Stanley Kubrick's Fell Metal Jacket Not Fit for Family Entertainment Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Full Metal Jacket directed by Stanley Kubrick. Specifically it will discuss why the film is not fit for family entertainment. Stanley Kubrick is known for his violent and controversial films, from "Clockwork Orange" to this particular film. The film tells the story of Marine Corps recruits, first in basic training and then in combat in Vietnam, and it is definitely not a film for the entire family. It is extremely violent and it paints a picture of madness and military service that is certainly not appropriate for children. It may not even be appropriate for adults.

"Full Metal Jacket" is the epitome of a war film. It looks at the extreme violence of war and attempts to bring it to the viewer in a realistic way. It serves that purpose very well, because it does bring home the violence of war and how the country's military trains our young people to fight. Kubrick is known as a director who employs violence and controversy in his films and this film is no exception. It is extremely violent, and certainly not appropriate for children. It is not just the violence that makes this film unacceptable for the entire family. It is the plot lines too, that contain madness, killing out of madness and pure hate, and the portrayal of people in the military that are extremely cruel and vengeful. While the military should be portrayed realistically, and it seems the Marine Corps is the most extreme example of training in the military, children should not view this film. It may color their view of the military, but more than that it is simply too violent for children to watch. I had bad dreams after watching this film; I would hate to think how it would affect the mind of a child.

My first criterion that this is not a family film is the opening of the film in basic training. From the first shot, the Senior Drill Instructor harangued and belittles the new recruits. He is trying to turn them into fighting men, but the tactics are cruel and made me uneasy from the start. He plays on a person's weaknesses to break them down, and that is simply not something children should see. For example, Janet Moore argues that Full Metal Jacket explores boot camp training, the group mentality, and the ideal of hypermasculinity demanded by the army in order to critique them" (Gates 306). First, this behavior is violent and negative, but children might perceive that behavior is acceptable in "real life," and children can be cruel enough already, they do not need to see this behavior glamorized on the screen. They can see it on the playground every day from bullies in their classes, and that behavior does not need to be supported on the screen, especially for younger children, although the film is not appropriate for older children, either.

My second criterion that the film is simply not appropriate for younger viewers is the extreme use of violence in the film. Of course, war is a violent topic, and ultimately, this is an antiwar film, portraying the military and their training in negative ways to get the point across. However, children might not understand the nuances of the film, and the extreme violence would not help them understand this is really a film that does not support war. They might see the violence as exciting and even stimulating, while not understanding the underlying message of the film. Kubrick did not intend this film to be viewed by children -- it was rated R. At the time, which means children under sixteen have to be accompanied by a parent. The violence, such as the shooting of the female sniper at the end, the shooting of the DI, the suicide, and the fanatical murder of Vietnamese women and children is not appropriate for children, and it is hard for many adults to watch. It is extreme violence, and it may be war, but not everyone has to experience the effects of war to understand the horror of war.

Another criterion that is important to mention is that this film uses "gallows humor" or black humor to get its point across, and most children simply would not understand that humor or how it occurs in the film. Children are often more literal in their translations of what they see, and they would not understand the subtleness of this humor, or the implication that these over the top violent scenes were actually a parody of the war itself, so the meaning would be lost on them. For example, the scene when the commanding officer talks about the Tet Offensive, and the character asks, "So I guess this means Ann Margaret won't be coming," would be lost on most children. They would not get the irony or humor in the situation, and they probably would not even know who she was. Therefore, the humor and satire of the film would be lost on most all children.

Finally, my last criterion that this is not a family film is the way the film depicts the military in general. Another critic notes, "Kubrick's Marine Corps, these critics argue, dehumanizes its men and reshapes them into desensitized killing machines who lack a strong individual identity once they go through basic training" (Perel 223). The DI is a bully and a cruel bully at that, and some of the officers appear like dolts or at least incompetent. For example, Lieutenant Lockhart does not believe Joker when he tells him he thinks there is a buildup of troops in Hue that will turn into the Tet Offensive, and commanders are killed in such rapid succession that no one really knows what is going on or what to do. It paints a very negative picture of the military, and children will not understand or appreciate that this is dramatic license through the director and the screenplay (which Kubrick also co-authored). Therefore, the nuances of the film are again lost on children, and they might only see it as a diatribe against the military, rather than an attempt to show the negative effects of war on the men who fight it.

War is hell, and there are many people who believe children should know and understand that, especially at an early age. It might convince them that violence and depravity are bad, and that war is bad and that might lead to a more peaceful world someday. That is why all children should view this film, according to the views of many. It could convince them that violence and war are to be avoided at all costs. It may be shocking, but children have to understand the world can be a very violent and frightening place, and they should be able to view what appears to be senseless violence, understand it, and ask questions about it. Children do not learn by sweeping certain situations under the rug. They learn by example, but they also learn by looking at their emotions and feelings, and questioning them, as well. It does not matter that the nuances of this film might be lost on many children. That is not the point. The point is to bring up the subject of war and have them explore their own feelings and emotions about what they have seen. Were they frightened? Were they disgusted? Were they shocked? Were they a little excited? It is important to validate these feelings and talk about them, rather than hiding them and never acknowledging them. Children cannot grow up in a glass bubble where they are sheltered from what really goes on in the world. They have to be able to face reality, and they have to know that things that are unspeakable do happen in the world.…

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