It seems like everyone has something to say about Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, American Sniper. I’ve heard everything from “This is pure propaganda, Chris Kyle is evil, and this movie gets people fired up to kill brown people”, to “This guy was a true American hero”, to “I hate this anti-American film that makes all American soldiers look like hicks…My brother is in the army!”. So, with all the varying opinions out there, and the potential for some propaganda, I just had to go out and see it.
Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m strongly against killing innocent people, even if it is during war, and especially if the war is an unjust war with no goal and no end in sight. I read a few reviews beforehand so I went into the theater thinking this was going to be the story of how great the United States is, and why the US has to continue the war, and killing Iraqis is glorious…That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
To me, this was clearly an anti-war movie. I read a review in Rolling Stone that said everyone in the theater stood up and cheered when Chris Kyle took out the Syrian sniper. He is either lying or he watched the movie with a bunch of psychopaths. This was not a cheerful movie. The entire theater was silent (even when the movie ended) when I saw it. I also saw a few separate reviews saying that since Kyle and his wife watched the 9/11 attacks on TV then showed him in Iraq that it implied that the two were connected and that is propaganda. Did you have family in the military? I was a senior in high school when 9/11 happened. I didn’t know who did it, but one of my first thoughts was that my cousin would be deployed. I even went to the Marine Corps recruiting station to sign up, but my dad talked me out of it saying I should go to college and be an officer. Thankfully, football got in the way of any ROTC training. Did anyone really think we wouldn’t go to war after the attack? I’m not justifying this war, but it is a fact that we knew the US would go somewhere.
This movie showed children in the crosshairs, civilians being blown up, American soldiers being killed, soldiers who hate Iraq and want to go home, and even had soldiers questioning the mission. Even Chris Kyle’s brother looked terrified and wanted to get out of there. It showed US troops breaking into the home of a civilian and threatening his family for information which ultimately led to the man and his child being murdered. It showed veterans at home with fake limbs telling stories about how they were blown off. Kyle had trouble with PTSD. His wife threatened to leave him. She said the war changed him. When he came back from his 4th tour he went to the bar instead of going home. How does that glorify war? When I work 9 hours in a day all I want to do is go home and see my family. He was gone for 9 months and didn’t go straight home. He was even killed at home by a fellow soldier suffering from PTSD.
Sure, at the end they made it seem like Chris Kyle was recovering and back to his normal self, but the way he was coping was to take other vets to the gun range. I guess there isn’t much demand for sharp shooters in the free market? They also showed clips of his funeral procession when people lined the streets with American flags. But still, the mood of the movie was somber. People did not clap when it ended. There was dead silence and just about everyone left the building without talking.
This movie put a human face on a faraway war. It showed the horrors and made me think most of the soldiers didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. If you thought this was pro-war you either went to the movie with your mind already made up that it is propaganda, you think everyone else is too stupid and will think it glorifies war, you’re a statist who can’t bear to be honest and admit this is an awful war, or you’re a total psychopath with no empathy.