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Propaganda and Political Agendas in The Film American Sniper

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American Sniper is based and inspired by the book, as well as stories told by Chris Kyle. Chris Kyle was an American Special Forces sniper that became synonymous as a legend across the media in the US and UK for being an unstoppable force, Chris Kyles story has been speculated and embellished dramatically as his popularity grew amongst media. Kyle’s story in the film is mostly made into a propaganda tale of an ‘American hero’ desperate to constantly fight for his country taking down enemies of America, and revenge on the Al-Qaeda after nine-eleven. American Sniper is a film that is driven to inspire morale in the American audience, “In the aftermath of the air attacks in New York and D.C. on September 11, 2001, Hollywood responded quickly to requests from president George W. Bush to boost American morale as part of the white house’s war against Terrorism”. Chris Kyle is an extremely patriotic ‘all American man’ truly believing in everything he does for his country born and raised in Texas even being a rodeo rider before enlisting in the military. The film attempts to show the life of Chris Kyle, his relationship with his wife how the army strained and nearly ended them, the hardships and tragedies that Kyle faced while in Iraq.

The film opens with Kyle setting his sights on a woman and child in Iraq that looked to be suspicious and potentially dangerous, Chris Kyle struggles with the idea of shooting a woman and child but is forced to do so, resulting in the sound of a gunshot and blackout. This opening is the beginning of various changes to the events that happened. Chris Kyle openly said “I wasn’t going to kill a kid, innocent or not. I’d have to wait until the savage who put him up to it showed himself on the street.’ Though the film is following Chris Kyle and his life many aspects have been exaggerated to keep up with this cliché all American experience the film drives for so heavily taking many creative liberties, near the beginning of the film Kyle returns home after a rodeo accident only to find his girlfriend with another man, after kicking her out this leads to Kyle and his friends having some drinks only to see news footage of the ‘93 world trade centre bombing appear on TV, this greatly angering Kyle drives him to join the military. Kyle wasn’t driven by this event he had always intended to join the military before these bombings occurred due to having faced too many rodeo injuries. ‘With my rodeo career ended, I decided that I would quit college, stop ranching, and go back to my original plan: join the military and become a soldier.’ It’s clear the director chose to do this so the audience would believe Kyle was this broken man destined for more, showing that all it took was one bad day to push him over the edge to want to ‘fight back’ inspiring him to join creating the beginnings of the ‘Legend’ he’d later be known as. The film then cuts to Kyle joining the Navy and meeting his future teammates during training such as Ryan ‘Biggles’ Job, though Kyle didn’t meet his teammates during this training, the depiction of the training itself and what Kyle endured was accurate and Kyle did find a friend named Marcus but they never fought together, for the sake of the film such a small change doesn’t harm the authenticity of the character and events telling his journey. One of the few accurate key moments of American Sniper is the telling of how Kyle met his later to be wife Taya, they had met speaking to each other in a bar having spoken for many hours forming a connection together, the story of how they met seems rather cliched to American culture and television but it’s true to what happened.

After this the film becomes almost totally fictional creating this plot that follows Kyle and his team on the hunt for an Insurgent named ‘The Butcher’ though he may have existed during Kyle’s tour in Fallujah, Kyle never once encountered him, this is where it’s clear that the film is driven with a propaganda message that the American’s are these ‘hero’s’ trying to stop this evil force lead by clear ‘bad guy’ archetypes, though ‘The Butcher’ may have existed he’s specifically been placed and exaggerated in Kyles path to play the role of the typical ‘Terrorist’ leader that must be stopped. “Discourses create and reflect identities, and thus they construct those who are our allies and those who are our enemies.” Much of the film focuses on Kyle putting together a squad to hunt down and kill ‘The Butcher’ and later having a major confrontation with ‘Mustafa’ whom becomes responsible for shooting one of Kyle’s close friends Ryan ‘Biggles Job. Though Ryan ‘Biggles’ Job was shot by ‘Mustafa’ Kyle wasn’t present when this happened. Kyle was also told that there was a 180k bounty on his head, again with Kyle never having encountered ‘The Butcher’ or ‘Mustafa’ this again was all fabricated with the bounty on Kyle only being partly true with rumour that an 80k bounty was over him, likely exaggerated to make Kyle seem more valuable and untouchable as the ‘Legend’.

Most of the film sets up these fictionalised events to create a dramatic arc, following these two ‘Terrorist’ leaders ‘The Butcher and ‘Mustafa’ claimed to have competed in the Olympics as a marksman for Syria. Kyle’s nemesis throughout, again fabricated for the film, though Kyle briefly mentions having heard of the sniper he never encountered him. showing various scenes of US soldiers getting into gruelling and bombastic gunfights that both start and end in moments, all of which we only see through an American perspective, the enemy forces are never explored or ever shown to be more than a few big names to track down and a body count Kyle, the only characteristic the two main nemesis are given is that they are ‘horrible bad guys’ they are never given any lines are any true motivation rather that they kill like savages and nothing else. This is clearly done to make it, so the Americans are the only ‘good guys’ to support in the film having been shown only killing clearly ‘bad guys’, this also follows closely with how Kyle felt about the people he was fighting against referring to them as ‘Savages’ himself many times, “I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting. I always will. They’ve taken so much from me.” American Sniper struggles to tell anything that’s factual throughout the film only piling on more myth to what is already a ‘Legend’ the events told by a man that was often questioned for how credible the things he’d said were actually true and what was often exaggerated, as Kyle liked to lie creating stories of his own to keep his ‘Legend’ alive. This imbalance of what truly happened and what was fictionalised clearly lead Director Clint Eastwood and Screenwriter Jason Hall to take many creative liberties in telling whatever story they wanted focusing on.

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Propaganda And Political Agendas In The Film American Sniper. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from
“Propaganda And Political Agendas In The Film American Sniper.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2021,
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