I hesitate to call this a movie review, because this was a piece of propaganda, pure and simple. American Sniper was directed by Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper plays the title role. Partial writing credit is given to Chris Kyle as some of the movie was based on the book written by him and Scott McEwen. In the book Chris Kyle states that shooting Iraqi’s was “fun” and that he “loved” doing it. He also stated, “I don’t shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I don’t.” He called Iraqi’s “savages” and boasted of looting the apartments of Iraqi families in Fallujah. He also stated in his book, “People ask me all the time, ‘How many people have you killed?’ My standard response is, Does the number make me any more or less of a man? The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more.” His violent bent was not limited to Iraq however. He was also known to boast about going to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and shooting (sniping) 30 looters. A claim that is dubious at best. He started a security company before his death and the logo is a picture of a skull (that looks suspiciously like the skull from The Punisher) with a sniper site in one eye and the words, “Despite what your momma told you…Violence does solve problems.” His own words portray him as someone who had no issues with violence and that he enjoyed what he did and wished he could have killed more. The movie however portrays him as a man tortured and anguished by what he had to do in order to protect American freedom, while his selfless sacrifices caused suffering in his private life. The movie Kyle was presented very differently than the Kyle presented in his own words. Of course watching a man bragging about his kills and how much he enjoyed it wouldn’t fit the American propaganda that Muslims are evil and deserve what they get, while selfless heroes protect us from that evil.
Chris Kyle was known in military circles as “The Legend” and he is called that many times in the movie. One scene in the movie shows Kyle and his team invited into an Iraqi home, sitting at their table, eating their food, laughing and talking when the Iraqi man leans over to pick up something his son dropped and Kyle notices (no one else does) that his elbow is red. “The Legend” realizes this means he is an enemy combatant, so he leaves the table, searches the apartment and finds a stash of weapons. This gives the team permission to beat the shit out of the Iraqi, force him to lead them to an enemy leader while holding his family hostage and then kill him with the others. All of this makes Kyle a hero. Yet as I was watching that, all I could think was that a great many of the people who view Kyle as a hero for killing those evil “others” in order to protect our “freedoms” (which, by the way have been seriously eroded since 9/11, all in the name of “security”) probably have at least one gun and many have stashes of their own. Now, that would be considered one of our “freedoms” but I wonder if in the same situation, an occupying force coming in and overrunning their city, say the Chinese or the Russians, would those same people not do the same as the Iraqi’s? Use what they had to protect their families and property? Of course they would. But I guess they would be in the “right” to do so while those filthy, evil “others” are in the wrong. Sigh. See, that’s how propaganda works. Because in reality those Iraqi’s have just as much right to fight for their “country” and their “freedoms” and their way of life as we do ours. And until people wake up and realize that the uber-wealthy just use war as a way to maintain their uber-wealth and they use propaganda to make war seem “right” and “just” it will never stop. I was telling someone who asked me if I liked the movie that I felt it was just propaganda, glorifying war and one man who was very good at killing and their response was, “There’s been war since biblical times. There will always be war.” That my friends is the definition of propaganda working. You’ve got religion and war in one statement. Amen and pass me a gun.
Chris Kyle did four tours of duty. This also makes him a hero according to this movie. He left his wife to raise his children while he went back over and over. He did not have to go back that many times, it was his choice. It was his choice to go kill more people rather than raise his children and be husband to his wife. And that makes him a hero. Because he was doing it in order to “save” the other brave men there protecting our “freedom.” 6,802 American service people have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as of April, 2014. That is a sad figure, and I mourn for their lost lives, given so that America could try and gain control of vast oil fields. That said, At the very least, 174,000 civilians have been determined to have died violent deaths as a result of the war as of April 2014. The actual number of deaths, direct and indirect, as a result of the wars are many times higher than this figure. It seems like someone should have been protecting the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I guess if you see them as “savages” it can’t bother you that so, so many of them die while you protect a few soldiers with a sniper rifle. I however, also mourn for their lost lives and despair when a movie such as this glorifies one man’s death count with a rifle and never, not once even suggests that any Iraq or Afghanistan civilian died needlessly.
I did not know Chris Kyle. I doubt seriously that he was evil. He was certainly raised in the hunting and gun culture that is so ubiquitous in this country. He certainly bought into the propaganda about American exceptionalism and the military culture that has also become so prominent. But his own words and actions paint him as someone comfortable with a level of violence that is disconcerting at best, as well as disturbing levels of racism. American Sniper would have been a good movie if it had been truthful about all sides of Chris Kyle and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead it perpetuates the myth of American exceptionalism and “might = right”. Chris Kyle was shot and killed by a former service member who according to his mother was struggling with PTSD and had asked Kyle to talk to him. Kyle had taken him to a shooting range to talk to him and let him work off some steam. The irony that Chris Kyle was killed by a different type of casualty of war, while he was trying to help a man struggling so much with what he had seen and done that his only recourse seemed to be to kill “The Legend” and another marine Chad Littlefield (whom the movie never mentioned) is so blinding that I don’t think very many people see it.