A provocative if limited experiment, CSA purports to be a historical documentary – complete with
alternative-universe commercial breaks – that encapsulates the history of the United States as if the Civil War had gone South. It’s a profane joke that doesn’t ruffle quite as many feathers as it should. At first, the shock of the concept elicits plenty of awkward laughs. Writer-director Kevin Willmott imagines the deposed Abraham Lincoln fleeing Southern forces by hiding in blackface (Harriet Tubman lends a helping hand). Later, “Dixie” becomes the new national anthem. Even more stinging are the commercial spoofs that intermittently
interrupt the film to provide a view of contemporary life under Southern rule. One housewife, for example, touts a convenient new method for monitoring your servants – “The Shackle.” As these commercials become more strident, CSA begins to feel like an empty exercise. But then a few of the ads begin to uncomfortably resemble real life. When one promo for a “COPS”-stye program pretty much looks like “COPS” – white officers chasing black suspects – CSA poses a horrifying question: Would contemporary society really be all that different if the South had won?