Obama’s American Sniper

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘American Sniper’ Is Almost Too Dumb to Criticize.

Barack Obama was 15 minutes into his State of the Union speech when I arrived home to watch it, having just walked back from seeing “American Sniper.” Watching a movie about a Navy SEAL who served four tours fighting in Iraq was not the best way to enhance the experience of a Barack Obama speech. Most people who are having a negative reaction to the film “American Sniper,” or to excerpts from the book it’s based on, seem to take umbrage at the fact that Chris Kyle “brags” about the number of lives he took and the situations in which he took them — or they’re offended by the glorification with which director Clint Eastwood depicts his story.

For years it’s been a film-industry truism (and, one imagines, a studio-boardroom cautionary tale) that movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan perform poorly at the box office.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. During my time on active duty in the Marine Corps, I encountered death in a multitude of ways — from trying to stop it, as my fellow Marines and I worked on our maimed and wounded after a terrible mortar accident, to watching it live via drone footage, as a high-value Taliban commander sheltered in a compound just as we slammed a missile into his living room. Kimberly Peirce’s Stop-Loss, Paul Haggis’ In the Valley of Elah and Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone asked searching questions about the human costs of America’s post-9/11 interventions—questions that echoed through near-empty theaters. 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. Because Clint Eastwood directed “American Sniper” the movie is about more than the story of Chris Kyle, the highly skilled rifle marksman from Texas.

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty presented the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden far more ambiguously, as moral crucibles that tested their heroes’ strength of character much as these conflicts have tested the nation’s. 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). But last weekend, a defiantly unambiguous Iraq war movie—Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, based on the bestselling memoir of legendary sharpshooter Chris Kyle—mopped the floor with everything else currently playing in theaters.

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. Eastwood shows how Kyle dehumanized the enemy and how he almost completely ignored the larger picture involving all of the issues surrounding the war in Iraq. In fact, American Sniper’s $105.3 million bounty trounced the opening-weekend box-office returns of every R-rated movie in history with the exception of The Matrix Reloaded. (It broke a bunch of other records besides, including earning more on Friday than any Eastwood-directed film has ever earned in an entire weekend.) In the past few days Eastwood’s film has become a fight-starting tinderbox on Twitter and in the media, with Michael Moore expressing dismay at the film’s romanticization of sniper warfare, and Seth Rogen comparing Sniper to the fictional Nazi propaganda film featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. (Rogen later walked that criticism back with an admission that he liked the movie, making him, I guess, a sympathizer with metaphorical fake Nazis?) Jane Fonda, of all people, has tweeted enthusiastically in the film’s defense, calling it “another view of Coming Home.” Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin (who knew Chris Kyle personally, having met him when he served on her security team in 2011) have unsheathed their rhetorical swords, with Palin taking to her ever-combative Facebook page to remind “Hollywood leftists” that “the rest of America knows you’re not fit to shine Chris Kyle’s combat boots.” What the hell is going on?

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. Why is American Sniper touching so many nerves, provoking so many big statements and confusing qualifiers, selling so many tickets, and provoking such partisan bluster? 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.

Marines who fought al Qaeda in Fallujah, Ramadi and the other towns of Iraq’s Anbar province beginning in 2003 and through the period of the Anbar Awakening, which ended with the Marines pacifying the province. The former Army sniper, who was his battalion’s sniper section leader before he was done, offered up four key pieces of advice for mastering long-range shooting with a rifle — so shooters, pay attention. It’s been, after all, nearly a dozen years since the invasion of Iraq and almost as long since most of the country—including many who had initially supported the war, and many who fought in it—began to realize with dawning horror that our intervention there was turning into a bloody and directionless quagmire. 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. It’s just a movie, so even “American Sniper’s” small slice only hints at the price America paid—some 3,500 combat deaths and another 32,000 wounded—to bring Iraq to a point of relative, if fragile, stability in 2011.

It might seem like it goes without saying, but making sure your rifle is well-sighted — or making sure it has a proper “zero,” is one of the most vital aspects of long distance shooting, Betts told TheBlaze. “First things first,” Betts began, taking a deep breath. “You have to have a proper zero on your rifle. The average American has no idea the mental toll it takes on their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines just to be ready to pull the trigger with another human in your sights, let alone to actually do it. 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. American Sniper explores the psychic damage war inflicts on soldiers; the addictive nature of high-stakes battle (Bradley Cooper’s Kyle insists on returning to Iraq for four full tours of duty); and the difficulty of integrating back into everyday family life upon returning from a war zone. Every one of these issues has been dealt with, often with more nuance and depth, in other movies about returning vets. (I’m thinking in particular of two fine recent dramas about female soldiers back from war, both directed by women: Liza Johnson’s Return and Claudia Myers’ Fort Bliss.) But Eastwood’s high-octane war thriller does offer something all those Iraq-vet movies don’t—and it isn’t just red meat for the red-state audiences who share Eastwood’s conservative political leanings.

