You know, I once upon a time had some semblance of respect for Clint Eastwood’s work both as an actor and a director, but homeboy’s done gone off the jingoistic deep end in the last several years to the point he’s geriactrically crapping in his pants. He needs a diaper — an American Diaper — to contain the patriotic refuse he’s rendered in the past ten years to include J. Edgar, Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers. Give it a rest, Clint, and lay off the lost dream crap because it was, and is, just that — a dream — something we learned from Inception. Clint’s latest directorial offering is entitled American Sniper. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, or read about it, or maybe even wasted your money to watch it at the theater? In case you haven’t, it’s based, loosely or not, on a novel with the same name written by a true, real-life American sniper, now deceased, by the name of Chris Kyle. Of all the projects Clint could have chosen to produce and direct, he chose this. Why? Maybe because Clint, since he’s nearing his expiration date, wants to go out with his head held high like so many before him, but what he doesn’t realize, and those before him didn’t either, is that up is down and down is up so by looking up, by holding his head high and proud, he’s actually unwittingly hanging it in shame. Oops, Clint crapped his pants — again.
I know that sounds harsh and overly-critical and completely out of character for me, but this time it’s true. I promise, even though it’s all lies. I wouldn’t be nearly as critical had Clint created a fictional account based on a character that did not exist in real life, but Clint didn’t do that. He created a fictional movie based on a real-life character meaning the truth was left at the door and this individual’s character and persona were air-brushed to paint him in the most positive light possible. Afterall, isn’t American Sniper a play on words and aren’t we intended to read that play on words as American Hero?
Frankly, I didn’t know about this movie until this past week. I had heard of Chris Kyle, but whatever I had read about him or knew about him was quickly obscured and written over by other data and information from the ever-quickening and overwhelming news cycle. So, when I first heard about this movie, I said the following at another blog as my initial reaction:
Does anyone know anything about this new Clint Eastwood movie, American Sniper, that everyone’s raving about and that’s breaking box office records?
Is it about Charles Whitman (an ex-Marine), the Texas Belltower Sniper, or is it about Lee Boyd Malvo, the DC/Beltway Sniper? Would American Beauty be a better title for this movie even though that title’s already been taken?
I was going to link to a YouTube clip showing the sniper scene in the desert from the movie The Hurt Locker, but interestingly enough, or not, the only clips I could find made sure to edit out the part where the Iraqi sniper (or “the enemy” sniper) picks off the three intelligence operatives before the bomb patrol unit that stumbled upon the spies can figure out what the hell’s going on and where the shots are coming from. Instead, any clips of this scene only show the American shooters picking off the Iraqi sniper. When “they’re” doing the sniping, it’s cowardly and ignoble and unworthy of even a YouTube appearance, but when “we’re” doing the sniping it’s heroic and glorious and high fives all the way around. The Hurt Locker showed sniping for the ignoble and unglamorous act it is, thus proving that contemporary war, if it ever was, is no longer about noble gallantry, but about kills, regardless of who or what the victims are, at any price. These are no gladiators. Give me Russell Crow who took on lions with his bare hands, not these pussies who hide in nests, suited up to the hilt, executing their “target” from a mile away and never looking their foe in the eye before taking that life. Snipers are closer to drone operators than they are to gladiators. It’s nothing to be proud of, and it’s certainly not heroic, or no more heroic than the maintenance staff changing the oil and tires on the Humvees, and yet we don’t see any Clint Eastwood movies about that, do we? American Mechanic, anyone?
Perhaps the Islamic State will counter with its own rendering, directed by Steven Spielberg no doubt if the price is right, called Iraqi Sniper. If they do, I’m betting it breaks the attendance records set by American Sniper — The Mecca Theater will be sold out night and day for six months running at least and Spielberg will be even more fabulously wealthy than he already is. Perhaps Steven can then take all that hypothetical newfound wealth and invest it in oil since we all know the price, a tax by and for the rich, will surely rise again and Spielberg can double his wealth yet again. It takes money to make money, doncha know? Don’t laugh — all is possible in this crazy, “brave” new world we live in.
