I have only been to one movie in my lifetime where, when the credits rolled, the audience stood up and applauded, tears were shed, and a silent exit to the lobby ensued. That movie was Clint Eastwood’s newest release American Sniper.
American Sniper tells the story of navy seal Chris Kyle, the deadliest sniper in U.S. history. The film depicts Kyle’s heart wrenching tours of service in Iraq as well as the struggles of returning to his young family at home. The film has seen notable success since it’s release on Christmas Day this past year. That success includes having the largest winter opening weekend ever, earning $105 million within its first four days, and nabbing an Oscar for best sound editing, according to WarnerBrothers.com
Along with the its success, controversy has also begun to surround American Sniper. Some moviegoers and critics have called the film “war propaganda” and Kyle himself a “glorified murderer.”
As an easy and quick way to voice opinions, Twitter has become the main stage for the debate. Celebrities, such as Seth Rogen, Michael Moore, and Alec Baldwin, have tweeted their disapproval of the movie. On the other side, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Blake Shelton, Kid Rock, and Dean Cain have tweeted their messages of support for the film and Kyle himself.
In my eyes, Chris Kyle is the definition of an American Hero. Kyle gave up his family, home, and safety to travel overseas to do his part to protect the American people from danger. His actions in a time of war should not be viewed in a negative light if they resulted in the protection of our American freedom. Even after returning home, Kyle continued to give his time to veterans in need. He should be respected for the trauma of war that ultimately cost him his life.
As for the claim that the film is war propaganda, I would strongly disagree. The film gives a realistic look into the ugly face of war. In order for the film to register with so many moviegoers, as it has, including parts that may be seen as “disturbing” is necessary. Personally, I could not imaging being put in Kyle’s shoes and having to make the decision on what or who was a threat to American safety.
The conversation on twitter, if the user exhibits tolerance and acceptance, can be a positive way to discuss opinions on the film and share stories of its impact on a personal level. The fact that such discussion is occurring shows that the movie has accomplished its goal of eliciting strong responses.
A movie that brings out such emotions and admiration from a theater full of people, obviously has some part of it that sparks an inner fire. American Sniper tells a story as American as baseball, apple pie … and the three colors, red, white, and blue that spread across our nation.