Prof. Kelli Allen
10 September 2015
Americans certainly do love their conflict. The country’s culture praises it in movies, television shows, news channels, and when all those are exhausted the citizens can get their dose from local civil disputes. These portrayal’s of conflict are black and white: there is a good side and a bad side; Allies and Axis; Democracy and Communism; us and them. In any case, the good side wins and the audience leaves with feelings only attained when justice has been witnessed. Even in the made up world of media.
These feel good movies are typically mindless action created for the sole purpose of entertainment, and humanity is left behind for thirty minutes to a couple of hours. However, there is one type of conflict that I believe Hollywood has handled very well, renewing patriotism in the heart of every American: the hyper-realistic war movie. You know the one. It has a different name but it is always the same. A couple years ago it was called “The Hurt Locker”, and years before that it was called “Saving Private Ryan”. In 2014, it took the form of “American Sniper”.
“American Sniper” starts off immediately in territory that Americans are familiar with. A dusty, abandoned, and broken Middle Eastern city is infiltrated by U.S. Marines, combing through the streets and kicking in doors in search of threats to America. Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper and protagonist of the film, sits a few stories above his squad, which is making its way down a street. A woman and a boy, their relationship to be assumed mother and son, enter the scene a hundred feet ahead of the squad. From the folds of her clothes, the woman produces a grenade. She hands it to the child and he takes off heading straight for his unit. Kyle has only moments to react, and, given the go ahead from his superiors, has to choose between taking the boy’s life and letting him kill his squadron....