Opinion: The Pointless Politicization of ‘American Sniper’

By: Chauncey Baker

Why can’t my man Clint get a break? It seems like his movies always either get accused of being sexist or racist, and he gets caught talking to chairs (as ridiculous and outlandish as it was, I still found it to be slightly funny). His latest film, American Sniper, which has been breaking hearts and box office records for almost a month now, has also come under fire. The film, centered around the most deadly sniper in American military history, Chris Kyle, brilliantly portrayed by Bradley Cooper, details the hardships and tough calls that he had to face during his four tours in Iraq. It’s gritty, bloody, violent, and will strike an emotional chord in any audience, regardless of their political affiliation.

    First and foremost, the film has been criticized for being Islamophobic, and has been blamed for re-igniting anti-Muslim mentality in America. Have these people even seen the movie? The film does not focus on the religious beliefs of the people Chris Kyle fought against, but the acts of brutality and violence that were dealt out by both sides. Yes, he called his enemies “savages”, but he even clarifies in the book that the “savages” he was fighting against were not Iraqis as a whole, but the insurgents. Besides, in many war movies the characters will refer to their enemies using dehumanizing terms. In Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks calls the Nazis “Krauts.” In Black Hawk Down, the term “skinnies” was thrown around quite a bit. In Oliver Stone’s Platoon, every American Soldier called the North Vietnamese Soldiers “Charlie” and the Vietcong soldiers “congs.” Does it make these terms right? Of course it doesn’t. But these films did not come under fire for the terms that their main characters called their enemies.

Another issue that this film has faced is the fact that several celebrities, including Michael Moore and Seth Rogen, have called the film pro-American propaganda. At this rate, we might as well call every single film that takes place in a war “propaganda”. If people want to see misinformation in action, they should watch Triumph of the Will, an actual Nazi propaganda film.  Seth Rogen, who directed, wrote, and starred in The Interview, has no room declaring someone else’s film propaganda. Everyone supported his right to freedom of speech, including me, so he should be supporting Eastwood’s, regardless of his political beliefs. If taken for what it truly is, a non-political war film simply about the struggles of our service men and women overseas and the families that they leave behind back home, and not a piece of United States propaganda, then American Sniper will go down as one of the greatest war films of all time.