America's Heart and Soul (2004)

To say this is not a politically charged film is to ignore the elephant in the room. Disney, a strongly conservative company refused to release “Fahrenheit 911” and once that film went to another company and raked in the big bucks there was immense controversy over Moore’s views (big surprise) and then came this. To anyone who denies this is a rebuttal to Moore’s documentary, they obviously can’t read between the lines. Disney stated publicly this was a positive portrait (so to speak) in response to Moore’s documentary plain and simple and wanted to portray America as a positive place aside from Moore’s more truthful portrait. After watching this in the two longest hours of my life, I wasn’t sure whether to put this under documentary or comedy, because if the makers of this film think this is what America is like, well then they’re grossly mis-informed and completely ignorant, and if they expect American audiences to believe this fairytale, then they’re grossly under-estimating the intelligence of American audiences.

I’m an American and I’m proud of being American, which is why I consider this movie such a tale of fiction. This movie brings upon the message in assuming that nothing is wrong in America, when really there’s plenty wrong. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away and this puts up the facade that America is a dreamland. This is the type of movie they’ll show in school to brainwash children in to thinking this is a beautiful country, but well, if this is a rebuttal to “Fahrenheit 9/11”, it isn’t much of an argument. This film is a celebration, a celebration of mediocrity as all civilization tends to do these days. No one here is exceptional, just average. There’s a hat maker, a bike messenger, a cowboy who I suspect is nuts, and many more clichés. We see profiles of cowboys, sports stars, and farmers, all archetypes of America. Not my America, more like Bill O’Reilly’s America, and not a single one ever complains about not being able to get by. How odd. What’s not so surprising is how intricately staged every single segment is in this film.

These aren’t interviews, these are actors reading from scripts! And very bad actors reading from really badly written scripts, especially in one scene where the cowboy rides a horse in to a bar and everyone looks on laughing and cheering. It’s such an apparently scripted scene I just couldn’t take it. If you believe even for a second that anything in this farce is remotely authentic, especially the really bad dialogue spouted by these people, then I’d have to question your IQ. I’m a writer and even I have never heard such cheesy dialogue ever spoken. One woman even rambles on about cutting out her heart which I assumed was symbolic for her love for America, but I didn’t care, it was all just so transparently there to tug at our hearts. This isn’t a documentary, this is an infomercial on naivety. Because none of the topics shown here ever tackle real American life, struggling to get by, struggling to support your family. What about poverty, the poor economy, the homeless, welfare, the deficit, the war, low class families? Where are any of these realistic(!) topics featured?

The propaganda is subtle but loud and clear. We hear lines like “Cherish your freedom”, and “The land of the free” spouted in passing but they hit the audience on the head very clearly with their goals as we continuously see a streaming shot rolling across hills as we get hokey excerpts about American freedom, but, how weird, blacks and Hispanics are almost never seen here. Three segments feature blacks and Hispanics in a movie filled with almost thirty segments of white people talking about how good they have it. There are three short segments with black people, and one extremely short segment about a Hispanic family and this is America? No, it’s the celebration of middle – class, and the attempted selling of a false message.Thomas Jefferson once said “Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism”. Is it “Un-American” to find flaw in your country? No, it’s Un-American to be a tool and pretend nothing is wrong with your country, and what the makers of this documentary and its producers are trying to tell its audience comes through loud and clear, but I’m not buying it for a second.