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.” But what is just not possible to choke down is President Obama’s decision in 2011 to reduce the U.S.’s residual military presence to virtually zero. But at 1,000 meters, you are talking about 10 inches already.” Inexperienced shooters should either research how to properly zero a rifle or seek help from a professional.

These are the sanitized phrases we use to keep ourselves sane as we turn off the emotion that would come from actually killing another human being (the emotions come later). American Sniper is by no stretch a critique of the U.S. involvement in Iraq; Eastwood leaves larger questions of politics and policy entirely outside the frame of his story, an approach not uncommon in modern war films of any political stripe.

But it doesn’t feel right, either, to classify this somber, disturbing film as a red-white-and-blue-bunting–draped piece of feel-good propaganda—the kind of film New York’s David Edelstein has called a “Republican platform movie.” American Sniper (which was written by Jason Hall) has a perspective that’s recognizable from the classic Westerns Eastwood has long been associated with, both as an actor and a director. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to breathing techniques, shooters should definitely find their preference and master it so their breathing doesn’t result in accuracy. “Some guys have it where it’s going to be on the full inhale, others on the full exhale, and some do it in between,” he explained. “It’s all about finding your natural shooting position. When I was on the ground in Afghanistan, I wasn’t thinking about the greater good of the Afghan people, about spreading democracy or about root-beer floats on the 4th of July.

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. But you don’t want to hold your breath because you’ll start getting shaky, your heart is going to start elevating and there is more and more shoot error.” The veteran said shooters should remember that any mistakes become increasingly exaggerated the more distance there is between the shooter and the target. With more cinematic craft than he’s displayed in a while, Eastwood makes the viewer alternate between fear for Kyle’s life and fear for the lives of the people who cross through his gun sights—more than once, women or children, whom he must decide whether or not to shoot based only on fragments of unreliable information. 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. 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.

In January, months before that West Point speech, the terrorist army of Islamic State, or ISIS, seized back control of both Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province. He explained how he would break them of the bad habit: What I would do is, I would either put a bullet in there or I wouldn’t put a bullet in there. The tension in their marriage feels almost like the lead-up to a psychological horror film about domestic violence—at least until an unconvincingly easy late-movie reversal, in which Kyle somehow lifts himself out of paralyzing anxiety and depression without ever acknowledging the hold they had on him.

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. They skipped that chicken-egg dilemma in the film, though, because it would detract from the “human story.” Eastwood plays for cheap applause and goes super-dumb even by Hollywood standards when one of Kyle’s officers suggests that they could “win the war” by taking out the evil sniper who is upsetting America’s peaceful occupation of Sadr City. Eastwood and Hall also omitted a number of embarrassing details that would take away from the heroic version of Kyle the movie presents, including Kyle’s habit of publicly bragging about violence he never actually committed. 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.

If there was no round in there and I’d see them flinch or anticipate or whatever, I’d kick them in the head and say, ‘Hey! listen, the gun’s not going to kill you. Cooper’s Chris Kyle is a troubled, taciturn hunk who, even as his mental condition gets worse, never fully loses his core warmth and humanity, whereas the real-life man he’s based on was by many accounts a fairly unsavory human being. You know what to do with it.” Betts also suggested shooters who are truly interested in improving their rifle shooting to practice in various environments and conditions.

Lee that can sum up what I believe is the truest and purest theme from “American Sniper”: “It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it.” He said he would regularly sit prone with his unloaded rifle, train his sights on a target and squeeze the trigger to make sure his aim and fundamentals were on point. While we talked guns, we also asked Betts if he had any thoughts on the several people who have bashed Chris Kyle’s “American Sniper” story — and in some cases, all snipers. For myself, I found it powerful, touching, and only occasionally infuriating, and I think Americans who care about the way we remember the Iraq war—onscreen and off—should see it. 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. His second election was a historic electoral mistake, leaving the country and the world to be led by a president who is living on his own fantasy island.

That’s why he joined AmericanSnipers.org, a non-profit organization that provides operational equipment to American military snipers deployed in combat. 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. Obama said, “We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small.” But bullying is exactly what Russia’s Vladimir Putin is doing to Ukraine because Mr. 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. Obama said we’ve “halted the progress of its nuclear program.” Slowed perhaps but no one thinks we’ve “halted” Iran’s multifacility nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile project. 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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