American Sniper has broken box office records and won critical and audience praise for director Clint Eastwood and his star, Bradley Cooper.
But it's also a film that has either been embraced or rejected on strictly partisan lines, and to the surprise of no one, Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi is not in love with it.
In fact, the columnist calls the film "almost too dumb to criticize" in a new piece that has set off a firestorm almost as big as that of Michael Moore's and Seth Rogen's tweets.
In the piece, which you can read in its entirety here, Taibbi criticizes Eastwood for making the film too black-and-white and portraying American soldiers as knights in shining armor while making the opposition out to be the very face of Hell.
"I saw American Sniper last night, and hated it slightly less than I expected to," Taibbi begins, adding that he likes Eastwood for the most part, but that his latest is "a simple, well-lit little fairy tale with the nutritional value of a fortune cookie that serves up a neatly-arranged helping of cheers and tears for target audiences, and panics at the thought of embracing more than one or two ideas at any time."
Tabby then rips on Forrest Gump for possessing the same shallowness, but adds that American Sniper "still manages to sink to a new depth or two... even by the low low standards of this business."
Taibbi believes that trying to turn the Iraq war into a "one-note" act is "both dumber and more arrogant than anything George Bush or even Dick Cheney ever tried."
"No one expected 20 minutes of backstory about the failed WMD search, Abu Ghraib, or the myriad other American atrocities and quick-trigger bombings that helped fuel the rise of ISIL and other groups.Again, not surprisingly, Taibbi's views on American Sniper aren't being widely embraced. Some of the Twitter backlash will tell you that.
"But to turn the Iraq war into a saccharine, almost PG-rated two-hour cinematic diversion about a killing machine with a heart of gold (is there any film theme more perfectly 2015-America than that?) who slowly, very slowly, starts to feel bad after shooting enough women and children – Gump notwithstanding, that was a hard one to see coming."
"@chris_pharr: re your article about American sniper. Your a queer bag you whiny liberal b!tch." Angriest tweets are all eggs w/2 followers.
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 22, 2015
"American Sniper" is almost too absurd to criticize: new column http://t.co/ungnb0cGra — Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 21, 2015
@GlomarResponder @SooperMexican Doing research to find out who Chris Kyle really was is beneath the dignity of people like @mtaibbi
— Vile Koch Myrmidon (@heatpacker) January 21, 2015
Real reason liberals like @mtaibbi hate movies like American Sniper is they can't stand admiration of the military... it angers them — el Sooper ن (@SooperMexican) January 21, 2015And there's a lot more where that came from. A lot more. But for Taibbi's part, he's not backing down on his American Sniper criticisms, unlike Michael Moore and Seth Rogen.
Expected some "Sniper" blowback, but it's amazing how angry people get when it's suggested that people other than Americans suffer in war.What do you think about Taibbi's assessment of American Sniper?
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 21, 2015