The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The Greyhound

The empty controversy of American Sniper


“Hero” (noun): a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

The word has been used for decades to describe everyone from Medal of Honor recipients to everyday citizens. Most recently it has been used to describe Chris Kyle.

A former Navy SEAL and regarded as the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military history, Kyle is the inspiration for the new movie American Sniper, which was directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Bradley Cooper. Although it has seen unprecedented success in the box-office, like many films, it is the subject of controversy across the nation. In a country where war has become an accepted aspect of life, it is shocking to me that anyone could categorize a war-film based on a true story as glorified or inappropriate. That being said, many people have done this, and I believe they are in the wrong.

The movie portrays Kyle’s life, from his time as a child, to meeting his wife and finally, what a majority of the film concentrates on, his four tours in Iraq. Each tour brought with it its own surprises, but what many people are harping on is his tally of confirmed kills. Out of a probable 255, Kyle recorded 160 confirmed kills during his time in the Navy, a number greater than anyone before him. Opponents of the film believe he racked this number up by killing everyone in sight, whether it was civilians, women, children, etc. Although it is true that he did take the lives of children, he did not do it carelessly. Each shot he took had a purpose. Michael J. Mooney, a writer for D Magazine, interviewed Kyle in April of 2013. He writes, “He said he didn’t enjoy killing, but he did like protecting Americans and allies and citizens.” It is statements like this from Kyle that proves that he didn’t shoot carelessly. Instead, he was merely protecting “his boys,” the term he used to refer to his fellow troops.

Those who oppose the film and disagree with what it portrays seem to be missing the point. The film was created to portray the life of a great American hero. It was violent and involved death, but those aspects are necessary to accurately represent the war that is currently underway. Anyone that believes war is anything less than what they see in the theaters is strongly mistaken. For people that have not been to war, myself included, we can not confidently judge whether or not something is accurate or an appropriate representation of what is happening in the Middle East. Be more skeptical about your own assumptions.

For those who believe Kyle was in the wrong to take the lives of so many people during his tours are strongly mistaken. He says it himself in his interview with Mooney when he describes being unable to get to the people who “got my boys.” He was assigned with a task, and that task was to protect his fellow troops from unseen danger before anything drastic occurred. In order to do this, he had to make high-stake judgment calls on a moment’s notice in some of, if not the most, high-pressured situations imaginable. He was posted up on top of a roof, with only one other other soldier, in charge of the entire street below him, with oftentimes no more than a few seconds to make life-changing decisions. In my opinion, he not only had a challenging job, but he did well to make the right calls. If taking the life of a potential enemy meant saving the lives of American troops, I believe his actions were justified and should be thought of as heroic.

As time goes on, the movie will make way for newer films in the theater, leading to the disappearance of this controversy. With that said, as a country we need to step back and look at the big picture of what this movie represents. Although it portrays the deaths of many people involved in war, it was made to recognize a hero who fought numerous times to protect this country and our freedom. Without the work Chris Kyle did in Iraq, the war could be in a very different place. We need to forget the controversy, recognize Kyle as the hero he is, and accept the portrayal of his life and career in American Sniper as accurate and inspiring.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Greyhound Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The empty controversy of American Sniper