Everywhere you turn, the new movie about American Navy Seal Chris Kyle called American Sniper has been causing a political stir amongst movie goers and beyond. Filmmaker Michael Moore called Chris Kyle a coward, and Bill Maher called him a “Psychopath Patriot.” Meanwhile many country music artists have come out in support of the film, including Blake Shelton, even though he’s admitted he hasn’t seen the film yet, and Craig Morgan who took on another of the film’s detractors, Seth Rogen. But one country star, Jimmy Michael Montgomery, known for such hits such as “Beer Truck” and “Remember Back When” surprisingly says it’s not his place to enter the fray of what has become a political discussion.
“I really don’t have an opinion on ‘American Sniper,'” the singer says. “I haven’t seen it yet, and even if I had, why would my opinion be any more valid or important than anyone else’s just because I’m a country music singer, or a celebrity? Sure, I could say if I liked the film or not, but I’m not sure how being a country music performer somehow gives me the authority to speak on what has become a political matter with any more importance than anyone else. I’m an entertainer. It is my job to entertain people. I’m not a political pundit. Most music fans listen to music to get away from all the political turmoil in the world, or even sometimes use it as a way to bridge differences between political ideologies, or at least use it to help understand different people’s points of view.”
Such a stance seems strange coming from a country music singer. The country music industry is pretty famous for supporting the troops no matter what, but Jimmy Michael Montgomery says his opinions go beyond positioning statements.
“Of course I support the troops, and of course I have political views, but I’m not sure that it is fair to use someone else’s artistic expression to share them. If this was a documentary, or went out of its ways to give its own political opinions beyond the story it’s telling, then that would be one thing. Actually if I had an opinion about it, if I am offended by anything, I guess that it would be that people are using a movie meant for entertainment and enlightenment purposes as a flashpoint for their reactionary political divisiveness, one way or the other. I think I would be offended if someone used my music in that way, especially if it wasn’t meant in a political context, but was just telling a story. Characters in country songs, real and fiction, have done all kinds of good and bad things over the years. They’re stories.”
Jimmy Michael Montgomery does admit politics can and sometimes does play a big role in music; country music included.
“Sure, you can have someone like Toby Keith open up themselves to the discussion by releasing songs like ‘Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue,’ or songs from the other side of the aisle from performers like Steve Earle or Kacey Musgraves. But jeez, this is just a movie. So no other movie has strayed from the book version before, or portrayed war or soldiers in a glorified manner? From what I’ve read, the movie does a fair job portraying the horrors of war, and the horrors on the home front with soldiers returning from combat with PTSD. It seems to me to be something everyone could approach and find some bit of wisdom in instead of using it as a battlefield for their hatred of people who think different than they do.”
Some have criticized Jimmy Michael Montgomery for not taking a specific stance, or for simplifying the issues surrounding the American Sniper movie. Jimmy admits,
“Hey, I know the issues surrounding this movie and the issues themselves go much deeper than this. And that’s the whole reason I don’t feel comfortable giving some wide arching opinion about it, aside from saying that my opinion doesn’t matter any more than anyone else’s. I support the troops, but I don’t need to throw my support behind a movie I haven’t even seen just to prove that…just as I’m aware of the horrors of war, and don’t like hearing about anyone getting killed.
“But why are people getting killed in the Middle East and elsewhere? Because of fundamental differences in people’s ideologies, and people being unwilling to reach out and understand each other despite their political or religious differences. I think there’s something simple in country songs that expresses that we’re all human, that we all go through love and heartbreak. That’s something universal throughout humanity. And that’s why I love country music, and that’s why I don’t want to diminish it with politics. Life’s too short. Music and movies are meant to be enjoyed and breed understanding. So let’s leave our political differences for debate at state houses and Congress and Election Day. I just want to play country music.”