‘American Sniper’ Critics Get Death Threats for Negative Review

‘American Sniper’ Critics Get Death Threats for Negative Review


Faux outrage is nothing new on Twitter, nor are death threats which are a dime a dozen on the popular, short form social media site. Not even death threats over someone not liking a certain entertainment phenomenon are original, as anyone who dislikes Justin Bieber, One Direction or some other heartthrob sensation can say. Usually this is not news, but when that outrage is picked up by politically partisan commentators, then it is a different story. That is what is currently happening over a couple negative reviews of the new Clint Eastwood movie American Sniper which have earned the critics death threats and the approbation of Twitchy and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze. Oh, and FOX News.

To put the whole kerfuffle in perspective, negative movie reviews are common, if not downright mandatory in the entertainment world. Movie reviews are largely a matter of opinion on the part of the reviewer and no two people have the same exact taste. That is why some people enjoy action films and others comedy. It is a matter of taste, nothing more. Sending someone death threats for their personal preferences in movies is pretty stupid, even by Twitter flame standards. The death threats are not as important as the core argument being unconsciously made regarding American Sniper, the truth about war and what qualifies someone to be a hero.

American Sniper the film is based on the book of the same name, the autobiography of Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who became the most successful sniper in American history after serving during the Iraq War. The Eastwood helmed film is a largely positive portrayal, purporting to be a psychological exploration of Kyle himself as he went through the process of deciding who to kill and who not to kill. Rania Khalek and Max Blumenthal, two writers who have been critical of the American Sniper film, pointed out in their reviews that the rosy picture of a tortured soul the film throws at viewers is hardly faithful to the near psychopathic lust for killing that Kyle admitted to in his autobiography. For just a hint of the real Kyle’s mindset, the motto of the private security training company he set up is “Despite what your momma told you, violence does solve problems.”

The real Chris Kyle that American Sniper glorifies is less a hero than a military sanctioned psychopath and that is the point that Khalek and Blumenthal have made. That is what FOX News, Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze have reacted to. In general, their reaction can be summed up in outrage over criticism of the person they identify as an “American hero” and they have taken the faux patriotic stance of condemning these negative reviews for being un-American. In their minds, Kyle’s kills in Iraq are enough to qualify him as heroic and nothing else matters.

That is what is at stake here: do Kyle’s kills made in service of American aims qualify him as a hero or is there something else that should be considered? For the conservative side, the kills and the American goals are enough. That is what Eastwood’s film essentially does to the story of Chris Kyle – it removes the problems of the man’s psyche that are well documented, replaces them with a more sympathetic mental and emotional portrait and wraps it all up in patriotism in order to justify a psychotic attitude towards killing. That is what Khalek and Blumenthal have pointed out and backed up with considerable evidence from Kyle’s own autobiography. It is also what the conservative pundits, Twitter trolls and the American Sniper film itself are ignoring.

So what does it mean to be a hero? That is a question which has been debated for centuries and the only thing the argument has made clear is that no answer will be agreed to by everyone. The Twitter trolling and death threats are just the most juvenile side of what is a substantive argument. The conservative pundit-sphere’s role in this is more concerning because it is so uncritical. It lacks any intellectual or moral examination and is nothing more than a facile acceptance of what they want to be true, not necessarily what is true. Critics receiving death threats for their negative reviews is concerning, but what is more problematic in the grand scheme of things is the fact that so many people who purport to be intellectual are willing to accept the rose-tinted portrayal of American Sniper as their emblem of heroism.

Opinion by Lydia Bradbury


The Blaze
Raw Story


  1. My main argument against this line of thought is this, Chris Kyle entered service after 9/11 to sacrifice himself for protecting the nation. The only reason he is considered the deadliest sniper is these days they have to fill out paperwork everytime they pull a trigger. There was a marine sniper in Vietnam with a much higher count. They didn’t have to document it like today. As an ultimate irony Kyle lost his life to one of the servicemen he battled to protect took his life. As someone who has known and grew up with a seal they tend to not talk about it, he was talked into the book by brass to increase the quality of recruits for the military. Trashing either the subject of the movie or the director because of perceived political leaning is the reason the radical left is so disdained by the majority of Americans in the last election. As an independent, socially left fiscally right it sickens me when the left holds military responsible for the actions the elected order them to perform.

