It just came out one day.
“I didn’t know they piled crap that high!”
The teacher had said that the building was
tall and someone had asked and she had
given a figure. A thousand feet in the air she
And my response – blurted out – aged 10 was
almost as worrying as where I had got it from.
We’d been in Auckland and a family friend – a
precocious teen – had shown me the movie Full
He would introduce me to Suicidal Tendencies (the
band!) Also Nirvana (the band too, alas, still hoping
to one day find the path…)
But the most profound thing he ever did was sit me down
to watch Full Metal Jacket. I mean I was basically there with
the eye-clamps on from that other Kubrick film.
And for a few months after it would just come out. Lines
from the film. Proof I’d seen it.
“You’re so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece!”
And there was as much use of the word faggot as in that Eddie
Murphy stand-up show. But everyone was saying the word then
so it wasn’t quite the worry – though I knew it wasn’t being used
as any sort of kindness so I didn’t say it with any of the same anger.
Full Metal Jacket is a hell of a film. Even now. Perhaps my all-time
favourite of the Vietnam movies. And there are a lot. They still make
them. Which is so very American – building monuments to failure.
But Full Metal Jacket was my first warning against cruelness and
what it will breed.
It’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t be for ten year olds. And I won’t
be showing my boy it when he turns ten. And I’ll be hoping no one else
does either. But I’m really glad I saw it when I did. And I watched it
again and again and listened to its soundtrack as if somewhere deep
within Surfin’ Bird and These Boots Are Made For Walking
there was some extra secret.
And you know what…
There probably is.