‘American Sniper’ and settler colonialism: Alex Trimble Young, ‘”American Sniper”: is not a war movie: It’s a classic revisionist western, and one of Eastwood’s finest’, Salon, 19/02/15
Excerpt: The tragedies perpetrated and experienced by men like Kyle are not a conservative problem; they are an American problem. In one of the more insightful criticisms of “American Sniper,” Lakota/Dakota scholar James Fenelon argues that Kyle’s invocation savagery to describe his enemies cannot be understood as an invention of neoconservatism. The imagination of a category of human beyond the limits of reason, “the unreconstructed Other that needs to be obliterated,” enabled the violence that facilitated the settlement of the territorial United States long before it enabled American militarism abroad.
This ideological continuity between Westward expansion and the “Global War on Terror” means that the western still provides an apt form for exploring the contradictory relationship between American “civilization” and its violent “frontiers.” In condemning westerns like “American Sniper” rather than the ongoing political realities that drive their appeal, critics mistake a symptom for a cause.
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