Speaking at an event to boost the image of veterans in entertainment, first lady Michelle Obama offered praise to the movie “American Sniper” for its depiction of military families and “the complex journeys that our men and women in uniform endure.”
Obama spoke to a Washington gathering on Friday organized by Got Your 6, a group that promotes accurate portrayals of veterans in entertainment. Bradley Cooper, who played Chris Kyle in “American Sniper,” was one of the panelists at the event.
“The No. 1 movie in America right now is a complex, emotional depiction of a veteran and his family,” the first lady said, adding that “while I know there have been critics, I felt that, more often than not, this film touches on many of the emotions and experiences that I’ve heard firsthand from military families over these past few years.”
The movie has been a source of debate on issues ranging from its portrayal of Kyle to whether it glorifies violence to whether it is a commentary on U.S. action in Iraq. Nevertheless, the movie has earned praise from Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Jane Fonda, and its director, Clint Eastwood, has argued that it is in many respects anti-war.
Obama said that the movie “reflects those wrenching stories that I’ve heard — the complex journeys that our men and women in uniform endure. The complicated moral decisions they are tasked with every day. The stresses of balancing love of family with a love of country. And the challenges of transitioning back home to their next mission in life.”
She urged those gathered to portray veterans in a way that reflects the complexities of their lives, rather than in ways that are “caricatures,” whether they are shown as downtrodden or as simply saintly.
“Here’s why a movie like this is important: See, the vast majority of Americans will never see these stories,” she said. “They will never grasp these issues on an emotional level without portrayals like this.”
She added that “it’s not like a single episode or a movie will mean that everyone in America will immediately understand” veterans’ full experiences, but “bit by bit, if we can familiarize the country with who these folks truly are, if we can give folks a better picture of everything our veterans have to offer, then we can make a real difference in the lives of these folks and their families.”
At the event, Got Your 6 announced a committee in which movie and TV projects could be awarded “6 Certified” designations for their portrayal of veterans, as well as for hiring veterans in the movie or as technical advisers.
Read Obama’s full remarks here.