American Sniper Color

American Sniper Film Controversy Turns Heads

The controversy over America’s most popular film, American Sniper, is still lingering after the Oscars on Sunday night and the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh—the alleged killer of Chris Kyle, the movie’s main character played by Bradley Cooper—all happening at the same time. 

The film contended for six Academy Awards and crushed box office records by earning a total of $428 million, according to Birdman, the film that beat out American Sniper for best picture, only earned about $76 million. 

According to the Daily Caller, the film is being considered the most successful war film of all time, however, it only won for sound editing. Some are accusing the Oscar snub as a result of the awards becoming political. 

The controversy over the film started early in January with a Twitter war started by two celebrities, Seth Rogen and Michael Moore. Rogen tweeted, “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Bastards.” Moore tweeted, “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught that snipers are cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.” 

These comments started a major uproar amongst the American people. Arguments about the film erupted around the country. Multiple politicians reacted, including Sarah Palin, John McCain and Newt Gingrich. Gingrich, for example, said, “Michael Moore should spend a few weeks with ISIS and Boko Haram. Then he might appreciate @AmericanSniper. I am proud of our defenders.” 

Multiple celebrities reacted as well, with Kid Rock going as far as to say he hopes Seth Rogen and Michael Moore “catch a fist to the face soon.” Other celebrities like Blake Shelton and Rob Lowe slammed the American Sniper critics while others like Bill Maher took their side. 

Bill Maher referred to Chris Kyle as a “psychopath patriot” on his show Real Time. The panel of his show clashed about the topic, while the former Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, said, “There’s a lot of anger in this country and the people that go to see this movie are very angry.” These are just examples of how the country is now divided as to whether or not Chris Kyle was a real hero. Bill Maher added, “There is a Twitter war and now we have to take sides.” Social media has fueled this controversy, and in a way, has taken a huge part of political debate and controversy in our country. 

Junior political science major Samah Khalifa, said, “It plays a huge role because it is direct access to what we are thinking and you can see what is popular by what is trending.” 

Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson, assistant professor of communication, said, “Social media serves as a way for media sources to measure audience interest. It is critical to understand that a trending topic on Twitter means that some percentage of Twitter users are interested, but they may not represent the large public.” Now, how is this going to play a role on the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh, the alleged murderer of Chris Kyle? There have been multiple times where the media has played a role in court cases. Some popular examples would be the O.J. Simpson and Aaron Hernandez trials. 

Nicholas Sewitch, an instructor of criminal justice, and former prosecutor in Middlesex County for 29 years said, “Jury selection plays a huge role in cases like these.” He said the problem with this case is that the movie “gives sympathy towards the victim” when the jury is not supposed to be affected by “passion, prejudice, or sympathy.” A jury was selected on Feb. 9 and was told that they must not let the movie affect their judgement, according to ABC News. Professor Sewitch said, “It surprises me that the jury was allowed to watch the movie.” 

Regarding another ongoing murder trial, the Aaron Hernandez case, Sewitch said, “The jury for that case was allowed to watch the Super Bowl but was instructed to turn it off if the commenters made any reference to Hernandez.” 

Despite all of this controversy, the closing arguments of the case are set to start on Tuesday Feb. 24—less than 48 hours after the Oscar’s. According to NBC News, “the real life sequel to American Sniper is about to begin.”