The End of America Preaches Bush-Era Fear-Mongering


Best as a list of potential topics for actual documentaries, The End of America self-evidently throws on screen the contents of Naomi Wolf’s recent book enumerating signs of creeping despotism. A last-minute alarum inconveniently undermined when a new president was elected and not subsequently tossed into a gunnysack and off a bridge, this Bush-era litany of nefarious developments effectively concedes it’s preaching to the choir through its spine of Wolf lecture excerpts. As her Oprah-atic shock frames credentialed testimonials of suppression and ooga-booga reels of Nazis and modern-day mercenaries, vital and slippery points alike are magically converted (as so many times before) into one unpersuasive cascade of associative argument and fear-mongering. Despite the totalitarian drumbeating and the Constitution love, the movie feels strangely ahistorical and lacks real systemic analysis. Wolf blurs categories and degrees of offense, ignores touchstones of American history such as the Nixonian origins of Bush-era power-grabs, and rushes through disparate examples (lawless detainments and the underreported 2008 RNC crackdowns, yes—but Blackwater as Blackshirts and the Dixie Chicks as examples of “targeted individuals”?). Acclaimed filmmakers Anne Sundberg and Ricki Stern (The Devil Came on Horseback) here deliver a tardy Robert Greenwald salvo (also available online) instead of looking to The Corporation, Taxi to the Dark Side, or The Power of Nightmares.