By Dominic Indolino |Staff Writer|
Imagine living a day in a war zone.
Chris Kyle was a Navy Seal sniper recognized as the greatest in all U.S. military history with more than 160 confirmed kills.
After completing four tours in Iraq, Kyle wrote a best-selling novel, titled “American Sniper.”
This novel inspired patriots across the states to venerate Kyle as an American hero.
In 2013, Kyle was killed by a fellow veteran, whose motive was unclear, according to Erath County sheriffs.
Less than a year after Kyle’s death, Clint Eastwood directed a film adaptation of Kyle’s autobiography dedicated to the fallen sniper. Bradley Cooper portrays Kyle.
The release of Eastwood’s film was met with massive backlash from critics, stating that Eastwood glorified Kyle.
Alex Horton from the Guardian quotes excerpts from Kyle’s autobiography, in which he states, “I hate the damn savages,” and “I couldn’t give a flying [expletive] about the Iraqis.”
Apart from his prejudices, Kyle was notorious for stretching the truth.
He bragged about killing a robber in Texas for trying to steal his truck and about punching Jesse Ventura in a bar.
Dan Browning of the Star Tribune reported that Ventura later won a $1.8 million settlement for defamation.
The omission of Kyle’s lies, prejudices, and bad behavior have concerned critics like Scott Foundas of Variety magazine.
In his article, Foundas states that Kyle had strong distinctions between good and evil, but Eastwood portrays Kyle as only seeing in “shades of gray.”
These creative liberties have prompted critics to question if “American Sniper” is actually an American propagandist film.
I have to disagree.
Andrew is a veteran attending CSUSB who served for five years during the Iraq War as a marine and asked to keep his last name anonymous.
“I had heard of Chris Kyle before [and] that he was the greatest sniper,” said Andrew. He thought the movie did Kyle justice and did not have any complaints.
What concerned critics though was not the plot, but Kyle’s identity, and that Eastwood was wrong in glorifying him.
I believe that it is only natural for every soldier to show some amount of animosity towards his enemy. In my opinion, Kyle allowed that hatred to spread to include all Iraqis and Muslims.
Eastwood shows the turmoil Chris goes through when returning from each tour, “which happens to all of us,” Andrew remarked.
In “American Sniper,” a soldier tells Kyle that “the boys feel invincible when they know you’re out there.”
“It is important to have a symbol out on the battlefield,” Andrew told me. It is something to keep them fighting and that is what Kyle represented.
Eastwood definitely glorifies Kyle, but “American Sniper” is not a propaganda film.
There is no call to arms nor shouts for the heads of our enemies. It is just another dramatized film created to tell a story of someone’s hero, but Kyle was no saint.
I believe that Kyle served as a symbol for courage during hardship, although knowing who he was diminishes that symbol. Maybe the old saying is true? Never meet your heroes.