By Alyssa Rupp —
With six Academy Award Nominations, including best picture, “American Sniper” was one of this year’s most popular Hollywood films. But on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Stout, it caused a different sort of hype.
“American Sniper” was scheduled for a showing as a free movie on campus, sponsored by Blue Devil Productions, on April 24. One of Clint Eastwood’s latest works, “American Sniper” is a movie based off of the book called “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” written by the main character himself, Chris Kyle. The film stars Bradley Cooper who portrays Kyle on his several tours to Iraq and the family challenges he faces when he returns home. The movie was shown on campus as planned, but not without concern from those who didn’t support that decision.
Two petitions were warranted, one that attempted to cancel the movie showing and one that argued students should be able to view the movie by choice. Those who felt it was unnecessary to show the movie to students authored the first of the two petitions. Their side stated,
“Our understanding of the BDP constitution is that every event will be researched before being presented on campus. However, “American Sniper” implies a generalized perception of Muslim culture as being subhuman and terrorizing.”
Another major concern for those on this side of the debate was that a dialogue was not provided after the film to educate viewers. “In particular, our concern relates to the fact that there is no scheduled dialogue before or after the screening of the film that could assist in the understanding of the multiple points of view surrounding the characters in the film,” the petition explains.
In response, those in support of showing the film, with an added optional dialogue, created a second petition.
“We are aware that there is a fear of safety due to the possible spread of inaccurate information regarding Muslims and the international community on campus. “American Sniper” is a Hollywood thriller-type movie, and in no way intends to spread Islamaphobia or inaccurate information about Muslims and the international community. This movie is only based on the perception of one person,” the petition stated.
The side also took some inspiration from veterans’ groups and others who want people to understand not all war veterans should be stereotyped as Islamaphobic. “People who haven’t seen this movie are lumping all the veterans together with Chris Kyle, and once people see the movie, that mindset will change,” supporters added.
After the 6 p.m. showing of the film, a dialogue was organized and held by three students.
“Roughly 130 students attended each showing and roughly 30 stayed after the first showing for the dialogue,” Emily Ascher, Blue Devil Productions advisor says. “There were even a few members of the Veterans’ Club who also took part in the discussion. I understand that there were those who identified as “pro” or “con” to the film. I appreciate all of the opinions that have been shared since a larger audience realized the showing would be taking place.”