Friday, September 3, 2010

Through a New Looking Glass: Drill Sergeant Hartman

(The original link I used here is gone and I'm trying to avoid embedding. Here is a link to another copy of Hartman's introduction.)

You ever see the movie "Full Metal Jacket"? It was a particularly gritty and violent movie about a platoon of men being trained at a base at Parris Island, SC for Vietnam. The video clip above is of the introduction of the drill sergeant that trained them.

As you can see that drill sergeant is really really wound up. But I have to say that when I look at that clip I don't have the same reaction that I once did.

Yesterday's Perception: I can recall laughing my ass off at that clip. The way he just barrages them with his take no shit attitude. And the insults were just funny. One of my favorite parts was the part where the guy imitates John Wayne and he comes back asking who said it. He has no problem using violence in addition to words to berate them. In fact I was just talking about this a few months ago with some coworkers and going over how funny that clip is. Complete with quoting large portions of it.

Today's Perception: That clip isn't as great as I once thought it was. Mind you I still do laugh at parts of but that's more reflex than actually thinking its funny (I've been think that was funny for the last 15 or so years so its going to take more than over night to unlearn something.) If you watch the clip and actually pay attention to the way he treats those guys he is breaking them down. Why is he breaking them down? Because it is that drill sergeant's responsibility to turn those men into soulless killers who can walk into hell and stand at least some chance of walking back out.

That's what the language was for. That's what the treatment was for. That's what the abuse was for. It had been determined that in order for those men to survive that had to broken down so they could be built up. That sergeant engaged in all sorts of -ist behaviors just in that opening sequence. Homophobia by implying that they suck dick as an insult. Racism by saying that he doesn't give special treatment niggers and (insert offensive slang for Jews, Latinos, and Italians). Sexism against women by ordering them to refer to their guns as wives. Disablism by harassing a cadet with mental disabilities. And probably more that I don't recognize. But in the end they are all tools of misandry. The point of all that treatment was to mold those men from whatever everyday lives they came from into killers. It takes hatred (via disregard for those men) to single out a group of people for such treatment.

And if you really get down to it what he does in that movie isn't all that different (just not as extreme, usually) from that way boys and men are treated today. Forced into a tight little box of what is okay for us to do. Which is of course followed by people throwing their hands up wondering why we aren't all that well adjusted to society.

When I think about the way the sergeant treated them now it wasn't all that funny. In fact is fucking offensive on nearly all sides of board. When I think about it I realize that is just what the