America: Imagine the World Without Her

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America: Imagine the World Without Her
America Imagine a World Without Her.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dinesh D'Souza
John Sullivan
Produced by Dinesh D'Souza
Gerald R. Molen
Written by Dinesh D'Souza
John Sullivan
Bruce Schooley
Starring Dinesh D'Souza
Music by Bryan E. Miller
Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)[1]
Edited by Dinesh D'Souza
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s)
  • June 27, 2014 (2014-06-27) (limited)[2]
  • July 2, 2014 (2014-07-02) (wide)[2]
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $14,422,973[2]

America: Imagine the World Without Her is a 2014 American political documentary film by Dinesh D'Souza.[3][4] It is based on his book, America: Imagine the World Without Her, in which he critically examines various complaints about America and explores what the world might look like without America as a nation.[5] D'Souza was executive producer of the film and co-directed it with John Sullivan. Gerald R. Molen also produced.[6] He had served as producer of D'Souza's previous film, 2016: Obama's America.

Synopsis[edit]

Setting the stage for a presentation of their views, D'Souza and Sullivan provide counterfactual histories in which George Washington is killed during the Revolutionary War, or the country is divided following civil war, creating a world without America that would be vastly worse off.[7] He claims modern leftists are “telling a new story”, however, contradicting traditional veneration for America in order to “convince a nation to author its own destruction” and “unmake the America that is here now.” He then challenges several "indictments" made against the country and American exceptionalism, including sociology professor and activist Michael Eric Dyson's claim that “Thievery" was the “critical element” for “American empire” and historian and activist Ward Churchill's assertion that the US is the world's new evil empire, and says that 1960s Chicago radical Saul Alinski, historian Howard Zinn, and others have promoted guilt and resentment regarding wealth inequality that has helped shape the political careers of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

D'Souza argues that America's wealth has been created, not stolen. He says the $700 used to purchase colonial Manhattan from American Indians could buy many desolate parcels globally today, but that individual industry has made New York real estate worth billions. He states that in Europe, India, and elsewhere most countries have been founded on conquest, and observes that the American pattern of wealth creation hasn't been the universal norm. He cites examples like Arab historian Ibn Khaldun preferring looting to trade and says that merchants form Hinduism’s second-lowest social caste.

The film argues that American Indians exhibited this "conquest ethic" among themselves, and that most of what American Indian depopulation occurred during European colonization resulted from the accidental transmission of plagues that had earlier devastated Europe, not an intent to wipe out a people. It says modern American Indians have little interest in returning to their hunter-gatherer past. In an interview Senator Ted Cruz compares the Texas Revolution to the American Revolution. Professor and Reconquista advocate Charles Truxillo is contrasted with an interviewed American of Mexican descent who says he has no desire to return to a poverty and crime ridden Mexico and instead wants to live the "American Dream".

D'Souza says that slavery impeded American development, rather than boosting it. The film argues that slavery was an omnipresent phenomenon for most of human history, but that its abolition was "uniquely Western", noting the rarity of a "great war fought to end slavery" like the American Civil War. According to the film the Declaration of Independence essentially says “liberty is the solution to injustice,” a “promissory note” cashed throughout history by Americans such as Martin Luther King, Jr.. C.J. Walker, the black entrepreneur and daughter of slaves who is regarded as America's first self made female millionaire, is cited as an example of the type of individual success story the American system allows that is ignored by historians like Zinn because it undermines their leftist narrative. Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati is shown saying that the “world is embracing the free market,” for which there is “no reason for us to be apologetic.” The film outlines how free enterprise, consumer choice rather than coercion, has raised living standards by making existing goods cheaper and creating new ones.

The film challenges the notion that America is a rapacious conqueror by arguing that Americans have sacrificed for human well being around the world, including places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, and Japan, seeking in return only “enough ground to bury” their dead, as former Secretary of State Colin Powell is quoted as saying. A US veteran of Hanoi Hilton captivity is interviewed discussing his desire to liberate Vietnam. D'Souza reflects on Lincoln's assassination and the continuing cost of freedom, saying that we no longer have past heroes like Washington and Lincoln, but "we do have us” in “our struggle for the restoration of America.” [8]

Cast[edit]

Marketing and release[edit]

Marketing for the film included the distribution of a sample sermon and film clips to 120,000 churches in the United States.[3][9] The film was given a wide release on July 2 and it finished #11 in the weekend box office for July 4 through 6 grossing $2,743,753[10] for a total gross of $5,352,705 after its opening weekend.[2] The film did not perform as well as D'Souza's earlier film 2016: Obama's America,[11] but as of August 2014 it ranks as the sixth highest grossing political documentary of all time.[12]

Critical response[edit]

Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes listed the film as receiving a 9% approval rating, based on a count of 23 reviews; the summary states: "Passionate but poorly constructed, America preaches to the choir."[13] On the review aggregator Metacritic, the film has a score of 14 out of 100, based on 11 critics (indicating "overwhelming dislike").[14]

Critic Peter Sobczynski of RogerEbert.com gave the film one star, writing that it "looks terrible, it plods along with all the verve of a PowerPoint presentation, the occasional dramatic recreations are exceptionally cheesy and the interview footage is so needlessly over-edited that you get the feeling that something may have gotten changed around in the cutting room."[15] Stephen Farber of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that it was a "dubious piece of agitprop that will delight the author's fans and have very little impact on his opponents."[16] David Ehrlich of The A.V. Club gave it a grade of an "F" and wrote that it was "astonishingly facile, a film comprised entirely of straw man arguments."[17] Jonathan Hickman of the Newnan Times-Herald said "...'America' is a handsomely made picture that... promot[es] a Right leaning view of history." He adds, "The film feels like a very abridged almost "Cliff's Notes" presentation lacking the in depth analysis necessary to fully appreciate [D'Souza's] position."[18]

