I was flipping through Netflix, trying to find something interesting to put on the television while I toiled around the house this weekend and found a “documentary” that I thought had an interesting title. “America: Imagine the World Without Her”.
It is hard to describe this movie as a “documentary” without using quotation marks, because, what this movie actually contains is more akin to Goebbels-style, Nazi-era propaganda.
I don’t watch Fox News, so I was unaware of who Dinesh D’Souza was prior to hitting “play” on my Netflix machine. So I was unaware of his previous propaganda works, his campaign finance scandal, or even that he was approaching this film from a Christian right-wing neo-conservative angle. I thought I was going to watch a documentary, much like, you know, something I’d see on the Discovery Channel, or Smithsonian Channel.
So, despite the movie having been (wisely) recommended as only 1-Star by Netflix, I shrugged and thought “what the hell” to myself and started the movie.
The title made it seem like I was about to watch an interesting take on what America would be like if major parts of American history had changed… an interesting thought experiment, I thought. What would the political boundaries of the U.S. Likely look like? How long would slavery continue in the south? Would we still live under the King of Britain? Would democracy have spread throughout the rest of the world? What would happen if we had lost World War II?
On my screen, as a glossy, dramatic, long-winded introduction that seemed to go on for 10 minutes began, I thought to myself…”When are they going to start talking… about anything…?”
Eventually, after graphics that seem to go on forever interleaved with slow motion footage of a blacksmith pounding out each individual letter of the word “America”… and only after each letter were allowed to cool until absolutely no orange glow were left in any of the letters, the narrator began speaking. From that point on, I kinda wished the narrator would shut the fuck up.
The narrator is a carefully selected immigrant minority from India who wants to tell us how great “America” is because he should know, he “chose” to come here from a different country. Right away some bad revolutionary war reenactments occur with George Washington ending up killed in battle. If you were hoping to see a documentary that offered legitimate hypotheses of what “America” would be like had George Washington ended up dead, or the Civil War been lost… spoiler alert, this movie doesn’t even talk about those things at all, and the extent to which this movie even glosses over the subject matter of it’s title is basically limited to this one shitty Revolutionary War reenactment and a couple of bad CGI sequences where the Statue of Liberty and Lincoln memorial disappear in a swarm of pixels. Instead, the movie just turns into a long-winded, infomercial which seems to have the purpose of convincing the 99% to vote republican and give the 1% more money.
I put the word “America” in quotes, because the author of this movie doesn’t even seem to understand that we live in “The United States of America”, not “America”… which encompasses South America, Mexico, Canada, and Central America. I imagine that the author is catering to a demographic that deck out their pickup trucks with confederate flags and “Speak American” bumper stickers.
About 30-minutes into the movie I started to get really impatient. “When the hell is this asshole going to start talking about the subject he promised to talk about in the title of the movie!?” I continued to get grumpier and grumpier and just wished the movie would get to the friggen point.
Instead, D’Souza droned on about how all the events of American history weren’t really as bad as how the bleeding-heart, liberal, communist, radical left wants everyone to think they are… how the conquering and theft of lands (from the Native Americans) was okay because everyone else was looting and pillaging in the world at the time… that slavery in the south was okay because there were some (token) white indentured slaves too and “one of the most feared plantation owners” in the south was a black man. He says that one of the defining aspects of American values wasn’t that we had slaves, but that we fought a war to end slavery.
His views on slavery, if you fact check them, are false and/or misleading at best. White indentured slaves were generally given contract terms which expired after a few years. The black plantation slave owner in the south was the exception, not the norm, and he was only really “feared” because he was black, and white people feared black people. And also, there were lots of countries that never had slaves, didn’t need slaves, and therefore never NEEDED to start wars to end slavery in the first place. “America” was unique in the fact that it needed to have a civil war to end slavery, where most other countries either never had slaves, or abolished slavery peacefully.
The mid part of the movie offers a few spins that made me ponder philosophically just a little bit, and D’Souza might have gotten away with what he was trying to do if the movie didn’t turn into a long-winded anti-Obama, Hillary-Clinton-worships-the-devil, we-are-all-doomed-if-you-don’t-vote-republican, rant. He even goes so far as to suggest that you should vote for conservative christian rich people because they give 4x more to charity than secular liberals. I can’t believe that republicans are still trying to sell us “trickle down” economics. Everything about the U.S. economy is “trickle up”. You work paycheck to paycheck to get a little cash, which you put into a bank that charges you fees to hold onto it (common people don’t get interest on deposits anymore). That bank loans out your money 10x over, sometimes right back to you, for 20% interest.. and you spend every dime you have on food and rent, making the rich people richer. Trickle-up economics is proven to work… not trickle down. The only people that benefit from trickle-down are the rich people who are so rich, they want to upgrade their 5th private jet to a newer, more luxurious model. These people don’t actually “do” anything. They have their business managers and investment managers and wealth managers and property managers do everything for them. They don’t even clean their own houses, do their own laundry, or cook their own food. They just OWN. They OWN and CONSUME and contribute absolutely ZERO to society. A meritocracy does not need these people, at all.
Later on in the movie, D’Souza finds a token black, welfare mom who climbed out of poverty by going back to school to argue that the welfare system doesn’t work. “Where would this mother be if the social safety net didn’t exist to begin with?” I’d argue: Likely dead in a ditch, or sold as a sex slave to wealthy oil tycoons.
It then goes on to blame Obama for the Patriot Act and domestic surveillance programs (without mentioning that they were installed by George W. Bush), and the Wall-street bailouts (also initiated by George W. Bush and the result of George W. Bush’s economic policies). It touts Reagan as a great republican hero who delivered prosperity to America through his economic policies (where anyone who is honest with themselves should know that Reagan’s success was due to the unpopular policies that preceded him and Paul Volcker‘s painful, but responsible, chairmanship of the Federal Reserve during the Jimmy Carter years and before. People may have hated the high interest rates of the 70s under Jimmy Carter… but it was Jimmy Carter who was the only president in the last 50 years to do the RIGHT thing and save America from itself. Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan got all the credit, then ran the deficits through the roof, just like George W. Bush did. Stupid hypocrites!
Continuing on though, D’Souza spends the first 3/4ths of the movie trying to tell us why “America” is so great and then the last 1/4th of the movie complaining about how awful this country is because of devil-worshiping hippies, Democrats, and government lemmings who sent him to jail for making campaign contributions to Republicans using multiple fake names (as if it was as innocent as jay walking and he was the victim of government oppression).
As the movie concluded with an annoying rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”, I came to realize that the movie’s narrator and supposed director himself, is really just a token sellout, who clearly got paid to star in a propaganda film that needed something other than a white guy from the south to serve as narrator. Who better than an immigrant minority from a country that maybe 10% of the movie’s target audience knows is from a country to the east of Pakistan.. and which 10% also know is to the east of Afghanistan (we were at war with them ya know?)
I Googled the movie and found it to be under-served by legitimate movie reviewers, so I decided to add my own review here on my 3rd-rate blog that no one really reads. A 3rd-rate blog review is really all that this “documentary” is worthy of. It is a propaganda piece and is no more “fair and blanced” than Fox News and is like making a television program called “The No Spin Zone” and then filling it with nothing but spin.
“America” is a terrible piece of propaganda. A shameful commentary masquerading as a “documentary” and not really all that “persuasive”. If my PAC money went into funding such a film, I’d demand my money back.