American Sniper is undoubtedly a beautiful piece of militarist propaganda
Noam Chomsky recently commented on a debate surrounding Chris Kyle and the film “American Sniper.” Once again, Chomsky gets it right. American Sniper is pure propaganda, despite how well made the film was. Propaganda strives to be done well.
I recently saw the movie and while I agree the movie was made well, it was undoubtedly a beautiful piece of militarist propaganda. While Seth Rogen caught a lot of shit for making the comparison between American Sniper and the propaganda featured in Inglorious Basterds, I found the comparison to be spot on.
I had to watch the film first to understand the comparison Rogen and others were making, and I found it correct. To me, it seemed that American Sniper had very little nuance to it in regards to the combat in Iraq. There were no shades of gray in this film, and overall it serves to amplify the wrong message and lessons of the Iraq War.
For one, the film does not portray the Iraqis (the people whose country we were occupying) in any humane light. While the film does show atrocities mainly committed by Islamic Militias against Iraqi civilians, it does not present the Iraqi people as human beings like the rest of us. Instead, the image of them is molded almost perfectly for war propaganda.
The Iraqis are always shown in conflict with US soldiers, and at no point in the movie is it hinted that any of Kyle’s targets were civilians. It is implied and shown that every kill he made was against an “enemy combatant” (or savage as Chris Kyle loved to call them). There is no nuance at all to the idea that Kyle (out of his 160 plus kills) might have killed civilians, which only creates an image to the movie-goers that the Iraqis in general were our “enemy” and none of them worthy of respect or decent treatment.
Another glaring point that is blatant pro-war propaganda, is the films early connection to 9/11. In the beginning of the film, the intro opens to scenes of 9/11 which then transitions immediately into Chris Kyle going into combat in Iraq. The film basically implied that 9/11 and our invasion of Iraq were connected. That is a serious Red Flag.
Our invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Nothing whatsoever. One of the worst deceits ever conjured by the Bush Administration (or any other administration) was its vain connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Even today, those who justify the Iraq War use 9/11 in some vague way to rationalize why the war and America’s militaristic adventures are necessary.
The United States invaded Iraq in a blatant act of aggression against a foreign state, without any legal (international) justification to do so. We love to lecture other countries about respecting borders and sovereignty, yet we never seem to consider Iraq as a strike against us in that regard. We did not invade Iraq because of 9/11. We (the US) invaded Iraq because of geopolitical and geoeconomic interests, and George Bush and his cohorts used the tragedy of 9/11 as a justification.
The film presents no nuance or human fault into the execution of the Iraq War. The only faulty humans are the Iraqis, while Kyle is never presented as anything more than a loyal soldier. Tidbits of the movie display what you could consider “anti-war”, such as a funeral scene in which a dead soldier’s letter is read which questions the nature of his service. Yet, Kyle (the hero) never bends to the logic that the war is wrong. You see Kyle struggle with his personal life and issues because of his time in Iraq, but the actual killing and nature of conflict are never shown to have a negative effect entirely.
Chomsky made a great point when discussing his view of American Sniper. At the same time American Sniper was released, so to was a movie called Selma. Selma is a film that details the famous march by Martine Luther King Jr., an act many regard as a monumental act for the Civil Rights Movement. While Selma details the actions and struggles of (in my opinion) a real American hero who’s acts affect the lives of Americans today, Americans instead chose to flock en-masse to see a movie about one of the country’s most prolific killing machines.
The militarist culture of America is not unique, but it can get both humorous and ugly in many intervals. The after effects of American Sniper has left many of its fans inspired to commit violence against the “enemy” (Muslims). The ghouls of Twitter have spouted out hateful and maniacal posts about their feelings as a result of watching American Sniper.
While Clint Eastwood’s film may have been shot and acted very well, it still does not erase the underlying value of the film as a piece of pro-war propaganda. The real Chris Kyle was a liar, and thrilled killer, who loved to brag about killing the “savages” and “enemy.” His fans and fans of the movie say similar things, how Muslims are the general “enemy.” All Iraqis are the enemy, by this logic.
I wonder if these jingoistic baboons realize that they were not our “enemy” until we invaded their country.