Everything I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned From Full Metal Jacket

by Craig Packard

The term full metal jacket refers to a type of bullet with a soft metal core–usually lead–encased in a shell of harder metal, which allows for high muzzle velocity without causing damage to the barrel.   Full Metal Jacketthe 1987 film by Stanley Kubrick, is an undeniable cultural touchstone that has provided men with some of the most quotable dialogue of all time (with all due respect to David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross).  But beyond the brilliantly pithy utterings from the mouth of  R. Lee Ermey as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman–much of them improvised, drawing on his experience as an actual United States Marine Corps drill instructor–the film provides some valuable life lessons.  If you listen for them and care to learn.

10.  “I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor.  From now on you will speak only when spoken to and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be “Sir.”  Do you maggots understand that?” – GySgt. Hartman

Lesson:  One should show proper respect to ones superiors; they have earned respect just by virtue of having risen to their positions.

9.   “That’s enough!  Get on your feet.  Pvt. Pyle, you had best square your ass away and start shitting me Tiffany cufflinks or I will definitely fuck you up!” – GySgt. Hartman

Lesson:  It’s important to perform to ones highest potential, because people have high expectations.

8.   “I like you, Pvt. Joker.  Hell, you can come over to my house and fuck my sister!” -GySgt Hartman

Lesson:  When people hold you in high esteem, they may well provide you with unexpected opportunities.

7.   “You’re the kind of guy who would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him a reach-around!” – GySgt. Hartman

Lesson:  In our rushed, modern world, courtesy still matters.

6.   “I’m asking the fucking questions here, Private!  Do you understand?” – GySgt. Hartman

Lesson:  Oftentimes, if we would just listen, rather than try and interject our own thoughts, we would be more apt to learn important lessons.

5.   “You goddamn communist heathen, you had best sound off that you love the Virgin Mary, or I’m gonna stomp your guts out!  Now you DO love the Virgin Mary, don’t you?” – GySgt. Hartman

Lesson:  It’s important to believe in something bigger than oneself.  It earns you the respect of others.

4.   “Well baby, me so horny.  Me so HORNY.  Me love you long time.  You party?” – Saigon Hooker

Lesson:  It’s nice when a woman knows what she wants and states it clearly.  She is to be respected for this.

3.   “You better get your head and your ass wired together or I WILL take a giant shit on you.” – Unnamed Colonel

Lesson:  You don’t want that to happen.  It will be giant.  It will be disgusting.

2.   (Regarding the apparent contradiction of the peace symbol pin on Pvt. Joker’s uniform and the words “Born to Kill” on his helmet.) “I don’t know.  I think I was trying suggest something about the duality of man, sir… The Jungian thing, sir.” – Pvt. Joker

Lesson:  Life is complicated.

1.   “Whose side are you on, son?” – Unnamed Colonel

Lesson:  Don’t be a fence-sitter.  Choose a team.

There are so many more important life-lessons in Full Metal Jacket, but these are stand-outs.  What lessons do you find?

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