Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ is a film about Chris Kyle, a dedicated Navy SEAL sniper, who is caught between his ideals, duty, family and the controversial war in Iraq. It illustrates the several combat situations Kyle finds himself in and the struggles that plague him and his family at home. The film contains several themes such as duty, honor, and courage and has been a hit with audiences across the United States, pulling in a record $105.3 million in the first four days following its release. However, the film has sparked controversy and debate over its alleged pro-war message. Several Hollywood celebrities, Seth Rogen and Michael Moore specifically, have come out publicly criticizing the film and Chris Kyle.
On Jan. 18, Rogen tweeted, “’American Sniper’ kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.”
He is referring the fictional film, ‘Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride), that represents the glorification of battle via Nazi propaganda, where a decorated German sniper is depicted shooting American soldiers from a bell tower. Michael Moore tweeted calling snipers “cowards” and went on to say that “invaders r worse,” referring to the American troops in Iraq.
Personally, I think that Rogen’s comparison of ‘American Sniper’ to ‘Stolz der Nation’ is based on the fact that they are both war films portraying a skilled sniper. ‘Stolz der Nation’ is a fictitious example of war propaganda meant to rally the public to a cause and inspire patriotic fervor. However, I would argue that the film’s purpose is not to rally the American public to support the conflict in Iraq. Rather, it is to illustrate the struggles an American sniper faces both in the heat of battle and at home. ‘American Sniper’ tells the story of Chris Kyle.
Michael Moore also referenced the film in a tweet which claimed that snipers are cowards and that invaders are even worse. I believe questioning the methods and the causes of war is wise; however, I would disagree with Moore’s conclusions. Snipers have played an important role in military operations and are put in intense training in order to prepare for extremely dangerous situations and the immense responsibility that comes with that job. I cannot imagine a coward being able to even complete the required training to become a sniper in the United States Armed Forces.
In response to Moore’s claim that invaders are even worse than cowards, I would say that many people in Iraq saw us as liberators rather than invaders. However, this doesn’t seem enough to dismiss his criticism of the conflict in Iraq which continues to be a point of heated debate. I would then reiterate that the point of the film was not to justify the occupation in Iraq but to give an account of a soldier who fought in Iraq. One cannot blame a soldier for being sent to war by his leaders. A soldier is responsible only for his or her specific actions committed during combat. The responsibility for the war itself lies with the government, and with a government by the people, of the people, the responsibility lies with us, the people.
Some Hollywood stars have jumped to the film’s defense and were joined by public figures, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich who have spoken out against comments made by Rogen and Moore. A steakhouse in Wisconsin even went as far as publicly banning Moore and Rogen from dining at their restaurant and was quickly joined by others throughout the country. The American public has responded quite positively to the themes presented in ‘American Sniper’. Texas governor Greg Abbot has just announced February 2nd to be “Chris Kyle Day” throughout the state in honor of the fallen service member.
I consider Chris Kyle a genuine American hero and to his fellow comrades, he is seen as a guardian angel, protecting them from above. I appreciate the glimpse of the horrors of war but also recognize the heroism and bravery that are present among our troopers. It is thanks to them that Rogen, Moore, and I are all able to freely express our thoughts and share our opinions.
Ray is a sophomore Christian ministry major hailing from Texas. He enjoys traveling, horseback riding and Clint Eastwood films.