By Kevin Jagernauth | Indiewire July 25, 2014 at 10:39AM
Earlier this week, we ran down The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far, and though it has been the highest grossing doc of the year, Dinesh D'Souza's "America" was not on the list. In fact, our own Gabe Toro so loathed the film, he gave it an F-grade review, which then spurred a comments section furor that is now nearly 500 posts long. So why is this movie so controversial?
Well, D'Souza is the man behind the equally divisive "2016: Obama's America," and almost like a bizarro world Michael Moore, the filmmaker approaches American life from the completely opposite spectrum. Essentially in "America," D'Souza posits that American history has too long been defined by negativity thanks to liberals (or something). Or maybe this opening paragraph of the film's synopsis will explain it better:
Someone once observed: "America is great because she is good; if she ever ceases to be good she will cease to be great." Today that notion of the essential goodness of America is under attack, replaced by another story in which theft and plunder are seen as the defining features of American history—from the theft of Native American and Mexican lands and the exploitation of African labor to a contemporary foreign policy said to be based on stealing oil and a capitalist system that robs people of their "fair share".
Or perhaps the Facebook summary is perhaps more reflective: America is more important to the world than we could ever imagine.
Either way, the film has been ravaged by critics other than our own (grades on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes say it all), and yet one politician in Florida (obviously) wants to make it required viewing in schools. THR reports that Republican Alan Hays will introduce a bill in November that, if it passes, will have the movie screened for students in the state's 1700 public schools unless a parent objects.
To be fair, Hays isn't against showing the movie alongside more "left wing" movies like "An Inconvenient Truth" or anything by Michael Moore, but then goes on to make a rambling argument about his bill. "The most dreaded disease in America today is political correctness. We need to inform our students of our whole history, and teach them how to think, not what to think,” he said. “Let them talk with their teachers, their peers and their parents, then draw their own conclusions. But they need both sides, and this movie shows a side they just aren’t seeing.”
And how does "America" fix that? “I’ve looked at history books and talked to history teachers and the message the students are getting is very different from what is in the movie,” he said. “It’s dishonest and insulting. The students need to see the truth without political favoritism.”
Thoughts? We're sure you have them, so take to the comments section. But before that, check out the trailer to the film.