As his killer goes on trial, Chris Kyle’s story has captivated and polarized Americans on the Iraq War, the heroism of soldiers and the intentions of the film “American Sniper.”
I did not think “American Sniper” was a good movie. I thought it made the Iraq War look black and white. It showed little, if any, humanization of Iraqi civilians and showing 9/11 footage as the only condition surrounding the Iraq invasion was a hell of an agenda. I also just thought it was a boring movie. Kyle’s post-traumatic stress disorder was horribly portrayed and resolved too easily. I felt no emotional pull from the movie, regardless of my political beliefs.
However, when it comes to criticizing “American Sniper,” the argument rarely leads to whether or not the cinematic movie aspects were well done. The argument delves deeper than director Clint Eastwood could have ever expected.
Eastwood claims to have had no agenda behind the movie. He doesn’t claim it to be pro-war and Eastwood has been outspoken in the past about being anti-war. Eastwood’s intentions are irrelevant though. When the topic of the film is the Iraq War, the American people are going to dissect it.
I’m in the minority that is comfortable saying Kyle killing 300 people in a war that had nothing to do with America’s freedom is not heroic. I think his efforts to rehabilitate traumatized veterans after his service is much more heroic than anything he did in combat. But even then, I’m still skeptical about praising Kyle.
Watching a movie is a lot easier than reading a book. I don’t blame anyone for being ignorant toward Kyle’s memoir, which the movie is based off of. However, the movie didn’t include any of the disgusting sentiments that Kyle so comfortably said in his book. A lot of quotes have been taken out of the book where Kyle refers to the people he kills as “savages.” I haven’t read the whole book, so I’m willing to give Kyle the benefit of the doubt. I’m not going to take small excerpts out of context. If he was only referring to terrorists as savages and needed that hatred to do his job, then I’m not going to criticize him for that.
There is also a passage though about Kyle driving toy cars toward civilians to get a “cheap thrill” from their “high pitched screams.” Another passage mentioned Kyle and another soldier having a competition to see who could kill more. If the objective is to only kill evil terrorists, how could Kyle place a competitive incentive on a body count? I don’t see how he could be praised after openly saying such vile things.
I don’t hate Kyle. I’ve never been in a war. I have no clue what warfare can do to the human psyche. I just don’t wave an American flag whenever his name is brought up. Serving in a war does not automatically make one a hero. The man or woman makes the uniform, not vice versa.
Conversation is good. Regardless of one’s opinion on Kyle and “American Sniper,” debate is a good way to address problems. I felt the movie gave no context to the circumstances surrounding the Iraq War. That’s not Kyle’s fault, though. Kyle has said some disturbing things, but I’m not going to judge his character based off a few quotes. However, I’m grateful for his story. Kyle has provided us with an outlet to revisit the most unjustifiable war in American history. Michael Moore, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Maher, Seth Rogen and plenty of people in the limelight have made comments about Kyle, the movie and the Iraq War. The nation is captivated on an issue worth talking about.