After some initial pleasantries, Dinesh D'Souza's latest documentary, America: Imagine A World Without Her, shows General George Washington leading a charge into battle (as he often did), then being struck dead by a sniper's bullet.
And me, your movie-going cynic, your urbane sophisticate, your student of rhetoric and propaganda, well, I got a little choked up by that.
I guess I'm a patriot after all. Who knew?
I sort of thought that America would be a sort of alt-history kind of movie, a little more fantasy than documentary, but it's actually a stone cold work of non-fiction, less speculative than its wildly successful predecessor 2016. (And, actually, this movie starts with a kind of "I told you so" as D'Souza outlines his predictions from 2016 that came true—which shows you what I know, given how dubious I was over said predictions.)
Largely, however, this movie just engages five of the biggest criticisms against the United States. It addresses the ones that are just false, and contextualizes the ones that have some basis in truth. It doesn't do a lot of "tu quoque", which is sort of my favorite defense: The USA is bad compared to what?
There wasn't a lot I didn't know here, but I learned a few things that gave me a different, and I think interesting, perspective on some historical events.
The five topics covered are Native Americans, Slavery, stealing territory from Mexico, being imperialist, and being exploitative generally (via capitalism). Turns out D'Souza is for all those things!
No, of course not, that'd be silly. But that is about the depth of the complaints against this film.
You know, if the world were a cool place, you could get a rebuttal from...well, anyone who disagreed. But we won't see that. Mostly it'll just be ignored. After all, they ignored the last one, and it was one of the highest grossing documentaries ever. This one may not be the #1 documentary this year, what with Disney's Bears.
It's a shame: You sometimes think with all this talk about "wanting to have conversations", there'd be more attempts to actually have conversations.
But some people can only enjoy modern affluence by running it down, and particularly running down those who continue to promote the values that make it possible. So I doubt the persuasive value of movies like this.
Good doc, though: Quickly, on the three-point BMR (blake's movie reviews) scale: It's a worthy topic, well-presented, that wears its bias on its sleeve. D'Souza is on his way to becoming a political prisoner, so it'll be interesting to see what he does next.