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Take Your Audience to the Movies

| July 8, 2014

Movie review by consultant Holland Cooke


cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Before debt-hobbled mega-owners deleted local mojo from the expense budget, radio stations used to DO things that engaged listeners in person.  Before too much of talk radio succumbed to caricature monologue, it used to provoke thoughtful dialogue.  Here’s an easy, quick opportunity to rekindle that touch-N-feel, and HEAR the people your advertisers want to meet.

MUST-SEE: “America: Imagine the World Without Her”

You might be hearing commercials — on the Rush Limbaugh show and in similar programs — for the new Dinesh D’Souza film.  And you might recall reading my review, a couple years ago in TALKERS magazine, of his previous flick “2016 Obama’s America.”  ICYMI: http://getonthenet.com/ObamasAmerica.pdf

Grim “2016,” in advance of the 2014 election, sought to warn us against what, by 2016, America would become, if the president won a second term.  And this new film does warn-against a President Hillary Clinton (“Hillary figured it out, Obama is carrying it out”).

But “America” is more refined than its predecessor’s “Reefer Madness” air, and its message is about-something more than it is against-someone.  Oh there are boogeymen, #1 being historian Howard Zinn, required reading by too many history profs in D’Souza’s view.  A close second is someone Glenn Beck has been hollering about for years, Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinksy, played by an actor Hitchcock would’ve loved, depicted deprogramming pert, impressionable young Goldwater Girl Hillary Rodham.

Even more impressive than the film maker’s improved story-telling is the story itself.

D’Souza makes his case deliberately, in anecdote-studded refutation of lefty “indictments:” genocide of indigenous peoples, theft of land and labor, and wealth-based-on-theft.

There are plenty of “Hmmm!” moments, even if you’re more open-minded than like-minded.

  • With the Immigration crisis in the headlines, many viewers will feel informed by D’Souza’s précis of Mexican history.
  • Capitalism doesn’t rip-off the consumer; “it succeeds because of THE CONSENT OF the consumer;” as he demonstrates, methodically, why buying a hamburger in a restaurant is a better deal than preparing one at home.
  • And if you think Uncle Sam is snooping on you, you’ll be sobered by D’Souza’s wariness of Amazon and Facebook and Google and YouTube.

Refreshingly, there’s none of the acrid “I’m-right-you’re-wrong” rant that makes talk radio less habit-forming.  D’Souza wants to seem like a reasonable guy, appreciative of what We The People can be; not a crazy uncle carping about how-everything’s-gone-straight-to-hell.  He’s SO un-snarky that, if you were called away 30 minutes before the end, you could mistake this as a feel-good flick assuring us that everything-will-work-out.

And it will, the film maker reckons, if Americans engage.  Without a peep about The Second Amendment, D’Souza urges that we learn what’s-not-in the history books that offer “a narrative of American shame.”  Which is why you should book a movie theater…

Plan this now and thank me later.

Invite listeners to a special showing.

At the end (that rockin’ rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” that kicked-off Talkers New York 2014), turn up the lights, and host a town hall meeting, with wireless mics.  And record it.

To kick things off, ask attendees:

  • “YOU be the movie critic!  How many stars?  Why?”
  • “What did you learn for the first time in this movie?”
  • “What do you feel differently about after seeing this?”

Then, listen to the dialogue fly.  You’ll chop-up the recording as promos and bumpers and podcasts and awards competition entries.

Inside stuff we should find instructive:

Doing what we do for a living (“a show”), you’ll appreciate this film on several levels.  D’Souza’s production techniques were more conspicuous in “2016” and are more polished in “America.”

  • I don’t remember one single moment without background music, which was chosen more subtly this time.  Gone is the exotic sitar behind President Obama’s speech in “2016.”  “America’s” soundtrack does, artfully, shift tone as majestic, hopeful-sounding mood sustainers underline points-he-advocates; and eerie dirge notes accompany counterpoint footage.
  • Like fellow propagandist Michael Moore – who appears — D’Souza narrates his own film.  Unlike Moore in his own films, D’Souza is seen A LOT, often…gazing…rapt, at the America that surrounds him.  In busy Time Square he wolfs a street vendor’s hot dog, loaded, as though he doesn’t know there’s a camera in his face.  And he wipes away a tear re-enacting jail time as he copped a plea on a felony campaign finance rap (“I made a mistake.  I’m not above the law”).  As compelling a story-teller as he is, D’Souza is clearly telling his own story.  Hey, those speaking fees are sweet.  We should all self-promote this well.
  • D’Souza seems darn fair-and-balanced.  Radio talkers would do well to emulate the respectful manner he demonstrates when interviewing ideological adversaries.  Any favoritism he shows narrative soul mates is real subtle (his Rand Paul tight shot cropped at the eyebrows, sparing the senator that toupee look so apparent on HDTV).

But craft-related stuff is “the free prize inside” for seeing this film.  The wide-angle shot your event attendees see will turn ‘em into station evangelists, because you invited, and you listened.

There’s less world-without-America than D’Souza’s title seems to promise.  Which is fine, since there’s plenty of dystopia in that new “Planet of The Apes” movie.  But see “America” first.


Holland Cooke (wwwHollandCooke.com ● @HollandCooke) is a media consultant working at the intersection of Talk Radio and the Internet.


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Category: Advice