Since Clint was so hellbent on making a movie mythologizing a real-life character, we have to ask, who and/or what is this Chris Kyle dope? Come to find out, he’s not a very admirable fella — certainly not someone who’s life story is worthy of the praise and attention it’s received and is receiving. To put it bluntly, because that’s the only way there is to put it, Chris Kyle, in my opinion of course, was an egocentric, arrogant Publicity Hound, not to mention a borderline sociopathic Glory Hog (in opposition to Navy SEAL tradition) and last but certainly not least, he was a proven (in a court of law) dishonorable and deceitful fabulist and slanderer. That’s what an American Hero amounts to these days — “the child is grown, the dream is gone.” But please, don’t take my opinionated word for it, read this Slate article entitled American Liar underscoring Chris Kyle’s pathological lying and Jesse Ventura taking him to task and suing his ass for it. An excerpt from the linked article for reference:
Why Jesse Ventura is likely to collect millions from Chris Kyle’s American Sniper.
Chris Kyle, author of the runaway best-seller American Sniper, was a military hero who killed 160 people during his four tours of duty in Iraq and is now the subject of an Oscar-nominated blockbuster. He was also a fabulist. Before his tragic murder in 2013, Kyle told a number of extremely dubious stories. In one tale, Kyle claimed he killed two carjackers at a gas station southwest of Dallas, and that his driver’s license directed local police officers who questioned him to contact the Department of Defense. Kyle also claimed he traveled to post-Katrina New Orleans with a sniper friend, set up his gun atop the Superdome, and picked off dozens of armed looters.
The 160 kills are confirmed by the Pentagon. But there are absolutely no records of, or witnesses to, the latter stories. They are, perhaps intentionally, unverifiable. But it wasn’t these fantastical tales of vigilante justice that got Kyle into legal trouble. It was another, much less exciting story—one that wasn’t just unverifiable, but verifiably false. That tale, conveyed in a mere three pages of American Sniper, has put Kyle’s widow on the hook for $1.845 million in damages. And it may soon make Kyle’s publishers wish they approached the veteran’s claims with great deal of skepticism.
Kyle’s legal difficulties emerged from a subchapter of American Sniper titled “Punching Out Scruff Face.” In it, Kyle describes beating up a former Navy SEAL (“Scruff Face”) after the SEAL claims American soldiers deserved to die in Iraq. Early drafts of the book identified the SEAL as Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota and famed professional wrestler, but Kyle’s publishers removed the name for fear of a lawsuit. Nonetheless, in a radio interview following the book’s release, Kyle admitted that “Scruff Face” was Ventura, and he repeated the claim soon after on The O’Reilly Factor. American Sniper shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list, becoming a smash hit for its publisher, HarperCollins, selling more than 1.5 million copies by July of 2014.
There was, however, a problem: The Ventura story wasn’t true, and Ventura meant to prove it. So he took Kyle to trial, suing him—and, after he died, his estate—for defamation and unjust enrichment. In the United States, defamation cases are extremely difficult to win, thanks to the First Amendment. When allegedly defamatory statements pertain to a public figure, the plaintiff mustn’t just prove those statements were false. He has to prove the defendant made those statements with “actual malice”—that is, knowledge that they were false or with “reckless disregard” for their falsity. Very few defamation plaintiffs can make it over the high bar of actual malice.
Ventura made it. On July 29, 2014, a federal jury returned from six days of deliberations to award Ventura $1.845 million in damages—specifically, $500,000 for defamation and about $1.345 million for unjust enrichment. (In other words, Kyle unjustly profited from defaming Ventura, and so his estate must give Ventura some of that money.) Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, promptly filed for “judgment as a matter of law,” asking the trial judge to reverse’s the jury’s verdict because the jury clearly got it wrong. Failing that, she asked for an entirely new trial. The judge denied both requests, defending the jury’s verdict as legally and factually justifiable. Kyle’s widow is currently appealing the decision; her odds of winning appear quite low.
