So I finally got around to seeing 2016, the movie. It was surprisingly good. Let me explain. I was familiar with the book by Dinesh D'Souza upon which the movie was based. D'Souza is a conservative writer who wrote, inter alia, "What's so Great about Christianity?" a book I truly enjoyed, in which he discusses the unique aspects of the Christian belief that make it the most popular religion in the world. But, having read the reviews of his book about the roots of Obama's belief, I thought his theory, that Obama is an anti-colonialist, a bit far-fetched so I never bought it or read it. But in this political season I thought I sort of owed it to the people courageous enough to make a conservative movie to at least go and see it. Wow. For a documentary, a very good movie. What is surprising about it is that he makes a very good case for his theory. The movie, through liberal use of sort of stock footage of foreign countries and a lively score moves quickly and doesn't get caught up too much with talking heads even though it is sort of a talking heads movie.
What surprised me, having formerly moved in leftist circles a lot is that it is not really anti-Obama. If you are a leftist who supported Obama, I think you would come away from this movie liking him even more. It is not a stridently anti-Obama movie. It tries to present autobiographical facts in a straightforward and somewhat sympathetic manner. It is an anti-Obama movie largely because the vast majority of American voters are not leftists.
D'Souza's theory is most likely more persuasive in the movie than the book because of the medium. The movie makes liberal use of Obama reading from his autobiography, "Dreams From my Father". I assume they bought the audiobook from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and are relying on the fair use doctrine for their right to use the quotes. So a scene of Obama's father's grave in Kenya accompanied by Obama, in his own voice, talking about how he burst into tears when he visited the grave and how his sense of identity came together for him there in Kenya is probably far more persuasive than simply seeing the words on a page. There is a little added drama because some paid actor whom we see only from the back kneels before the grave as Obama says he did, which is a little hokey but helps one to visualize Obama's own words.
D'Souza comes to the story from a similar background. He is an Indian immigrant. But unlike Obama, he has embraced the United States, economic freedom, and capitalism. He does not try to disguise who he is or what his views are, but he shares with us his Indian grandfather's comment on learning that Dinesh was heading to the United States for college. "it's all white there". His grandfather, an anti-colonialist himself, didn't want Dinesh to go.
So, I highly recommend the movie. I hope some of my avowedly liberal friends will go see it and report back to me about whether they like Obama even more, having seen it. That's my theory, anyway. For my friends in the San Gabriel Valley, it is playing at the Edward's Renaissance on Main Street and Garfield in Alhambra and they do give a senior discount if you remember to ask for it.