I took off work Monday afternoon… sort of. I wasn’t in the office. I went to the movies.
But I wasn’t sloughing off. I went to see “2016: Obama’s America” at the Red Hills Cinema.
Early Monday morning, 6:20 a.m. to be precise, I sat down, caffeine in hand, and began to watch “Varney & Co.” on the Fox Business Channel. Between sips and bites out of my bowl of flakes, I saw the usual guests talking about the usual problems with the economy caused by the usual suspect: Barack Hussein Obama.
But the conversation turned to a motion picture that opened nationwide on Saturday.
“2016: Obama’s America” had been advertised on TV for a while with the tag line: “Love him. Hate him. You don’t know him. The movie the White House doesn’t want you to see.”
What Varney said he found so amazing about the opening of “2016” is how well it did in large metropolitan areas, which are mostly liberal leaning in politics.
One of his guests said he attended a performance in Los Angeles. The theater was packed “to the rafters” and the audience applauded loudly at the end of the film. Another guest said she heard that at another LA performance, the audience broke into singing “God Bless America” as the movie concluded.
That wasn’t exactly mirrored here Monday afternoon for the 1:30 matinee. About 20 people were scattered throughout theater No. 4. But a few of them did clap when the film ended.
The sparse crowd here isn’t indicative of the motion picture’s opening, however, and possibly no indication of how close to the rafters the crowd may get during evening and weekend performances.
Varney noted that the film earned $6.2 million during that first weekend. It finished among the top 10 box office draws, unusual for a documentary and unheard of for a conservative, political flick.
According to CNN Entertainment, “2016” outperformed the new Kristen Bell-Dax Shepard film "Hit and Run," the Jordin Sparks-Whitney Houston remake of "Sparkle," and "Twilight" star Ashley Greene's new thriller, "The Apparition."
The national release followed its limited opening July 13 in Houston, Texas. But altogether, “2016: Obama’s America” has earned $9.1 million during its seven-week run.
Over this past weekend, the film’s distribution expanded from 169 movie houses to 1,091 theaters.
Most of the film’s advertising has been done on conservative television and radio. I understand Rush Limbaugh told all of his audience it’s a film they must see. And no wonder, I doubt if there’s a single frame of celluloid that Limbaugh doesn’t embrace.
The film is co-directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Sousa with John Sullivan. Gerald Molen is listed in the credits as producer. He also produced “Schindler’s List,” “Jurassic Park” and “Minority Report.” There’s no dispute that the film is professionally produced.
It’s based on D’Sousa’s 2010 book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.” He brings his words to the screen by serving as the motion picture’s narrator.
D’Sousa is an immigrant from India, and his heritage is suffused through the film like spiced chai tea.
He notes the similarity in his life and Obama’s: born the same year, married the same year and both attended prestigious Ivy League colleges: he went the Darmouth; Obama to Harvard. And both are the descendants of fathers who lived under colonialism.
That’s the root of D’Sousa’s story line: Obama has been heavily influenced by the damage done to the Third World by the colonial powers and is attempting to right those wrongs by draining America of its wealth and encouraging the rise of South American and Islamic countries.
That’s the purpose of the Obama Administration’s excessive spending and borrowing, D’Sousa claims: to crash the U.S. Economy.
He explains that the famous incident of President Obama returning a bust of Winston Churchill to England was done because of the president’s dislike of Britain and Churchill, who was a “colonialist most of his life and who put down the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya” during the time the President’s father, Barack Obama, Sr., still lived in his native land.
D’Sousa cannot be described as objective when it comes to President Obama or the Democratic Party. And he lays out his conservative credentials as part of the movie.
He served as a policy analyst in the Reagan White House. And according to his profile on Amazon.com, “D'Souza quickly became a major influence on public policy through his writings,” which included his first book about political correctness on U.S. college campuses which was on the best-seller list for 15 weeks. “Subsequent best-sellers, include “Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader,” “The Virtue of Prosperity” “What's So Great About America,” “Letters to a Young Conservative” and “What's So Great About Christianity” as well as “The Roots of Obama's Rage.” His latest book, “Godforsaken,” was released in February 2012.
