Charles S. Dutton Talks 'The Obama Effect'

Charles S. Dutton

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Obama more than any Democrat out there. Chris Matthews is more combative and supportive of Obama than anybody in the Congressional Black Caucus. Heath Shuler is more combative and more supportive of Obama than anybody in the Democratic Party, Al Sharpton and Rachel Maddow are more supportive of Obama than anybody in his cabinet. For two years, people have been screaming for the Democrats in the Obama administration to jump on this Republican conspiracy to stop voter registration for two years. People have been telling them what they were doing and only just a couple of months ago, Eric Holder started doing something about it and you saw what the outcome of that was. If they were gonna charge this guy for contempt they would have charged this guy anyway, so two years ago they should have been fighting and to be honest, it may be a little too late now.

EBONY: You smell trouble for this upcoming election?

CD: I know a lot of elderly folks who have been saying, “Why do I need another ID, I’ve been voting all my life? I’m 87-years-old and now I gotta go stand in line to get a state ID? I’ve been a taxpayer since I was 17 and now I gotta get a special card to vote.” The Republicans have been playing hit below the belt politics. Obama has been the most disrespected—racially disrespected and vehemently disrespected--- president in the history of the country. He’s the president who has had less cooperation from any side of the aisle, more so in the history of the country. When you add up all of those things—all of that bile and rile and resistance to him, you have to surmise that at the end of the day it’s not about policy it’s about what color the man’s skin is, what his name is and even politicians will say that. I was talking to a Connecticut politician [recently] and he was at a rally or some kind of thing about Obama and he said you wouldn’t even believe the racist rants coming from Democrats. So yeah, the film is unapologetically, unashamedly, unabashedly unequivocally a pro-Obama film.

EBONY: Will it motivate people who believe in Obama to vote this time around?

CD: I don’t know what difference it will make. We haven’t gone live yet since we’re doing this ourselves with our own money [but] hopefully we’ll have enough finances to go wider in October, closer to the election. We hope we can in some way reinvigorate people to get out there and do what they did in 2008. I know that same kind of fever and passion is absolutely impossible because that kind of phenomena only comes around once in a lifetime. For my generation and my mother’s generation it was for John F. Kennedy in in 1961.  

EBONY: People might be bitter because sometimes, when a candidate like Obama comes along, they forget that he is still a politician like you said, and that reversing damage takes time.

CD: They do forget. I was in South Africa doing the Free Mandela movement and when he was released from prison, there was a huge amount of naiveté there after years of apartheid everybody thought there was gonna be a chicken in the pot and a car outside the door and that’s not the way it has worked. The country has made leaps and bounds since Mandela has been out and since the AMC has taken over but nothing happens fast, and I think in fairness to Obama whatever he ran into a brick wall on the other side of the aisle. There’s never been a perfect president and there never will be but in the case of this president they made sure that nothing in his agenda would be easy. I think some of the Republicans are ashamed of themselves for it but they’re being dictated to by the Tea Party and the extreme right wing of the country and they’re afraid of losing their job etc. However, they know in essence, Washington has always been a compromise. You get things done by compromise. You give us a little something and we’ll give you a little something but they don’t even want to listen to that anymore.

EBONY: Going back to the movie, it’s interesting that you chose Katt Williams to be the key Republican character.

CD: I wanted to be fair on the Republican side of it but after viewing the way they were treating the president, I said 'why not take this opportunity to be fair when that hasn’t been the reality?' I could have written a stand-up, everyday Wall Street Black businessman Republican if I wanted to. And that would have been all and well, but I wanted to make the Republican to be a reflection of