Collateral Damage of Full Metal Jacket

When Gunnery Sergeant Hartman said, “There is no racial bigotry here,” I knew that Full Metal Jacketwould make me want to throw up in disgust.

The film did not disappoint.

 

Released in 1987, Full Metal Jacket can most easily be described in two parts. In the first half of the movie, Full Metal Jacket follows a group of marine recruits at Parris Island during the Vietnam War.

Ignoring the racial bigotry that does, in fact, exist in Hartman’s character, the first half of the film is actually an interesting examination of the effects of hazing and corporal punishment on recruits in the marines. It also examines the ways in which training for the marines emulates brainwashing and desensitization, resulting in a lack of empathy.

But the second half of the film, set in Vietnam, troubles and disturbs me. The first scene in Vietnam features a Vietnamese sex worker walking up to two war correspondents and proposing to them in a heavy Chinese accent: “Me so so horny. Me so horny. Me love you long time. Me sucky.”

The infamous moment in which Papillon Soo Soo says, “Me love you long time.”

There we have the promiscuous API woman stereotype: the one in which the Asian woman wants to have sex, willing to do anything, with the white man. The stereotype has taken many forms, from Lotus Blossom to Miss Saigon.

What upsets me even more about this character, however, is that she is played by Papillon Soo Soo, who is half-Chinese and half-British! This casting decision only reinforces the idea that all Asian people are interchangeable with each other.

The rest of the film is peppered with other derogatory stereotypes and comments. In one instance, Sergeant “Animal Mother” reveals a dead North Vietnamese soldier, to which the war correspondent responds by taking pictures of the white soldier next to his dead body.

In interviews with the news crew, the soldiers say, “We’re supposed to be helping these people and they keep shitting on us.” There is no hesitation to throw around the racial slur that starts with a “g.” Another soldier conflates all the Vietnamese soldiers into one group: “I’m not real keen on some of these fellas that are supposed to be on our side. I keep meeting ‘em coming the other way.” And another: “We’re getting killed for these people and they don’t even appreciate it.”

None of these soldiers are Vietnamese soldiers. Throughout the film, the only voices that Full Metal Jacket presents are the voices of the U.S. soldiers.

The only times in which the Vietnamese seem to have a voice are when there is a sex worker involved, and the sniper at the end of the movie, who begs for a mercy killing. Undoubtedly, however, Full Metal Jacket reveals the one-sided bias of the Vietnam War, silencing the voices of the Vietnamese soldiers who were directly affected because of the destruction of their homeland.

A Vietnamese sex worker is presented to US soldiers for their enjoyment.

Full Metal Jacket is not the only war movie guilty of this, however. Most of the Vietnam War films released in the United States focus on the US perspective, choosing instead to discuss the effects of war on soldiers rather than the effects on the Vietnamese population.

This trend follows along with the nationalism and patriotism popular in every war the United States has ever participated in, of course. Instead of focusing on the “foreign” Vietnamese, it is in the best interest of Hollywood to focus on the experiences of those “on our side.” Patriotism draws in a wide range of audiences, from those who want to see a “glimpse” of what their loved ones might be experiencing to those who simply want to see violence actualized on the screen.

Full Metal Jacket simply attempts to do what every war movie attempts to do: demonstrate what war is “really like.” I admit that this is an honorable goal; the whole spectrum of media and art attempts to demonstrate what something is “really like.”

But the problem with Hollywood movies about Vietnam, and any other foreign country, is that they tend to freeze those countries in time. Instead of presenting Vietnam as an ever-changing country, with real people with real feelings and conflicts, Full Metal Jacket movies portray superficial stereotypes, spreading them to audiences everywhere.

Full Metal Jacket is considered a success among film critics. But it was also successful in mobilizing a stereotype, inspiring “me love you long time” jokes to this day, nearly twenty-five years later.

For a movie where one of the first lines is “There is no racial bigotry,” the movie has spread a lot of it.

Congratulations, Full Metal Jacket. The United States “loves you long time,” and sadly, perhaps always will.

Freezing Vietnam in time.

22 comments

  1. Jim 1 year ago

    You pussy, this was a movie. Sorry to intrude upon your snowflake existence, but Vietnamese hookers did indeed engage in this type of solicitous behavior toward American GI’s in the 1960’s. Grow some stones.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. casey 1 year ago

      Thank you Jim….the author IS a pussy.

      Reply Like Dislike
    2. Angela 1 year ago

      You can’t read another person’s opinions and perspective without making a derogatory comment. Who is the snowflake?

      Reply Like Dislike
      1. DepthTested 12 months ago

        You?

        Reply Like Dislike
  2. dan 1 year ago

    You snowflake long time.

    Reply Like Dislike
  3. GI JOE 12 months ago

    Bet your bank account that this asswipe never served a day in uniform. 9 years US Marines, 3 of them in Asia, & yes, it was wall to wall hookers back in those days.

    Reply Like Dislike
  4. Brian E. Christensen 11 months ago

    Did you watch this movie, with your head under you arm?
    Try to THINK!!. The scenes you pull out, and call ‘racial’, is actually
    what made this movie so great. Its the absolute BEST WAR MOVIE of ALL TIME.
    The movie showed us all the horror that went on in ‘Nam. The scene where the US Soldiers was presented a Vietnamese hooker – Kubrick made that scene to show audience, that soldiers are not heroes only.
    The Interview-scene, thanks for pulling that up also, exactly shows how ignorant the US Army was around this war.
    The scene when ‘Eightball’ ran ‘suicidal’ into the female snipers bullits, was to show the audience, that the US Army put the black soldiers upfront, in the VW.
    So Mr., try to watch this masterpiece of a war movie once again, and THINK on why S. Kubrick chose to portay the characters as he did.

