just one theater in Houston in early July, the film has since expanded to more than 1,800 theaters, reportedly benefiting from media attention surrounding the Republican National Convention (RNC). Four of 12 key battleground states, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, and Florida, lead with most tickets sold.
The film, which was distributed by Salt Lake City based Rocky Mountain Pictures, is based on D’Souza’s 2010 bestseller “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.” Hailed by Newt Gingrich as “Stunning,” the book posits that the President’s 1995 book “Dreams From My Father” was aptly titled as Mr. Obama’s political platform comes directly from the staunch anti-colonialist legacy of his father.
Prominently featured on the film’s official website is that of D’Souza’s own legacy – one of distinct privilege and power. An exchange student from India, Phi Betta Kappa graduate from Dartmouth College and Policy Analyst for the Reagan White House, D’Souza’s early dreams were of an idealized America: one where a young, capable man, need only set his sights on that which he desired and with enough hard work the “American Dream” could be his. The filmmaker, in fact draws very concrete parallels between himself and Mr. Obama. Both are born of foreign parents, both are men of color, and both graduated high school in the same year.
Yet, this is where the comparisons verge into high contrast. With cries of what some might call “reverse racism,” D’Souza flips the formula (institutionalized privilege + power = oppression) on its head by inferring that the President himself is using his role to oppress hard-working, deserving Americans by keeping them from their God-given destinies of financial success and that this is based on the President’s supposed need to right the wrongs of America’s colonialist origins. With reductionist simplicity, D’Souza narrates in the documentary’s official trailer, “Obama has a dream- a dream from his father- that the sins of colonialism be set right and America be downsized. America has a dream from our founding fathers that together we must perfect liberty and America must grow so liberty grows.”
Though the “docu-diatribe,” as Orlando Sentinel op-ed columnist Rafer Guzman calls it, has clearly benefited from the run-up to the RNC (growing 341% in the past seven weeks), it remains to be seen how 2016 will continue to fare as America heads into the Democratic National Convention (DNC) next week.