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By all standards, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper is an enormous hit. The film has earned a staggering $535 million in worldwide ticket sales, making it the highest-grossing movie of Eastwood’s lengthy career. It earned six Oscar nominations (including the coveted Best Picture), and took home the trophy for Best Achievement in Sound. And yet, months after the film’s release, the based-on-true-life drama still isn’t being embraced by every community.
Michigan Daily reports that a planned screening of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper on the campus of the University of Michigan was cancelled because students protested over "the depiction of certain communities in the film." A petition to stop the screening was launched by sophomore Lamees Mekkaoui, who the report says is a member of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, as well as the university’s Middle Eastern and Arab Network. The college student spoke out against the film’s depictions of the events of the Iraq War, and the way that residents of various African regions were portrayed. Mekkaoui said to Michigan Daily:
As a student who identifies as an Arab and Middle Eastern student, I feel that American Sniper condones a lot of anti-Middle Eastern and North African propaganda. It was released at a time when these anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Middle Eastern (and) North African hate crimes were already skyrocketing, and this movie only contributed to that.
This is not the first time that Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper has been the focus of Arab rights groups trying to tone down Muslim threats associated with the movie. Bradley Cooper and his director each have been approached by representatives from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee asking them to speak up in defense of Muslim communities in the wake of the film’s release. And as the movie rolled out, it met resistance, as when a theater in Baghdad pulled the film due to threats of political protests.
And yet, by pulling American Sniper from the campus of the University of Michigan, the school does a disservice to the social life organization that programmed the film, and the students who did want to watch Eastwood’s Oscar-winning drama on a Friday evening. That’s not to say this is their only opportunity to see Sniper. The film still runs in some theaters, and will make its way to home video shortly, for sure. In backing up its decision, the university’s Center for Campus Involvement explained:
We in the Center for Campus Involvement and the UMix Late Night program did not intend to exclude any students or communities on campus through showing this film. Nevertheless, as we know, intent and impact can be very different things.
What do you think? Should the school have gone ahead with its planned screening of American Sniper? Or was it the right move to pull it off the schedule because a few students were upset? Weigh in below.