More at link
Nice. Way to go Clint. You too Bradley Cooper (any relation to Anderson?) — there are no silver linings in your, or this, playbook — you’re a money-grubbing opportunist, plain and simple, and if that involves partaking in a propaganda piece if the price is right, so be it. It’s all about me, isn’t it? — and if you think about it, that makes you and Clint the perfect candidates to mythologize Chris Kyle on the digitized silver screen because it appears he lived by the same credo — it’s all about me. Hollywood, if nothing else, is so about that. Unless Clint meant the movie as satire, and if so, wow, way to pull the jingoist wool over their eyes.
To be fair, there are some positive things that can be said about Chris Kyle. He did reach out to wounded and afflicted veterans (taking them out to shoot antelope as surrogate “savages”) and he was an above average marksman. Does that make him a hero or even heroic? Hell no. And what of this hero talk and the implications of heroism? Do you little lost sheep need a hero so bad that you’re willing to carve a fragile and crumbling edifice of one out of rotten wood? Apparently so. Does the name Galileo ring a bell? No doubt greater than 50% of those who are fans of American Sniper and Chris Kyle have no knowledge of Galileo or Bertolt Brecht and couldn’t care less, but I’ll state what he, via Brecht, said for posterity, because it’s pertinent and applicable. Brecht’s Galileo said about heroism and heroes: “Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.” Unhappy indeed — so unhappy in fact, it must feed itself a steady diet of Happy Meals daily to make up for the deleterious deficit.
When fans of American Sniper and Chris Kyle are queried as to what makes him a hero, they’ll claim a couple of things; Firstly, that he’s the greatest sniper that ever lived with more kills than any other and secondly, that he saved lives. Let’s examine this case for heroism more closely. Yes, Kyle was an above-average marksman, but he’s not, by any means, the greatest marksman of all-time with the most kills (as if most kills in an illegal, mis-matched war of naked aggression is heroic) — that designation belongs to Simo “Simuna” Häyhä, a Finnish marksman who racked up 505 or more kills in The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1940. He was so feared and loathed, the Red Army nicknamed him White Death. In fact, there’s even a “girl sniper” who racked up more kills than the steroidal liar, Kyle. Her name was Lyudmila Pavlichenko and she scored more than 300 kills during WWII. Apparently, Americans have a love affair with snipers that goes way back, because this woman was also seen as a hero not only in the Soviet Union but also in America where she made appearances to sold-out crowds who cheered her accomplishments.
As for the claim that Kyle is a warrior and hero because he saved lives, if we parse that claim with a bit more honest and impartial scrutiny, we see it’s ridiculously removed from the truth and disingenuously misleading. As the story goes, after failing the rodeo circuit (an injury is failing), he decided to pursue the military because, I’m guessing, he wasn’t too bright and he was too good for, or too lazy to do, anything else. Who knows what the real reason is/was ‚ since we know Kyle’s a pathological liar we certainly can’t and shouldn’t take his word for it. Considering the way he comported himself once he was immersed and vested heavily in his military career, the evidence reveals he liked killing and even said so himself on several occasions.
Honest accounts of the true death total for the Iraq War & Occupation, both direct and indirect, is well over a million people and probably closer to two million. The majority of that death total was non-combatant. Wrap your head around that. If America didn’t engage in this illegal war of aggression by Nuremberg standards, then those 1-2 million lives would have been spared, not to mention the countless other casualties resulting in a lifetime of torturous suffering for the afflicted. But I’m betting those lives don’t matter to those who claim Kyle saved lives. They matter to me because non-combatant, innocent lives are equal in my eyes, be they Iraqi or American. Kyle, in his enthusiasm to murder “savages”, willingly, and I’d say zealously, aided and abetted the illegal and aggressive invasion and occupation of Iraq, and as such is every bit as responsible for those 1-2 million needless deaths as are those who decided to invade Iraq for reasons people will not and cannot accept so they accept instead official
fabrications reasons or contained unofficial fabrications reasons. He wasn’t brought to the “battlefield” kicking and screaming via a draft, he volunteered without a second thought. If we net all the lives, the ones he may or may not have saved with the 1-2 million needless deaths because of his and his comrades’ illegal presence on Iraqi sand, he helped take many times more lives than he could possibly have saved.
