Going into American Sniper, I was hoping for better than I had heard about through friends. I was hoping to see a thought-provoking narrative that started a conversation about America’s involvement in the Middle East. Instead, I saw a narrative more interested in hyper-masculinity and patriotism than one that accurately portrayed our involvement in Iraq.
Sniper presented a watered-down version of what was happening in the Middle East in the late 1990s and onward. Audiences are led to believe that the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the Kenya Embassy bombings of 1998 and the tragedy of September 11, 2001, can all be connected to the war in Iraq. I do understand that it is difficult to translate real life into film, but it is also imperative for the film to provide background. Many of the attacks on American soil and American embassies can actually be connected to our military presence in Saudi Arabia.
Historical inaccuracies aside, I also took issue with the glorification of Kyle’s moral standings. Kyle was certainly a hero, but it is hard to be appreciative of his accomplishments when he refers to the Iraqi people as “savages” both in the film and in real life.
“I hate the [expletive] savages,” he writes. “I couldn’t give a flying [expletive] about the Iraqis.”
The problem with this movie as a whole, I think, is that there are more Chris Kyles out there. There are more people who equate Islam with terrorism, as the murder of three Muslim students in Chapel Hill in early Feb- ruary proves. The evidence is overwhelming: the brutal attack of a pregnant Muslim woman in Paris last June, the increase of Islamophobic comments on social media following the release of American Sniper and then again after the Charlie Hebdo Massacre and the throwing of firebombs and pig heads into mosques after that same attack.
These incidents are not isolated, and making a movie that very openly makes a statement about America being the good guy and anyone who practices Islam as being the bad guy is all in all pretty frightening.
I do understand that the movie was meant to illustrate the modern veteran’s struggles connecting with those around them after going to war, but the topic could have been handled far better. To be clear, I am not condemning the actions of every soldier in Iraq, I am not saying that their sacrifices are meaningless and I am in no way trying to say that if you liked the film you are a terrible person. I am saying that the film American Sniper further perpetuates Islamophobia and oversimplifies a very complicated topic.
– By Sawyer Davis