The Myth and the Reality
Is it more fact or fiction?
This past week, American Sniper sold millions of tickets. Seen in the trailers above and below and based on the story of the late Navy Seal Chris Kyle, it’s a box office hit, setting records for an R-rated film released in January.
With 255 kills, 160 of them officially confirmed by the Pentagon, Kyle is the deadliest marksman in US military history.
Yet the film, the autobiography of the same name, and the reputation of Chris Kyle are all built on a set of half-truths, myths and outright lies that Hollywood didn’t see fit or care to accurately clear up.
Here are seven lies about Chris Kyle and the real story director Clint Eastwood isn’t telling you:
The Film Suggests the Iraq War Was In Response to 9/11
One way to get audiences to unambiguously support Kyle’s actions in the film is to believe he’s there to avenge the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The movie cuts from Kyle watching footage of the attacks to him serving in Iraq, implying there is some link between the two.
The Film Invents a Terrorist Sniper Who Works For Multiple Opposing Factions
Kyle’s primary antagonist in the film is a sniper named Mustafa.
Mustafa is mentioned in a single paragraph in Kyle’s book, but the movie blows him up into an ever-present figure and Syrian Olympic medal winner who fights for both Sunni insurgents in Fallujah and the Shia Madhi army.
The Film Portrays Chris Kyle as Tormented By His Actions
Multiple scenes in the movie portray Kyle as haunted by his service. One of the film’s earliest reviews praised it for showing the “emotional torment of so many military men and women.”
But that torment is completely absent from the book the film is based on. In the book, Kyle refers to everyone he fought as “savage, despicable, evil.” He writes, “I only wish I had killed more.”
He also writes, “I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different – if my family didn’t need me – I’d be back in a heartbeat. I’m not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL.”
On an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show he laughs about accidentally shooting an Iraqi insurgent. He once told a military investigator that he doesn’t “shoot people with Korans. I’d like to, but I don’t.”
The Real Chris Kyle Made Up a Story about Killing Dozens of People in Post-Katrina New Orleans
Kyle claimed that he killed 30 people in the chaos of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a story Louisiana writer Jarvis DeBerry calls “preposterous.” It shows the sort of mentality post-war Kyle had, but the claim doesn’t appear in the film.
The Real Chris Kyle Fabricated a Story About Killing Two Men Who Tried To Carjack Him In Texas
Kyle told numerous people a story about killing two alleged carjackers in Texas.
Reporters tried repeatedly to verify this claim, but no evidence of it exists.
Chris Kyle Was Successfully Sued For Lying About the Former Governor of Minnesota
Kyle alleged that former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura defamed Navy SEALs and got into a fight with him at a local bar. Ventura successfully sued Kyle for the passage in his book, and a jury awarded him $1.84 million.
Chris Kyle’s Family Claimed He Donated His Book Proceeds to Veterans’ Charity
The National Review debunks the claim that all proceeds of his book went to veterans’ charities. Kyle kept the majority of the profits.
Around 2 percent – $52,000 – went to the charities– while the Kyles pocketed $3 million.
American Sniper has deeply moved some audiences and made others angry.
Controversial in its portrayal, some have referred to it as Clint Eastwood’s “Red Meat Movie for Red States and Republicans” while others deem it a truly patriotic story that’s loyal to the soldiers and their untold military mission.
This backlash has reportedly spread among members of the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences, which could threaten the film’s shot at racking up Oscars.
That’s Hollywood for you.
~Via Vox, Slate, Alternet, Warner Bros, YouTube