It’s pretty weak and specious to characterize number of kills as heroism, I would think. But if you must, if they must, Kyle is no match for Fat Man and Little Boy, who by official accounts killed approximately 220,000 people dwarfing Kyle’s paltry 160. It’s not even a comparison. Little Boy and Fat Man put all human heroes to shame if kills is the yardstick by which heroes are measured. And don’t give me that “but they’re bombs, not humans” bullshit. It’s the kills that matter and if those kills saved lives, not whether what did the killing was human or not. And officially it is claimed by most historians that the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan prevented a mainland invasion which would have resulted in many more deaths than were attributed to the dropping of the bombs. Also, Little Boy and Fat Man didn’t brag about it and gloat, and in fact, they sacrificed themselves in the process — something Kyle was unwilling to do. They didn’t contract a ghostwriter to write a book about their stoic heroism called American Bomb. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give special thanks to the progenitors of nuclear weaponry for the countless lives the advent of such saved for the past 70 years. One can only imagine the death toll without the nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging over humanity’s head. Einstein and Oppenheimer are saints, if not heroes. Was that absurd? Of course it was, just as this whole American Sniper propaganda business is absurd. That’s the point.
One thing’s for certain, more than a few celebs are up in arms about this movie, and the media is amplifying the differences of opinion. Much to do has been made of Seth Rogan’s and Michael Moore’s comments to include some other celebs, specifically Dean Cain, threatening to kick their asses for insulting his deceased friend and hero, Chris Kyle. It’s hilarious — and embarrassing — and great satirical material. I cover it all here at my Twitter account.
Moore is not correct, Americans aren’t taught that snipers are cowardly, not now and not in the past as I’ve proven earlier in this blog post by underscoring the female Soviet sniper’s popular tour of America. I don’t think snipers are cowardly, but I do think they’re superfluous and increasingly archaic. An atom bomb or two with the explosive capacity of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would have been much more efficient and much less expensive at achieving the 1-2 million casualties in Iraq, but then what fun would that have been? Kyle would have missed out on his hero status and he would have missed out on his admitted fun killing Iraqi savages. One such adventure had him picking off so-called insurgents crossing the Tigris river holding beach balls above their heads because they couldn’t swim. He sniped the beachballs and they drowned to death. Sounds like fun to me — something to do on a Sunday afternoon when you’re bored out of your mind and you get paid for it. Woo Hoo — what’s not to like?
They didn’t drop nukes not because they’re humanitarian, but rather because you don’t make any money dropping nukes, and war is about money and profits. Those taxpayer dollars used to fund the Iraq War aren’t/weren’t a cost — it is/was a transfer of wealth from the increasingly struggling, dispossessed and disintegrating American middle class to the wealthy, elite shareholders of defense contractors and energy companies. Dropping a couple of nukes would have resulted in a similar number of dead and injured non-combatants and combatants alike, but it wouldn’t have been profitable, so it wasn’t considered. War, so long as it’s not on your soil and the chaos that ensues is controlled and contained, is good business. If there isn’t a war, one must be conjured just as the Iraq War was.
And what about Seth Rogan’s comments for which he took so much heat and later backpedaled on? I think he was spot on, especially if you consider the Tea Partiers’ perception of this movie, and let’s face it, that’s the sociopolitical demographic that’s responsible for this movie’s record-smashing success thus far. From a Venn Diagram perspective, it overlaps significantly with the sociopolitical demographic that made the Jew-hating Mel Gibson fabulously wealthy beyond his wildest anti-Semitic dreams with his The Passion of the Christ. For the record, I have never seen The Passion of the Christ and I doubt I ever will, but I’ll never say never as I just did. Back to Rogan’s comment. He said the following for those who don’t know already: “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.” Seth, at least spell the name of the movie correctly; It’s Inglourious Basterds, not Inglorious Basterds. Jesus!
