I honestly never thought there would be cause to write about “American Sniper” again. I never thought discussions of rape on campus and serious allegations against the University for failure to adequately help victims of rape and sexual assault would be not only supplanted, but completely drowned out by movies. Movies, in the grand scheme of things, are not important — useful, helpful, but not important. Human health and well-being are important. But the people have spoken.

This Friday at UMix, you have the option of seeing one of two films: “American Sniper” and “Paddington.” One of these films is entirely appropriate for UMix Late Night, one is not. UMix is about inclusivity, fun, social gathering where you don’t worry about the political and social implications of, well, anything — these are all things that “American Sniper” does not promote. It doesn’t belong at some alternative to Friday night shenanigans; it’s a serious film with serious repercussions and truly disturbing content. It shouldn’t have been shown in the first place.

But it will be, so it’s only fair we discuss it.

The decision to pull the showing of the film was a wise one. As stated above, it doesn’t belong at UMix. However, having seen the film and having commented on it extensively already (and having discussed it with multiple people with multiple viewpoints), I understand the argument for showing the film.

I admit “American Sniper” is a one-sided portrayal of one white American male who’s tasked with the job of killing Muslim people, who are presented in an incredibly one-sided fashion, but that is not the point of the film, and it isn’t a verbatim recreation of the words Chris Kyle wrote in his book. This is a complex character with multiple motives and values. It’s a character study, not an overt attempt to promote American pride or violence. So stop associating “proud to be an American” with “American Sniper,” stop putting this character on a pedestal. Chris Kyle as portrayed in “American Sniper” is a disturbed, conflicted individual. The viewer needs to separate the book and the film: these are two different media, from two different writers, with two different goals and two different results.

But even if appeals to the artistic intent of the work fall on deaf ears, perhaps a call for reason reaches you. Disagreement does not permit censorship. If you are uncomfortable with the film, then do not see it. Your dislike of some media should not permit others from partaking, and your opinion about that media does not supersede those of others; you are not infallible, yours is not the only opinion on this campus.

If you are truly unsettled by “American Sniper,” then you need to open a dialogue. In fact, the University should open a dialogue by hosting a speaker, following the film, to discuss at length both sides of the argument (somewhere other than UMix). That is how we exchange ideas; that is how we achieve understanding. Sweeping the film under the rug and pretending it never happened accomplishes nothing and, in a way, proves a little cowardly. How do you expect to actually foster discussion and understanding if you only wish to shut down the conversation before it even begins?

Whatever your thoughts on “American Sniper,” it’s important to recognize that film and art are meant to foster debate and ideas, not to succumb to your individual, preconceived notions of right and wrong. Director Michael Haneke said, “The ideal film scene should force the spectator to look away … if you want to talk about a problematic topic, the film itself should do it justice.”

That we continue to have this debate proves that Clint Eastwood did at least something right in crafting his film. We can spout all this rhetoric about sensitivity or free speech or tolerance, but neither side can rightfully claim to represent those tenets without shutting up and listening to what the other has to say. And in fact, the majority, even more than the minority, has an obligation to do so.

This is one of the best and brightest campuses in America — it’s about time we, the students, the administration, the teachers, all of us, start acting like it.

On a final note, “Paddington”, evidently, is quite a good film and merits a viewing. I recommend seeing it; “American Sniper” isn’t that great a film anyway. For a lengthier discussion on “American Sniper,” visit my more in-depth piece into the workings of the film.

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