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‘American Sniper’: Propaganda and Political Agendas

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‘American Sniper’ is based and inspired by a book with the same title, as well as taken inspiration from stories by Chris Kyle. He was an American special forces sniper that became a legend across the UK and American media for being an unstoppable force. Chris Kyle’s story is mostly made into a propaganda tale of an ‘American hero’. He is desperate to fight for his country, taken down enemies and revenge on the Al-Qaeda after 9/11.

‘American Sniper’ is a film that is driven to inspire an American audience, “In the aftermath of the air attacks in New York and D.C. on September 11, 2001, Hollywood responded quickly to requests from president George W. Bush to boost American morale as part of the white house’s war against Terrorism” (2005, Mark Connelly and David Welch, ‘War and the Media: Reportage and Propaganda’, p.163). Chris Kyle is an extremely patriotic man, truly believing in everything he does for his country. He was born and raised in Texas, even being a rodeo rider before enlisting in the military. The film attempts to show the life of Chris Kyle, his relationship with his wife how the army strained and nearly ended them and the hardships and tragedies that Kyle faced while in Iraq. The film opens with Kyle setting his sights on a woman and child in Iraq that looked to be suspicious and potentially dangerous. Chris Kyle struggles with the idea of shooting a woman and child but is forced to do so, resulting in the sound of a gunshot and blackout. This opening is the beginning of various changes to the events that happened. Chris Kyle openly said: “I wasn’t going to kill a kid, innocent or not. I’d have to wait until the savage who put him up to it showed himself on the street” (2013, Michael Mooney, ‘The Legend of Chris Kyle’, D Magazine.) Though the film is following Chris Kyle and his life. Many aspects have been exaggerated. The film takes many creative liberties. Near the beginning of the film. Chris Kyle returns home after a rodeo accident, only to find his girlfriend with another man, after kicking her out this leads to Chris Kyle and his friends having some drinks, only to see news footage of the world trade center bombing appear on TV. This angers him and drives him to join the military. In reality, Chris Kyle wasn’t driven by this event he had always intended to join the military before these bombings occurred, due to having faced too many rodeo injuries. “With my rodeo career ended, I decided that I would quit college, stop ranching, and go back to my original plan: join the military and become a soldier” (2012, ‘American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in the USA, Chris Kyle’, pg. 108-109) It’s clear the director chose to do this so the audience would believe he was this broken man destined for more, showing that all it took was one bad day to push him over the edge to want to ‘fight back’, thus inspiring him to join. Creating the story of the ‘legend’ that he’d later be known as.

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The film then cuts to Kyle joining the Navy and meeting his future teammates during training. Chris Kyle didn’t meet his teammates during this training. The depiction of the training itself, and what Kyle endured was accurate and Chris Kyle did find a friend named Marcus, but they never fought together. For the sake of the film such a small change doesn’t harm the authenticity of the character and events telling his journey.

One of the few accurate key moments of ‘American Sniper’ is the telling of how Kyle met his later to be wife in a bar. The story of how they met seems rather cliché, to American culture and television but it’s true to what happened. After this scene, the film becomes almost totally fictional creating this plot that follows Chris Kyle and his team on the hunt for an insurgent named ‘The Butcher’, though he may have existed during Kyle’s tour in Fallujah, Kyle never once encountered him. This is where it’s clear that the film is driven with a propaganda message. The message is that the American’s are these ‘heroes’ trying to stop this evil force lead by clear ‘bad guy’ archetypes. Although ‘The Butcher’ may have existed, he’s specifically been placed and exaggerated in Kyle’s path to play the role of the typical ‘terrorist’ leader that must be stopped. Discourses create and reflect identities, and thus they construct those who are our allies and those who are our enemies.

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‘American Sniper’: Propaganda and Political Agendas. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 30, 2023, from
“‘American Sniper’: Propaganda and Political Agendas.” Edubirdie, 01 Mar. 2023,
‘American Sniper’: Propaganda and Political Agendas. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Mar. 2023].
‘American Sniper’: Propaganda and Political Agendas [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Mar 01 [cited 2023 Mar 30]. Available from:
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