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Director Michael Moore has never been one to shy away from controversy. His documentaries have long gotten very divided responses - typically along political party lines - and he has become known as one to regularly and loudly speak his mind on cultural topics. This time around, the subject at hand is Clint Eastwood's new film American Sniper, and his opinion on the film is that its based-on-a-real-person lead character should not be celebrated for being a coward.
Moore's comments were made on his personal Twitter account, where he spoke to how snipers have affected his life and explained why they shouldn't be treated as heroes. The documentarian wrote,
Further emphasizing and clarifying the final line, a few hours later Moore added:
American Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL sniper who served four tours during the Iraq War, and is known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. He had 160 confirmed kills while serving overseas. In addition to covering Kyle's time in Iraq, Eastwood's film also chronicles his return how and adjustment to life after warfare.
This is hardly the first complaint that the internet has seen about the subject matter in American Sniper. Professional film critics have questioned in their reviews why Chris Kyle is a man who should get his own biopic. The Guardian's Lindy West wrote in her critique that Kyle was a "hate filled killer," and notes that he had described killing as "fun." This kind of furor has increased since last week, both due to American Sniper's release in theaters and Bradley Cooper's Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Either despite or because of the controversy, American Sniper has been a rocket at the box office. The film made more than $90 million in its opening weekend, which is unheard of for January and shattered the record set by Ride Along last year (which made a comparatively-paltry $41 million in its first three days). The movie is definitely proving to be a conversation starter, and it will be interesting to see how it winds up playing in the days leading up to the Academy Awards.