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What American Sniper’s Success Tells Us

books and culture

What American Sniper’s Success Tells Us

We’re hungry for pro-America movies. January 30, 2015

Mea culpa! Mea culpa! To my knowledge, I am the only writer on the right to give a bad (well, mediocre) review to American Sniper, on these very digital pages. Admittedly, I saw the film at home, without an audience, weeks before its opening, on an Academy-provided screener DVD. And I have long argued that where—and how—you see a movie has a huge impact on your reaction to it. But I stand by my review: American Sniper is a worthy but botched film, with a confused and confusing point of view on war in general and on the Iraq War in particular. It is far from director Clint Eastwood’s exceptional best. Don’t tell Sean Hannity, but I won’t be giving it my Oscar vote this year. That will go to Birdman.

Nevertheless, American Sniper is a runaway hit. It’s so popular, in fact, that it’s on track to become the highest-grossing war film of all time, passing Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. Domestic grosses are approaching a staggering $300 million. This tells us what we should already have known: a gigantic, underserved audience exists in this country for movies that paint our troops as sympathetic human beings—or indeed have any basically pro-American theme. That audience has been thirsting for films like American Sniper with the intensity of Lawrence of Arabia crawling for an oasis in the Sahara. No wonder liberal critics are throwing a fit.

Further, the film’s success reminds us that investors on the right are leaving a hunk of change on the table. This may ultimately be the most important takeaway from Eastwood’s movie. Right-tilting investors are way overdue to establish film and television companies with conservative or libertarian leanings. The problem here, of course, is that conservatives have long been suspicious of culture. Some of this is dumb prejudice, but much of the skepticism makes sense. The arts have been dominated by the Left for so long that it’s difficult to see them as anything but treacherous. But right-wing investors should get over themselves. The local symphony is not the only cultural endeavor worth supporting. Popular culture is a far more powerful way of reaching the public, and films, as American Sniper proves, remain one of the most potent—and remunerative—of those avenues.

This is especially important in view of the obvious fact that liberals control our educational system from top to bottom. This means they control the minds of our young people. While it may be impossible to buy Harvard, you can get a movie and television company up and running in weeks. The fat cats should pay more attention to the entertainment industry, which influences the minds (and voters) of the future like nothing else—while the box office goes ka-ching, ka-ching.

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