This weekend the film “American Sniper” broke box office records for a January release pulling in more than $100 million. The film has been championed by conservatives as a tribute to Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered by a fellow veteran suffering from PTSD.
Unfortunately, most of the chatter about the movie is unrelated to its content or quality. The obsessive compulsion by the right is focused on their imagined conspiracy by Hollywood liberals to demean the film and its allegedly pro-war message. The defense was led by Sean Hannity, who devoted an entire hour of his Fox News program to lionizing the film and those connected to it.
Lined up squarely in their sights is a favorite punching bag of the right, Michael Moore. The documentary maker tweeted that “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards.” While he asserts that his comments were misconstrued and that he had much praise for the film, the outrage from the political punditry, who had no more experience in combat than Moore, was swift and brutal. And it quickly escalated to a generalized attack on all of Hollywood.
The only thing conservatives like better than bashing President Obama as a gay, Kenyan-born, Muslim, socialist, is getting bug-eyed about the moral depravity and hopelessly leftist bias of Hollywood. But this example of the right’s anti-Hollywood fetish is particularly absurd. After all, American Sniper was made by Warner Bros., a big Hollywood movie studio. It was directed by Clint Eastwood, a legendary Hollywood icon. The role of Chris Kyle was played by big Hollywood star, Bradley Cooper. The film has received six Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay) from the ultra-Hollywood elitists at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
What’s more, the film has received abundant praise from Hollywood figures like Rob Lowe, Dean Cain, and even Jane Fonda. Moore himself lauded the film as “awesome” and “superb.” The truth is that American Sniper has enjoyed unparalleled success and support from the very core of the Hollywood establishment that the right is so anxious to hate. But make no mistake, that disdain is purely political and has nothing to do with the movie.
Conservatives go into a knee-jerk attack mode whenever they feel there is an advantage to be gained by slamming Hollywood. They single out those whose opinions conflict with right-wing doctrine and carpet bomb the whole industry for their alleged sins. Never mind that there are many professionals in the biz who are outspoken conservatives (see the Friends of Abe). And the right still holds the distinction of having elected the only Hollywood actor (and union boss) to the presidency, Ronald Reagan.
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It’s ironic that the same week that wingnuts are defending Hollywood against allegations of racism for not recognizing the Martin Luther King biopic, Selma, they are condemning Hollywood for perceived slights to American Sniper. Apparently the good folks of Tinsel Town are not the least bit racist, but they are despicably antiwar. And loudmouth liberals like George Clooney are told to shut up, while so-called patriots like Jon Voight are invited to be keynote speakers at Tea Party conventions.
The hypocrisy is waist deep, but rightists are oblivious to it. They are too busy sniping at the objects of their animus to notice the all-to-apparent duplicity that oozes from their robo-raving. And the only thing that matters to them is landing blows against their enemies without concern for tarnishing the reputations of everyone in a business that is dedicated to entertainment, education, and free expression.