For both Democrats and Republicans, “2016: Obama’s America” is an insightful look at President Barack Obama’s past, presidency and possible future, offering both criticism and praise.
Dinesh D’souza, writer and director of “2016” and an Indian immigrant, uses his perspective as a driving force throughout the film, as well as a lens with which he analyzes Obama.
“2016” attempts to paint a picture of what America will look like in 2016 if Barack Obama is voted in for a second term as president of the United States. However, most of the film focused on Obama’s past and how it has influenced his decisions as president.
The film begins with an overview of some of Obama’s presidential decisions such as taking locations of oil drilling away from U.S. drill companies as well as the lowering of the amount of nuclear weapons the U.S has. D’souza suggests that these decisions make no sense and undermine America’s stance as a world power. The film then moves on to talk about “Obama’s dream,” which is another key theme throughout the movie. The audience is never told what Obama’s dream is except only that Obama inherited all his dreams and aspirations from his father. D’Souza finds proof for this claim in Obama’s memoir, “Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.”
D’Souza lays out Obama’s family history early on in the film. He highlights the fact that Obama’s father is from Kenya and his mother is from Kansas but that Obama himself was born in Hawaii. His father was not in his life at all. In fact, Obama only got to meet his father once in his life. His father continued to start families mostly in Kenya, so Obama has many half-brothers and -sisters that he has never known.
D’Souza spends a good portion of the film explaining how an absentee father affected Obama psychologically. He talked to psychologists who said that an absentee father drives the son to strive for success and to prove he is significant and not a disappointment. While these are good and mostly accurate theories, D’Souza generalizes this psychological idea without leaving much room for variation of other influences in Obama’s life.
The film continues to present “Obama’s Founding Fathers,” which are a group of mentors in Obama’s life that impacted him greatly. Oddly enough all of his “Founding Fathers” had Communist ties and promoted anti-American messages. D’Souza questions how this is influencing the decisions Obama is making as a president or the decisions he will make if he gets re-elected. One of these ideals that Obama inherited from his “Founding Fathers” is anti-colonialism.
Obama’s heritage on his father’s side comes from a land of very recent colonization, as compared to previous presidents’ heritage, where colonialism wasn’t a driving force. Obama is very anti-colonialist. This proves to be a driving force for some of the confusing decisions, mentioned by D’Souza, such as lowering the amount of nuclear weapons the U.S. possesses in order to be more equal with other countries. D’Souza tried to use this fact to illustrate Obama’s anti-colonist views and prove that Obama was trying to lessen the dominance of the U.S throughout the world.
I found this part of the movie to be very interesting. At the same time, I found it not as alarming as many of the other movie-goers in the theater with me. It hadn’t even occurred to me that the idea of colonialism was a driving force for Obama at all. This movie got me thinking about how Obama is a different president due to his dramatically different history than any other U.S. president before him.
Also, when the fact that Obama is allegedly attempting to lower America’s dominance throughout the world was presented to the audience, I was not that shocked. I don’t think that America needs to be the watchdog of the world anymore, but many of the people sitting around me felt very differently. I can confidently say I held the unpopular opinion in that theater.
D’Souza doesn’t actually get into what Obama’s America would look like in 2016 until near the end of the film, and the picture isn’t clear. D’Souza started throwing in facts about America’s poor economic state and how Obama has contributed to that. However, D’Souza never got into how Obama contributed to that specifically. He only said that George W. Bush and Barack Obama have contributed more to the debt than all the other presidents combined. The only mention of what America would look like in 2016 if Obama was re-elected was that the economy would be in an even worse state than it is now.
This film should not have been named “2016: Obama’s America.” Instead, the title should have focused on Obama’s past.
His past is an interesting perspective that I think is valid to look at in consideration of how Obama makes decisions. I feel there were a number of generalizations throughout the film, such as Obama’s absentee father and his heritage, that D’Souza tried to use as concrete evidence. These generalizations made me think that correlation doesn’t equal causation. Just because general psychology outlines how a son should act when his father wasn’t around, doesn’t mean that is the only cause for Obama’s actions as president.
This is a good film to see, regardless of your political affiliation, but take it with a grain of salt.
Contact CUI Entertainment Reporter Ellie Patterson at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.