By Scotty Reid
American Sniper is the film adaptation of the book of the same name and was produced by Clint “Empty Chair” Eastwood, a GOP operative. The films goes a long way to clean up the image of the psychopathic racist killer Chris Kyle who enjoyed killing and is said to have the most “kills” of any sniper in American military history. The film of course has its critics including other veterans who said his high body count had to include civilians and friendly Iraqi fighters.
Egyptian-American reporter told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday that the heroic way Chris Kyle is portrayed in the film is “very far from reality.” “A lot of his own personal opinions about what he was doing in Iraq,”, “How he viewed Iraqis. Some of what people described as his racist tendencies towards Iraqis and Muslims as he was going on some these killing sprees in Iraq.”
In fact, many of those who watched the film posted racist and religiously bigoted comments on social media.
Now First lady Michelle Obama has weighed in on the film praising it and calling on Hollywood producers to make more films like American Sniper.
At the Got Your Six screenwriters conference titled “Conversation on the Power of Telling Veterans’ Stories.”, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “I’m calling on all of you and folks across the entertainment industry to change the conversation about our veterans and military families, Give us the full story…Just look at the latest box office numbers… the number-one movie in America right now is a complex, emotional depiction of a veteran and his family,” the first lady said in reference to American Sniper. “While I know there have been critics, I felt that, more often than not, this film touches on many of the emotions and experiences that I’ve heard firsthand from military families over these past few years,” she went on to say.
Here is the problem; American Sniper does not give you the “full story” about Chris Kyle. It does not give you the full story on the latest war on Iraq which has destabilized the country to the point that it has never known a moment of peace since the last Bush administration lied about Saddam Hussein having a connection to the 9/11 attacks and that he had “weapons of mass destruction”. This lie led to the killing of an estimated one million Iraqis which Chris Kyle admittedly enjoyed taking part in. If we include the body count of dead Iraqis from the first war on Iraq during the first Bush Administration in which former Vice President Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense, the Gulf War, then the Iraqi blood on the Bush and Cheney family’s hands may exceed two million.
The First Lady also spoke on “caricatures of soldiers and veterans” while asking Hollywood to drop them. What about asking them to drop their racist caricatures of the non-white people whose homelands are being destroyed by America and its European allies? How about not portraying them as turban wearing terrorists, which only serves to stir up more blood lust, racism and religious bigotry in Americans towards non-white people and Muslims.
“People generally see veterans in one of two ways — either the broken, downtrodden vet who is homeless or on drugs or has such severe PTSD that he can’t even function or the saintly hero who lives with such courage and moral clarity that the only thing the rest of us can do is shower him with awe and amazement,” said First Lady Michelle Obama.
However, “broken” and “downtrodden vets” hooked on “drugs” with “PTSD” is not a “caricature”. One out of four of the nearly estimated one million homeless in America are veterans and their plight is not an exaggeration and often linked to their inability to reintegrate back into society because of their war related mental illnesses often linked to the horrors they witnessed and perhaps a sense of the unshakable guilt they have once fully realizing their roles in perpetuating war crimes. It would be a mistake not to mention that a US Marine diagnosed with PTSD is being tried soon for the murder of the celebrated racist killer Chris Kyle.
Perhaps we need more films about the people she calls “caricatures” and hopefully that would discourage young people from signing up to become the next sociopathic killer like Chris Kyle. Perhaps President Obama’s vision to make community college free would help to keep poor people from signing up to become cannon fodder and killers just to get money for college. Perhaps chicken hawk politicians would be pressured to not be so quick to send young men and women off to wars with a geo-political corporate agenda. Perhaps these politicians would also be pressured to provide more money for veteran services.
First Lady Michelle Obama also decried the lack of films featuring female soldiers and veterans. I will agree on this point but I hardly doubt we will be seeing films depicting the mass rape that females experience in the US military. It would be refreshing to see a big screen adaption of the documentary film Silent Truth which tells the story of PFC. LaVena Johnson who while serving in Iraq was raped, murdered, caustic liquids poured in her genitals and the tent she was found in set on fire. It also tells of her family’s frustrating search for answers and justice in the case US military investigators ruled a suicide.
The last point on the First Lady’s call for Hollywood to produce more films like American Sniper is that perhaps she should direct her comments more towards the Department of Defense and Phil Strub who is the entertainment liaison at the Department of Defense. The DoD has a huge role in the Hollywood scripts concerning the military and subsidizes these war propaganda films with American taxpayer dollars.
I recently interviewed Dr. Robin Andersen about US government propaganda in media. Dr. Andersen is the Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University and had written about the roles of the CIA, the US State Department and a former Hillary Clinton staffer in the production of the film The Interview. During our interview, Dr. Andersen discussed what is known as the military industrial entertainment complex and the need for an ethical code in Hollywood and television to question the glorification of illegal acts of war to include torture. She also discussed how filmmakers have to submit their scripts concerning the military to the US government, which in many cases alter or censure the scripts which is in violation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
I do not know how informed First Lady Michelle Obama is on these issues but her comments are disconcerting in the very least. The American public needs less not more war propaganda films like American Sniper.
The author Scotty Reid served six years in the US Army as a communication specialist and helped to design the tactical communication network set up in Iraq and Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. It was during this period that he became more politically aware while reading the biography of Malcolm X and listening to the music of the rap group Public Enemy while stationed in Saudi Arabia.