By Mateo Romero
Kyle is the ideological descendant of Custer and the Seventh Cavalry. He belongs to an elite white male cadre of swinging dick meat eaters who will solve the problems of invaded brown people with a bullet. Iraqi and Syrian combatants are called “fuckin’ savages.” Direct statements of racism and death may or may not reflect the realities of the modern U.S. military. But they do give rise to false dichotomies that dehumanize the enemy and make it kinda fun, cool and necessary to kill them.
For the moment, Sniper is the fave mascot of the reactionary right wing of white America. Its visual beauty softens the harsh fact that the movie glorifies death, racism, hatred, religious prejudice, sexism, colonialism and moral corrosion. It presents some great ideas about caring for and protecting the people of your tribe. If you’re a white Christian American, that is. Women, minorities, kids, Muslims need not apply. They’re part of the bullet-to-the-head fix.
Why is this film so important in its depiction of outdated and corrosive white conservative male values? Because it is a time of great change and social movement in the world. The time of white American male rule and hegemony is coming to an end. And American wingnuts don’t like it one bit.
"Injun" in Chris Kyle's AMERICAN SNIPER
In his autobiography, Kyle uses "Injun" in two places. Here's what he said on page 267:
Many people have written about the problems in American Sniper. Here's the main one:
“American Sniper’s” biggest lie: Clint Eastwood has a delusional Fox News problem
The insanities and fantasies at the heart of "American Sniper" explain everything about the state of the 2015 GOP
By Sophia A. McClennen
But that’s not the perceptions of many who watch Fox News. As the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland reported back in 2003: “Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions.” In their poll they found that 80 percent of Fox viewers held at least one of three Iraq-related misperceptions, more than any other news consumers, especially those that consume NPR and PBS.
The point is that the 9/11-Iraq link is delusional, but it is also a common link in public perceptions of those on the right who watch Fox News and clearly it is one that makes sense to Eastwood and those that think like him.
The second problem is the culture of violence. While the film tries to show Kyle wrestling at some level with some of his kills, he still very clearly divides the world into categories. As his father puts it in the film, there are wolves (those that want to kill you), sheep and sheep dogs (who have to protect the sheep from the wolves). Not only are there just three categories of life, but these categories are also defined solely by a logic of violence and aggression. In the film, Iraqis are almost all depicted as wolves, even women and children. Kyle’s first two kills are a young boy and his mother. But they posed a threat and thus needed to be killed. As Kyle later explains, he has no remorse over any of his kills, just over the lives he wished he could have protected.
At no point does the film consider the fact that the war was based on false justifications. At no point does it imagine that those in Iraq might have seen the U.S. soldiers as invaders in their homeland. At no point does it imagine that the violence suffered by our own soldiers could have been avoided if we simply hadn’t started the war to begin with. The logic of war is completely unquestioned, making this the most simplistic war film we have seen nominated for an Oscar in decades.