So you’d like to cash in on the lucrative field of right-wing “documentary” making, but you’re hesitant because you have no expertise? Not to worry, that’s not an obstacle at all. Just look at the hucksters who’ve scored smashing successes in that market: James O’Keefe, Dinesh D’Souza and Matt Walsh, among others. Are you telling me that you think they’re more competent than you? Surely you have higher self-esteem than that.
The fact is, making a right-wing “documentary” is a breeze. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps, and you’ll be smirking all the way to the bank — or at least you’ll be bagging a great deal of ego-stroking on social media. Here’s all you need to do.
1. Find the right audience
The right audience, of course, is The Right. They’re the most impressionable, the most volatile, the most gullible demographic on the planet. They’re far more likely to share fake news. They’re all too eager to cough up plenty of their hard-earned bucks that they claim liberals are trying to take away from them. And they have a simplistic, black-and-white view of the universe, so you don’t have to bother with nuance or qualifiers. In What Is a Woman? Walsh asks members of an African tribe about their views on gender, and they indicate that everyone has either a penis, making him male, or a vagina, making her female. So there you have it – only advanced western societies experience gender “confusion”. (Shh!! Don’t tell him that some Native American tribes, before being “civilized” by white invaders, recognized as many as 5 genders.)
2. Find a powerful champion
You can get your message (such as it is) to the masses much faster and more widely if it is being advanced by someone already highly accomplished in demagoguery. D’Souza had his grand debut screening of 2000 Mules at Mar-A-Lago, hosted by Former Guy himself. He, O’Keefe and Walsh have been frequently enabled by Dennis Prager, a prominent revisionist, bullshit artist and soft-pedal fascist who, given his tireless promotion of D’Souza and O’Keefe, seems to have a thing for criminals. (He even platformed and pygmalioned Candace Owens, a vacuous Youtuber who, though she has no felony convictions as yet, at least has an arrest record. Not to mention his promotion of other inane hacks like Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Charlie Kirk.)
3. Select the right topic
When catering to the MAGA mob, you can’t lose if you tap into their insatiable need to feel victimized. So pick a subject that feeds that obsession and provides fodder for the white privilege grievance industry. It might be that the media treats them unfairly by not showing them enough favoritism; it might be that academia discriminates against them by teaching facts that don’t support their ideology; it might be that the electoral system is rigged against them because their candidates don’t always win; it might be that gays and transgenders are a big threat to them by existing on the same planet; it might be that “wokeism”, whatever that is, is threatening, somehow or other, their life, liberty and pursuit of dominance. Just remember to assure them that they’re being relentlessly targeted by someone or something, and you’ve got it made. And whatever theme you choose, it’s imperative that you proclaim you are “answering questions no one is allowed to ask”, no matter how many people are asking them.
4. Work backward
Whereas a genuine documentary begins with questions and seeks answers, a right-wing “documentary” is not about answering questions, but about defending pre-existing answers. D’Souza et al fancy themselves to be right-wing equivalents of Michael Moore, but nothing could be farther from reality. Moore has been criticized for being too peripatetic and inconclusive, of not providing solid answers to the questions he raises. But that isn’t really his aim; it’s to examine a subject from a variety of angles, digging up and offering unfamiliar information for viewers to think about.
Granted, no filmmaker is totally free of bias and motive, but genuine documentarians are intellectually honest, and have at least as much interest in learning as in teaching or preaching. But right-wing video hacks have little or no interest in learning, because they already know everything. They begin with a conclusion, a foregone Hard Truth engraved in stone and sent down from a mountaintop; and then they find, twist or fabricate “facts” to prop up that tablet. The rightwingamentarian’s mission is not to seek truth, but to disguise bigotry as virtue and pretend that there is some kind of scholarly justification for it.
5. Cherry pick
Naturally, then, you’ll want to be highly selective in the facts or “facts” you include. If you want to make a case for corruption in some organization, just interview some pissed-off “whistleblower” at the bottom of the food chain who has an axe to grind. If you want to establish that Democrats “stole the election” then just focus on supposed “irregularities” that favor them, and ignore those that favor Republicans. If you want to “prove” the “liberal bias” of mainstream media, dig up a smattering of instances in which media coverage seems to favor liberal causes, and discard the huge cache of cases where they favor right-wing narratives.
Walsh sought out transgenders who for whatever reason have misgivings about their transition, while ignoring the far greater number who are happier than they’ve ever been. And that tribe he visited was one of some 3000 African tribes, who exhibit a wide range of values and belief systems. By the way, this particular tribe whose positions regarding gender he finds so commendable has a history of mutilating the genitals of young girls. You know, typical Christian family values pro-life “concern for children” stuff.
