American Sniper not invulnerable to jokes
Seth Rogen is a comedic actor and screenwriter known for his unique laugh and his love for marijuana.
He was recently caught in the crosshairs after making the following comment on Twitter: “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Bastards (sic).”
American Sniper is a film about the devastating emotional toll the controversial Iraq War had on real-life U.S. Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle and his family.
When Rogen took to Twitter to make a joke about that film, however, he was suddenly more traitor than comedian.
That joke was a comparison between the film, which is about an American sniper with 160 confirmed kills in the Iraq War, and a fictional Nazi propaganda film featured in the movie Inglourious Basterds.
The propaganda film-within-a-film featured, and glorified, a German sniper who had killed over 200 Allied soldiers.
The comparison is obviously silly – not only because Rogen himself is a comedian, but because American Sniper is simply a more complex film both politically and emotionally than the satirical Nazi propaganda piece.
This bit of silliness should have flown right under the radar, but because Rogen had dared to poke fun at the American military—at least, it was perceived that way—the controversy has been alarmingly loud.
Many Twitter users took to their keyboards to insult Rogen’s weight or his Canadian heritage, but some took umbrage with the fact that they had supported Rogen when his own movie, The Interview, was stuck in purgatory after a terrorist scare threatened its release date.
Whoopi Goldberg, during a segment on The View, took this argument as her own, stating, “We stood behind you, Seth, with your movie, and we said you had the right to make the movie you wanted to make. Give them the same respect, because we stood behind them.”
Goldberg is ignoring the fact that Rogen’s joke did not take away anyone’s right to make or distribute American Sniper.
She then went on to say that, because Rogen had not been in the military, he needs “to be a little more sensitive.” This was a sentiment expressed by many on Twitter as well – that Rogen’s comment was out of line because he has not been in the military.
Rogen’s comment was about the movie, not the American military.
American Sniper is a piece of art, and art is completely open to any criticism.
If we limited criticism on a particular work simply because it involves the American military, or a soldier who actually existed, we would be arbitrarily dividing art into categories, and also making it impossible to criticize genuine propaganda.
Not only that, but Rogen’s comment does not even seem to be directed at the military. If anything, he is taking a shot at the film and its creators. But even then we have to remember that Seth Rogen is a comedian.
The irony of the outrage is that it makes Rogen’s initial silly comparison even more amusing – and fitting.
By comparing a film about the American military to Nazi propaganda, he evoked a firm response that stated very clearly that one does not question the heroism of America’s soldiers.
That is the kind of response that a piece of propaganda would give rise to.
Rogen did apologize for his comment, stating that he liked American Sniper and it just reminded him of the Inglourious Basterds scene.
He then went on to accuse the media of blowing his comments out of proportion.
While the tweet was indeed blown wildly out of proportion, considering both its content and its creator, it reminds us of the absurd level of support some Americans can feel for their military’s actions