Predicting the future can be a fuzzy business. Literally, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of variables that come into play. Predicting the future of a nation? Well, that’s a whole different game altogether, because of the very nature of prognostication. See, it’s all nebulous. It’s all elusive. Despite the best intentions, there’s no effective way to know what tomorrow will look like. All we can do is what documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza suggests: get to know the person pulling the strings, and, once you understand what makes him (or her) tick, then you can project some reasonable short- and long-term decisions that he (or she) will make. No, you can’t know anything for certain – that is, not until time travel becomes a reality – but you can offer a learned guess, and the best learned guesses could and should be considered by both leaders and followers at large.
On the eve of America’s next national election, I thought I’d sit down, watch, and respond to something political, so 2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA fit the bill perfectly.
In short, a look back isn’t always the best way to see forward. Granted, knowing what events have transpired from history serves as the best predictor of future behaviors, but, where politicians are concerned, I think in this day and age it’s become increasingly difficult to say who will decide what, when, where, how, and why. Washington influences – mostly driven by money – always appear to be in flux, certainly from those of us sitting on the sidelines or on the outside. What one politician says today is usually only to assuage or influence voters to go to the polls and cast a ballot, nothing more, nothing less. Once political cycles come to a close, THEN the real business of governance and leadership takes place, and Barack Obama – whether he likes it or not – has left a bit of a dubious legacy. I say this not as a Conservative or a Progressive but as a realist.
“Hope” and “change” have no specific meaning other than what the dictionary underscores, and that’s why his ascendancy to the American ‘throne’ (my words, not his or D’Souza’s) was a heavily calculated move. In fact, I’d imagine that if you went from person-to-person in a crowded room, you’d be hard pressed to show consensus around whatever they interpreted would come to pass from any of Obama’s speeches. An accomplished speaker, his focus appears entirely inspirational; he lacks specificity to that point that a realist like myself would want … but, in fairness, ALL politicians do. That’s because they, largely, answer to the ‘money’ and NOT to the ‘people.’ Any one of them says a wrong word, and their backers then find someone else to do their bidding. (Again, maybe that’s me, but I’ve yet to meet a politician I’d fully trust to do ANYTHING other than run for office. Call me a cynic. I’m comfy with the title.)
All I can say after viewing 2016 is that writer/director D’Souza has achieved what any essayist would hope: he’s presented a theory, he’s backed it up with facts, and he’s leaving the audience to make up their minds.
As a result, it’s hard for me to sink my teeth into all that much that’s presented here. That isn’t because I disagree with it; rather, as I’ve tried to make clear, it’s only a working theory. So little of the picture deals with what America in 2016 would effectively look like beyond the theory. There’s no way to know, but it’s all presented with as much pomp and circumstance required. It’s put together quite well. It raises solid concerns. And it’s all done solely to make you – the viewer – think about it. That was achieved.
If anything, I guess I was left wanting to know more. I believe I understand perfectly well where D’Souza’s coming from – even he appears to underscore to viewers that much of what he’s explored is only T-H-E-O-R-Y and that it’s entirely based on his pursuit and understanding of the facts. Despite what many in the mainstream press would tell you, questions persist in the background and ideology of Barack Obama. From what I’ve watched of him, he rarely answers anything in the definitive, and, until such a time as a journalist enters the scene who can effectively get a politician to that point, then we’re all left with theories. Dismiss D’Souza or embrace his ideas – much like Obama’s followers or detractors do the President – but he makes a cogent argument for accepting that Barack doesn’t much care for the country he leads.
Is that Obama truly feels?
Go ask him, but remember: above all things, Obama’s a politician, and no politician’s word is golden until AFTER the election.
2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA is produced by Obama’s America Foundation. Theatrical and DVD distribution is being handled through Lionsgate. Video quality is very solid, though there are a few moments when I wasn’t quite certain what I was looking at; much of this is due to the nature of documentary filmmaking – meaning some folks didn’t want the camera to be on them while they were speaking and/or dismissing the filmmaker. Honestly, I had some minor problems with audio quality; D’Souza narrates some portions of the film – those were largely okay – but there are a few sequences where I suspect a sub-par microphone was being used, and I found it a noticeable drop in quality. It’s a small quibble, but it’s an honest one. There are no special features, but, with documentaries, there really isn’t that much call for them, either.
RECOMMENDED. By its very nature, I’m not sure that 2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA will win any converts, though I’d encourage folks from any point in the political spectrum to watch it. Best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza presents a theory surrounding Barack Hussein Obama – the modern man who would be king – whereas others (supporters and detractors) largely present their own respective biases. Then, D’Souza goes about presenting the evidence supporting his theory. While it’s a convincing package, I think it’ll remain a bit elusive until the facts – the cold hard facts of Obama’s ideology – are fully exposed. Then, audiences won’t have to deal in theory; instead, they’ll be able to make up their own minds – rightly or wrongly – on the reality of today’s most loved and most hated politician.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Lionsgate provided me with a DVD screener of 2016: OBAMA’S AMERICA by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.