Spinners and Winners
Filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza has been called the Michael Moore of the right — striking box office gold with a political documentary critics say is filled with innuendo, distortions, and conspiratorial attacks on President Obama. D'Souza's film '2016: Obama's America', has become the second highest grossing political documentary of all time — trailing only Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11.'
While critics carp, D'Souza's low-budget documentary has been a remarkable commercial success. After starting in a single movie theater in Houston, Tex., it went on to become the surprise smash hit of the summer — bringing in $32 million as of Monday.
"The reason I think that the film has struck a chord is that in the core of it, there is a riveting story about Obama," D'Souza says. "You have an abandoned kid, Obama, who was dumped really at birth by his dad, and abandoned at the age of ten by his mother. So he undertakes a kind of heroic odyssey in a way to find his father and find himself."
D'Souza travelled around the world to piece together his version of Obama's story. One of the more striking scenes shows D'Souza taking three goats to a village in Kenya to get an interview with one family member, trading the goats, he says, for the interview.
"People are really hungry for information about Obama. There's a sense that even four years into his presidency, there are lots of missing pieces of the puzzle," D'Souza says.
The film's central argument is an alarming one: The president's dream or primary goal is to weaken America, make it less wealthy, less powerful, and less influential in the world.
"I think Obama's dream is a dream of global justice," says D'Souza. "And he wants to redistribute wealth away from the United States and toward other countries. And he also wants to redistribute power, he wants to shrink America's footprint in the world because he thinks we've been stepping on the world."
D'Souza's film ignores evidence that conflicts with his view of Obama. For example, the fact that President Obama sent 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, significantly increased drone strikes on Al-Qaeda targets in the Pakistani tribal areas, and made the call to go after Osama Bin Laden. This does not seem like a president who is acting in a way to limit America and to make it a weaker country in the world.
The critics — including some on the political right— have been harsh. Forbes Magazine said the film is "very full of holes" and "blurs the arguments against Obama with conspiratorial thinking" and "blatant falsehoods." Reason Magazine called the documentary "a cinematic mess," saying, "At least Michael Moore's crackpot documentaries provide a few impish laughs. In 2016, all the yuks are unintentional."
For more on D'Souza and his documentary, including how, according to this filmmaker, Obama supports 100 percent taxation, check out this week's Spinners and Winners.