“American Sniper,” movie success or propaganda?

Maria Esquinca, Copy Editor

After watching the popular film “American Sniper,” some people took to Twitter to discuss their eloquent in-depth views about the film.

RealDeal wrote, “Nice to see a movie where the Arabs are portrayed for who they really are–vermin scum intent on destroying us.”

Reese Filcon wrote, “’American Sniper’ made me appreciate soldiers 100 X more and hate Muslims 1,000,000 X more.”

An infuriated Dez Harmon wrote, “’American Sniper’ makes me want to go shoot some fucking Arabs.”

Quoting Edward L. Bernays, father of public relations, is very fitting when talking about “American Sniper.”

He wrote, “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society…We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested.”

I would say Edward Bernays hits it right on the spot (pun intended) when describing the effects of propaganda.

Propaganda is defined in the dictionary as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

Now, I want to focus on two parts of the definition–biased or misleading nature and particular cause or point of view.

What interest would Clint Eastwood have in producing a biased and misleading movie to prove a particular point of view?

It’s no secret that Clint Eastwood is also a proud Republican, and was one of the main speakers in the 2012 Republican National Convention, (if some of you have forgotten about this, this is the same convention where he proceeded to ask questions to a chair representing President Obama.)

“American Sniper,” is about Chris Kyle, the most lethal American sniper in history with 160 kills.

It follows his life from his childhood to the moment he is forced with the decision to kill a young boy, holding a grenade in his hand, and his mother.

The movie then follows in flashbacks, to a young Kyle being told by his father that the world consists of three types of people–sheep, sheep dogs and wolves.

Sheep are the innocent naïve people, wolves are the violent that pray on the weak, and the sheep dogs are the protectors, the shinning personification of justice.

Kyle has been a wolf his entire life.

The movie is built with that narrow premise of right and wrong.

Protecting his country and its citizens is Kyle’s way of being a wolf. Throughout the movie he clings to that belief, while other soldiers, including his own brother, have doubts in their sense of “good” and “bad.” Kyle adheres to his role as a wolf unquestioningly.

As Kyle goes into war, the narrow view of good and bad are applied to Iraqis, they are the “scum” Kyle has fought against his whole life.

However, this movie is problematic because of how it portrays the Iraq war, only through Kyle’s eyes, through his righteous notion of correctness.

That’s where it’s misleading.

When Eastwood decides to narrow the portrayal of the war through Kyle’s point if view and omits the facts surrounding the war, it misleads the audience and promotes a particular point of view. Mainly that the war was a righteous response to evil.

As Zach Beuchamp explains in a Vox video, “the implication that the viewer gets is that the invasion of Iraq was a logical response to 9/11.”

But, as President George H. W. Bush later explained, the Iraq war was due to, “we thought he (Saddam Hussein) had weapons of mass destruction, turns out he didn’t.”

The war in Afghanistan was the response to 9/11, not the Iraq war, but when watching this movie, you wouldn’t know this.

Beuchamp elaborates, “it’s a movie that’s going to leave viewers with a false perception of what happened.”

A glowing Associated Press review of the movie also wrote, “’American Sniper’ may be a much-needed tribute to the sacrifice of American soldiers, but it’s lacking context. Few Iraqis here are seen as anything but the enemy.”

In presenting such a narrow view of the war, Eastwood effectively portrays a very biased work with a particular point of view. That is propaganda.

Maria Esquinca may be reached at [email protected]