An Orientalist Account of the U.S. Reaction to American Sniper

An Orientalist Account of the U.S. Reaction to American Sniper

Disturbing outbursts of bloodthirsty patriotism have been reported across America over the last couple days. These incidents were sparked by a recently released film, American Sniper, though some have understandably confused the film with the unrelated American Psycho. The film, directed by the celebrated American Clint Eastwood, depicts the actions of a sniper in the state’s war against Iraq that began in 2003.


Chris Kyle, the soldier whose life is depicted in the film, killed over 150 Iraqis, including children, throughout the war. The opening scene of the film transitions between Kyle killing one of these children, and an animal, one of many comparisons made between animals and Iraqi lives throughout the movie.

Kyle wrote a best-selling memoir describing his actions in Iraq, which was filled with disturbing statements. Kyle calls the Iraqi people a “despicable evil” and refers to them as “savages” throughout the memoir. Kyle said his killing did not bother him, that he “loved what [he] did,” that his murders were “fun,” and that he only wished he “had killed more.”

The film has been labelled as “propaganda” by Rania Khalek, one of the few brave dissenters in America, who face societal persecution for their lack of adherence to patriotic norms. Khalek took to Twitter and claimed the film is especially dangerous because of “its rewriting of the Iraq War.” Khalek also claimed the film “portrays Arabs as subhuman creatures” and “portrays Iraqi women & children as soulless monsters who Chris Kyle is forced to kill to protect invading US soldiers.”

The American public, who make up a rich state full of Christian extremists with access to tremendous nuclear capacities, has lavished praise upon the film’s depiction of the war in Iraq. Here is a collection of the response from average Americans, who represent the population at large.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 8.31.42 PM

The film, released on January 16, has generated record breaking ticket sales thus far, grossing over $90.2 million.

Even film critics in America have celebrated American Sniper, illustrating just how severe the hatred is among the American population. The film was nominated for six awards, including best film, from the Oscars, which is a highly respected film award ceremony within the state.

These award nominations, and the film’s financial success, come despite the historical inaccuracy of the film. Ross Caputi, a former American soldier who participated in the siege depicted in the film, has come out in condemnation of the film and its inaccuracies despite the troubling political climate in America.

In an article Caputi claimed that few “documented facts” about the siege “come through in American Sniper.” These facts include that the Americans used white phosphorus on civilians, turned away humanitarian aid to those who needed it, cut off water and electricity to the 50,000 civilians trapped in the month long siege, and were participating in a war sparked by a set of lies.

Caputi also insightfully notes that “the fact that a man who participated in the 2nd siege of Fallujah — an operation that killed between 4,000 to 6,000 civilians, displaced 200,000, and may have created an epidemic of birth defects and cancers — can come home, be embraced as a hero, be celebrated for the number of people he has killed, write a bestselling book based on that experience, and have it made into a Hollywood film is something that we need to reflect on as a society.”

The American press, who should be leading critical reflection on the film, has instead been nearly unanimous in its support of the film. The New York Times, the most prominent American newspaper publishing from the heart of the country, said Eastwood made other directors “look like beginners.” Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times said the film’s action scenes, including those depicting the murder of Iraqi children, were “impeccably crafted.”

American Sniper is not the first film from America to offer propaganda justifying the slaughter and torture of civilians in the Middle East. Instead, the film joins a long line of similar films that have been well received by the American public. Most recently, the 2012 film Zero Dark Thirty glorified the use of illegal torture by American intelligence agencies. This film was the top grossing film of the weekend it was released, and also received critical praise including nominations for five Oscars, and four Golden Globes, another well respected American award show.

This trend of euphoric consumption of propaganda by the American public at large is especially troubling as the state approaches elections for a new president. Potential candidates including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, both related to former presidents, seem to offer little hope that the state’s bloodthirsty public will be disappointed in their quest for more blood in the Middle East. Can anyone turn this troubled state around?

See our Current issue


Join our Newsletter

Follow us on