Robert Gordon

“American Sniper’s” Sinister Philosophy: Pro-war Propaganda Wrapped in Moral Truth

“American Sniper” is a difficult movie to criticize, partly because of the pro-war jingoism that’s long been a staple of post-9/11 society and partly because the movie itself is competently made, but mostly because of the dogmatic belief among supporters that “American Sniper” is a “human story” and not a political one. And that’s exactly the problem. Taking a conflict in which there are deep historical, economic, social and political roots, and then atomizing it as a single man’s story, robs the conflict of context, and this is a political act in itself. The act of de-politicization serves to obscure the ideological framework within which the story operates, coating it with a human face. In studying this “face” however, the experiences of sniper Chris Kyle that constitute the film, we can see how beneath the obviously “human” story is a troubling philosophical thesis that speaks to the rise of neoconservatism among the U.S. political and military elite.

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