‘2016: Obama’s America’ is Second-Highest Grossing Political Doc of All Time

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If box office success is any indication of the voting mood of the nation, the commercial success of 2016: Obama’s America, an anti-Obama vehicle by Dinesh D’Souza, is worth noting. The film, based loosely on D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage, is now the second-highest grossing political “documentary” of all time behind another election-year film, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.

'2016: Obama's America' trailer
Released as a seemingly small-market right-wing film, in just two months, 2016: Obama’s America has become the most successful conservative documentary ever. It’s raked raking in over $32 million — nowhere near Fahrenheit’s $119.1 million, but still an impressive gross.

In July, distributors premiered the film in Houston, not Los Angeles or New York. Randy Slaughter, president of Rocky Mountain Pictures, the film’s distributor, explained the unorthodox rollout to The New York Times, “We needed to find a place where we could get the most attention. You hunt where the ducks are.”

The film stars writer Dinesh D’Souza, president of The King’s College, an evangelical Christian school in midtown Manhattan, as host and auteur, sharing his own story of post colonial youth in India and juxtaposing it with Obama’s Kenyan roots. D’Souza is known for attention grabbing hyperbolic political statements that are eaten up by the right wing talk shows. He paints Obama as the ultimate outsider hoping to fulfill the dreams of his anti-colonialist father by “downsizing America” in his second term, if re-elected.

The film underscores the idea that Obama must be stopped; beginning with the on-screen message used in the movie poster and advertising campaign: “Love him / Hate Him: You Don’t Know Him.” With ominous sounding music playing in the background, D’Souza intones, “We are all shaped by our pasts…” Next we hear Obama reading from his autobiography Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, in the first of a number of cherry picked passages, many taken out of context. D’Souza ups the ante with an analysis of Obama’s absent-father syndrome by interviewing a psychologist and concluding that this “insecure kid is now president of the United States.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman wrote in a blistering review that the film is an “outrageously unsubstantiated act of character assassination. …”

“The basic thesis of 2016: Obama’s America makes almost no sense, to the point that a lot of viewers may be tempted to laugh it off. Yet here’s how politics now works: The argument doesn’t have to make sense, because D’Souza’s underlying message is that Obama is a stranger, a man you “don’t know,” a refugee from another land, another culture. Deep down, he’s an angry Third World upstart just like his father. By now, most of us understand that the “birther” theory — the preposterously unfactual notion that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States — is really a code for race. And what’s insidious about 2016: Obama’s America is that the whole movie, in a sense, is code for the birther theory. It never says: Obama wasn’t born here. But it signifies that he might as well not have been.”

The film’s producer, Gerald Molen, who was also a producer on several Steven Spielberg movies, called the racism charge “patently ridiculous” in an interview with Mediaite last week:

“Absolutely nothing contained in the film that implies racism,” he said, adding that the film’s director D’Souza is an Indian American, and “if I were racist, I wouldn’t be aligning myself with him.”

Molen believes that Gleiberman’s charges reflect a common problem among the political left: “If you can’t say anything factual, they resort to the racism line.”

Still, as one blogger on IndieWire mused, “let’s be totally honest here: do you really think that if Obama were, say, a white guy named O’Bama, who could trace his family to County Cork, would such a documentary exist in the first place? Yeah, I don’t think so either.”

The Obama campaign issued a statement on its Truth Team Blog earlier this month calling the film “an insidious attempt to dishonestly smear the president.”

Despite impressive ticket sales and raves from the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Donald Trump and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, the film has been panned by most film critics. According to Joe Leydon of Variety, the film is “a cavalcade of conspiracy theories, psycho-politico conjectures and incendiary labeling.” It seems far more likely to be seen by conservatives who are firmly opposed to Obama’s re-election than the undecided. And remember, if history is any guide, as popular as Moore’s Fahrenheit was during the summer of 2004 — making nearly four times as much as 2016 — George W. Bush was still re-elected.

Have you seen this film? Tell us what you think.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kathie.brobeck Kathie Brobeck

    love the Middle Eastern music to frighten us.- Subtle sound and images to convince us that Obama isn’t going to work for America.

