I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this about American Sniper, which is breaking box office records as wingnut America wallows in their violent fantasies.
American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 18, 2015
Rogen later clarified that he liked the movie, no doubt because of the fussing and whining directed at him. For those who haven’t seen Inglourious Basterds—and if you haven’t, you are missing out, because it may be Tarantino’s greatest film—he’s referring to a movie within the movie that has a plot that is eerily reminiscent of American Sniper.
American Sniper is about Chris Kyle, who has been deemed a hero because he’s really efficient at killing, claiming 255 kills of other human beings, 160 of which the Department of Defense has confirmed. This movie is about how being so great at killing makes him a hero.
Stolz der Nation (The Nation’s Pride) is about Fredrick Zoller, who is deemed by the Nazi government a hero because he’s really efficient at killing, claiming 250 kills, mostly of American and British soldiers on the Western front. This movie is about how being so great at killing makes him a hero. Unlike Chris Kyle, however, Fredrick Zoller is a fictional character. He is, however, loosely based on Matthias Hetzenauer, an Austrian sniper whose kill count dwarfs Kyle’s at a whopping 345 kills, mostly of Russian soldiers, all before his 21st birthday. Hetzenauer was awarded the Iron Cross for his killing spree, deemed heroic by his nation, just as Kyle’s is deemed heroic by ours.
Unlike American Sniper, you can watch the entirety of Stolz der Nation online, if you wish. It’s only about 6 minutes long, making it a lot easier to take than American Sniper.
Many people are very angry at Seth Rogen for noticing that there’s a real movie out now that is nearly identical to a fictional movie within a Tarantino movie that came out more than 5 years before American Sniper. Which is odd, because Rogen’s statement was bland in the extreme. He just noted the obvious, that American Sniper is nearly identical. He did not suggest, for instance, that Tarantino now has a reason to sue Clint Eastwood for plagiarism, even though that would be entertaining as hell. He did not propose, as I might, that theaters show Stolz der Nation prior to American Sniper, without context, and record the largely conservative audiences as they react to a short film about sniping without knowing that it’s fake Nazi propaganda. He just pointed out they are the same, which is like pointing out that the sky is blue and cats are furry.
But conservatives are such babies in our modern era that they feel entitled to denounce you for stating the obvious. Country musician Craig Morgan complained that Rogen’s tweet was “inaccurate and insensitive”, even though he did not explain how it was inaccurate nor did he explain why the sensitivities of American conservatives need special protection from stating the obvious. Kid Rock, furious at even a whiff of a suggestion that perhaps there’s untoward urges underlining the popularity of this movie, said he hopes Rogen “catches a fist in the face soon”. That’ll show those people who are worried that conservatives just love thoughtless violence! The Daily Caller denounced Rogen’s tweet as “offensive” without detailing exactly what they feel Rogen got wrong. Breitbart, unwilling to explain how American Sniper is different from Stolz der Nation, called Rogen “grossly overweight” and said he wasn’t “familiar with the grueling regimen Cooper endured. It is worth pointing out that Rogen is equally unfamiliar with sitting in a tower sniping Allied forces. If Rogen’s unfamiliarity with something is proof that it is awesome, then I feel that Breitbart should really be consistent about this.
It’s just really interesting how zero conservatives I’ve seen can really explain why they think there’s this big difference. I mean, if you believe it, you should be able to explain it. It’s not necessarily self-evident. The point of the short film in Tarantino’s movie wasn’t just “Nazis bad”. He was actually calling into question the way that films that celebrate war as inherently glorious and heroic encourage, no duh, nations to go to war. The fact that it’s hard to tell fascist propaganda from American nationalist propaganda shouldn’t offend you. It should concern you. If we are going to say we’re better than that, we should actually start fucking acting like it, I’d say.
With that, I’d like to offer another interesting parallel. Here is David French’s review of American Sniper for the National Review:
[Th]he movie gives America something it’s lacked since the start of the war — a war hero on a truly national, cultural scale. Yes, we’ve learned the stories of Marcus Luttrell and others who’ve achieved great and heroic things, but with the success of this movie, Chris Kyle has entered the pantheon of American warriors — along with Alvin C. York and Audie Murphy — giving a new generation of young boys a warrior-hero to look up to, to emulate. After all, our kids’ heroes can’t be — must not be — exclusively quarterbacks, rappers, or point guards.
Feel free to explore the racial implications of his concerns about kids looking up to basketball players and rappers in comments. I, in the meantime, will quote the character Fredrick Zoller from Inglourious Basterds:
This is a German night, a German event, a German celebration. This night is for you, me, the German military, the High Command, their family and friends. The only people who should be allowed in the room are the people who will be moved by the exploits on the screen.