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EW Movie Review: "2016: Obama's America"

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If the Republican National Convention isn't enough politics for you, a biased documentary on President Barack Obama is hitting theaters this weekend. Entertainment Weekly Magazine's Owen Gleiberman filed the following report.

The right-wing sleeper-hit documentary "2016: Obama’s America" is such a success it has taken the whole movie world by surprise. Last week, it broke into the Top 10. This weekend, it expands even wider, to 1,800 screens. Very few documentaries make that kind of mark, so I was of course eager to see if this anti-Obama movie had anything of interest to say.

I guess I was expecting a feature-length Fox News editorial, so I wasn’t quite prepared for what "2016: Obama’s America" really is: not just a liberal-bashing rant, but, in fact, an outrageously unsubstantiated act of character assassination.

The director is Dinesh D’Souza, the well-known far-right conservative "scholar," and I use the term loosely. Drawing on several of his own books, he’s made a movie that attacks the Obama administration’s policies only in an abstract way.

The film’s real thesis is that Obama has spent his entire life trying to please his late Kenyan father, and that he’s done so by becoming an anti-colonial socialist revolutionary.

What’s the film’s evidence? Astoundingly, it’s Obama’s own autobiography, "Dreams From My Father." D’Souza quotes it at length, as if the passages in which Obama talks about trying to come to terms with the father he barely knew somehow amounted to a subversive political confession.

But the movie also puts forth the argument that Obama is out to hide what a radical he is. If so, wouldn’t writing an entire book about it be kind of a strange thing to do?

The argument put forth in "2016: Obama’s America" is so nonsensical that enlightened viewers may be tempted to laugh it off.

Yet here’s the insidious thing: The argument doesn’t have to make sense, since D’Souza’s real message is that Obama is from another land, that he’s really an angry Third World foreigner just like his father. That’s a message that transcends rationality. It also makes "2016: Obama’s America" a piece of propaganda that, at its heart, is fundamentally racist.

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