Why Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' Features Clips of Matt Damon, Woody Harrelson

Associated Press
Dinesh D'Souza

The celebrities are depicted as liberals who actively undermine the idea of "American exceptionalism" through their work. U2 rocker Bono, however, is championed in the film.

Moviegoers heading to Dinesh D’Souza’s America over the Fourth of July weekend probably aren’t expecting much star power, so they might be surprised when celebrities like Bono, Matt Damon and Woody Harrelson pop up onscreen.

While President Obama, Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton — as well as Hillary Clinton are portrayed as disciples of Saul Alinsky, the movie also indicts Damon and Harrelson as members of the left who actively undermine the idea of “American exceptionalism” through their work and their status as celebrities.

"It's fun to make our points through illustrations using recognizable figures from popular culture. We have to explain to many people who Frederick Douglass is, but everyone knows Matt Damon and Bono," D'Souza told The Hollywood Reporter. "I actually like the Bourne movies, so I guess I am one of the people putting money in Matt Damon's pocket. Now if only I could also put some brains into his head."


America is D’Souza’s follow-up to his hit documentary 2016: Obama’s America, a negative look at the U.S. president. In America, D’Souza, a conservative author, speaker and pundit, attempts to dismantle leftist assaults on the United States, and he includes topics like race relations, capitalism and war.

The movie shows Harrelson discussing the nation's "nonstop violence" against Native Americans with author Howard Zinn, the late historian whose best known book, A People's History of the United States, the movie argues, is biased in order to make the U.S. look bad.

Along the same lines, Damon is seen in America in character as Will Hunting pushing the Zinn book in a scene from his 1997 Oscar-winning movie, Good Will Hunting, and there's also a scene in America from HBO's The Sopranos that touts the same book.

Bono, on the other hand, is shown embracing American exceptionalism. So much so, in fact, that his appearance in the film received loud applause at the June 30 premiere in Los Angeles, which was packed primarily with entertainment-industry conservatives.

The actors and U2 frontman did not participate in the making of the movie, but D’Souza used speeches, interviews, film and TV clips to make his points.  "It's not a right-left issue; it's a right-wrong issue. And America has constantly been on the side of what's right," says Bono in the film.

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America opened wide on July 2 after enjoying a solid limited release last weekend, overcoming several negative reviews in the mainstream media. THR's film reviewer Stephen Farber, for example, calls it a "dubious piece of agitprop."

Conservatives, on the other hand, seem thrilled with the movie, as evidenced by an on-air, impassioned and unsolicited plug from Rush Limbaugh, who predicted on his radio show that America will be "huge."

At the Rotten Tomatoes website, 82 percent of the audience likes America while just 17 percent of professional critics gave it a positive review thus far.

Prior to movie's opening, the filmmakers behind it released several clips. While the movie is already in theaters, THR has obtained another clip showing brief images of Matthews and Sharpton in a segment chiefly about leftist activist Alinsky.

"We got to get away from all this reconciliation jazz and all this friendship and all that kind of business," Alinsky says in the video clip, referring to the political opponents of the left.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com