Dean Cain: ‘Chris Kyle is a hero but I hate war’

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper': Putting the future in the crosshairs.

Actor Dean Cain, who was paired in 2012 with slain Navy SEAL Chris Kyle on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes,” had some fighting words for Michael Moore and Seth Rogen after the two made controversial comments about the autobiography film “American Sniper.” “Seth…I like your films, but right now, I wanna kick your ass,” the former Superman wrote in defense of his friend Monday. “Chris is an American Hero.“American Sniper” is destined to recreate the endless controversy raised by Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” The same people who claimed “Zero” justified the use of torture by the U.S. military will take Clint Eastwood’s film to be a celebration of brute patriotism.

Upon observing the way we venerate popular culture, a wise man once said ”We all feed on tragedy.” We consume movies depicting multiple gruesome, gory murders, obscene sexual acts and so, so much more. A tagline of “American Sniper” reads, “The most lethal sniper in U.S history,” and another asserts, “One hundred sixty kills made history.” Is it decent to honor a man for the number of people he’s killed?

It is a rare case in which a virtuoso director, Clint Eastwood, breathes life into a true story seemingly doomed for nationalist hoo-rah nonsense (remember Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” disaster?) and triumphs in his quest to sharply contrast the glory and the grit of modern warfare. People love a wide swarth of genres — yes, the consumerist movie-going Proletariat enjoy simple heartwarming tales of duty right next to their scrambled brains. Although these questions are fair and important, the film is by no means mere pro-war propaganda. “American Sniper” is upsettingly honest and, similarly to Bigelow’s “Zero,” is better understood when interpreted as an uncompromising portrayal of the Iraq War. Eastwood goes on to tell the story not of a superhuman war hero, but a haunted boy who was raised to believe that his purpose and manhood was to protect those he cared about from violence, no matter the cost. Clint Eastwood’s new military biopic, “American Sniper,” about our nation’s deadliest marksman has stirred up criticism, conflict and consternation from every angle imaginable.

Rogen raised eyebrows Monday after he tweeted that “American Sniper” reminded him of the fake Nazi propaganda film playing in the third act of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds,” which showed a German sniper killing 200 Allied soldiers from a clock tower. From liberal firebrand Matt Taibbi’s scathing meta-analysis of the film’s whitewashing of the tragedies in Iraq to Michael Moore’s assertion that snipers are cowards, the Hollywood Left has been speaking out about the supposed pro-war message of the movie. Kyle (Bradley Cooper), known as “The Legend” for his 160 reported kills, is the paradigmatic patriot — for him, the land of the free ought to be defended at any cost and sacrifice, no questions asked. From the opening frame until the credits roll, Eastwood is willing to go uncomfortably in the direction of the deeply personal struggles that come with being a killing machine. However, their twitterverse response, driven strongly by right-wing and ex-military personnel, seems to have missed the mark that the virulently anti-war Eastwood was shooting for.

Indeed, in the mind of the man who calls every Arab male between 16 and 65 a “savage,” the war takes an almost spiritual tone — he fights, as Bob Dylan would have it, with God on his side. That’s not to say that Cooper’s Kyle is one-dimensional; rather, the film’s greatest virtue lies in its exploration of Kyle’s psychological burdens.

It’s hard to get to the human core of the story when you ignore half of the people involved (the dying half), and even harder to delve into it when the subject is, on paper, a cold-blooded, murderous bigot. His death was tragic and bizarre (the film doesn’t show it, but the real Kyle was shot at a range by a fellow veteran who may or may not have post-traumatic stress disorder) but it would not have happened had Kyle distanced himself from the military. The voices of many true patriots have been added in a rush to Kyle’s defense, including those who suggest that critics of the military simply leave this county over their disapproval of U.S. military tactics.

At times, “American Sniper” seems to suggest that there is no coming back from war, no home left for the hero, no woman waving her arms at an airport, no child hugging her daddy. Good thing the Constitution protects everybody’s free speech, because if these redcoats redbloods were in charge, questioning in any way the practices and long-standing abuses in our military and the human cost of our actions in every foreign field the world-over may be as permissible as denigrating the Fabulous Leader in North Korea. We are left to wonder if the glory, the respect, the honor and recognition that came with his service to the United States was worth the pain, the sorrow, the emptiness with the people he was truly taught to love and protect the most: his family. It’s a challenge to not join those out there who forget that Clint Eastwood is only making a movie, like said above — the fantasy is meant to be more palatable than the reality, and that goes for the degrees of complexity, violence and candor permitted in the film. Kyle’s post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by a severe feeling of guilt — every day he’s not in Iraq is a day an American is dying because he’s not there.

It is easy to dismiss the movie as an ode to American exceptionalism; it is truer, however, to see it as an open portrait of a real man. “American Sniper”, perhaps despite itself, gives us a distressing look at the people who fight our wars.

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