It’s wrong to assume that every film you see at the cinema will be great. Many will be terrible. What you shouldn’t have to be wary of when going to the cinema is propaganda. But that’s exactly what American Sniper is.
For those of you lucky not to have heard of this brainwashing blockbuster, it follows the life of ‘American hero’ (read killing machine) Chris Kyle played by Bradley Cooper. Kyle enlists in the US Navy SEALS after seeing the horrific events of 9/11, and the film charts his training and four subsequent tours of duty.
I’m going to level with you now, I only stayed to watch 2 of those tours. Because that’s how awful the film is.
There are so so many things wrong with this film, both in terms of the actual production and its morality. The script for starters is terrible. It read like a parody of overly patriotic American Wars films. “God, Country, Family right?” Cooper slurs, jaw stuck out as if everyone from the Southern States has an under bite. This is said straight faced, and supposedly rousingly. I couldn’t help but laugh at this ridiculous, and blatant farce. Does anyone genuinely take this clunky, clichéd script seriously I thought.
But that’s the scary thing about this film. People do. Millions of people clearly. This film has 6 Oscar nominations. And it’s basically anti-Iraqi propaganda, a reason for people to stop questioning why American and the UK went to war with Iraq and the Iraqi people.
It’s the treatment of the native Iraqis that is most chilling. There is no concept of civilian within this film. It is them against us. Throughout the whole film, there is only 5 Iraqis (including a translator) that are portrayed as being ‘good’. The rest are just fodder for Kyle’s rifle shots.
It’s no surprise that the film shows little remorse for the wasted lives of Iraqi civilians, Clint Eastwood directed it. Eastwood is one of the US’ noisiest war enthusiasts, despite never having been into battle himself. During and after Vietnam, he starred in and directed several war films, all portraying it in a just and glorious way, despite the war being a huge waste of money, resources, and most importantly, lives from the US.
In many ways Iraq has been a similar disaster for the US and UK, so for huge Hollywood blockbusters to be commissioned now, only a few years after, glorifying the events is no surprise. If we look at Vietnam, we are only a few years away from films as brilliantly cutting, honest and brutal as Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket.
Clearly we’re not near that yet, and so instead we’re left with this mess of gratuitous violence, racism and misplaced patriotism. As someone who looks very cynically at America, I find it hard to get on board with the idea that Chris Kyle is a hero. Yes, he saved many lives, but he also took hundreds, something that should not be celebrated.
I don’t hate war films. I don’t hate America. But I do hate ignorance. Don’t go see American Sniper.
By Christian Nothwood