It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Just over a year ago, not long after being released from the confinement center where he spent an eight-month sentence, author, filmmaker and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza took to Twitter to offer up his followers a photograph that purported to show a young Hillary Clinton with a Confederate flag prominently displayed behind her. Even a glaucoma victim could tell that it was a fake—a doctored version of a photo of her as a student as Wellesley in 1969 that ran in Life magazine—but somehow this managed to get by him. When he did eventually post a vague correction, he instead advised his followers to make fun of her glasses and hairdo, neither of which appear to be especially outrageous for a Wellesley student in the late ‘60s. Now imagine that photograph—dubiously sourced, factually questionable and suffused with nasty personal cracks instead of any legitimate insight or criticism—and you have D’Souza’s latest film, “Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party,” a work that almost makes his previous cinematic efforts, “2016: Obama’s America” and “America” seem lucid and well-reasoned by comparison. Little more than an extended version of the kind of political screeds that can be found online with only a minimum of effort, this is just a terrible movie, and, depending on the conditions that were set forth, there is a chance it could be considered a parole violation as well.
If you think I'm being gratuitously mean (or giving up a spoiler) by referring to D’Souza as a convicted felon, then you should know that the movie actually opens with him being sentenced to eight months in a halfway house, community service and a $30,000 fine for committing a campaign-finance violation involving getting straw donors to contribute to the campaign of a friend running for the U.S. Senate. According to the film, D’Souza is really being convicted for the crime of having made a movie that dared to expose Obama as a lying, cheating monster hellbent on destroying America. While in the stir—in which he seems to be the only one not convicted of a violent crime—he asks around about the big gangs and how they consolidate their power. After getting a primer from fellow inmate Roc, it dawns on him that what he is hearing is oddly familiar. “What if the goal of the Democratic Party is to steal the most valuable thing this world ever produced?” You know, America!
After finally departing the confinement center, D’Souza knows what he has to do. This requires studying up on the Democratic Party—something that evidently never occurred to him before when he made films about it—and takes him to “Democratic Headquarters,” a recreated location that appears to have had its production design supervised by Tommy Wiseau and which contains a secret basement in which all of their dirty secrets are kept from public view. As it turns out, the Republicans were remarkably forward-thinking in all ways imaginable in regards to things like opposing slavery and the KKK while those Democrats were busy seizing Indian lands, enslaving blacks and taking advantage of women. We learn of the monstrous policies of such infamous Democrats as Woodrow Wilson (who screened “The Birth of a Nation” at the White House) and Lyndon Johnson (whose only interest in passing the Voting Rights Act was to appease Negroes who “are pretty uppity” and to ensure their party loyalty for the next 200 years). At this point, you may be thinking “Hey, didn’t the political parties originally known as the Democrats and Republicans change and evolve over time to the point where the once-conservative Democrats became Republicans and the more progressive Republicans became Democrats?” Not so fast, according to D'Souza—he assures us that nothing of the sort happened and the only reason that Southern Democrats became Republican after the Voting Rights Act was because the South became more prosperous and less racist because of Republican policies. (This factoid is accompanied by a picture of Ronald Reagan, so you know it is true).
The film also takes time to hit a couple of favorite non-elected targets of the conservative movement. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, is presented as a character straight out of a horror film, and much is made of a lecture that she gave to a gathering of female KKK members. Of course, the film doesn’t mention that Sanger at the time basically spoke to anyone who would listen regarding birth control (she later described the talk as “one of the weirdest experiences I had in lectures”), or how she was praised in later years by none other than Martin Luther King Jr. Then there is Saul Alinsky, who is portrayed as a criminal monster who worked his way up from scamming cheap meals as a starving student to practically becoming the right-hand man to gangster Frank Nitti, eventually taking the lessons he learned there to organizing liberal types in order to seize power for the socialist agenda by pushing from the outside. Eventually, one of his protégés outdoes him by remarking that if they can somehow take over the government, “Then we can push from the inside.”