Oh my God, what a horrible thing for Seth to say — somebody beat the shit out of him or better yet maybe a Navy SEAL like Kyle can blow this anti-American traitor’s head off or in the least snipe his beach ball so he drowns in a puddle of his own sweat, saliva and urine. Seriously, I don’t see the problem with his comment. American Sniper is a propaganda film about a prominent American sniper just as the movie (Stolz der Nation) within the movie Inglourious Basterds was about a prominent German sniper. The movie conveyed that the Good German is surrounded on all sides by enemies who hate Germans for their superiority and this sniper, against all odds and faced with overwhelming life-threatening danger manages to kill every last enemy in a small town all by his lonesome (the number killed was outrageous and lacked credibility). In fact, Germany was the overwhelming force in WWII and it was Germany that put country after country in the very position this German sniper was in per the propaganda movie despite the embarrassing and unglamorous truth of the account. It was the other way around from what was presented in the propaganda film, but the German people had to be brainwashed into believing Germany was the persecuted one fighting enemies who wanted to annihilate them for their righteous superiority. Sounds like American Sniper to me, or it’s close enough for Seth Rogan’s comparison to be called apple to apple and not apple to orange.
As I’ve mentioned, the nucleus of the sociopolitical demographic target for American Sniper is the Tea Party set. They’re a bunch of fruitcakes who will believe anything that fuels their hate-filled rage. They’d make great fascist fodder if they had half a brain, but they don’t, and they lack the resolve and self-discipline to make good fascists. They rile easy though and like to whine and complain and misdirect their anger and frustration and support wayward causes. This crowd has taken to abusing Jesse Ventura for having the audacity to sue Kyle for his slandering lies. They’re criticizing Ventura for taking money off Kyle’s emotionally and physically vulnerable and beleaguered widow, Taya. How Victorian of them. Taya, being a woman — and a widow no less, is entirely incapable of getting by without her big, strong, noble, heroic and, lest we forget, lying warrior husband. It’s 2015 and this mindset still exists. Of course, I think Taya knows better and is milking this publicity for all it’s worth, and in that sense she’s no different than the Kardashians — leveraging name recognition cache and exploiting it while the getting’s good. Here’s a YouTube clip of Taya panhandling a new book by her deceased husband that he allegedly wrote and completed prior to his untimely death. I’d like to see someone investigate whether Kyle really wrote this book or whether a ghostwriter wrote it and Taya and her marketing team are using Kyle’s name cache to strike while the iron is hot and recognize as much profit as possible while the braindead Tea Party public’s interest is still piqued.
If Jesse wants to be a real man, he should incessantly, day in and day out, harass Taya for phone sex and request she eat fallafil in the shower while skillfully loofah-ing her perky, supple, lathered and inviting breasts — and Jesse could write a children’s book with a chapter about sex and furnish Taya with an autographed copy imploring her to read it to Kyle’s son so that he may learn the ways of a real man. That’s what a real man would do, but since Jesse Ventura isn’t a real man, he won’t follow Bill’s advice.
Here’s a real man. This is the Tea Party set. This is America — or so they think. Juxtapose it with Ferguson or Washington DC and you soon realize that there is no unifying description of America, except insane perhaps. This fella wants to avenge the “honor” of Kyle and Kyle’s widow and he doesn’t have faith in the veracity of America’s system of jurisprudence unless it renders a decision in his, and his own’s, favor. I call that a poor sport and a cheater. But hey, he’s a Lone Survivor (another movie I will most likely never see) and war hero, so I’ll cut him some slack on the hangman’s noose he’s fashioned for himself. The scene of this video is comical in and of itself. People will do anything for money, dignity be damned. As for the Navy SEALS, if it was once an admirable outfit, it is no longer. You guys are fuckin clowns — you’re the real clown posse. From here on out, when I hear or see the name Navy SEAL(s) mentioned, it’ll conjure an impression of a pathetic and laughable military organization feigning to be noble and dignified whilst seeking all the false glory it can muster and turning that false glory into bling ca ching as fast as it can. There are no great men, only mice.
I’m not alone in my sentiment, and no, I’m not talking about the pathetic, disingenuous and sensationalist progressives like Matt Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald. I’m not a progressive and their criticism of American Sniper is not my criticism. One person’s criticism of American Sniper and Chris Kyle that I share mostly with few exceptions is Alex Jones. Jones is over-the-top on a great many issues, but on this issue he is spot on and he keeps his analysis measured and tempered. I agree with 98% of his assessment. Well said, Alex.
