The film American Sniper is directed by Clint Eastwood. His iconic characters’ memes may reek of vigilantism (cowboy or cop), however the films he helms often smell of moral ambiguity and reflection. But no matter what you shoot, it all depends if the audience is paying attention.
Reminiscent of American right wing patriots trying to co-opt Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” (the lyrics, people, read the lyrics!!!), American Sniper is about a over-hyped killing machine who loves war and is dispatched in the name of his country to kill in order to save American lives in Iraq.
Just as “Born in the USA” is a biting critique of the treatment of Vietnam vets, but was ‘re-imagined’ as a refrain of fistpumping rhetoric – Chris Kyle’s love of war and sacrifice, culminating in the inevitable PTSD and his sadly sadly poetic murder, is being co-opted by American talk show hosts as worthy of praise as a true American hero.
“The only people he killed were trying to kill Americans.” they say over and over, admiringly.
The trailer features Chris Kyle’s sniper sights on a woman and a child, both obviously Iraqi. Desperate people do desperate things. We never know what this family’s life was before the Americans arrived. If Americans killed their family last week by accident, or on purpose. How or why they are desperate at this point in time, so desperate as to do what they are attempting to do. Over and over we see this trailer, we know he is going to shoot the woman AND/OR the child but they will be guilty, so he will be absolved because he saved American lives.
The ONLY reason American lives were in danger in Iraq is because America went to Iraq.
Iraq had not attacked America. Whatever Iraq had done to its minorities, many countries around the world do similar… and many countries that are military allies and trade partners are known human rights abusers (hello Saudi Arabia, China!) but America does not invade them under a moral or political pretense.
So American Sniper is the invader who kills the people in their homeland who would resist him invading. And morning hosts shout hurrah!
Notice how the second painting’s meaning changes when you hang this on top of it.
I get the feeling, the mature Eastwood wanted everyone to notice the PTSD part of it more.