  • http://evilbobdayjob.blogspot.com/ Deidzoeb

    ‘…interviewing a psychologist and concluding that this “insecure kid is
    now president of the United States.” ‘

    In 1964, “Fact” magazine surveyed members of the American Psychiatric Association, asking if Barry Goldwater was fit to be president and soliciting their psychiatric judgments of him, many of which were negative. This eventually led the APA to establish “The Goldwater Rule,” stating that it is unethical for psychiatrists to offer an opinion about a person without personally examining him and getting his permission to comment publicly. It’s still considered ethical to offer general comments about psychiatry, for example, describing schizophrenia in general while talking about the court psychiatrists diagnosing Jared Lee Loughner as schizophrenic. Unfortunately not all mental health professionals pay attention to the rule.

    It’s not hard to see that it’s difficult to make a psychiatric diagnosis of someone you’ve never met, based only on what you’ve seen in the media or a book he wrote. And even if you were able to diagnose the person successfully, would you be helping them by talking about their neuroses in public?


  • Henry

    Are we Americans, who were educated in America…….really this stupid to believe this ridiculous piece of crap! You have to be kidding me?

    I’m as right wing as you will get and I am shocked that intelligent people watched and believed this garbage! Shame on all of you!

    You make us Republicans even more stupid than we look today!

  • http://www.facebook.com/julieann.muzzall Julie Ann Muzzall

    No. I haven’t seen it and won’t. My conservative family members urged me or anyone who is considering to vote for Obama to see it. They have already made up their minds and from what I’ve just read, I can assume their anti-Obama fervor has been energized by this carefully crafted bit of propaganda.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Alycia.Keating60 Alizya Keating

    I really want to see this. I have heard about it from some of my friends and acquaintances; that it is misrepresentation at its most vile. But others, including one family member, fervently believe the hogwash being spewed by the farthest right wing politicians and “pundits,” so I want to be forewarned!

  • quikcarl

    I haven’t seen this movie, but I have seen Dinesh on Cspan. What a dweeb! Anyone who can watch him longer than 5 minutes without changing the channel, needs electric shock treatment to try to restart their brain. And that’s no joke.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.lane2 Joseph Lane

    You can take anything out of context of Obama’s life and make him look bad…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sadie-Custer/596450172 Sadie Custer

    Oh My! Similar to the Pope is gonna run America when Kennedy was elected, we now have the benefit of tweet, e-mail, facebook, etc. to spread the disinformation around.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1423224144 Susan MacDonnell

    I think it is a good idea to see it, if you can stomach the last third, when it gets outrageously apocalyptic in tone and message about Obama’s evil plan for the country. I tried to sit through the whole thing– but had to leave just a bit past the halfway point– my blood pressure was reaching the red alert stage. The first half was pretty interesting as it was a well-filmed overview of his family, upbringing, etc. His having such a multi-cultural upbringing is what makes his story exciting– to me anyhow. But to right wingers and conspiracy nuts, this is what makes him “other”– un-American, foreign, and therefore dangerous.

  • Jim

    So much of what is thrown at Obama is slightly/lightly coded racism. The coding allows those doing the throwing to deny racism charges as they wink at like-thinking folks with “you KNOW what I mean” understanding.

  • http://destroyideas.blogspot.com destroyideas

    The conservative media eviscerated D’Souza over this tripe when the book was released, and he wrote a front-page article for Forbes.

    Yes, it’s racist. Indians can be racist too. White supremacists have indeed aligned with Maoist separatists before. And the National Review, the Weekly Standard and the American Conservative all say this is a racist opinion.

    The idea that a black man from America could hold the same liberal opinions as white liberal Americans only by understanding his African heritage is deeply racist.

  • http://destroyideas.blogspot.com destroyideas

    The idea D’Souza puts forward about a United States of Islam is so hilarious. These Middle Eastern countries can barely get together to solve their disputes between each other. Pan-Arabism has failed several times. Nothing Obama does will convince them otherwise.

  • Dee

    What’s the highest grossing Political Documentary? Because D’Souza’s is innuendo, speculation and projection at best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shijindoc Tom Dougherty

    Does this man listen to what the President says? Rage? Where is the rage?

  • Strawman411

    Every time I see Dinesh D’Souza on the tube, I channel the times I saw Christopher Hitchens during debates on religion effortlessly turn him into a quivering mass of self-contradictory blubbering.

    D’Souza is living proof of the observation that “a high IQ in no way guarantees wisdom.”

  • bbfan

    Seriously, I would hate to be associated with the GOP/Tea-naggers after a report that people across the country are “stringing up” empty wooden chairs to their front yard trees! Remember, the empty chair Clint Eastwood was creepily talking to? That chair was suppose to be our President Obama. If you don’t see this as blatant bigotry, then I don’t know what planet you’re from.

