Bill Maher: American Sniper’s Chris Kyle is a “psychopath patriot.”

Bill Maher: American Sniper’s Chris Kyle Is a “Psychopath Patriot”—and Country Loves Him

Bill Maher: American Sniper’s Chris Kyle Is a “Psychopath Patriot”—and Country Loves Him

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Jan. 24 2015 11:16 AM

Bill Maher: American Sniper’s Chris Kyle Is a “Psychopath Patriot”—and Country Loves Him

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Hosts Chris Pine and Academy President Cheryl Boone announce American Sniper as one of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture on Jan. 15, 2015.

Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Bill Maher harshly criticized Clint Eastwood’s movie American Sniper, saying that it made the kind of money “superhero movies make” because it’s a simple story of good versus evil that makes Americans feel patriotic. “Hurt Locker made $17 million, because it was a little ambiguous. And thoughtful,” Maher said. “And this one is just ‘American hero, he’s a psychopath patriot and we love him.’ ”

Maher then proceeds to quote several passages from Chris Kyle’s book, which served as inspiration for the movie, in order to prove his point. One of the passages he criticized includes a reference to Iraqis as “savages” and another in which he says that while “war isn’t really fun … I certainly was enjoying it.”

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“Eisenhower once said, ‘I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can.’ I just don’t see this guy in the same league as Eisenhower, I’m sorry,” said Maher. “And if you’re a Christian—I know this is a Christian country—‘I hate the damn savages’ doesn’t seem like a very Christian thing to say.”

Guests quickly pushed back, saying that Maher had the wrong impression of the movie. “What I saw was a movie that treats what veterans and soldiers go through in a way that was subtle. It was not just about war, it was about PTSD, it was about what the wives of soldiers go through,” the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens said. Comedian Bill Burr* also pushed back against Maher’s characterization: “You can’t sum up a man by one quote taken out of context.”

All this controversy, of course, is great news for a movie that has already broken records and could make $200 million domestically by the end of its second weekend in the theaters, reports the Wrap.

*Correction, Jan. 26, 2015: This post originally misspelled Bill Burr's name. 

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.