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Dustin Putman

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Imagine the World Without Her
Zero Stars
Directed by Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan.
Featuring: Dinesh D'Souza.
2014 – 105 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violent images).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, December 7, 2014.
A heinously inflammatory propaganda piece that gives the documentary form and even-minded conservatives bad names, "America: Imagine the World Without Her" boils down to 105 minutes of uneducated ignorance. Right-wing author-commentator Dinesh D'Souza writes and directs alongside John Sullivan, but it is D'Souza who is front and center, narrating the film and creepily prowling through shots of D.C. and NYC landmarks—the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, Times Square—looking less like a pensive scholar and more like he's going to pull out explosives from his jacket at any minute. It takes him mere seconds of being introduced to start shamelessly promoting his previous film, 2012's "2016: Obama's America," a movie he proudly declares the second highest-grossing political documentary ever as if that is evidence enough that he should be trusted. Interestingly, he does not dare mention what is the number-one highest grossing political documentary, liberal filmmaker Michael Moore's 2004 release, "Fahrenheit 9/11." D'Souza's idea of backing up his argument is by childishly using one extreme (and extremely ridiculous) opposing example, throwing a sinister music score over it, and calling it a day. His view of America is supposed to be inspiring, but instead it is genuinely frightening as he sets out to shame minorities and discount their centuries of suffering.

One by one, D'Souza states the charges made against America, and one by one he delivers the same message: stop complaining! Apparently, it was okay to steal the land of Native American tribes because every now and then said land was bought legally and, hey, they practiced conquest, too! What of the ensuing genocide that occurred? It didn't really happen, with most of the Indian population dying from disease, instead. How about the theft of the Mexican territory? Actually, we simply stepped in to rescue Texas from Mexico's oppression. They got what was coming to them, and must not be upset, anyway, since they are constantly trying to illegally cross the border into the United States. What of the despicable stain of slavery on our nation? It is nothing special, since forms of slavery have occurred across the globe. During this time, D'Souza says, African Americans had the means of making something of themselves if only they had tried. How else to explain Sarah Breedlove, the country's first self-made black millionaire who released a line of beauty and hair-care products for women of color in the early 1900s? Let's also not forget that there were white indentured servants, too. And finally, what of imperialism and capitalism? We have never once exploited foreign countries for their resources, and our wars were a valiant fight for freedom and nothing more. Capitalism, meanwhile, is beneficial to everyone. Being successful only requires hard work and an all-important religious faith.

For free-minded, logic-driven viewers, the act of watching "America: Imagine the World Without Her" could very well cause neck sprain from all the head-shaking it incurs. D'Souza and Sullivan treat President Barack Obama as some big, bad boogeyman in shady dealings with insurance companies to extort money from the innocent, unsuspecting American citizens. Their evidence? It's best to just trust them at their word. As for the portrayal of Hillary Clinton, hilarity ensues as she is viewed as a prim, proper, God-fearing collegiate who fell in with left-wing organizer Saul Alinsky, dropped her faith, and began traversing the land forever clutching Alinsky's book, "Rules for Radicals." When they first meet in a cafeteria, the ominous score swells on the soundtrack to such a heightened crescendo, one half expects horns to sprout from Alinsky's head as his eyes begin to glow a demonic shade of crimson.

On the one hand, "America: Imagine the World Without Her" is a laughing stock that presumes the title country is the critical epicenter of the planet of which all other, lesser lands circle. On the other hand, it is stomach-churning in its delusions of grandeur. Directors Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan refuse to imagine that the current America might have been founded on anything other than good intentions and behavior that, if not always fair, at least stayed true to the status quo of the world at large. Their historical and political representation of America is painfully one-sided, yes, but also about as convincing and refined as a second-grader's outlook on these topics. Everything is black and white, while facts are twisted into myths to better suit their needs. The film's fuzzy, senseless narrative is bookended by catchy, harmonious pop songs—Imagine Dragon's "America" and Phillip Phillips' "Home"—and sweeping aerial footage of the glorious place Americans call home. Not only are these tracks now forever tarnished by being connected to a picture filled with such thematic ugliness, but, by the end, the lush, idyllic landscapes on view suddenly carry with them a grim, unsettling underbelly. This is exactly the opposite of what D'Souza and Sullivan must have been going for, and yet this is precisely the result they have achieved. In heartlessly, unconscionably refuting the past and reshifting the blame for all that occurred, "America: Imagine the World Without Her" is about as far away from a pro-American declaration as one could envision. The bitter taste it leaves in one's mouth is indefensible.
© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman