‘American Sniper’ muddles fact and fiction

By Gabrielle Sully
gabrielle.sully@franklincollege.edu

1456013_952618101419393_397520874744967949_nIt seems most people want to tattoo a flag on their rear end after watching “American Sniper,” but I am calling it: this movie is as farfetched as it gets.

“American Sniper” is set to reach $360 million, according to boxoffice.com analysts.  The popular movie shows the story of the late “American Hero” Chris Kyle, a sniper in the Navy SEALs.  Clint Eastwood directed the film beautifully.

I have no problem with the scenes depicting gruesome warfare.  I have a problem with the validity of saying it’s “based on a true story.”  The majority of people on social media have blindly accepted this movie as a documentary of actual accounts.  They have also shown their support of Kyle passionately.

The movie is based on Kyle’s autobiography, which I read when it came out.  It is a book that got him into lawsuits for defamation before his tragic death.  Much of Kyle’s book was proven untrue.

In his autobiography, Kyle says he killed two carjackers in Texas, sniped looters during Hurricane Katrina, punched Jesse Ventura in the face and found weapons of mass destruction from France and Germany in Iraq.  All of these claims were lies, according to multiple sources. The Kyle family also stated that all proceeds from the book went to helping veterans.  In reality, only about 2 percent has been donated, according to the National Review Online.

The film depicts Kyle as a southern gentleman who wants to protect his country because he believes it is the greatest country on Earth.  It tells of his struggle with killing people across enemy lines and follows his feud with an enemy sniper named Mustafa. But none of it is true.

In his book, Kyle uses a multitude of racial slurs and derogatory terms to describe the people he fought against.  He spoke of his love for killing and how he would do it again in a heartbeat if it weren’t for his family obligations.  Kyle protected our country, yes.  However, he showed no remorse or internal conflict about his duties abroad as the movie depicts.

As for the enemy sniper, Mustafa, he is real.  Kyle did not kill him.  This part was not Kyle’s lie, it was Hollywood’s.  Kyle devoted a single paragraph in his book to this entity of the film:

“From the reports we heard, Mustafa was an Olympics marksman who was using his skills against Americans and Iraqi police and soldiers. Several videos had been made and posted, boasting of his ability. I never saw him, but other snipers later killed an Iraqi sniper we think was him.”

After all these lies, how much of this was based on a true story? A name and profession? If Kyle is really considered an “American hero” by the public, what does that say about our nation? Personally, I don’t consider someone who has been proven a consistent liar and who speaks with such malice towards a whole race of people a hero.

The film was directed beautifully and it truly is a great story, but it isn’t true.

I like the movie, but I detest the misrepresentation of truth.

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About Ashley Shuler 1253 Articles
Ashley Shuler is the executive editor of The Franklin. She has held various multimedia journalism and public relations internships, including positions at Indianapolis Monthly, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis and Dittoe Public Relations. When she isn't staying up late to edit stories, Ashley spends her time boutique shopping and drinking as much vanilla Coke as possible. This is Ashley's third year in a leadership role and her fourth year on The Franklin staff. She previously held positions as web editor and news editor.

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