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Sunday, February 1, 2015

American Sniper ignites debate about hero status and glorifying the US war machine


 SOURCE: NEWS.COM.AU
 Former US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle killed 160 people during four tours of Iraq. Picture: Paul Moseley / The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Source: AP
Former US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle killed 160 people during four tours of Iraq. Picture: Paul Moseley / The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Source: AP

WAS American Sniper Chris Kyle a hero or a villain?
The former US Navy Seal’s war record — 160 confirmed kills including 19 kills in a 24-hour period — is the subject of the Hollywood blockbuster that has grossed more than $128 million at the US box office. But the movie has been labelled “pro-war” and has been compared to Nazi propaganda by some early reviewers.
Australians are expected to flock to the cinema to catch a glimpse of Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of the now-deceased Kyle this weekend. Before that, we take a look at the man behind the rifle and what people are saying about him.

Sniper Chris Kyle served four tours of Iraq and was once dubbed the ‘Devil of Ramadi’. Pi
Sniper Chris Kyle served four tours of Iraq and was once dubbed the ‘Devil of Ramadi’. Picture: Rick Homan Source: Supplied
AMERICA’S DEADLIEST SNIPER?
Chris Kyle was killed in 2013 by a fellow veteran at a shooting range in the US, aged 38. His legacy as America’s deadliest sniper was already written.
During four tours of Iraq, Kyle recorded 160 kills though that number is somewhat misleading. The real number is closer to 250 because 90 additional kills were never confirmed. He did most of his damage in the city of Ramadi in 2006 where he was dubbed the ‘Devil of Ramadi’ by insurgents.
His long-distance kills are what separated Kyle from other snipers. In Fallujah in 2004, then one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Kyle delivered a kill shot from more than 1400m. Later, he eliminated an enemy holding a rocket-propelled grenade from almost 2km away.

Sniper Chris Kyle lies on a baby crib turned on its side during a staging for the assault
Sniper Chris Kyle lies on a baby crib turned on its side during a staging for the assault on Fallujah. Picture: Rick Homan Source: Supplied
Former Black Team sniper Howard Wasdin later commented that “you’ve got to be good” to take a man down from that distance, according to the New York Post.
“There was a point I was arrogant enough to say you don’t need any luck. But a 1,600-yard shot? OK, you’ve got to be good — you really need to refine your breathing and squeezing skills, eye relief, shoulder placement, all that. But you still have to have a little bit of luck,” Wasdin said.
His exploits were first covered in detail in the book Modern American Snipers by Chris Martin and later in the Clint Eastwood-directed film making waves for its depiction of Kyle’s heroics.

A billboard for the film in west LA was defaced on Tuesday night. Picture: Sky News.
A billboard for the film in west LA was defaced on Tuesday night. Picture: Sky News. Source: Supplied
HERO OR VILLAIN?
A prominent billboard in west Los Angeles was defaced with the word “murder” on Tuesday night local time, Sky News reported. Despite all the Oscars buzz and glowing reviews, there are still many who believe the film glorifies war.
Slate reported American Sniper “convinces viewers that Chris Kyle is what heroism looks like: a great guy who shoots a lot of people and doesn’t think twice about it”. The Guardian called the real American Sniper a “hate-filled killer”.
Controversial documentary maker Michael Moore tweeted that “snipers aren’t heroes” and that he was taught snipers were “cowards”. He later clarified his tweet, saying he was not talking about Chris Kyle specifically.

Bradley Cooper has spoken publicly about distancing American Sniper from the politics of
Bradley Cooper has spoken publicly about distancing American Sniper from the politics of war. Picture: Warner Bros. Keith Bernstein / AP Photo Source: AP
Actor Seth Rogen compared the film to a fictional Nazi propaganda movie from Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds,” he wrote.
In that film, a German rifleman shoots dead hundreds of enemy soldiers to the cheers of a pro-German audience in a French cinema.

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