There’s been quite a ruckus lately about a movie called ‘American Sniper’. Just about everyone who wants to be anyone has chimed in on this, and the loudest voices seem to be saying that either you like this movie, or you’re a traitor. Seems fair enough on a third-grade level, but I thought that I’d add some of my own thoughts that just might straighten the course of the conversation (or controversy, depending on how deep your ideology runs).
First… this is just a movie. A Hollywood movie. There’s nothing special about it, because the aim of any American movie is to make money. War Porn (or any other hyper-violence) is nearly always a good bet, because it gives little chubbies to violence-hungry males, and hardcore war buffs. Personally, I think that all War Porn is should be rated NC-17 (at least), but I think as a philosopher, not as an accountant. No moral value can be attached to money.
War is about increasing the level of violence until your opponent surrenders. There are no rules after that. Men who want power and wealth decide that it is time to go to war, and then the young men (and increasingly, women) go out and start killing as many people as possible. Kill, rape, humiliate, pillage, and plunder. Of course, our young killers think that they’re doing all of this for some sort of mystical greater good, but in the end… it doesn’t matter. It’s just murder on an industrial scale.
War Porn is necessary for any government, because if your society has raised a generation of questioning non-violent young people, you’re society will never get a motivated military out into the field. War Porn glamorizes the adventure, nobility, and courage that industrialized murder brings to young people who are still trying to figure out what pubic hair is. This is why our military is always more than happy to partner-up with Hollywood. The military knows that War Porn is a recruiting tool. The propagandized glory must always overwhelm the actual consequences. War Porn serves a very real purpose, so in a way… condemning this movie just might be bordering on treason.
Snipers are not cowards. Over the past century, the use of sniper teams during wartime has proved to be a useful and efficient killing methodology. It’s just about murder, and the business of any soldier is to murder. There is no particularly brave or honorable way to do that.
So, we can wrap this up by saying that ‘American Sniper’ is a shallow Hollywood War Porn movie about a soldier (Chris Kyle) who kills a lot of people and becomes famous for it. And we have to kind of let it go at that. Using this movie as a springboard for any intelligent conversation is a lot like using a Shirley Temple movie to discuss the Antebellum South.
Have a day.
primum vivere, deinde philosophari.