horrifying at the same time. This transition is often portrayed, with
varying degrees of accuracy, in films relating to the military. This
chapter will attempt to define Hollywood’s drill instructor and draw a
contrast with The Hollywood Model of the iconic “good teacher” in
the movies identified by Mary M. Dalton. Empirical evidence from
viewing military films demonstrates that the methods drill instructors
use are, in fact, the opposite of The Hollywood Model of good teachers
and, to achieve their pedagogical goals, this must be the case. The results
that drill instructors produce are often unparalleled, which raises
questions about what it means to be an archetypal good teacher.
Furthermore, I argue that the reason this contrast exists between
classroom teachers and drill instructors is a result of the desired end
goal of each teacher. Teachers in a civilian classroom attempt to mold
individuals so they can experience self-actualization and prosper in any
field while drill instructors attempt to mold recruits into a single entity
that can move, think, and operate as one.
This chapter examines a variety of military films that feature
drill instructor characters, but I will be not limit my analysis solely to
drill instructors. The Movie G.I. Jane (1997) depicts a platoon going
through SEAL school, which is not technically boot camp, but the
techniques used by the Command Master Chief (Viggo Mortensen) are
identical to that of a drill instructor at boot camp.iii Including this film
broadens the scope of analysis and allows a more complete look at
military culture in the movies writ large. Though many movies will be
looked at through the course of this chapter, prominent movies that I
will draw from include: Full Metal Jacket (1987), An Officer and A
Gentleman (1982), G.I. Jane, and Stripes (1981). Each of these films is
focused on the growth and development of either a platoon or a group
of people within a platoon.iv Before I analyze these films, I will first
outline The Hollywood Model of a good teacher and explain its
applicability to the portrayal of drill instructors.
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