Wednesday 21 January 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: American Sniper (2015)

Clint Eastwoods 'American Sniper' is a movie with two clashing stories. The first about a soldier in the army (i.e. the movie). The second about war and terrorism (i.e. the discussion).
Where the movie fails is by not explaining these issues two topics. As a result leaving the viewer is left to make up their own mind of whether the action of the soldier should be applauded. Of course, for many Australians the view of the American soldier fighting for freedom while their corporations exploit the worlds resources and government remain highly corrupted, is laughable. 

One could almost imagine an Australian movie about a British soldier writing home about his valiant efforts whilst going to war against the aboriginal Australians. The problem is we never consider the power structures and whether our actions are legal.

That said, the movie wasn't that bad and I don't blame the movie for the context in which it was created, however it certainly does highlight the self centered attitude of Hollywood.

It is worth watching to understand how a movie can be inflammatory. Now that's not to say I liked it. There were so many things wrong with it:

  • His wife story had no depth and was quickly objectified.
  • The movie quickly skipped over the fabrication of details to legitimize the illegal invasion.
  • The story ignored the stories of civilians in the middle east.
  • They seemed to breeze past PTSD way to easily. Which seemed to remind me of the Monty Python sketch "I had PTSD... but I got better"

In fact the only thing this movie seemed to accomplish was to make me think about how I was going to react at it's conclusion. 

I was left wondering whether it was all worth it. I get that the movie was trying to tell the story of a soldiers difficulties of war, the camaraderie he had with other soldiers, but we already know all that. There are many wars (state, racial, aboriginal) happening all around the world, but because they clash with American or corporate interests remain absent from the mainstream. 

Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part that the story would progress past the typical "American freedom" dialog and into how soldiers deal with PTSD and transition back into society. Which I thought it was going to, before he all of a sudden made a miraculous recovery. Clearly anything criticising the American government's ineptitude surrounding returned soldiers would be economically undoable, because telling the truth hurts while ignorance remains bliss.

The only way this movie could regain some appreciation from me is if the movie showed the truth about the occupation, incarceration and murder of innocent citizens in the middle east... but I suppose that's the difference between a Laura Poitras and Clint Eastwood. Additionally, for a true story about a family, the mother and children were hardly present. Little is talked about how difficult it must have been for a single parent to raise 2 children. Then again, we live in a patriarchal society where women are expected to take care of the children, so why would anyone be interested in her story?

This all comes back to the reaction by the public. 

There have been some truely bigoted and idiotic responses to the movie. Ones that take a truely troubled and disturbed misrepresentation of the war to conclude. A large part of this social deception is to do with relentless propaganda by the corporate press around the world, but specifically in America. This was seen in the lead up to the war where media maintained the sausage fest of conversations where everyone compared size... of their guns.

While comments like these on twitter should be opposed, criticising propaganda itself is a simplistic solution that misses the opportunity to talk about the nature of war in the context of imperialism. 

It comes back to the context of the war and whether it is defending or destroying. Certainly a war that tortures humans beings is not legitimate. A war that used information obtained from torture to instigate a war, that executes people using metadata, that absconds from international law are not examples of a legitimate war. They are examples of a terrorist organisation, and that is why I dislike this movie above all other short comings.

Unfortunately the American government causes more problems than it fixes when it goes to war. Until this is recognized they will remain driven by this higher sense of responsibility that is ultimately infallible to the human race.

I fear the day our society has long relinquished our rights as citizens for a little security, will be when we look up from the water well where we reside with the body of extremism laying face down right beside. 

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