Masculinity in Movies: Full Metal Jacket

Topics: Full Metal Jacket, United States Marine Corps, Vietnam War Pages: 3 (760 words) Published: October 19, 2010
Masculinity in Movies: Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 film which portrays the early careers of U.S. Marine Corps recruits preparing for the Vietnam War. Throughout the movie, one recognizes concepts covered in the TV and film analysis film class; specifically the issue of masculinity.

The first part of this movie is an accurate representation of recruit training, enforcing the well known mantra “tear down then build up.” Present in this leadership style widely in use still today, is the idea of a ‘rite of passage’ in the journey from boyhood to manhood; as the subject becomes ‘worthy’ of a more masculine title. Leonard, “Private Pile,” falls victim to Gunnery Sergeant Hartman who is tasked with turning civilians into Marines. Sergeant Hartman immediately sees Leonard as weak, overweight, and unworthy of being a Marine. Time and time again, Leonard fails objectives and is subject to Hartman’s punishment. This punishment suggests that the more masculine, dominate male is superior to the lesser individual and suggests that there is an imbalance between the tiers of masculinity. It becomes the role of the superior to instill in the subordinates a manly demeanor brimming with testosterone filled masculinity.

Hartman uses his alpha male status to instill fear and respect in the recruits, causing them to obey orders for fear of punishment. As the plot progresses, a coaching style of leadership emerges, as the recruits become closer to the idealized portrait of desired masculinity projected onto marines. This differing treatment suggests that as the recruits develop into marines, they are gaining more respect as a direct result of their progressively building masculinity. This is a concept evident in many movies, as the more dominant, aggressive, and masculine male roles achieve more success as well as experience more desired outcomes than their wimpy counterparts.

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