DEATH OF A NATION REVIEWED
“Death of a Nation” is the latest Dinesh D’Souza. Film fans might remember D’Souza as the right-wing filmmaker who adopted Michael Moore’s strategy of releasing politically charged films timed to coincide with mid-term or national elections. Whereas Michael Moore used 9/11 rescue workers and downtrodden Midwesterners for emotional shorthand, D’Souza moves the needle a little further. D’Souza was previously convicted and imprisoned for illegal campaign financing. It’s light fraud that anyone can do if they were in the mind to do it. So, what’s the big deal?
Well, first…we have to define whether or not D’Souza is a documentarian. I annoy the hell out of the Left by constantly bringing up that Michael Moore left the world of true documentary film-making behind in the 90s. What D’Souza and Moore make are high-budget Op-Eds designed to scream to their audience and vilify all of those that go bump in the night. Hell, they’re pretty good at it.
But, what is the American theater goer supposed to do with material like this? Especially when it’s getting distributed by morally upstanding Pure Flix? Well, the average person has to understand what makes a documentary and what makes edutainment.
WHAT IS A DOCUMENTARY FILM?
A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record.
WHAT IS EDUTAINMENT?
Educational entertainment (also referred to by the portmanteau neologism edutainment) is media designed to educate through entertainment. Most often it includes content intended to teach but has incidental entertainment value.
DINESH D’SOUZA IS MAKING WHAT KIND OF FILM?
D’Souza has a point to make about how the Republican party has had leads maligned by the general public. However, he doesn’t offer any sound reasoning or sourced material to back these claims. Therefore, he’s taking educational tidbits to entertain and steer an audience to a goal. That goal being support of his recent benefactor and of his version of the GOP. If your MAGA hat wearing friend comes away with a distaste for the Democrat party, then that’s just an extra win.
DEATH OF A NATION SOUNDS LIKE PROPAGANDA
Propaganda is information that isn’t objective and meant to influence a group of people. Most of those people tend to be dumb. It tends to work that way, so don’t read into it. Was D’Souza meaning to make propaganda? As I watched historical accuracy be met by material taken out of context, I felt the urge to call it propaganda. But, we’re in an age where everything means something and nobody means anything.
This film has one purpose. That is to draw a line between Trump and Lincoln. Lincoln still has pull on both sides of the aisle and this is an old-fashioned marketing move to place Trump as an unseen harbinger of the rational. Does the film back that up? No.
What it does is ask that you accept the line it feeds you for nearly two hours. Democrats were mean to Trump and Lincoln. Ignore the history, the contrast between the centuries or the baggage brought in by supporting Trump. The only thing D’Souza wants his creation to do is to confirm what MAGA fans already believe and to demonize the liberals that would never see the film in the first place.
The film works as propaganda, but refuses to ever embrace that label. So, I applaud the fact that something like this is getting a wide release. But, I wish D’Souza would drop the pretense and just sell the film on its base value. We live in an era where both sides lie out of their mouth and then act offended when called out on it. If you’re going to sell a dog & pony show, then play up the hokey nature. Some of us like watching a side show.
- 1 hr and 49 mins
- Pure Flix
RELEASE DATE: 8/3/18
The Plot Thus Far
This documentary draws parallels between Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and the presidency of Donald Trump.