Originally posted at The Hollywood Reporter.
In the movie, a follow-up to the surprise hit, 2016: Obama’s America, a 14-year-old Clinton meets with leftist icon Saul Alinsky.
Dinesh D’Souza is planning to go where NBC and CNN feared to tread: an on-screen portrayal of Hillary Clinton.
Ten months ago, NBC and CNN, under immense pressure from both the right and the left, famously ditched their planned projects focused on the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state. But a portion of D’Souza’s upcoming documentary, America, features Clinton as both a teenager and a college student, played both times by a 22-year-old novice actress named Jennifer Pearson.
In America, D’Souza attempts to debunk arguments he says the political left makes to demean the U.S., including its motives and its history. In the one-minute scene embedded below, a youth minister tells a 14-year-old Clinton that he’s excited for her to meet someone, then a door opens but the clip ends before the meeting takes place. D’Souza, the conservative filmmaker who was also behind the surprise hit movie, 2016: Obama’s America, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the person on the other side of the door is leftist icon Saul Alinsky. What happens after that, D’Souza won’t say, but there are plenty of clues in America: Imagine a World Without Her, his just-published book in which the film is based.
In D’Souza’s book he analyzes Alinsky’s most famous book, Rules for Radicals, beginning with the often overlooked fact that it was partially dedicated to the devil, because, as Alinsky put it, he was “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom.”
D’Souza writes that Alinsky taught “that the task of the radical is to turn middle class people against themselves, to make them instruments of their own destruction,” and that the four steps to accomplishing that goal are polarization, demonization, organization and deception.
All of this is relevant, D’Souza says, because Clinton first met Alinsky as a young teenager, as depicted in the movie, then reconnected with him in college. She was so influenced – D’Souza says “radicalized” – by Alinsky that she wrote her undergraduate thesis on him.
When 1960s activists like Clinton sought Alinsky’s counsel, he told them, according to D’Souza: “You can be revolutionaries, but you should not look or act or smell like revolutionaries. Take baths. Use deodorant. Cut your hair. Put on ties and dresses if you have to. Don’t use obscenities. Don’t call the police ‘pigs’ and U.S. soldiers ‘fascists.’ Feign an interest in middle-class tastes; in other words, pretend to be like the people you hate.”
D’Souza’s point in the book — and one he makes in the movie, too – is that if Clinton is elected president in 2016, she’d be the second U.S. president in a row who would be an “Alinskyite,” the first being Barack Obama.
“In this case, Alinsky’s influence will have taken on a massive, almost unimaginable, importance,” D’Souza writes. “Obama will have had eight years to remake America, and Hillary will have another four or perhaps eight years to complete the job. Together, these two have the opportunity to largely undo the nation’s founding ideals.”
None of this, though, resonates much with Pearson, who says she never heard of Alinsky prior to playing Clinton. Her most prominent role until now was as an un-credited “weregirl” in the TV show, True Blood. While she’s mostly apolitical and new to Hollywood, she’s aware the industry largely leans left and that some who are in the position to hire her in the future may not appreciate her negative portrayal of a liberal icon who could be the next Democratic nominee for president.
“I hope I’ll be respected as an actress just playing a character,” she said. “A lot of actors play characters they may or may not agree with. I don’t want to favor one side or the other publicly.”
A year ago, CNN was planning a documentary about Clinton and NBC was planning a miniseries, each of which would have aired just prior to the 2018 presidential election, and the Republican National Committee objected on the assumption that each network would have gone out of its way to portray Clinton in a positive light. Some liberal organizations, like Media Matters for America, also objected, assuming that CNN and NBC would be under so much pressure to deliver a warts-and-all production that the two projects would do more harm than good to Clinton’s reputation and presumed candidacy for president. D’Souza, though, faced no such pressure because few people knew – until now – that Clinton would be portrayed in his movie, which Lionsgate opens July 2. Not that he would have been impressed with any such objections.
“In 2016 I focused on the mis-education of Obama. Here we explore the mis-education of Hillary Clinton,” D’Souza told THR. “Is Hillary more like Bill Clinton or is she more like Obama? This is the question we answer in the film.”
Hillary Clinton did not respond to a request for comment.
“We didn’t know of any footage that exists of Hillary Clinton at that age,” said America producer Gerald Molen. “We had hoped to have her in the film to talk about her life, including that period of it. When she didn’t agree to an interview, we decided we had to do the next best thing: re-create what actually happened.”
Read more at The Hollywood Reporter.
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