Country Stars Slam American Sniper Critics

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize.

Country music artists are notoriously patriotic, so it should come as no surprise that they don’t take kindly to insults to the military. While the fists have been figuratively flying in a debate this week about the spirit of military snipers, Kid Rock is weighing in — and he’s not pulling any punches.The late Navy Seal sniper, played by Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, is getting lots of attention these days as the film based on his best-selling memoir smashes box-office records.LOS ANGELES: On its debut weekend Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” blasted into first place at the North American box office with a massive $107 million, a record for a January opening, industry figures showed Tuesday. Like most Clint Eastwood movies – and I like Clint Eastwood movies for the most part – it’s a simple, well-lit little fairy tale with the nutritional value of fortune cookie that serves up a neatly-arranged helping of cheers and tears for target audiences, and panics at the thought of embracing more than one or two ideas at any time.

Posting this week on his website, the Detroit-native musician had this to say in a short article aptly entitled: “AMERICAN SNIPER, MICHAEL MOORE AND SETH ROGAN (sic).” “F— you Michael Moore, you’re a piece of s— and your uncle would be ashamed of you. The war drama, based on the biography of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, has racked up six Oscar nominations, including best picture and best actor for star Bradley Cooper.

After actor Seth Rogen compared the film American Sniper – which tells the story of Chris Kyle, widely regarded as the deadliest sniper in U.S. history, to a scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds where a German sniper kills allied soldiers – Morgan, a 10-year Army veteran, lashed out. “This is in response to the comments made by Seth Rogen in a recent tweet. At the recent DC premiere of the film, Kyle’s widow, Taya, says Cooper’s portrayal of her husband is so good it’s “eerie.” Before he was killed, Kyle made the media rounds to promote his book, including this interview with Conan O’Brien, where you can really get a sense of his mannerisms and sense of humor. The film is in many ways an old-fashioned kind of Hollywood hit: built on star power, Oscar buzz and a largely adult audience – 63 percent of whom are over 25 years old. I am sure he doesn’t care and normally I don’t comment on such statements however, this time I am,” Morgan wrote on Facebook. “Seth Rogen you don’t know me nor did you know Chris Kyle (who was a Great American).

Film-industry people angrily reject the notion that their movies have to be about anything (except things like “character” and “narrative” and “arc,” subjects they can talk about endlessly). And yeah, if you’ve seen the movie or know anything about his story, watching this is kind of heart-wrenching, especially with his sweet smile and all of his polite “yes, sirs” to O’Brien: “You don’t have to call me ‘sir,’ by the way,” says O’Brien. “I’m a talk-show host!” The success has made Eastwood’s film a flashpoint in Hollywood, Washington, and everywhere in between, sweeping “Sniper” into the culture wars in which the 84-year-old director has sometimes engaged.

I would be interested to know if you have a relationship with any American who served honorably in its military … You are fortunate to enjoy the privilege and freedom of working in and living in the United States, and saying whatever you want (regardless of how ignorant the statement) thanks to people like Chris Kyle who serve in the United States military. This is the same Hollywood culture that turned the horror and divisiveness of the Vietnam War era into a movie about a platitude-spewing doofus with leg braces who in the face of terrible moral choices eats chocolates and plays Ping-Pong. Navy SEAL recently depicted in “American Sniper” — the Clint Eastwood-directed movie starring Bradley Cooper, that pulled in more than $90 million when it hit theaters last weekend. Enter Michigan-native filmmaker Michael Moore, who (not for the first time) managed to get his name into the headlines on the coattails of controversy, tweeting: “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. A free adaptation of a true story, “Sniper” is the kind of heroic war film Hollywood has largely resisted, depicting the often unpopular and less successful campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The thing is, the mere act of trying to make a typically Hollywoodian one-note fairy tale set in the middle of the insane moral morass that is/was the Iraq occupation is both dumber and more arrogant than anything George Bush or even Dick Cheney ever tried. Gitesh Pandya, editor of, credited the film’s triumph to a “perfect storm” of factors, including Warner Bros’ marketing savvy, which stoked interest in the film by holding it in very limited release for two weeks.

