The University of Michigan canceled a showing of American Sniper scheduled for this Friday after student protested the planned event. Paddington, a film about an animated Peruvian bear who lives in London and loves marmalade, will be shown instead.
A group of students sent a letter to the Center of Campus Involvement that said, “Although we respect the right to freedom of speech, we believe that with this right comes responsibility: responsibility of action, intention, and outcome. The movie ‘American Sniper’ not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim and anti-MENA rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer.”
The Center responded by saying, “We … did not intend to exclude any students or communities on campus through showing this film. Nevertheless, as we know, intent and impact can be very different things. While our intent was to show a film, the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcome at our program.”
However, the Detroit Free Press reports that the university will screen the film, just not as part of this program. The screening will be accompanied by “an appropriate educational panel discussion.”
Paddington, which a Michigan Daily film reviewer praised for “never feel[ing] stuffy or overly preachy,” has also courted controversy. The British Board of Film Classification surprisingly gave the film a PG rating for “dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo, infrequent mild bad language.”