2016: Obama's America is, like its director and star Dinesh D'Souza, is a documentary of some interest and intelligence, yet one prone to simplicity and a lack of penetrating depth. Listening to D'Souza's media rounds, one cannot help but be impressed. He is intelligent, well-spoken, and controlled in his delivery. This lead me to check out his 2016 documentary, which has many aspects of merit, but never fully lives up to its promise.
D'Souza's thesis is that Obama's unique upbringing and family history has greatly shaped his world view. Specifically, D'Souza examines his father's socialist and anti-colonialist views, his college associates, and those individuals he has some sort of relationship with that, D'Souza contends, shaped Obama's worldview. This worldview analyses everything from an anti-colonialist view, one that de-emphasizes America's view, and looks to equalize the rest of the world at the sake of our nation's interest, and with a socialist economic bent.
While there's certainly a story to be had here, I'm not convinced D'Souza found it. One should look at all of his policies in context, which is more of the same, and an even greater bent toward militarism, centralism, and blending corporate and government power. If anything, the evolution seems to be that of an intelligence product/operation, with the "anti-colonial" and leftist rhetoric being more of a cover. D'Souza seems to pick and choose his facts, pointing to, as an example, returning a bust of Churchill as a rebuff to the UK, and backing Argentina in the Faulken islands, while ignoring the reversal on numerous military promises, such as Gitmo, and a foreign policy which is very much still interventionist. This speaks to another fault of D'Souza, he correctly exalts America's exceptionalism and our roots in liberty, yet equates that with a seemingly pro-interventionist bent, something very much opposed by our founding fathers.
On a technical level, 2016 is a mixed bag. The cinematography is good, yet the pacing is flawed. Too much time is spent on speculation with just D'Souza, too many filmed phone conversations. The narration is not especially compelling. What is effective, however, are the interviews with the little known family members, done in an un-opposing way, which lends to D'Souza's cool demeanor. What emerges is a certainly different aspect to the Obama story than many realize, yet one that perhaps doesn't fit all the pieces together. It's never boring, and manages to be informative and thought-provoking enough to warrant a watch.