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. Mike 7 months ago

      They were marines not US Army soldiers, FYI.

      Reply Like Dislike
  5. Jeffery Blanchard 10 months ago

    Why don’t you go and do your movie the way you want it???

    Whoever wrote this is a liberal puss and you are why this country is so screwed up – you prob. got a trophy as a kid for losing! Losers do not get trophies.
    Does the losing team get second prize for losing the Super Bowl ??? Yea they are first- First Losers!
    First of all Animal Mother was not the guy that reveals the dead soldier!
    “We’re supposed to be helping these people and they keep shitting on us.” Was not with the news interviews – It was Joker and Rafterman walking back from getting his camera stolen and Rafterman says it to Joker

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. William westmoreland smythes 4 months ago

      You totally missed the point pal… The film is purposely showing the American military to be ignorant stupid psychopaths and hypocrites. All the leadership such as the foul mouthed seargent are brainless sheep hating and killing just for the sake of it. Whether its pleasant or not this was the reality. Equally prostitution moatly encouraged snd created by the americans was a huge reality and its presented here realistically.
      What did u expect for it to be mary poppins

      I do agree tho the casting of soo soo papillion was ridiculous. Her british accent and eurasian features (a 5ft 11 girl in vienam in the 60s???) dont make a very comvincing saigon prostitute. The whole depiction is grossly over the top snd disgustingly racist. The fact its used as a stereotype ever since in the minds of neanderthal and ignorant white men is not the films fault.

      One very realiatic and beautiful thing about the film is how it shows the hypocrisy and racism of black americans in vietnam. This demographic treated the vietcong like “niggers” killing and maiming innocent vietnamese civilians like the best of the white american killers. Its shownhere and also in apocolypse now.

      Ultimately the americans had their asses kicked and the nervous Nellie’s went home im disgrace after bombing the hell out of a country trying to force their imperialism on a people who gave rhem a huge military defeat

      Reply Like Dislike
    2. William westmoreland smythes 4 months ago

      Hey asshole we lost. Get your head round that afte 50 years.

      Reply Like Dislike
  6. Brian 9 months ago

    Typical ultra liberal commentary from another morally and intellectually superior dip shit!

    Reply Like Dislike
    1. Dan 9 months ago

      Typical conservative retard that does nothing to add to the conversation!

      Reply Like Dislike
  7. Dan 9 months ago

    Sorry your insightful post has been invaded by closed-minded alt-right assholes.

    Reply Like Dislike
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  10. Mark 7 months ago

    What a idiot

    Reply Like Dislike
  11. Harry 7 months ago

    What a complete moron the writer of this piece is..

    Wtf do you think this movie is about?? Do stay on this superficial plane with everything read, watch, hear??

    Did you understand this movie? Did you attempt to make a few leaps into the idea that director of this film was absolutely slamming this war…american presence, the birth of modern forms of media, propaganda, what war does, how war changes people, cultures, all of the absurdities..the clearly comic book presentation in the color, the sets, the characters..just look at Animal Mother..straight off the pages of an American Comic book..so was the hooker, Soo Soo..this element plays a huge part here.. ..i mean..seriously??

    Learn to read and/or watch for content, meaning, critique, sarcasm, absurdism….ET AL..

    This one of the THE classic scenes in this film..from the moment Soo Soo comes into the frame..it really is the metaphorical setup for the rest of the film..totally brilliant…

    Get your head out of your ass..

    Reply Like Dislike
  12. Frank 7 months ago

    Wow! What a Liberal piece of crap
    commentary. The movie doesn’t portray much but reality like it or not? Not hard to tell those who have the right to free speech without ever having fought for it or supporting those who did!

    Reply Like Dislike
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    Reply Like Dislike
  15. William westmoreland smythes 4 months ago

    You totally missed the point pal… The film is purposely showing the American military to be ignorant stupid psychopaths and hypocrites. All the leadership such as the foul mouthed seargent are brainless sheep hating and killing just for the sake of it. Whether its pleasant or not this was the reality. Equally prostitution moatly encouraged snd created by the americans was a huge reality and its presented here realistically.
    What did u expect for it to be mary poppins

    I do agree tho the casting of soo soo papillion was ridiculous. Her british accent and eurasian features (a 5ft 11 girl in vienam in the 60s???) dont make a very comvincing saigon prostitute. The whole depiction is grossly over the top snd disgustingly racist. The fact its used as a stereotype ever since in the minds of neanderthal and ignorant white men is not the films fault.

    One very realiatic and beautiful thing about the film is how it shows the hypocrisy and racism of black americans in vietnam. This demographic treated the vietcong like “niggers” killing and maiming innocent vietnamese civilians like the best of the white american killers. Its shownhere and also in apocolypse now.

    Ultimately the americans had their asses kicked and the nervous Nellie’s went home im disgrace after bombing the hell out of a country trying to force their imperialism on a people who gave rhem a huge military defeat

    Reply Like Dislike

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