Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza may be getting an influx of new viewers of his documentary film ‘America’ after a Republican state senator from Florida said he plans on introducing a bill to make the movie mandatory in public schools.
Republican Alan Hays, inspired after seeing the movie in theaters, said he now plans on introducing a one-page bill in November which would require all 1,700 Florida high schools and middle schools to show the movie to their students, unless their parents choose to opt them out. The documentary film is a conservative-spin on American history focusing on elevating the “essential goodness of America” while discrediting criticisms about American’s checkered history with civil rights and social justice. It’s not completely inconceivable for the bill to pass the Republican-controlled Florida legislature and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
“I saw the movie and walked out of the theater and said, ‘Wow, our students need to see this.’ And it’s my plan to show it to my colleagues in the legislature, too, before they’re asked to vote on the bill,” Hays said.
The movie, based off of D’Souza’s book “America: Imagine the World Without Her,” was not as big a hit at the box office as it was with Hays grossing just $2.5 million. Critics panned the film for lacking factual substance, calling D’Souza’s claims far-fetched and misguided.
“The first problem with the film is its overstatement of these anti-American tenets ostensibly running rampant in our society,” said the Hollywood Reporter. “D’Souza posits a simmering crisis that doesn’t really exist outside a few college campuses.” The Washington Post said, ““America” is less successful as a debate, since it isn’t one. D’Souza controls the conversation, and thus goes unchallenged when he tries to make real-world points with make-believe scenarios.” “‘America” isn’t a documentary; it’s more like the badly-filmed version of a badly-written, meandering op-ed piece from a paper that lacks fact-checking or proofreading,” said a Wrap review of the film.
Despite the less-than-favorable reviews, D’Souza blamed the film’s subpar release on a conspiracy that Google purposefully made it difficult for viewers to find his movie’s showtimes because the company “lies in bed with Obama.” D’Souza made the same claim against Costco when the store decide to pull the book from its shelves after selling just 3,600 copies.
“It is not [accidental],” D’Souza said. “When you look at both Costco and Google, it is the case that the top executives of both of those companies are very much in bed with Obama. Now, that’s a fact.”
D’Souza also created the film ‘2016: Obama’s America’ a scathing critique of the president the New Yorker calls “a work of propaganda that offers base innuendo in lieu of argument.” The film, which made over $32.9 million, is based off D’Souza’s novel ‘The Roots of Obama’s Rage,’ paints Obama as anti-colonialist driven to dethrone America as a world superpower.
In May, the conservative film maker pleaded guilty to charges he made $20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Republican Wendy Long’s 2012 Senate campaign, a crime that carries a maximum two-year sentence. Evidence revealed in the trial show that D’Souza’s mistress, Denise Joseph and her husband were two of the illegal donors; D’Souza’s affair with Joseph was the catalyst of his resignation as president of King’s College in New York.
Shannon Greenwood is an intern at ThinkProgress.