  2. As a prolific writer on LGBT items why do you feel qualified to write on the issue? Have you actually read the book? Seen the movie? Likely no, such is the state of technology today, people who have no idea of the facts are allowed immediate opportunity to spout off opinions without any qualifications. I don’t begrudge the fact the movie is a bit pro military, and the book, but realistically do you think he would have been allowed to write a negative book. Just for the record I’ve met markus luttrel. I don’t believe he is any different from any of the navy seals and Chris Kyle was killed less tan 20 miles from my parents house. Have you put your life on the line for your country? In a parallel question are you in favor of both sees signing up for the draft? In America all males have to sign up for selective service at 18 do you support the same for females?

  3. I think females should stay out of combat but not out of the service. I do not want them fighting on the front line with the terrorists we face today. Not that they can’t fly, or have duties as men. This barbaric beheadings is terrible. When is our commander going to fight fiercely and knock the crap out of them. You don’t talk; you act. Teddy Roosevelt said, Walk softly but carry a big stick. O’bama is Casey at the bat with Mudville in the sewer.

  4. An australian liberal giving lessons to a Navy Seal whose only concern was the Ultimate Concern in All Wars. Protect this Men. Surely with terrible times coming Your Blog, Madame, will not save Australian Shores from Barbarian invasions that are Ineluctable. You will Beg many Chris Kyles to be there to Protect the ones like you that Lack the psychological empathy to feel a Warrior’s Suffering when Loosing men in wars decided by the COMMANDER IN CHIEF that Aussies are too afraid to blame for his crimes. After all, Australians were not that tender with Arborigenes in the Past. They were ruthless with those peaceful people that got nothing in common with terrorists.

    Voila. My european perspective is not naive and knows US Soldiers are not flawless & some are psychopaths. But I wait with fervor the moment you will apply the same judgment on Nazi Wehrmacht Russian Snipers that did the very same.

    Not to mention the paradox that many Awsome Australian Actors happen to play Warriors in many movies because their impressive physical Looks. Nobody dies acting as far I know, but the fact remains that the ones like Mel Gibson have proved one thing . Most Warriors are Way more Sensitive than Liberal Women Blogging.

    As for Malkin.. another opportunistic blogger. Left or Right, myself 50% Left & 50% Right, my hands confirming next to my two opposed brain lobes, not a reference. Only reference is how long will we be living our relatively secure life if our Protectors refuse to Protect. Paperwork is the Real Butcher Sniper. It Killed Europe. Built Communist Terror.

    • Hi, Mary. I dont usually reply to comments, but I’m quite offended by this one.

      Australians are famous for their “warriors.” As part of the centenary of World War 2, they commemorated the death of many of their soldiers at Gallipoli. To say they could not save themselves is to have not only a woeful grasp of history, but a self-centered one focused only on America. It is inaccurate and offensive.

      Thank you,
      The author, an American who Lives in Australia

  5. Sorry for the mispellings & syntax. I often write in automatic writing if you know what it means. it is a flow of images dictating the fingers like the waves of memory unleashed. My memory is a tyrant.

  6. Chris Kyle was a psychopath, and it doesn’t shock me at all that people complaining about the “left” are so enamoured with him, and act so hostile towards those that criticise him.

    Let’s just put things into perspective, if these people had been born/and were living in the Middle East, they’d be praising ISIS. Born in Nazi Germany as members of the Aryan race? “Heil Hitler!” If they were living as whites in 1861 America, they’d be siding with the Confederate.

    We’re talking about psychopaths here. They aren’t on the same level as psychopaths that actually commit atrocities, but these are people that will take in various negative aspects that are present in the society and culture they live in.

    Again, it makes sense that these people would be so offended by criticism levelled at someone that found killing fun, claimed to have killed American citizens (Those citizens didn’t “look” right to those that complain about the “left”, if you catch my drift), was an alcoholic that would get into bar brawls amd drive under the influence, etc.

    Their hate isn’t justifiable, but by now it should be expected.