Sunday, January 25, 2015

Media: American Sniper

American Sniper is a film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper as Iraq War veteran Chris Kyle who served as a sniper and wrote his life story in a memoir entitled, yes, American Sniper.  The film is both a critical and a commercial success having scored Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing and made over $170 million in ticket sales in the US alone.

The reaction to the film has largely been positive.

It's also brought out a lot of ugly on our side (the left) -- some of which was touched on last week in "The Big Ugly: Lindy West."

Before we get to reactions, let's deal with the film which we were forced to see as a result of the controversy.

We're not fans of the war genre and would have been just fine never seeing the film.

Bradley Cooper is amazing and Sienna Miller was solid enough to have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress (she wasn't).  Clint Eastwood being nominated for Best Director wouldn't have surprised us.  But he wasn't nominated.  Clint has been before, has even won the Award.  He was also one of the five directors nominated for Outstanding Directing by the Directors Guild of America.  The only director nominated for the Academy Award this year that wasn't nominated by the DGA was Bennett Miller who's been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director twice before (his current nomination is for Foxcatcher).

The film is neither pro-war not anti-war in our opinion.

It's open-ended and ambiguous allowing the viewer to form their own opinion.

Clint Eastwood declares that the film is anti-war.

And it may be in a film world where Platoon and Coming Home and All Quiet on the Western Front qualify as anti-war because their theme, like American Sniper's theme, is how war damages the human spirit.

We weren't surprised by the theme.

It's a standard in American films.

We were surprised by some of the criticisms.

The film, for example, was slammed for not focusing on Iraqis.

Who has ever focused on Iraqis in the never-ending Iraq War?

Not the New York Times and it's one of the few news outlets that has kept a bureau in Baghdad.

The focus has never been on the Iraqis.

And that's true of The Nation magazine.

Take the worst War Crime in Iraq,  the gang-rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi  on March 12, 2006 by US soldiers who also killed her parents and her five-year-old sister.

We covered it here.


After Katha Pollitt at The Nation was called out repeatdly, the 'feminist'  mentioned Abeer finally.  A single-sentence.

There were convictions for these crimes.

The Nation magazine couldn't bother.  Katha Pollitt couldn't bother.  (As we've long noted, the late Alexander Cockburn had a CounterPunch and Nation column that mentioned Abeer long before 'feminist' Katha found time.)

But what US war film has treated a real people the US declared war on as valid characters in a film?

There's Casualties of War and Redacted -- both directed by the great Brian DePalma.

Anyone else spring to mind?

Even Reds, which we love, doesn't really illuminate the Russians.

That's pretty much a given for most films throughout the world.  They tend to focus on one group, the one of the country financing the film. That's true of France's Indochine (a great film carried by Catherine Deneuve) and most others.

So this notion that Clint made a huge mistake in bringing to life a memoir of an American soldier, of telling the story -- as the book did -- from his point of view?

Our response to the little whiners is: Have you ever seen film before in your damn  lives?

Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan were among those  doing real harm.

Moore declared snipers were "cowards" and then wanted to play like he hadn't said anything insulting.

Cindy Sheehan spewed hate at the late Chris Kyle in a blog post and made it even worse last week by insisting that it was Chris versus her son Casey.

Moore realized he'd gone way too far and tried to walk it back repeatedly.

It's really too late for that.

And Moore's nonsense of "I employ this veteran and that?"

It's bulls**t.

There's no doubt that Cindy and Moore embrace some veterans.


Those who will recant their actions and match the fury Moore and Sheehan feel and display.

The service members didn't declare war.

They have every right to feel proud or ashamed or neutral on what they saw and what they were ordered to do.

They are not the ones who gave the orders for war.

We've watched cowardly Michael Moore whore for Barack non-stop.

But he's not going to support a service member who won't call out the war?

Does he not get how cowardly he looks?

And Cindy needs to grasp that her son is only one of many Americans killed in the Iraq War.  And if his death causes her grief, she might remember that other families grieve as well.

Some will argue that this nonsense that has been spewed at the film was productive.

It wasn't.

Why aren't we talking about the White House requesting Congress authorize Barack's actions in Iraq and give Barack the power to put US troops into on the ground combat in Iraq?

Why aren't we talking about that?

Instead we're talking about a film.

Instead, the film is being used to slime and slam a dead American vet.

Cindy can't talk about Iraq anymore but damned if she can't use it.

She's planning a DC action this March on the anniversary of the war.

How is her hatred supposed to help turnout?

More to the point, how do her remarks or Michael's help anyone?

Veterans saw what happened in the last weeks as the crazy was unleashed by people like Max Blumenthal.  Thing is, that human trash, no real standing?

Blumenthal's not even famous for his father.  No one knows who he is and his career ended the minute The Daily Beast let him go (fired!).

But Moore and Sheehan have been presented as anti-war voices and the two are recognized as such and what do their statements do now?

Sliming a dead man, holding him accountable for a war he didn't start, that helps bring over what people to the movement?

Does it make veterans feel welcome?

They really haven't been joining the peace movement in the last years -- mainly because there is no peace movement.

Cindy herself says in a press release:

Organizing against the wars has been challenging during the Obama administration because so many people who would identify as 'antiwar' misplaced a lot of hope in Obama ending the wars. As a matter of fact, Obama has expanded the wars abroad, drone bombing, assassinations of US citizens without trial, and the police state here in the states. It's time to reclaim our principles as members of a global community and join together in Washington DC and stop giving Obama a 'chance.'

Is it less challenging when you're attacking American soldiers?

The box office appears to have spoken.

Americans aren't opposed to Chris Kyle.

They may be proud of him, sad for him or any mixture.

But they don't hate him.

And the hate they've seen spewed at him only slows -- or even halts -- the peace movement's ability to recruit new activists.

A wall's now up.

Cindy could remove the wall she created.

She'd have to acknowledge she spoke out of anger and that, of course, all lives matter.

That's really not inconsistent with her past expressed beliefs.

We're against the ongoing Iraq War.  We always have been.

We have no problem calling out those responsible for the war.

That would be the leaders and the policy makers.

We will call out service members when they break the law.

Steven D. Green was the ringleader in the conspiracy against Abeer.  We called him out repeatedly for his crimes which were War Crimes.

But Chris Kyle didn't commit War Crimes.

Yes, he killed Iraqis.

We wish no Iraqis had been killed --  we did not and do not support US troops being in Iraq.

But if troops are sent into a foreign country, guns will go off.  People will be ordered to kill.

That happens in war.

Chris did what he was trained to do and what he was ordered to do.

You're going to have a hard time convincing Americans that he's a criminal as a result.

And if you continue to make that argument, you're just going to ensure that attempts to restart any movement are useless.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }