Misplaced nationalism, wasted propaganda


commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ariel_Hollywood_Sign.jpg (Common Attribution)

The iconic Hollywood sign in California. Hollywood has long since been the headquarters for American filmmaking, being the source of the vast majority of films hitting movie theaters each year.

Carissa Metcalf, Staff Writer

I did not see American Sniper. Firstly, because war movies don’t interest me much, and secondly because I have concluded after reading several reviews and thoughts on the movie, (without jumping on the bandwagon too much) that it’s at the very least controversial and at the very most highly offensive. But without seeing the film, I don’t feel qualified to talk about it being offensive or a disgrace or anything of that nature. But I can say with absolute certainty, that American Sniper did not need to happen.

War hero movies have been an American trademark for decades. As Americans, we love to have an oil painting-esque picture of our forefathers with one foot up on a mountain and one hand wielding a sword, leading oppression out of the darkness and into the light of democracy. We love to see this, and block out everything else, even though there have been countless times in history that the painting has been ruined by rips and tears, highlighting our faults as a nation. We don’t like to think about the moments we were wrong. So we don’t. The war in Iraq is one of those rips. Actually, Iraq is the painting after being put through a shredder. Multiple times.

But arguing that the war in Iraq was a mistake, and sticks out as an example of American cruelty like a sore thumb might be a tad too controversial. So instead, I’ll argue the basis behind making a propaganda film like this. Village Roadshow Productions spent $60 million on American Sniper. As has been shown by a sea of terrible movies throughout the decades, if you dump enough money into anything, Americans will go see it. You don’t need a plot, you need Jennifer Lawrence. You don’t need good acting, you need enough cash to make people sit through the advertisement for it every time Criminal Minds takes a commercial break. My point here being, if we really wanted to, we could make propaganda films that actually need propaganda. The last thing we need is a war movie featuring the glorification of high-scale killing.

Not to mention, the people who are going to see American Sniper are the ones who don’t need their minds changed. If the goal is to make the war look good, that’s a pointless goal, because the people who already think that are the ones who will pay to sit in a room and shed tears over it. The ones who disagree stay at home and refuse to support it. Clearly there aren’t nearly as many who are staying home, since the movie pulled in about 200 million dollars since its release. Selma, the recent movie documenting the historic civil rights march, only managed to gain about 49 million. But again, American Sniper had a 60 million dollar budget. We threw tons of money into that movie, enough to give 21 million starving people a meal.

But if we must make movies instead of make direct change, throw that money into a movie changing public opinion on the environment and its insanely agile decline. Make a film about Ferguson that brings tears to people’s eyes and hope for change into their hearts. Make a movie about homeless children and solutions other than spikes on the pavement. Instead of seeing thirteen different Fifty Shades of Gray billboards on the road from Des Moines to Iowa City, switch out the romanticization of abusive relationships for a blockbuster hit about poverty in our country. Not poverty sixty years ago, poverty today.