Response to "American Sniper"
Views 98 | Time to read: 8 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 3 - 2015 | By: Ashley Estebo
Let’s take a moment to revisit the film “American Sniper” directed by Clint Eastwood. Last week, Samuel Muthiah wrote an article criticizing and condemning the film saying, “the most dangerous part of ‘American Sniper’ is how patriotic it is.”
Muthiah continued to defend that though it “can feel like speaking against freedom” to disagree with and denounce a film such as “American Sniper,” he still stands by his arguments because he believes that it promotes a “false narrative” – the narrative that things are only black and white, with no room for gray areas.
Upon reading the article, it is easy to agree with Muthiah’s arguments. No, not all Iraqis or Muslims are terrorists. Yes, the Bible does call us to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44 NRSV). And yes, this movie definitely plays off of some majorly “patriotic overtones,” as Muthiah pointed out. However, the underlying message in Muthiah’s article–the message that was cause for this response–is that a movie about war, the effects of war and the glorification of what our soldiers do in order to protect our country and fight in our stead sends a dangerous message.
While Muthiah would argue that “American Sniper” was about making the Iraqis out to be the “bad guys” and the American soldiers the heroes (keeping in line with the “ignorant” black and white view that Muthiah rejects), it can also be argued that “American Sniper” is simply a film that allows its audiences to see the realities and consequences of war on the soldiers themselves.
It is evident throughout the movie that Chris Kyle’s time in Iraq was detrimental to his mental and emotional health. In one scene, Kyle began to remember some of the things he had seen in the war and mistook his dog’s playfulness with his son as an attack. Consequently, Kyle nearly began to beat the animal in the middle of a house party before he realized that he was back home with his family and that the dog was not trying to harm the son.
This film invites its audience to follow the story of a man-turned-soldier and attempts to reveal the harsh realities of war. Such realities include: seeing things only in black and white because, in war, it is kill or be killed.
Muthiah suggests “it is difficult to discern whether [Kyle’s] main goal is to kill savages or protect his fellow soldiers.” In most cases, it is safe to say these options are one in the same. In “American Sniper,” it is clear that when Kyle lays eyes on his targets, it is for the protection of his team and for the overall success of the mission – the mission being to push back against terrorists.
In several scenes, Kyle interacts with other American soldiers, both in Iraq and when he is stateside, who congratulate him for being the sniper with the most kills in American history – these interactions evidently bring him much discomfort.
Now, in his book, Kyle does admit to loving war, but there comes a point when one must ask: did he love war because he loved killing Iraqis and was essentially a violent, hateful, bigoted, ignorant person, or did he love war because it was the only place where he felt he was making a real difference as a protector and defender, where he was understood by other fellow soldiers going through the same experiences and where no one questioned his sanity or undying commitment to his country?
It is, oftentimes, easy to put the blame on an individual, to attack a person for believing in a cause such as war. We demonize the individual and blame them for talking so passionately about the realities of war and speaking up about things that everyone else is too afraid of saying or admitting.
“American Sniper” is about Chris Kyle, a man who put his life on the line, repeatedly, for the sake of our country, for the sake of his fellow soldiers who were under constant attack by terrorists and in defense of the helpless Iraqis who were bullied, harassed, threatened and tortured by Iraqis- and Muslims-turned terrorists.
One thing that most Americans who pride themselves of being “politically correct” forget is that, yes, America has gone to war with Muslim terrorists and is ridiculed for doing such a thing, but the rest of the world now faces Muslim terrorist threats every day.
Even though the War on Terrorism has not been completely helpful in increasing American favor throughout the world, it is now apparent that the terrorist regimes Americans started dealing with in September of 2001 are even more dangerous in January of 2015 as the whole world is under the threat of the newest Muslim terrorist regime: ISIS.
In the end of the movie, when Kyle finally kills Mustafa, Kyle’s counterpart in the terrorist regime, “it is easy to rejoice…it is easy to hate the bad guys,” says Muthiah. This is true. It is easy to feel a sense of closure and relief in the fact that this man who brought so much pain to innocent Iraqi civilians through the use of his bloodthirsty thugs was finally no longer able to bring any more harm to anyone.
Kyle did not just defeat a killer of American soldiers, but he also ended the career of a man who put so many of his own people in harm’s way and did not hesitate to torture them. This film does not falsely identify all Iraqis and Muslims as terrorists, though someone who is looking for faults in this movie could easily make that claim.
This film does arouse patriotism, pride in our country’s power and victories and an appreciation of the sacrifice that has gone into keeping America the free nation it is today. But are these not things that our country desperately needs?
The younger generations (current college students especially) are being brainwashed and convinced to believe that if you defend America or claim to identify as a proud American, then you are a bigot, politically incorrect and are obviously too uneducated to realize that America has flaws and should be reprimanded for all of her offenses to the world.
This, dear readers, is what is wrong with America – this is the only thing that will be the downfall of our great nation. We are not the only country to ever go to war. We are not the only country to ever attempt to use our resources to help other countries build better systems of government. We are not the only country to ever be considered a dominant superpower. And we are not the only country to ever be hated by many other countries for our status.
This country’s future depends on the youth. We are the ones who will be running the country in the future and if we do not believe in America, then no one else will. Yes, America has made mistakes and is now hated by much of the world for these errors, but at the end of the day, while all the other countries bash our nation, it is her citizens who should be standing most firmly in defense of her legacy and in favor of her continual influence in the world.
The reality is that every single country has flaws and every country makes mistakes, but we must believe in our great nation and plan for ways to improve and help her flourish instead of kicking her while she is down.
This is a concept that soldiers like Kyle understand and are intensely criticized for, but it is a concept that the younger generations need to understand if we are going to see our country – the country that has given us freedoms, opportunities, and motivated us to pursue our dreams – thrive and continue to be a powerful influence in the world for years to come.