NEW YORK – The political left is coming out “screaming,” with “guns blazing,” in an attempt to dampen the audience for the highly anticipated film “America: Imagine a World Without Her,” its maker told WND just before its Hollywood premiere.
Dinesh D’Souza recalled that the left’s strategy with his first political documentary, “2016: Obama’s America,” was to ignore it.
“You would almost not know ‘2016’ existed if you just followed the leftist press and their Internet blogs,” D’Souza told WND in an exclusive phone interview. “It was only when the pied piper Obama came out yelling that everybody else on the left immediately jumped into line.”
“2016” became the second most popular political documentary of all time, earning $33 million.
This time, the left is drawing attention to a D’Souza film with blistering reviews.
D’Souza believes “America” has become “too big too early for the left to ignore.”
“So, the left is coming out screaming,” he said. “And I frankly think it’s fantastic. We are seeing clearly the hatred of the left, and, far from intimidating me, I welcome it.”
On Monday evening, D’Souza scheduled a red-carpet Hollywood premiere showing of “America” at the LA Live Regal Theater in Los Angeles.
D’Souza told WND he expected over 1,000 invited guests to attend, including several notables in Hollywood’s growing, but largely underground, conservative filmmaking community.
Writing in the Daily Beast, Andrew Romano, with tongue in cheek, praises the opening credits as “nice,” saying he liked the way “the macho, clanging music pairs with the slow-motion footage of a burly blacksmith forging the letters A-M-E-R-I-C-A in his ember-filled 19th-century shop.”
But after that, Romano said, “the rest of ‘America’ is a total piece of junk.”
Characterizing D’Souza as a “conservative provocateur,” Romano said he lacked the space to dispute “every specious point that D’Souza makes in ‘America’ or highlight every bit of nonsensical sophistry he employs in order to mask the emptiness of his so-called reasoning.”
Romano tears into D’Souza’s treatment of slavery.
Instead of praising America for ending slavery, Romano simply repeats the Howard Zinn criticism that D’Souza is trying to refute.
The fact that D’Souza is saying the opposite of what he thinks he’s saying here is representative of his overall reasoning skills. He’s not really trying to prove anything in ‘America.’ He’s just throwing factoids against the wall. I’m not sure if he wants to give the impression that he’s attempting to minimize the awfulness of slavery – but that’s certainly the impression he gives.
D’Souza was not shaken by the criticism.
“The left is trying predictably to float the racism charge,” D’Souza told WND.
“But in doing this, the left is employing the very shaming strategy that we expose in the film. So the left is trying to shut down the debate by essentially screaming ‘racism.’ The strategy is not going to work, but it’s being attempted.”
As WND reported, the film includes scenes of a debate between D’Souza and Weather Underground co-founder Bill Ayers, whose interview with the Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly was set up by D’Souza.
‘Worst of all time’
Writing in Indiewire.com, Gabe Toro dismissed D’Souza’s “America” as “the worst political documentary of all-time.”
Toro called it “artless propaganda, uninformed, sensationalistic and devoted to buzz phrases (‘the shaming of America’), simplicity (‘have the United States been a force for good or ill in the world?’), and grandstanding (‘We won’t let them shame us, we won’t let them intimidate us’ – who is them and who is us?)”
Making it clear he dismissed D’Souza’s various criticisms of leftist thinkers ranging from Zinn to Saul Alinsky to Noam Chomsky, and claiming D’Souza was charging that with Barack Obama as president and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state the “White House is under control of the DEVIL,” Toro sees nothing of value to merit watching D’Souza’s documentary.
Toro concludes: “Filled with soaring guitars, pointless blacksmith montages and recreations with porn-level production values (check out the sponge-wig on Frederick Douglass), it’s all fist-pumping anti-thought, consisting of baseless revisionist history and idle contrarianism.”
Again, D’Souza is not surprised.
“None of these critics on the left are grappling with what we say in the film,” he said.
“Some of them have seen the film and they are saying things that are very unfair. They’re trying to claim, ‘D’Souza minimizes the issue of slavery, but thinks Hillary and Barack Obama are the Devil.’ That’s the kindergarten version of trying to comprehend this film. We do not try to minimize slavery. Some of the most vivid images in the film are of slavery. We’re saying America was a force for abolition of slavery, that America didn’t invent slavery but America created the legal mechanism for ending it.”
‘Too easy to mock’
Writing in TheWrap.com, James Rocchi begins his review by claiming, “The deceptive evidence and straw-man arguments of this conservative ‘filmmaker’ would go down easier if the actual filmmaking wasn’t so inept.”
Forget about the content, Rocchi tells his leaders, “America” doesn’t meet the laugh test, because the film is just “too easy to mock.”
True to his word, Rocchi mocks away.
The film, he said, “also features historical re-enactments – Washington among the troops, Lincoln on the stump, a young Hillary Rodham meeting Saul Alinsky in what appears to be a smoke-filled high-school cafeteria – whose production values are somewhere between the Hallmark Channel and a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch.”
“It would be one thing if D’Souza had an idea, or any idea, he could stick to as a through-line in his project. But ‘America” isn’t a documentary; it’s more like the badly filmed version of a badly written, meandering op-ed piece from a paper that lacks fact-checking or proofreading.”
Rocchi criticizes D’Souza’s editing as “clumsy.” He claims the lines of dialogue are “repeated ad nauseam,” the sound mix is “incomprehensibly sloppy,” the graphics look “slapdash” and the historical recreations are “either cheap-looking, unintentionally funny, or both.”
As far as Rocchi is concerned, D’Souza failed from the start, simply because he wasn’t Michael Moore.
“In the end, ‘America’ is just badly made,” Rocchi concludes.
“Michael Moore, D’Souza’s nemesis, may be self-important at his worst, but he actually knows how to cut a sequence, get a shot, and tell a story backed by data, all of which are beyond [producers] D’Souza and Sullivan.”
To make sure potential moviegoers get the point, Rocchi repeats his conclusion in other words.
“‘America’ would be simply annoying if it were merely preaching to a conservative-leaning choir of low-information voters and ax-to-grind Obama-haters,” he wrote. “What makes it unendurable is the fact that D’Souza and Sullivan can’t craft a sermon that would keep even the choir awake, interested, and entertained.”
D’Souza was mildly amused.
“The left is maybe not really sure how to attack the film, so critics are attacking the film as poorly made, arguing that ‘the production quality is really poor’ and insisting that ‘Michael Moore at least knows how to make a good movie.’ That’s just downright laughable, and I think our clips and trailers that are out there are enough to refute that claim.”