Variety reviewed “2016” and noted, "There's no gainsaying the value of '2016' as a sort of Cliffs Notes précis of the conservative case against the re-election of our current U.S. president."
And that sums it up. There’s little new in the film that wasn’t brought out during the 2008 presidential campaign. But many of the “facts” in the film are open to question, which is a much nicer expression than using a two-letter representative for manure.
The Associated Press released a story earlier this week as a fact check on many of the movie’s claims.
“To document that claim (of fanatical anti-colonialism), D’Souza travels to Kenya to interview members of Obama’s extended family as well as to Hawaii and Indonesia, where Obama grew up,” the AP report said. “He also cites several actions and policy positions Obama has taken to support the thesis that Obama is ideologically rooted in the Third World and harbors contempt for the country that elected him its first black president.”
The AP refutes D’Sousa’s claim that the president’s mother sent him to live with his grandparents in Hawaii so he would not be influenced by her second husband in Indonesia, who had pro-Western beliefs. But President Obama has said he was sent to Hawaii so he’d receive an education in the United States, the AP notes.
Depending upon your political loyalties, you can decide who is mistaken or a liar.
D’Sousa also claims that the yet-to-be president associated with Hawaiian-independence, anti-America radicals. There is no documented evidence for that, except that there are Hawaiians who shared that belief and Obama did live in Hawaii.
D’Sousa traveled to Kenya to interview Philip Ochieng, a close friend to Barack Obama, Senior. Ochieng voices beliefs that fit into D’Sousa’s story line. He complains about U.S. Policy in Afghanistan and Iraq and this country’s support for Israel.
But the beliefs of a friend of a father who the son hadn’t seen since he was 10 didn’t come across as highly relevant.
The AP also addressed that conservative legend that the Obama White House had returned that bust of Churchill to Britain
The AP report notes, “White House curator William Allman said the bust, which had been on loan, was already scheduled to be returned before Obama took office. Another bust of Churchill is on display in the president’s private residence, the White House says.”
Other claims in the movie certainly required mind reading or a vivid imagination on D’Sousa’s behalf.
D’Sousa says Obama intends to rid this country of all of its nuclear weapons, while doing nothing to stop Iran and other nations from developing theirs. The film shows an animated map of North Africa and the Middle East being morphed into the United States of Islam by Iranian clerics. The Islamists in Turkey and in Egypt have similar goals, but would like to see the new Caliphate centered in their nations. Islam is divided and even President Obama, with all his persuasive powers, can do little to unit their schisms even if he cared to.
And a building down the road from the White House shaped like a pentagon might find a way to block a plan to leave the U.S. defenseless in a nuclear-armed world.
Other points exaggerated or falsified in the film include the allegation the president backs Argentina’s claims on the Falkland Islands, again, to spite Britain. But AP notes, “The U.S. refused in April to endorse a final declaration on Argentina’s claim to the islands at the Summit of the Americas, provoking criticism from other Latin American nations.”
With the killing of Usama bin Laden and drone strikes in Pakistan, D’Sousa’s allegation that the president is “weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadists” seems weird in itself.
I found “2016: Obama’s America” to be simply more of the same… more personal attacks and character assassinations of the type practiced by both national parties.
You can judge Barack Hussein Obama to be a good man, good husband and father; a man who loves his country and is doing what he believes to be the right thing. And yet you can still vehemently oppose his policies, which are tangible and visible and require neither a crystal ball nor imaginary insights. And you can vote against him without him having to be the enemy of freedom and America.
You should see the film. We all have our own built-in perspectives and prejudices: yours may differ from mine. And I don’t have the impact of the Silver Screen to convince you my opinions are fact.