Full Metal Jacket and Cultures of Masculinity at the University

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Full Metal Jacket and cultures of masculinity at the university Stanley Kubrick's 1987 war epic Full Metal Jacket depicts the socialization process of young men into the military. The plot revolves around a group of U.S. Marines being trained in the ways of the armed forces before they are sent over to Vietnam. One overweight recruit named Leonard Lawrence (nicknamed 'Gomer Pyle') struggles to keep up with his fellow soldiers, and to motivate him to 'step up,' the drill instructor institutes a policy whereby the entire group will be punished for his transgressions. This leads to Lawrence being hazed almost constantly, and quickly encourages him to change his ways. However, the pressure becomes too much and he eventually breaks down psychologically and dies in a murder-suicide. What the recruits in the film are undergoing constitutes 'hazing,' which is officially not sanctioned but goes on at many fraternities today. The purpose of boot camp, and hazing in general, is to break down the ego of the 'newbie' and replace that ego structure with that of the institution into which he or she is entering. The recruit is made to feel personally inadequate unless he fulfills the requirements of the hazing process, and then is warmly accepted at the end of his trial. Of course, pledging a fraternity is voluntary, versus being drafted into Vietnam. But once a pledge has invested a great deal of time and effort into becoming a member of a fraternity, he may feel pressured to do

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