A new film titled “The Obama Effect” is set to premier in AMC Theaters on July 13. The film is the directorial debut of actor Charles S. Dutton of “Roc” fame as well as several roles in major films. Dutton’s personal story is one of redemption and hard work leading to a successful career in the entertainment industry.
According to his IMDb bio,
“Dutton was convicted of possession of a deadly weapon and served a three-year sentence. While in prison he assaulted a corrections officer and was sentenced to an additional 7-1/2 years in prison. While serving his sentence he read a play that amused him so much he started a theatre group. To start the group he had to be attending school, and he had dropped out of school in the seventh grade. He not only took classes to finish his elementary school education, but by the time he finished his sentence he had a two-year college degree.”
After viewing several of the trailers on YouTube my honest feelings based on what I saw was one of concern that Black people were being targeted with another piece of pro-Obama propaganda that unfortunately seems to be the case with most mainstream Black media made for our consumption. However, after reading the premise of the film I could not help but agree that the main character in the film, John Thomas who is played by Dutton, reminded me of all the over the top support shown to candidate Obama in the run up to his election in 2008.
Motivated by a misguided obsession with getting Barack Obama elected, John takes an overwhelming involvement in the Presidential campaign. – The Obama Effect
Dutton has said that the film is satire but not in a mean spirited way but the truth is that Black Americans have displayed an unhealthy obsession with President Obama. That obsession while not agreeing with it was understandable during the course of his campaign considering that Black voters never before had anyone who looked like them that had a realistic shot to capture the White House and let us be truthful, Obama is a handsome smooth talking brother who said all the right things that black folks wanted to hear. For many, his election was perhaps a once in a lifetime experience.
With that said and with Obama coming out to directly address the issue of Gay Marriage stating he believes it should be legal along with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, his recent move to stop the deportation of young undocumented immigrants who meet a certain criteria, the Black community can not and should not pledge their votes without getting similar attention to issues like the mass incarceration of Black people, the violence that plagues our community which is a direct result of America’s failed drug war policies which were in part instituted by disgraced former President Richard Nixon as a way to target Black people while also appearing not to.
The film also seems to take a satirical look at Black Republicans as well. Comedian Katt Williams plays a character in the film who is a rich Black Republican whose support of Republicans appears to be based on policies that they put forth that benefit the wealthy. Eventually the character comes around to support Obama’s campaign that rings of the endorsement Obama received from long time Republican and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. One scene in the trailer shows William’s in bed with several women at one time, which brings to mind Herman Cain, a failed Republican candidate whose campaign was derailed by revelations of sexual impropriety with several women.
Another underlying political issue raised by the film seems to be healthcare as the main character John who happens to be an insurance salesperson who suffers from poor health that he seems to ignore. In light of the Supreme Court ruling which affirmed the Constitutionality of Obama’s signature legislature and with the GOP vowing to repeal it if they win the Presidency and a majority in Congress in the upcoming elections, it is an issue within the Black community considering the ongoing disparities in access to healthcare and life expectancy that many hope will be addressed by the recent reforms.
Whether or not the film is pro-Obama propaganda released just months ahead of the upcoming Presidential election to create excitement among Black Voters or if it is, an honest critique of obsessive Obama supporters can only be answered by viewing the film its entirety. Judging from content on the film’s website and social networks, there does seem to be a push to support President Obama in the upcoming elections.
Dutton says he does not subscribe to partisan politics but says he bases his support of political candidates on the solutions they propose to the issues that are important to him and uses his vote for a Republican Governor in Maryland because of his stances on the entertainment industry and juvenile justice issues as an example of his non partisan view of political candidates. He also notes that the film is entertainment and says moviegoers will have a good time.