Michelle Obama Praises “Complex, Emotional” American Sniper Movie Despite Controversy

Michelle Obama spoke about the Bradley Cooper film American Sniper
Michelle Obama spoke about the Bradley Cooper film American Sniper Win McNamee/Getty Images; Leah Puttkammer/FilmMagic

American Sniper just got the seal of approval from the country's First Lady. Michelle Obama praised the controversial box office smash at an event in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Jan. 30. 

President Obama's wife addressed a crowd that included star Bradley Cooper as a part of the launch of the 6 Certified program at National Geographic Society. Michelle, 51, focused her speech on veterans and how they're portrayed in entertainment and media, specifically bringing attention to American Sniper. 

"Today, I’m calling on all of you and folks across the entertainment industry to change the conversation about our veterans and military families," she began. "Give us the full story… I’m not saying that you should tell these stories just because it’s the nice thing to do or the right thing to do. You should do it because these are good stories, period. They make for tremendous TV and movies that people want to see. So these stories are good for business as well."

 "Just look at the latest box office numbers," Michelle continued. "The number-one movie in America right now is a complex, emotional depiction of a veteran and his family. And I had a chance to see American Sniper this week on that long flight and 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."

While it has brought in more than $264 million at the worldwide box office, American Sniper's debut was not without controversy. The film inspired criticism from those who took issue with the portrayal of Islamic people, as well as the acts of war committed by main character and famed military sniper Chris Kyle, who is played by Cooper. The film was celebrated by the Academy and is up for six Oscars at next month’s 2015 Academy Awards.

"Now, I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but this movie reflects those wrenching stories that I’ve heard — the complex journeys that our men and women in uniform endure," Michelle said of the film, which was directed by Clint Eastwood. 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."

 "Here’s why a movie like this is important: See, the vast majority of Americans will never see these stories," FLOTUS added. "They will never grasp these issues on an emotional level without portrayals like this… Films and TV are often the best way we have to share those stories… You don’t have to center an entire movie or create a special episode on these issues. These folks can just be ordinary characters in the communities you create — a neighbor who once saw combat, a teacher whose son is deployed. See, that’s the way we hope our country will welcome back our veterans — not by setting them apart, but by fully integrating them into the fabric of our communities."

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