American Sniper, both fact and fiction

Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) takes his first shots as a sniper. Kyle is credited with about 160 confirmed kills, making him the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.

American Sniper, the film depicting record-breaking U.S. sniper Chris Kyle, has been attracting both critics and viewers. On its opening day, January 16, the movie raked in a whopping $30.5 million. Sniper also scored criticisms based on the controversies surrounding Kyle’s memoir, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.”

The polarized opinions on the motion picture create a phenomenon mirroring the nation’s views on the war/conflict of the past decade. One part of the country shrieks ‘heroism’ while another calls ‘foul’ on the celebration of a man with the blood of 160 people on his hands.

Many attribute the divide solely to political party lines, but ultimately the divide is based on values in general.

American Sniper satiates the thirst for patriotic pride, but illustrates the successes of a liar. This is where the controversy appears. It turns out that important details in Kyle’s tell-all memoir were as fake as the infamous baby in the movie. According to an article on Slate, the book displays an event in which a fellow soldier, later identified as Jesse Ventura, stated negative remarks and was punched in the face by the violently heroic Chris Kyle. After the identification of Ventura as the memoir’s antagonist, book sales rocketed. The problem is that the story was completely fabricated, with photographic evidence available to prove it.

Yes, Chris Kyle was a liar. Based on his accounts in his book, detailed in the article linked above, he was also an American-killer. Kyle stated he killed two carjackers in Dallas and picked off robbers in New Orleans after Katrina from the top of the Superdome. These stories are rather dubious. And in the end, if they are true, he was out of line; if they are false, he lied again.

The movie is not much better at truthfulness than the memoir; it is as much fluff as it is fact. Raw details of family life are at some points glossed over in favor of the graphic, possibly Islamophobia-inducing murder scenes. Chris Kyle was much less upset about his killings in real life, stating, “It was my duty to shoot, and I don’t regret it.”

After watching the film myself, it is blatantly apparent that this is a movie. Yes, facts are left out and skewed. But honestly, Hollywood is not going to take a pro-military movie they can easily capitalize on and turn it into a public display of the ugly truth. The place to display the deplorable parts of careers is in online articles exposing liars and cheaters. We go to websites like Slate to impose judgement, and we go to the movie theaters to admire/feel for the characters. Yes, it seems Chris Kyle has lied about a few things, and he has taken many lives under the Navy SEALS. But, what I can tell you is this: viewers watch for that small part of his life that represented American victory, no matter how factual.


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