What happens when you refer to the audience of America's most popular movie — a movie about a Navy SEAL, no less — as "very angry" and as card-carrying members of the Tea Party?
You piss off Lieutenant Dan. And nobody wants to piss off Lieutenant Dan.
That's exactly what former governor Howard Dean did Friday night when the discussion on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" turned to American Sniper, the Clint Eastwood action flick that brought in more than $200 million in its first 10 days in theaters. After Maher referred to the film's hero, Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, as a "psychopathic patriot," Dean said the host made "a very interesting point."
“There’s a lot of anger in this country, and the people who go see this movie are people who are very angry. And this guy basically says ‘I’m going to fight on your side,'" Dean said, referring to Kyle. "I bet you if you looked at a cross-section of the Tea Party and people who go to see this movie, there’s a lot of intersection.”
The reaction from Fox News was predictable. Hosts Gretchen Carlson and Neil Cavuto blasted Dean and brought on other SEALs, who referred to the former gov — along with fellow American Sniper detractors Maher, actor Seth Rogen and director Michael Moore — as "pompous egomaniacs."
But then, something unimaginable happened: Gary Sinise, who played perhaps the most iconic veteran in modern film history — Lieutenant Dan Taylor in the 1994 classic Forrest Gump — piled on. In a post on the website whosay, Sinise asked, "What the hell are you talking about?"
To Howard Dean,
I saw American Sniper and would not consider myself to be an angry person. You certainly have a right to make stupid blanket statements, suggesting that all people who see this film are angry, but how is that helpful sir? Do you also suggest that everyone at Warner Brothers is angry because they released the film? That Clint Eastwood, Jason Hall, Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller and the rest of the cast and crew are angry because they made the film? Chris Kyle's story deserved to be told. It tells a story of the stress that multiple deployments have on one military family, a family representative of thousands of military families. It helps to communicate the toll that the war on terror has taken on our defenders. Defenders and families who need our support. I will admit that perhaps somewhere among the masses of people who are going to see the film there may be a few that might have some anger or have been angry at some point in their lives, but, with all due respect, what the hell are you talking about?
No word on whether Lieutenant Dan has found Jesus yet.