This weekend, Clint Eastwood’s biopic American Sniper dominated the box office, bringing in more than $100 million. The movie chronicles the life of Navy sniper Chris Kyle, known as the deadliest sniper in American military history. And though one can point out any number of reasons for the film’s success – star Bradley Cooper turns in a terrific performance, Eastwood is known for quality, and January is typically a wasteland when it comes to good movies – there could be something simpler at the heart of it: Americans are starved for truth.
When walking heart attack Michael Moore (who has criticized Eastwood’s movie) took the stage to accept his Oscar for Fahrenheit 9/11, he told the audience that “we live in fictitious times.” But if those words were true when Moore spoke them, they are even more true today. We live in a time when the terrorists waging jihad on behalf of Islam are not actually Islamic. We live in an era where healthcare bills are passed on a foundation of lies and deception. We live in an era where criminals are given a mass pardon from the president of the United States because, you know, it’s the right thing to do.
Americans, I believe, are getting a little sick of all the lies. We’re getting sick of being told that Michael Brown was an innocent, unarmed teenager. We’re getting tired of being told that the economy is booming when millions have left the job force altogether. And we’re getting especially sick of an administration that refuses to admit that there is a single religion at the heart of America’s worst enemies.
In the book upon which American Sniper is based, Kyle says, “People want America to have a certain image when we fight. Yet I would guess if someone were shooting at them and they had to hold their family members while they bled out against an enemy who hid behind their children, played dead only to throw a grenade as they got closer, and who had no qualms about sending their toddler to die from a grenade from which they personally pulled the pin—they would be less concerned with playing nicely.”
This quote is absent from the movie, but the sentiment is there nonetheless. Kyle was a character not often seen in modern Hollywood. A man who still believed in those old-fashioned principles of patriotism. A man who saw the attack on the World Trade Center not as just a random act of horrific violence, but an attack on the very soul of the United States of America.
Maybe the world isn’t quite as black and white as Chris Kyle believed, but it certainly isn’t as gray as our current administration would have us think. The stars and stripes stand for values like courage, independence, and the willingness to fight. If Obama believed in those values, maybe his countrymen wouldn’t be so eager to flock to see them on the big screen.