understanding of the formula that Hollywood uses to create a military
film. This is detailed by Jay Shafritz and Peter Foot in “Organization
Development in Hollywood War Movies: from The Sands of Iwo Jima to
G. I. Jane.” They argue that Hollywood portrayals of the military develop
in three distinct phases, “First the disparate group [of recruits] is
assembled and seen as a bunch of individualists not capable of
functioning as a team” (Shafritz and Foot 14). Recruits are brought
from various cultures and backgrounds to magnify the initial disunity
that they display. This is followed by:
…them performing as a team in training exercises and,
often equally important, while on leave. For the
purposes of the plot it is equally valid for the group to
realize they are a team in a barroom brawl as on field
maneuvers. It is the group adventure, the sharing of
mutual stress and danger, that finally cements the
individuals into a team. (16)
It is at this point that individuals realize the success of the platoon is
more important than their own personal advancement. Finally, the third
phase “validates the first two. It ‘proves’ that the training works. While
lives are inevitably lost, discipline and teamwork are shown to overall
save lives and save the day” (Shafritz and Foot 17). It is from this
paradigm that we can see the successful navigation of Hollywood’s
portrayal of military films depends on a drill instructor.
The representation of the drill instructor in Hollywood is also
influenced by the time period that the movie was produced. Hollywood
has depicted the military in various ways since World War II. Movies
made during and soon after WWII present the military as a less intense
group of fighters who have a strong set of morals. This changed though
during the Korea and Vietnam eras. During these periods, most of
Hollywood critiqued the military and depicted the institution as evil and
malevolent (Suid). Brad West writes, “More than other allied nations
the result of the Vietnam War challenged America's sense of
nationhood, for its identity and patriotism since independence have
been closely reliant on a sense of superiority demonstrated in successive
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