The recent release of the intense war drama American Sniper has caused much excitement and anticipation in American movie-goers. This makes sense considering the War on Terror in the Middle East has been the subject of several successful films in the past decade. This makes me question why Americans flock to movies about the Middle East—is it because we are hungry for any details concerning the current happenings in these mysterious countries that are disrupting our daily lives, or is it because we feel like it is our civic duty to see a film honoring the lives of our brave soldiers? Well, both of these are true, but there is a major error resulting from the popularity of these movies. Many of these movies do not accurately depict life in the Middle East. These movies may not be completely accurate, but how can we expect them to be when the writers and directors have probably not experienced the Middle East like our soldiers have. The result of the popularity of these movies is Americans taking these movies as true depictions of this war. The only other source of information we have about the current happenings in the Middle East are news stations and the media and these are known to not always release accurate information. The point is that though these movies are a great source of entertainment, they do not always accurately depict the war our country is currently deeply involved in.
The movie industry in America is a booming business that rakes in billions of dollars a year. What most Americans don’t realize is that most of the movies released here in the US are also released in many different countries around the world a few weeks later. So not only are American’s being influenced by these movies but so are many other different cultures. So the question to ask is, what happens when movies on terrorism are released in countries in the Middle East? American Sniper was released in Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Israel, and Iraq just last week. A theater in Baghdad released the movie and received great success when tickets sold out the entire first week it was released. A man was interviewed about his experience in the theater during the showing and he commented that most everyone in the theater was rooting for the protagonist Chris Kyle. A few days later the movie was banned from the theater because it was thought that the movie was “against Muslims.”
For the average citizen in the Middle East, American movies depicting the war on terrorism might inspire hope that one day the war in their country might end, but this is not always the case. Looking at the past decade there have been a string of movies released based on the war on terror: Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, Green Zone, Flight 93…etc. All of these movies did not exactly portray Muslims in a good way because Americans often fail to differentiate between terrorists and the average Muslim. Also, they always leave the United States in a good light, like we are always the great hero for the Middle East, but is this not almost demeaning to the Islamic culture? Why can’t the United States make a successful movie that respects the Islamic culture?
Furthermore, it can be concluded that movies like this, are fueling terrorism by giving off the idea that Americans see all Muslims as a threat. Hollywood is causing average citizens of the Middle East to think negatively towards America. Not only do the movies insult Islamic culture, but they are not always accurate. Even movies based on a true story like Argo and American Sniper might not always be accurate, purely to make the movie have a more interesting plot. So how does a Middle Easterner feel when he is watching a movie like American Sniper that doesn’t accurately describe what being in a war zone is like. He might assume that Americans are ignorant to what is truly happening in the Middle East. On another note, a lot of these movies are never released in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran because it is too controversial with the current war.
Hollywood’s effect on the United States relations with Middle Eastern countries is an interesting thing to consider. How is our country viewed when we release a movie like American Sniper amidst all the violence that is currently happening with ISIS? Also, terrorism only works if attention is brought to the groups violent actions. Are we not just bringing more attention to past acts of terrorism?