  • Uncle Windy

    So far as I know, this film has not appeared in any commercial theater in Indianapolis — but maybe it’s being shown in some Republican homes or, God forbid, in some churches.

  • http://www.facebook.com/howard.garrett1 Howard Garrett

    I don’t remember anything in the Constitution that says our nation is dedicated to growth. That’s a lie right there. The founders of America were intellectuals of the Enlightenment. They understood Darwin and they knew you can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet, even with the vast western wilderness once inhabited only by ancient cultures. Our founders designed a system that facilitates changes on a broad scale by democratic processes. This movie is anti-evolutionary dogma in its best parts and laughable lies in the rest.

  • Donna

    It is being shown in conservative churches up here in Holland, MI (the “birthplace of Blackwater”)….

  • http://www.facebook.com/terisa.baker Terisa Baker

    I saw it by accident. I thought it was a real documentary. Many, many times it was all I could do not to get out of my chair and leave but I stuck it out because it kept getting more and more absurd. The logic was so obviously flawed. The association fallacy was evident as they presented that Obama’s dad was a Commie, Marxist, Socialist, Muslim jerk therefore Obama is a Commie, Marxist, Socialist, Muslin jerk. They never touched his mother or grandparents who had the most influence on him. The appeal to fear fallacy was there as they tried to scare the hell out of the audience with references to 100% taxation, nuclear disarmament to the point that the US is at great risk, (exactly how many times do we need to be able wipe out the entire population of Earth anyway?) There were multiple cases of intelligence insulting as they interviewed “so called” authorities on fatherless children, former Bush appointees and people in Kenya who remember Obama Sr. as a child etc. who stated their version of the truth and then you were supposed to take the leap that since they said it, it must be true. I’ll tell you the most frightening thing about the whole ordeal…I live in Arizona…land of Joe Arpaio and Jan Brewer…there were people shouting in the theatre. Shouting out in agreement with the movie and in disgust with Obama. Many times the two older women on either side of me gasped in horror to some “revelation” that was revealed on the screen as “the truth” when it was obviously hasty generalizations and ad hominum. When the movie was over I was the first to leave. I shouted “Do your own research people!” A man at the back shouted “We did and thats why he will be out!” All I could do was yell, “Sheep!” and run as fast as I could out of there before I was shot. Yes, I honestly mean that last statement.See More”

  • Deborah Tangen

    I see this film showing at major theaters mostly in the mostly white suburbs outside Philadelphia. The fact that it is getting this kind of distribution sickens me. But then, we are a free-enterprise country, aren’t we. If someone has enough $$ to get this piece of garbage aired, that is all that matters these days. Pretty sad.
    Deborah from Philly

  • klare

    I think Birthers are diversion, It’s Obama’s Secret CIA Background You Need to Know!And his connection with Tri-Lateral Brzezinsky and Rockefeller corp.!He is the U.N. president &he will end the rest of sovereign countries on the planet!

  • Former Cop Turned Reverend

    I found this to be an interesting theory. As a former Police Inspector I can say: when this many pieces of known activity (unexplained by facts or other theories) align with a string of information from someone’s past, there is a high probability that moreso than not…truth is within reach. Just Sayin’

  • Karen Gustafson

    Not only is this film ill-founded but the fact that Dinesh D”Souza consistenly denigrates President Obama as well as anyone that knows him, including his mother reflects a seriously disturbed person who demonstrates little ability to reason effectively.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikemmccallum Mike McCallum

    I like courageous people. I read the comments before considering writing this. Most are insightful and on target. The people paying to see it and not walking out, those behind the film are simpletons and idiots – simply “false evidence appearing real.” If the GOP ever gave up FEAR and started working at making peace, working together, everyone is in this together we would have a country that resembled the place the forefathers intended. Its not religion, money or power its our government designed to do the collective peoples best interests. This should not be for (profit) greed, the 1%, special interests and the world is coming to an end. Check out Bill Moyers and Company – the best reporting the media has to offer.

  • LettaMeGo

    The movie played selected portions of the audio version of “Dreams From My Father” narrated by Obama…while it showed crazy pictures….It’s chilling to see how many people are believing that nonsense movie. What’s making people so stupid? The book the movie was based on, “The Root of Obama’s Rage” was just a boring and twisted as the movie. To bad there are no consequences for writing trash like that.