Review: Dinesh D'Souza horrorshow 'Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party' stokes GOP convention
Before the first gavel fell Monday at the Republican National Convention, filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza roiled the conservative pot.
D'Souza's latest documentary, Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, stoked partisan fire among nearly 2,000 viewers with nothing better to do on a Sunday night in Cleveland. Seriously, a dip in the Cuyahoga - while on fire - would be a more pleasant experience.
After previewing D'Souza's movie, opening Friday at several Tampa Bay theaters, it's obvious that he created the documentary this insane election cycle deserves.
Hillary's America: It's Mostly About the Democratic Party But Her Name In the Title Helps is agitprop comedy at its most insane, surpassing even D'Souza's previous screeds 2016: Obama's America and America: Imagine the World Without Her. D'Souza grasps at historical straws, stretching them to unflattering conclusions about Hillary Clinton, at one point visually demonizing her. She isn't the only target of D'Souza's tenuous logic.
"This is a true story," an opening title card reads. "No names were changed to protect the Democratic Party."
D'Souza's sucker punch lack of subtlety is quickly established, with a musical number twisting the lyrics of the Democratic Party anthem Happy Days Are Here Again into "crappy days are here again," while video clips lay blame at the feet of president Barack Obama and Clinton. That includes a glimpse of Orlando's Pulse nightclub, site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, a sign of how far D'Souza goes to incite distrust.
The filmmaker reminds viewers of 2016: Obama's America, when he predicted a dire future state of the union that D'Souza swears is proven true. It's the second-highest grossing political documentary ever with $33.4 million in ticket sales, lagging far behind Michael Moore's Farhenheit 9/11 ($119 million).
"The Obama administration tried to shut me up," D'Souza claims.
Before diving into Democratic Party history, D'Souza offers his own, glossing over a 2014 conviction for illegal campaign contributions. "I gave too much money to a friend," he explains to scoffing fellow inmates, in ridiculous re-enactments of D'Souza's eight-month sentence to a community confinement center, painted here as nearly Alcatraz. He's a timid, naive prisoner being schooled by hardened felons in gang mechanics, when it dawns on him that politicians work the same way. But only Democrats, of course.
And now, with Hillary Clinton on the brink of re-occupying the White House, D'Souza must expose how she and the Democratic Party are attempting to "steal America."
"I got Obama right," he says. "Now I have to figure out Hillary."
His goose chase begins at an ersatz Democratic National Headquarters, where exhibits shill a party of economic opportunity, social justice and racial equality. Then D'Souza attempts to dismantle that image. Any valid points - like party founder Andrew Jackson being a genocidal land grabber and slave owner - are muted by partisan shrillness, and a comical aura of paranoid fear mongering throughout.
"What is it about Democrats and innocent young women?" D'Souza asks, while an actor portraying Jackson beckons a resigned slave to his bed.
Using such exploitive re-enactments, D'Souza and co-director Bruce Schooley trace a Democratic Party allegedly born of slavery and suckled by the Ku Klux Klan, with slave whippings and abolitionist canings rabidly re-enacted. Clinton's grad school association with community organizer Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals, is raised again, this time with an emphasis on his early brush with that noted liberal icon, Chicago mobster Al Capone. No wonder she's crooked, D'Souza suggests.
Seventy-five minutes of patchwork historical "evidence" pass before D'Souza trains his sights on Clinton, and then D'Souza literally goes below the belt. Former president Bill Clinton's affairs become the root of her alleged evils, a power-mad woman selling out women her "sex abuser" husband bedded. She kept him because she needed him, the overheated narrative goes. Then Benghazi happened because Hillary Clinton couldn't figure out how to make money off of it.
You get the idea. Hillary's America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party is chock full of nutty ideas, hysterically served to predisposed audiences, many of whom likely chanted "Lock her up!" at Tuesday's proceedings in Cleveland. Somewhere in the convention hall, D'Souza must have smiled. Grade: F