The wide range of responses to this movie is astonishing – we’ve seen everything from cult-like dedication to venomous hatred. As with the public, our minions have had varied reactions. We can’t agree on much of anything, much less the relative merits or message of a movie like this! So we decided to have a few of them give their own impressions. This one is taken from an angry Facebook diatribe from our favorite revolver-loving EOD guy. Mad Duo
American Sniper: Kupari’s Take
I saw American Sniper tonight.
There’s been a lot of criticism of it from the left-leaning Hollywood crows. Very little of it criticized the merits of the movie itself (the story, the cinematography, the acting, etc.). Most of it could be boiled down to the fact that those sorts of people really, really hated the Iraq war. Columnists and other talking heads have called Chris Kyle a sociopath, a murderer, a coward and a racist. They’ve said the movie is nothing but pro-war propaganda, that it’s a simplistic view of a complex war.
…as if they’d fucking know anything about what war is like. None of these talking heads, to the best of my knowledge, have ever served a day in their lives in the military. They more than likely don’t know anyone who has, except maybe someone’s grandfather or some such.
I got news for you, folks: the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan were and are brutal, murderous savages. The popular media line is to compare them to the American revolutionaries, that they were just regular people defending their homes from the invading Americans.
The reality is, most of the insurgents in Iraq weren’t even Iraqi. They killed far more Iraqis than they did Coalition troops. Their successors, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, continues to kill people in Iraq.
But, they say, Americans invaded. Americans did Abu Ghraib. Americans did this, or that, blah blah blah, moral equivalence. An unfortunate product of our cynical culture is to find the slightest flaw in anything or anyone, declare moral equivalence and stop thinking about it. It’s an easy path to take, because finding flaws in others is a great way to avoid thinking about your own.
There is no moral equivalence between US forces and the likes of the Islamic State. There was no moral equivalence between the Allies and the Nazis in World War II, either.
Speaking of, you could remake American Sniper, set it in World War II, scene by scene, a straight-up copy, but set in a different time period, and none of this controversy would have happened. The same people who would like to lecture us on the complexities of the Middle East have a laughably simplistic view of World War II: FDR beat the Nazis, who were bad people. It’s easy to dehumanize them now, and culturally safe to do so. No one is going to gripe that you’re being too harsh on the Nazis.
The only real difference between the likes of the Islamic State and the Nazis is that the Nazis were much better organized and a lot less religious.
Back to American Sniper. Contrary to the media whinging, it does not paint a pretty, simplistic, rah-rah ‘Merica picture of the war. War is ugly, and the film shows you how ugly it is.
It shows the brutality of the insurgents as well, which is the real reason the lefties have their panties in a wad over it: these people are supposed to be the victims of George Bush’s aggression. Before we came along, they were simple people leading simple lives. They became violent because we made them that way when we came in to steal their oil. The silly, 17th Century myth of the “noble savage” still persists today, and that’s how many view the non-western world. Simple people who want to live simple lives, constantly victimized by Western imperialism.
So yeah, the lefty talking heads aren’t going to like American Sniper. There’s no Platonic lecture about how bad American policy was, there’s no hand-wringing, there’s no waxing philosophical about moral equivalence. It painted a very realistic picture of what a decade of rotations to the Sandbox have produced, right down to the PTSD and trouble adjusting to being home. Thirteen years of war took a heavy toll on the American military, and those whose circles don’t include any veterans will never really get it because it’s completely alien to them.
I do have some realism nitpicks. Satellite phones simply don’t work that well. You can’t have an “inside voice” conversation inside of an HMMWV. Explosives are more dust and less fireball. The early parts of the film were almost cheesy in their, “aw-shucks, mister” portrayal of Kyle, but I didn’t know him; that may have been spot on. The supporting characters were underdeveloped to the point where I couldn’t recall any of their names. Some of the support dialogue was badly done, and man, Navy SEALs sure have a keen sense of marketing. It wasn’t super cheesy like Act of Valor was though.
I haven’t read the book, I didn’t know Chris Kyle and I’ve never been to Iraq. I can’t say how much of it actually happened and how much of it was embellished. I don’t care, really; anyone looking to Hollywood for a 100% accurate biography is going to be disappointed.
I do think Clint Eastwood did a good job portraying an ugly war. Chris Kyle was assuredly a flawed man, as are we all, but I have no doubt that he was an incredibly brave one. All I can say about him now is that I hope he’s at peace.
I’m not trying to play the war-weary veteran schtick here. I deployed to Afghanistan exactly once, and compared to previous rotations in my AO, we had a pretty good tour. I’m a cake-eating civilian now, with too much time on his hands and a rapidly expanding waistline. I didn’t make any sacrifices that everyone else didn’t. I came home with all my fingers and toes.
Nonetheless, I believe I saw some of the very best America has to offer in Afghanistan. I saw young men and women, recklessly brave, struggle through danger, hardship, loneliness, and fatigue. They did this fighting a war that the politicians just want to go away and the American people don’t understand, if they were even aware of it.
Military service doesn’t mean you’re a better person, but it has the potential to bring out the best in you. War brings out the best in people, and it also brings out the worst. It takes discipline and restraint most will never appreciate to stop it from dragging you down, turning you into an animal (like the insurgents Americans fought).
A snotty columnist at the Guardian opined something to the effect of Americans like the story of Chris Kyle because they can’t come to grips with how Iraq was for nothing. This preachy, self-righteous fuck has no idea. I have my own feelings about Iraq and Afghanistan, but they don’t matter. Hindsight is 20/20, and all of the hand wringing in the world isn’t going to change the past. They were ugly, complex wars that most people didn’t really understand. I will say that a vet with multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan probably has a much better appreciation of the war than some dipshits at a British tabloid.
I will also echo an opinion I shared back in November of 2011, when I was still in Afghanistan: America doesn’t deserve the military it has, as imperfect as it is.
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.
So Sayeth Kupari
About the Author: Mike Kupari is a former EOD Tech turned UXO technician who does contract work in interesting places. A self-professed revolverphile and sixgun aficianado who writes for Baen Publishing, he is one of the few people we know who can combine basket weave leather and tiger stripes and somehow manage to make it look good. Kupari is the co-author of the novels Dead Six and Swords of Exodus and hopes to someday build a porta-potty cleaning empire with a whole fleet of those shit-sucking trucks. Let’s make that dream come to fruition. You can help Help make Kupari’s Honey Wagons Worldwide a reality. Read him here on Breach-Bang-Clear and buy his books.