Saturday, July 5, 2014

America Review

MURICA!!! I hope you all had a happy Independence Day! I love the United States of America. We live in a fantastic country. But no, I'm actually not here to write a review on our country. This week a movie entitled America was released and being that I had no plans for the morning or afternoon of Independence Day, I figured that would be a fitting movie to go see. All I knew about it was that it was by Dinesh D'Souza, who recently did 2016: Obama's America, and that IMDb described the movie as "a story that imagines that the United States lost the Revolutionary War and therefore never existed." I figured that meant this was going to be a documentary describing what the world would be like without the United States and thus instill within the audience a strong sense of patriotism towards our country. Nope. This is just D'Souza's follow-up to 2016: Obama's America.

This movie is labeled as a documentary, and it's done in documentary style, but what it really is is a political commentary by D'Souza. With that in mind, my review will be a different type of review because what I will be doing is responding to the points he makes. I guess this means I will be spoiling the movie, so that's a fair warning to everyone, but given the style of the movie, I don't really feel that this is a spoilable movie. This is more like if I were to write a blog post responding to a presidential address or a political debate.

First off, I actually did find IMDb's description intriguing. And that's how this movie starts. We are viewing the revolutionary war and suddenly General Washington gets shot and killed. Whoa! Then we play the what if game and various historical events and that's an interesting thought. What if we lost the Revolutionary War? What if the Civil War divided the USA into many different countries? What if Hitler prevailed in World War II? These alternate realities can be interesting/scary to think about and if we were to dive into this more, we could see the awful consequences. I was hoping that this movie would do that and take it full circle by making me feel very grateful for what actually happened. Nope. Right after this introduction, that whole premise is completely dropped and instead we jump into political commentary mostly about Obama. Disappointing.

To begin this political discussion, D'Souza spends a bit of time recapping his previous movie 2016: Obama's America. I personally thought that was a laughable movie for various reasons. I'm not going to jump into those reasons here, but D'Souza tells us his predictions from that movie and then essentially tells us that all his predictions were right and thus he fears for the current state of our country. That made me raise an eyebrow. First off, it's a little arrogant for him to start his discussion by tooting his own horn. A bigger issue, though, is that I really think he was quite off and thus I don't know how he can honestly state that he was right, because he really wasn't. So this was a bad start.

Then we get into the portion of the movie where he spends the most time. This is actually a discussion about the United States. Specifically, D'Souza tells us that there are U.S. Citizens living here that don't like the country. His discussion from this is split into five different reasons: the treatment of Native Americans, the obtaining of Mexico, slavery, foreign policy, and capitalism. In each of these categories, he presents the problem and then justifies the United States on this, obviously trying to persuade those who feel that way why they shouldn't hate the United States. I will briefly tackle each of these subjects.

First, the treatment of Native Americans. He talks about people, mainly Native Americans, who don't like the United States because we intruded on their land, killed their people, and stole their country. Justified in their anger? Yeah. I like this country, but unlike D'Souza I will openly admit that there were dark times in our history. The treatment of Native Americans was one of them. Yes, he's right that a part of the problem with the wipe out of the Native Americans was because of disease and that wasn't intentional. But D'Souza justifies our other actions by saying that the different Native American tribes spent a long time conquering each other and history is riddled with examples of fair conquest. So our conquest of them is completely fair and justified. Eek! I don't know if I agree with that. We could've handled things a lot better with them.

Next point, Mexico. He gave the example of people in Mexico or even Mexicans living in America that think we stole their land and that one day they think they deserve to have it back. I really had no idea those people existed. His response to that was a discussion on the Mexican/Texas/American war. I'm shady on that history, but I think he was right in saying this was fair conquest. But don't quote me on that. His next point was pretty alarming, though. He referred the fact that millions of Mexicans illegally immigrate to the USA every year so they shouldn't be complaining that we took their land because ours is better. He also mentioned that many Mexicans probably wish that we would've kept all of Mexico after we won the war instead of giving them half of their country back. These comments felt very racist to me.

Third point is slavery. Slavery is another one of those aspects of our early history that I will honestly admit was a very dark time. The fact that we supported slavery was an awful thing. No excuses. In justifying this, D'Souza comes up with an argument that I think is just really weird. According to him, when we look back on the slavery era, we should see it as a positive thing because lots of countries and nations in the past have implemented slavery, but we are the country that abolished it. Well, yes it's good that we abolished it, but just because many nations and countries have had slavery doesn't make it less awful. It was bad that we had slaves in this country and there is no way to justify it.

The last two points he made were about foreign policy and capitalism. I'm not going to dive too deeply into those because I am not educated enough on them, but he noted that our foreign policy was good because we have helped a lot of countries and with capitalism he noted that we aren't a greedy country. These points didn't seem awful to me, but it also felt like things were a lot more complicated that he made them out to be, although I don't know enough to make an official judgement call.

After going through all that discussion, D'Souza's third and final section of this commentary is his most ridiculous section. His whole point in that middle section was to show that, despite criticisms, the United States is a great country that has done nothing wrong. His point in this final section is to tell us how awful our current state is due to what Obama has done. Every he discusses Obama, this ominous music is playing in the background. This portrays Obama as an evil man in the bane of someone like Hitler and the whole time I was thinking that it was the stupidest thing ever. But it wasn't just Obama, he also spent time talking about Hillary Clinton and Saul Alinksy and that same music played for them as well. I don't really know much about Saul Alinsky, but he was one who D'Souza specifically made seem like one of the most evil men to ever walk the earth.

In the end, D'Souza spent this whole movie trying to convince me that the current state of our country is awful and we need to go back to the good old days. Yet all he did was convince me that he himself was a crazy man with crazy political views that can't be trusted one bit. His arguments weren't convincing or thought-provoking at all and all his historical arguments were messed up and racist towards Mexicans and Native Americans. I suppose if you are one who does think Obama is just about as evil as Hitler, you may like this. Otherwise this is just a complete waste of time. My grade for America is a 4/10.

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