Audience polls and other responses[edit]

CinemaScore reported that its sample of opening night audiences gave the film a rare A+ grade on a scale of A+ to F.[11][19]

Jim Gaines of Reuters recommended against watching the film, writing: "...America ... exemplifies everything that's wrong about the American political conversation these days, rich with examples from both left and right."[20] Gerald R. Molen responded: "I'm used to having my movies critiqued, but to have a reporter actually tell people not to attend a movie is a first. This is the movie world's version of voter suppression efforts in politics...."[21]

John Fund of National Review wrote that, despite the dangerous trends outlined, "most people will leave the theater with a more optimistic conclusion: Much of the criticism of America taught in the nation’s schools is easily refuted, America is worth saving, and we have the tools to do so in our DNA, just waiting to be harnessed."[22]

Joseph Amodeo, a political scientist and policy researcher for the Huffington Post, commented on scene towards the end of the movie where D'Souza is shown wearing handcuffs. Amodeo says it "appears to be an apology to his 'fans' and an awkward show of penance for recent improprieties on his part (campaign finance fraud)."[23] Michael Berkowitz criticizes America's ending, saying "His suggestion that his own criminal conviction and his cheating on his wife are the result of political targeting are embarrassing and without support," and that "It is a rather tawdry, but appropriate conclusion to a sad cinematic attempt to trash one's enemies without benefit of fact, yet explain away actual fact by suggesting political martyrdom."[24]

Costco book controversy[edit]

On July 1, the eve of the movie's wide release, the retail chain Costco decided to pull D'Souza's companion book from its shelves, sparking outrage among fans and accusations of political bias. Costco denied having a political motive, saying the decision was based on low sales. D'Souza responded, "The book came out about three weeks ago. About a week ago it surpassed Hillary's book on Amazon. It's actually No. 1 on Amazon's best sellers' list...So, the sales of the book have been strong." He added, "Costco features hundreds of books; they even have book signings for people whose books are No. 10,000, No. 85,000 on the Amazon list. This is a clearly a political decision that they made. I think it's because of their alliance with the Obama administration and now they're feeling the heat, so they're trying to figure out how to wiggle out of it."[25] Costco executives have been heavily involved in Democratic donations and campaigning for Barack Obama.[26] After a social media backlash, Costco reversed its decision and announced that the book would return to its shelves in coming weeks.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bond, Paul (May 28, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' to Feature Megadeth Founder's Heavy Metal National Anthem (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  2. ^ a b c d America (2014) at Box Office Mojo (as of 2014-08-23)
  3. ^ a b Bond, Paul (June 16, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' Marketing Targets Church Groups". The Hollywood Reporter. "Religious leaders will be provided video clips to show parishioners, including one of Ronald Reagan and another of George Washington fighting in the Revolutionary War." 
  4. ^ McKay, Hollie (July 2, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' imagines the world without the USA". foxnews.com. Los Angeles: Fox News Entertainment. 
  5. ^ D'Souza, Dinesh (2014). America. 
  6. ^ "America: Imagine the World Without Her". Americathemovie.com. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  7. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Synopsis". Fandango.com. Rovi. 
  8. ^ Harrod, Andrew E. (July 2, 2014). "Imaging a World without America; Dinesh D'Souza's New Film Refutes Detractors Who Scorn Her History". Washington, DC: The Washington Times. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ Harper, Jennifer (July 2, 2014). "Inside the Beltway: John Voight Steps Up to Support 'America' Movie". Washington, DC: The Washington Times. Retrieved July 28, 2014.   – via Questia (subscription required)
  10. ^ Weekend Box Office Results for July 4–6, 2014 – Box Office Mojo
  11. ^ a b Cunningham, Todd (July 6, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza's Doc ‘America’ Can't Match Box-Office Lightning of His '2016: Obama's America’". The Wrap. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Documentary – Political". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  13. ^ America (2014) at Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ America at Metacritic
  15. ^ Peter Sobczynski (July 2, 2014). Review: America, Ebert Digital, LLC
  16. ^ 'America': Film Review - The Hollywood Reporter
  17. ^ The director of 2016: Obama’s America is at it again with America · Movie Review · The A.V. Club
  18. ^ Hickman, Jonathan (July 11, 2014). "'America' In Theaters Today". www.times-herald.com. Newnan, Georgia: The Newnan Times-Herald. 
  19. ^ Weekend Report: 'Transformers' Repeats On Weak Independence Day Weekend – Box Office Mojo
  20. ^ Jim Gaines (July 2, 2014). "To celebrate the Fourth of July, don't see this movie". Reuters.com. 
  21. ^ Christian Toto (July 3, 2014). "Reuters Blogger: Boycott D'Souza's 'America'". Breitbart.com. 
  22. ^ Fund, John (June 29, 2014). "D’Souza’s America: Dinesh D’Souza takes on Obama, Hillary, Saul Alinsky, and Howard Zinn in a single bold film.". National Review Online. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  23. ^ Amodeo, Joseph (July 24, 2014). "D'Souza's Shameful Treatment of Conservatives Highlights Need for a Renaissance of Intellectual Conservatism". Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  24. ^ Berkowitz, Michael (July 8, 2014). "America: Dinesh D'Souza's Deceptions". Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  25. ^ Barnhart, Melissa (July 9, 2014). "Dinesh D'Souza Says Costco's Decision to Pull His Book From Stores Was Politica". Christian Post. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Fuller, Jaime (January 29, 2014). "How Costco explains the Obama presidency". The Washington Post. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  27. ^ "'Clearly Political': D’Souza Reacts After Book Is Pulled Off Costco Shelves". Fox News Insider. Fox News. July 8, 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 

External links[edit]