‘American Sniper’: patriotism or propaganda?



Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in ‘American Sniper’. While critics abhor Kyle, they have praised Cooper and claimed that this is one of his best performances. Both Cooper and the film were nominated for Academy Awards thus garnering the Academy even more criticism for nominating a film this controversial.

“In the latest Hunger Games movie, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s… Plutarch, views propaganda footage… and says, “It’s a little on the nose, but of course so is war.” He could be talking about ‘American Sniper’,” film critic David Edelstein wrote in New York Magazine.
Clint Eastwood’s extremely successful new film about military hero Chris Kyle, ‘American Sniper’, has not only grossed box office numbers more akin to a summer blockbuster; it has stirred mass controversy.
This adaptation of the sniper’s memoirs has been heralded for its gritty portrayal of war and post traumatic stress disorder, but panned for eliminating the more controversial aspects of Kyle as played by Bradley Cooper.
Most criticism stems from three major factors. First, Kyle himself is a very controversial figure. He has gone on record saying some bigoted things, and as for the regret in the film, Kyle wrote in his memoir that “I only wish I had killed more”.
Second, the portrayal of Iraq and the Middle East has been widely deemed offensive and prejudiced. The Arabs are the clear cut enemy and as Kyle described, a “savage despicable evil” rather than a people whose homeland is being invaded.
“I think that it shows the American soldier’s side of the war… however I don’t exactly think that it accurately portrayed the Middle Eastern side of the war,” senior Ben Huffer said.
Most prevalent is the issue of glorification. Not only the glorification of a controversial figure, but the glorification of his actions. According to the Pentagon, Chris Kyle officially killed 166 people during his service.
The fact that the film-going public is meant to cheer on the assassinations of nearly 200 people is a major problem with ‘American Sniper’. This is where the connections to propaganda films are largely coming from.
“American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of ‘Inglorious Basterds’,” actor Seth Rogen tweeted.
The movie in question from Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious Basterds’ was a propaganda film the Nazi high command went to see called ‘Nation’s Pride’ and it too was the celebration of their army’s deadliest sniper.
‘American Sniper’ is not directly comparable to (faux) Nazi works, but this heavily patriotic war film is dividing audiences across the country.
Read David Edelstein’s article here.