accuracy than seen in other films (see Screenshot 6.1). The Boys in
Company C begins with Sergeant Loyce (Ermey) verbally berating a
group of diverse misfits whom he says will be impossible to turn into
real Marines. This illustrates the beginning of the process that drill
instructors embark on in order to strip recruits of their individual
identities. Another example is The D.I. (1957) in which Gunnery
Sergeant Moore (Jack Webb) yells at his platoon of recruits, clad in
nothing but white briefs and white t-shirts, standard issue underwear
with no individuality, which is certainly the point. John Patterson
observes that while the language of drill instructors has changed from
war to war, the techniques and goals have remained the same (4).
Achieving this single identity is essential to the first prong of the military
model, which requires each recruit to complete the same exact
depersonalized curriculum.
Most of these films feature a recruit within the platoon who
tries to retain an individual identity. This is a central point of tension
throughout these films, and it is for this reason that it requires a
thorough analysis. Taylor Hackford’s An Officer and a Gentleman details
the struggles of Zack Mayo (Richard Gere) as he tries to retain his
individuality. He does this in various ways, such as selling inspection
gear, disobeying the orders of his drill instructor, and talking back to his
drill instructor. After continued challenges of physical and verbal
punishment, however, Mayo finally changes his ways. Gloria Sawyer
details this transformation:
Zack attempts to use his superior intellect, physical
skills, and charm to make his way through the program
with as little effort as possible …. He even tries to fool
Sergeant Foley: “In every class,” says Foley, “there's
always one joker who thinks that he's smarter than me.
In this class, that happens to be you. Isn't it,
Mayonnaise?” Realizing his tremendous potential,
however, Foley rides Zack to the breaking point. In one
of the film's most poignant scenes, with Foley trying to
force Mayo to quit, Zack begs Foley, through tears of
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