No one expected twenty minutes of backstory about the failed WMD search, Abu Ghraib, or the myriad other American atrocities and quick-trigger bombings that helped fuel the rise of ISIL and other groups. But to turn the Iraq war into a saccharine, almost PG-rated two-hour cinematic diversion about a killing machine with a heart of gold (is there any film theme more perfectly 2015-America than that?) who slowly, very slowly, starts to feel bad after shooting enough women and children – Gump notwithstanding, that was a hard one to see coming. And invaders r worse.” Rogen (an actor/comedian you may remember from “Knocked Up”), too, drew some social media heat when he tweeted that American Sniper “kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.” The only thing that forces us to take it seriously is the extraordinary fact that an almost exactly similar worldview consumed the walnut-sized mind of the president who got us into the war in question. It’s the fact that the movie is popular, and actually makes sense to so many people, that’s the problem. “American Sniper has the look of a bona fide cultural phenomenon!” gushed Brandon Griggs of CNN, noting the film’s record $105 million opening-week Box Office.

Documentarian Michael Moore sparked more uproar when, in an unrelated tweet about snipers not being heroes, he added that he thought Eastwood confused Iraq with Vietnam. Griggs added, in a review that must make Eastwood swell with pride, that the root of the film’s success is that “it’s about a real person,” and “it’s a human story, not a political one.” The characters in Eastwood’s movies almost always wear white and black hats or their equivalents, so you know at all times who’s the good guy on the one hand, and whose exploding head we’re to applaud on the other. In this case that effect is often literal, with “hero” sniper Chris Kyle’s “sinister” opposite Mustafa permanently dressed in black (with accompanying evil black pirate-stubble) throughout.

It also stole the thunder of “Selma” on the very memorial day of its protagonist, Martin Luther King Jr., and it will be the box-office heavyweight among the Oscar best picture nominees. There’s obligatory somber scene of shirtless buffed-up SEAL Kyle and his heartthrob wife Sienna Miller gasping at the televised horror of the 9/11 attacks. Which of course there had not been, until we invaded and bombed the wrong country and turned its moonscaped cities into a recruitment breeding ground for… you guessed it, al-Qaeda. When hunky Bradley Cooper’s Kyle character subsequently takes out Mustafa with Skywalkerian long-distance panache – “Aim small, hit small,” he whispers, prior to executing an impossible mile-plus shot – even the audiences in the liberal-ass Jersey City theater where I watched the movie stood up and cheered.

To Eastwood, this was probably just good moviemaking, a scene designed to evoke the same response he got in Trouble With the Curve when his undiscovered Latin Koufax character, Rigoberto Sanchez, strikes out the evil Bonus Baby Bo Gentry (even I cheered at that scene). In fact the occupation led to mass destruction, hundreds of thousands of deaths, a choleric lack of real sanitation, epidemic unemployment and political radicalization that continues to this day to spread beyond Iraq’s borders. Yet the movie glosses over all of this, and makes us think that killing Mustafa was some kind of decisive accomplishment – the single shot that kept terrorists out of the coffee shops of San Francisco or whatever. We were taught snipers were cowards …” And plenty of other commentators, comparing Kyle’s book (where he remorselessly brags about killing “savages”) to the film (where he is portrayed as a more rounded figure who struggled, if not verbally then at least visually, with the nature of his work), have pointed out that real-life Kyle was kind of a dick compared to movie-Kyle. (The most disturbing passage in the book to me was the one where Kyle talked about being competitive with other snipers, and how when one in particular began to threaten his “legendary” number, Kyle “all of the sudden” seemed to have “every stinkin’ bad guy in the city running across my scope.” As in, wink wink, my luck suddenly changed when the sniper-race got close, get it? It’s equally dangerous to be seduced by the pathos and drama of the individual solider’s experience, because most wars are about something much larger than that, too.

They did this after Vietnam, when America spent decades watching movies like Deer Hunter and First Blood and Coming Home about vets struggling to reassimilate after the madness of the jungles. The movies used the struggles of soldiers as a kind of human shield protecting us from thinking too much about what we’d done in places like Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos. But in public relations as in war, it’ll be the soldiers taking the bullets, not the suits in the Beltway who blithely sent them into lethal missions they were never supposed to understand.

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