6. Deceptively edit
But even cherry picking is often not enough to distort the picture as much as you’d like; so you have to splice and dice the footage to conform to your framing. O’Keefe, who despite his overall ineptitude is at least a matter of the deceptive edit (and has even openly admitted that his raw footage tells a different story from his manipulated product) likes to shoot footage of himself interacting with receptionists at an organization like ACORN in a manner that indicated such employees are willing to be complicit in some illegal or unethical action; but he doesn’t reveal that such employees tend to humor visitors no matter what – and then, quite often, alert the authorities. In one video, he prefaced such a covert interview with footage of himself dressed as a very garish pimp, ostensibly just before entering a targeted office. In reality, he wore ordinary street clothing during the actual interview.
In 2000 Mules, D’Souza used a map with circles allegedly indicating the location of drop boxes along the itinerary taken by his “mules”. But the actual drop box locations were quite different – he used the equivalent of another Sharpie map. He also stuck in a clip of President Biden declaring that he was putting together an extensive “voter fraud organization” to suggest that Biden was admitting his culpability; he omitted the part of the speech in which Biden explains that this organization is designed to prevent voter fraud. D’Souza hopes his fans are dumb enough to believe not only that the election was stolen, but that the president admits to stealing it. (Narrator: they are.)
Walsh interviewed a woman who stated that she identifies as a wolf, and presented this as proof, somehow, that transgenders are nuts for identifying with their new genders. (Don’t bother trying to analyze that argument. It’s just right-wing “logic”). What he doesn’t show is that the woman subsequently clarified that this “identification” was in a spiritual totemic sense only, and she didn’t physically consider herself a wolf.
And it’s a given that when you interview people who actually know what they’re talking about, you’ll not only edit their comments deceptively, but elicit their participation in the first place with deceptive pretexts.
7. Make unwarranted claims
It’s vital that you cram your little cinematic gem with all manner of wild allegations that technically can’t be disproved, but have absolutely no evidence or logic to support them. The key part for you is that they cannot be conclusively disproved; therefore you can just assume that they are true, and your fawning fans will go along. D’Souza, for instance, claims that “mules” were paid by someone or other to drop off ballots; and that without the “ballot harvesting” scheme, Former Guy would have won the election. Similarly, Walsh makes the unfounded case that transgenders enable child abuse and sexual assault, and O’keefe makes the unfounded claims that… well, there are almost too many to count.
Right-wing propagandist Ben Stein, in his pro-creationist pseudodocumentary Expelled! No Intelligence Allowed tries to blame Charles Darwin for the holocaust. As opposed to, you know, Nazis or something. See logic, right-wing. His big beef with Darwin is not only his work in evolution but his atheism. Evidently Stein either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that the Nazis themselves were believers in Christian dogma.
8. Flat-out lie
If all else fails, just fabricate your “facts” from whole cloth. In fact, don’t wait for all else to fail. Just do it first, and fill in the gaps with less fantastical material. Your fans will never know the difference.
D’Souza claims that there were 1155 “mules” in Philadelphia, and that geolocation data supplied by his cohorts helped solve a murder. Both big fat lies. Walsh claims that transgenders are a new phenomenon, that doctors and big pharma push it for profit, that many people become transgender because it’s trendy, that true transgenders are quite rare (thus undermining his tacit thesis that they don’t exist at all), and that they have an abnormally high suicide rate. Nope, nope, nope nope and nope. He also asserts that there is a very simple common sense definition of male and female, and it’s only in recent times that the distinction has become nebulous. Both claims are patently false.
9. Connect dots with wild abandon
Rightwingamentarians pride themselves on their ability to “connect the dots” – i.e., to draw conclusions from the evidence, real or imagined, that they dredge up. But the conclusions they draw are generally quite unwarranted even if all their facts were in order. Their version of connecting the dots is equivalent to spotting the face of Jesus in a tortilla – sometimes more like spotting a figure with a buzz cut and goatee and still calling him Jesus. From two or three dots, they extrapolate an elaborate image with all the trimmings.
O’Keefe finds a handful of people who appear (thanks to deceptive editing) to do unprincipled things, and concludes that anyone connected with whatever group they are a part of is rotten to the core. D’Souza obtains cell data showing that some people passed several times within 100 feet or so of a ballot drop, and video footage of African-Americans dropping ballots into such boxes, and concludes that the electoral system is thoroughly corrupt and the 2020 election was “stolen”. Walsh sees… well, something – it’s not at all clear just what he sees – and concludes that anyone who is supportive of minors with gender identity issues is guilty of child abuse.
And there you have it. Those are the steps you need to follow, and if you do so, you are guaranteed to be a sensation. No, really. That’s it.
Well, okay, there is one little hitch. This formula for success presupposes that you are a person of absolutely no scruples, no conscience, no soul. If you have even a smidgen of such trifling encumbrances, you won’t be able to execute any of this master plan.
But then, if you’re a rightwingamentarian, you won’t have to worry about that, will you?