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Chris Kyle and his wife
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American Sniper: Are We Missing The Point?

There is a crevasse of differing opinions today over the new Clint Eastwood film, American Sniper. From Michael Moore to Dean Cain, Twitter has been aflame with jabbing remarks over the cultural war on the Oscar-nominated movie. Even the First Lady, Michelle Obama, voiced her opinion on the matter.

So why is there such a heated debate over this film?

American Sniper is based on the life of American soldier and Veteran, Chris Kyle, portrayed by actor Bradley Cooper, who was a Navy SEAL sniper that served four tours in the Iraq War. He is more commonly known as America’s most lethal sniper, topping out at an estimated 160 confirmed kills. It tells the struggle of a soldier’s journey from being a Texas-raised citizen, taught to always protect his own, to the horrors and dark reality of war, to the staggering post-war home life and his ambition to help disturbed Vets get back on their feet in the “real world.”

The brewing debate stems from thoughts of what this film is really about. For some it hits a chord as being a story representative of the controversies of the Iraq War, while for others it pulls on the heartstrings as being a story of the raw truth of the ravages that war has on our soldiers and their families, and the struggles they have in striving to overcome it.

Actor Dean Cain, a close personal friend of Chris Kyle, was infuriated by what he thought was an anti-veteran comment from filmmaker, Michael Moore. “Snipers are cowards,” is the widespread misquoted tweet of Moore’s. In actuality, what Moore tweeted was this:

michael moore tweet

On Moore’s Facebook page he further explains that his uncle, Lawrence Moore, was shot and killed by a Japanese sniper in WWII, and it was this incident that formed his opinion of snipers since childhood. “Snipers are cowards,” Moore says is what his father always told him.

Even though Moore has a personal resentment against snipers, he explains that the core of his message wasn’t meant to be against Veterans, but to be against the Iraq War, “I would like to address this one insane mantra that the right-wing has twisted my tweet into: ‘Michael Moore hates the troops.’ Well, who would know better about hating our troops than those who supported sending them into a senseless war in Iraq in the first place?” said Moore on his Facebook page.

While Moore’s seeming stance against the film is rooted in his opinions of the Iraq War, widespread misquoting of his tweet nevertheless incited anger over what many people say is the glorification of the Iraq War in American Sniper.

But Bradley Cooper argues that by focusing on the Iraq War we’re missing what he calls the main point of the film. As he told NPR on Monday,  “The fact that it’s inciting a discussion that has nothing to do with vets…is moving farther and farther away from what our soldiers go through, and the fact that 22 vets commit suicide each day.”

Even though some use this movie to resurface the debate over the Iraq War, Cooper points out that the heart of American Sniper is to bring to light the harsh realities of what soldiers go through in war and the need for us to help them when they return home.

Michelle Obama weighed in on the film as well. At a launch event last Friday for Got Your 6, a program designed to recognize accurate portrayals of Veterans and military families in films and TV, the First Lady defended the film, saying “While I know there have been critics, I felt that, more often than not, this film touches on many of the emotions and experiences that I’ve heard firsthand from military families over these past few years. This movie reflects those wrenching stories I’ve heard, the complex journeys that our men and women in uniform endure, the complicated world, the decisions they are tasked with every day, the stresses of balancing love of family with love of country, and the challenges of transitioning back home.”

Though the film may remind us of our differing opinions on war, perhaps what it should be is a platform that turns our collective attention toward the deep and complicated needs of our country’s 22,000,000 Veterans and their families.

What conversations do you think the film should spur?


Photo is of Chris Kyle and his wife prior to his death in 2013

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About the author

Heather Harris

Heather Harris

Heather was born and raised in Sacramento and is a community contributor who enjoys writing human interest stories & spending time with people. She works at a family-owned company and also helps take care of elderly people, but there is nothing she loves more than working with children. She likes reading, the outdoors, American history, coffee, traveling, and hanging out with family & friends. Psalm 146:2.

  • Thomas Armstrong

    I’m a liberal and I’m discomforted by America’s role in Iraq. But soldiers, for their own well-being and that of their brothers in combat SHOULD NOT BE ambivalent about being aggressive, hard-nosed warriors. I thought American Sniper was a great film that told a complete spectrum of the emotions and burdens of American soldiers and their families. AND, I certainly think that Kyle is a brave man — an unselfish hero — who used his sharp-shooting skill that effectively kept alive a great many of his comrades in arms.

    • Heather Harris

      Hi Thomas,
      I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us. I know this film has stirred up so many different emotions in people, but it’s comforting to see people from all political sides coming together in support and concern for our soldiers. So thank you for speaking up. I think war is dark and horrible no matter what angle you look at it from. I can’t imagine how disturbing and traumatizing it must really be for our soldiers who have to live through it. I know I am beyond grateful for their service and the sacrifices of their families. And, yes, I agree with you that Christ Kyle was a brave, unselfish hero.

  • disqustony

    I think there’s more to Kyle than the film depicts, with not all of it being good. But that’s not the point of the film and when I reviewed it for Sacramento Press, I thought the anti-war sentiment came through, with a focus on the impacts on both individuals and families. I don’t think it either glorifies war or glorifies Kyle – but it does offer some insight into both.

    • Heather Harris

      Thanks for sharing your insight!

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