Breaking box office records, director Clint Eastwood's newest film, American Sniper
, raked in $107 million
in its wide release in theaters over the four-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend, the biggest-ever January weekend film opening. A week earlier, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rewarded the film with six Oscar nominations
, including nods for best picture and best actor. It even moved Vice President Joe Biden, who reportedly teared up
while watching it.
American Sniper exemplifies a sense of macho, white male braggadocio that is symbolic of all that is wrong with the right-wing, pro-war, pro-gun, bully culture of the United States. Should we really be surprised that both the American public and the Academy are rewarding a film about a man who, judging by his own words, appeared to be a psychotic mass murderer?
Eastwood's film, starring Bradley Cooper, is based on the autobiography of Chris Kyle, considered the most lethal sniper to have served in the U.S. war in Iraq. Kyle served four tours of duty and was heavily decorated for his service. He is thought to have killed 255 Iraqis, with 160 of them being confirmed kills. His book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History
, co-written with Jim DeFelice and Scott McEwen, was published in 2012 and shot to the top of the best-seller lists, remaining there for months. In early 2013, Kyle was shot and killed
in Texas by another U.S. soldier, who is currently awaiting trial.