Michael Moore is no stranger to controversy. Neither is he one to shy away from a fight, so is it any surprise that the Fahrenheit 9/11 director is sharing some strong opinions about snipers on a weekend when American Sniper has dominated the box office?
The trouble began when Michael Moore posted the following tweet:
My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 18, 2015
The staunch anti-war filmmaker then posted a second tweet indicating that he was only disparaging snipers working for invading forces, not those who defend their homes against said invaders.
But if you're on the roof of your home defending it from invaders who've come 7K miles, you are not a sniper, u are brave, u are a neighbor.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 19, 2015
Of course, this set off a firestorm of controversy, with the media quick to point out that the weekend’s top-grossing film, American Sniper, is about the very profession Moore called “cowardly.”
American Sniper stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL sniper who served four tours during the Iraq War. With 160 confirmed kills, Kyle is known as the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. The film, directed by Clint Eastwood, has received considerable critical praise, including an Academy Award nomination for both Best Picture and Actor in a Leading Role.
Although Moore first responded to the Twitter storm by denying his tweet was pointed at American Sniper, and declaring that the film featured “great acting,” a “powerful message” and a “sad ending,” he continued to draw parallels between his political beliefs and the film in a longer, more in-depth Facebook post.
In the post, Moore again mentions his uncle’s death, saying, “My uncle, Lawrence Moore, was an Army paratrooper and was killed by a Japanese sniper 70 years ago next month.” Moore continued with, “My dad always said, ‘Snipers are cowards. They don’t believe in a fair fight. Like someone coming up from behind you and coldcocking you. Just isn’t right. It’s cowardly to shoot a person in the back. Only a coward will shoot someone who can’t shoot back.”’
Obviously, Moore isn’t buying into Kyle’s American hero status.
By continuing in his post to draw parallels between the man who shot Jesse James in the back and James Earl Ray, the sniper who assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., it’s clear that Moore sees no difference between a trained military sniper and a fanatic vigilante.
But are we really surprised by Moore’s take on a film that, on the surface, seems to deliver a pro-military message? Even if the film carries anti-war sentiment, there will continue to be a large audience that sees Kyle’s service as honorable and his sacrifice as heroic.
Moore, who is unabashedly anti-war, is not part of that audience and never will be. Which raises the question, “What’s a filmmaker to do when overcome with political objections?”
Take to social media to vent, just like the rest of us.
American Sniper is playing in theaters now.