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Sarah Palin: God Bless Our Snipers!

Kyle, the subject of the Hollywood blockbuster, was a Navy SEAL who served as a sniper and wrote an autobiography with the same title as the movie: "American Sniper."
Sarah Palin: God Bless Our Snipers!

When I was on Mark Thompson's "Make It Plain" SiriusXM show last night, a Dallas man called in who sounded like he might be an Iraq vet (because he spoke with such authority and feeling about the war). He called Chris Kyle a bunch of names that amounted to him being a B.S. artist and outright liar.

As opposed to Sarah Palin, who says Chris Kyle is a hero.

I've suspected for some time now that Sarah Palin is an alcoholic (her looks have seriously deteriorated, and if there's one thing you could say about her, she used to be a very attractive woman), and that no one in her life will stop the gravy train long enough to force her into rehab. After all, it might ruin her brand and she's a serious cash machine for a lot of people. That's why her every rambling comment on Facebook and Twitter becomes a controversy -- they're the only venues where she's still taken seriously.

These comments are far too predictable, because she never was much of a thinker and her default lines are always bumper stickers:

Former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin addressed "Hollywood leftists" with their "shiny plastic trophies" on Monday in a Facebook post responding to criticism about the movie "American Sniper."

Palin criticized these "leftists" for "spitting on the graves of freedom fighters" and decried that the opponents of the movie were "not fit to shine Chris Kyle's combat boots."

Kyle, the subject of the Hollywood blockbuster, was a Navy SEAL who served as a sniper and wrote an autobiography with the same title as the movie: "American Sniper."

Since premiering, the film has received criticism for its glorification of the American military and categorization of opposition forces.

Matt Taibbi's thoughtful critique of "American Sniper":

The really dangerous part of this film is that it turns into a referendum on the character of a single soldier. It's an unwinnable argument in either direction. We end up talking about Chris Kyle and his dilemmas, and not about the Rumsfelds and Cheneys and other officials up the chain who put Kyle and his high-powered rifle on rooftops in Iraq and asked him to shoot women and children.


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They're the real villains in this movie, but the controversy has mostly been over just how much of a "hero" Chris Kyle really was. One Academy member wondered to a reporter if Kyle (who in real life was killed by a fellow troubled vet in an eerie commentary on the violence in our society that might have made a more interesting movie) was a "psychopath." Michael Moore absorbed a ton of criticism when he tweeted that "My uncle [was] killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards …"

And plenty of other commentators, comparing Kyle's book (where he remorselessly brags about killing "savages") to the film (where he is portrayed as a more rounded figure who struggled, if not verbally then at least visually, with the nature of his work), have pointed out that real-life Kyle was kind of a dick compared to movie-Kyle.

(The most disturbing passage in the book to me was the one where Kyle talked about being competitive with other snipers, and how when one in particular began to threaten his "legendary" number, Kyle "all of the sudden" seemed to have "every stinkin' bad guy in the city running across my scope." As in, wink wink, my luck suddenly changed when the sniper-race got close, get it? It's super-ugly stuff).

The thing is, it always looks bad when you criticize a soldier for doing what he's told. It's equally dangerous to be seduced by the pathos and drama of the individual solider's experience, because most wars are about something much larger than that, too.They did this after Vietnam, when America spent decades watching movies like Deer Hunter and First Blood and Coming Home about vets struggling to reassimilate after the madness of the jungles. So we came to think of the "tragedy" of Vietnam as something primarily experienced by our guys, and not by the millions of Indochinese we killed.

That doesn't mean Vietnam Veterans didn't suffer: they did, often terribly. But making entertainment out of their dilemmas helped Americans turn their eyes from their political choices. The movies used the struggles of soldiers as a kind of human shield protecting us from thinking too much about what we'd done in places like Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos.

This is going to start happening now with the War-on-Terror movies. As CNN's Griggs writes, "We're finally ready for a movie about the Iraq War." Meaning: we're ready to be entertained by stories about how hard it was for our guys. And it might have been. But that's not the whole story and never will be.

We'll make movies about the Chris Kyles of the world and argue about whether they were heroes or not. Some were, some weren't. But in public relations as in war, it'll be the soldiers taking the bullets, not the suits in the Beltway who blithely sent them into lethal missions they were never supposed to understand.

And filmmakers like Eastwood, who could have cleared things up, only muddy the waters more. Sometimes there's no such thing as "just a human story." Sometimes a story is meaningless or worse without real context, and this is one of them.

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