By now everyone has heard that R. Lee Ermy, a Marine, an actor, and a really good man who did a lot to help the men and women in the military in his own way, has died at age 74. The role he is most famous for was in Full Metal Jacket, where he played a Drill Instructor.
For those not familiar with the military, the DI is the man or woman tasked with the hopeless, impossible job of turning recruits into sailors, soldiers, and Marines. A Marine recruit is the only thing on Earth lower than whale sh-t, and the DI’s job is to raise said recruit to the level of Marine. All while serving as an example of what a Marine, sailor, or soldier is to aspire to become. No pressure, right?
So, since the excerpt is highly offensive, but isn’t really, it is below the fold.
The first minute and thirty seconds gets the sense across.
A friend of mine wanted to be a Marine DI, but the slot she was assigned was in August. She perspires when she gets warm, perspires heavily, and that Is Not Done by DIs. So she had to find something else to do.
People get dreadfully offended by these scenes, and if you can find the expurgated versions, they are wildly funny because of the long beeps or silences. But that’s the point the sergeant is making – all are equally scum. He must have been a Calvinist, total depravity and all that. You can be a dago, kike, spic, Chink, wop, Mick, or whatever other cultural and ethnic group comes to mind, and he doesn’t give a sh-t. You are scum, to be made into a Marine. All are equal in the recruit barracks. There’s no discrimination.
I have quoted modified versions of this at students when appropriate. They are often surprised to learn that there were ethnic epithets long before “the N-word” became such a hot button.
Now a days, DIs are not supposed to use that kind of language and such abusive techniques on recruits. And recruits are all volunteers, not draftees or men who were ordered to join the Corps or go to jail. Something tells me, since Drill Instruction goes back at least as far as the Roman Republic and beyond, that centurions and sergeants have and will find ways to, ah, properly impress upon the wayward or slow that said recruit has committed a most grievous error or judgement and is worth less to the military than is the chewing gum on the sole of a private’s combat boot.
“Sir, yes sir!”