Part of the problem with American Sniper is the Iraq War itself. Considering what I’ve mentioned above, it’s a foolhardy endeavor to present a heroic and positive message emanating from an illegal, immoral and ignoble war. The reality of sniping isn’t glamorous and praiseworthy. The Iraq War was a Clusterfuck and America and The West were criminal aggressors. A much better movie utilizing the Iraq War as the context is The Hurt Locker. It’s not a movie the Pentagon will use for recruitment. You won’t leave the theater feeling like a proud patriot after watching it, even though it’s no longer in theaters. In The Hurt Locker, there are no easy answers — or any answers at all — only the raw madness of war. Here’s a sampling. This YouTube clip is the best sniper scene I’ve ever witnessed in a movie and it shows sniping for what it is. There is nothing noble and glorious or fun about it. Do you hate and despise the Iraqi snipers? You never see them, so it’s hard to hate them, but you sure as hell hate and despise the sniping. Now imagine you’re an Iraqi — wouldn’t you feel the same way about an American Sniper and sniping in general? It’s madness. These guys look like fools until they are finally able to get their bearings thanks to a level-headed comrade who can contain his emotions and think straight. There is nothing fun about this — it’s the hell of war — it’s insane — and Kathryn Bigelow (does she need Loofah protection as well, Bill?) does an excellent job of capturing and portraying it.
In an earlier blog post, The Igor Sanction, I commended Clint Eastwood on his acting and directing. I won’t withdraw or retract that commendation, but I will say and emphasize that this latest movie, and a number of your offerings lately, bite the big one, Clint. You hit it out of the park with Mystic River and Gran Torino, so I’m not sure what’s going on with you except to say you’re letting patriotism and jingoism get in the way of art. You’re a wealthy man — wealthier than most folks could possibly imagine and you can and do write your own ticket in Hollywood. You could have chosen any project to produce and/or direct and you chose this load of crap. It’s more than disappointing — it’s sad, Clint. Why couldn’t you have taken a page out of Sergio Leone’s book and told a fictional tale using the Iraq War as the backdrop even though the story wasn’t necessarily about the Iraq War, but it was a not so subtle, nuanced and apolitical statement about that war and war in general just as Leone did with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Clint, if you’re reading this and I know you are, I have a deal. Let’s work on your next project together and create a new genre in the spirit of the late great Sergio Leone. We can call it Ramen Middle Easterns versus Spaghetti Westerns. Our inaugural movie to kick it off can be raw and low-budget like Sergio’s pasta productions — and maybe we can even solicit the benefaction of Ennio Moriccone to provide the score for a minimal fee. What do you say, Clint, do you feel lucky? Well, do ya? I do.
Finally, to wrap this long-winded rant up, if you were going to produce and direct an Iraq War movie based on a real life account, Clint, you could have told it like it really is, and not how the Pentagon and Kyle’s fans wanted it. It would have been a better story and maybe the focus wouldn’t have been Kyle, so much as it would have been about PTSD and the American military’s inability to deal with it effectively. Kyle’s death is the stuff of Shakespearian Tragedy. You missed a golden opportunity, Clint. There’s still time before you kick the bucket to redeem yourself, but I doubt you will. The New Yorker in Jon Krakauer storytelling fashion, told the excellent tale of Chris Kyle and his murderer — an impartial, objective, intriguing and compelling account that indicts the American military for gross negligence. Here’s the referenced excellent article — the real story. It would be ideal and fitting if Ventura took whatever was left over from his jury award after paying his legal fees and apply it to Eddie Routh’s defense and a lawsuit on Eddie’s behalf against the American military for its turning a cold shoulder on its responsibility. If there ever was an insanity defense, Eddie Routh is it, but the Tea Partiers want his head. The sweet taste of vengeance. Perhaps Clint serendipitously covered Kyle’s Shakespearian death with this line from one of his famous movies:
Chris Kyle clearly didn’t know his, and with Eddie Routh he bit off more Karma bullet than he could chew. You couldn’t write a better script, but Clint threw it in the trashcan and replaced it with feces.
Well, that’s it for now folks. I’m through slinging shit, for now, and I need to change my diaper and wash up before heading out to see American Sniper.
Until next time, remember, it’s all lies so lie well and for all the right reasons.