skrapnel

Explosive Scraps and Thoughts by Chris Apollo Lynn

Kubrick’s Use of Mickey Mouse Song in ‘Full Metal Jacket’ is Genius!

with 10 comments

Full Metal Jacket Poster[SPOILER ALERT: If you ever plan on watching “Full Metal Jacket,” don’t read this. You probably shouldn’t watch the embedded video, either.]

Just watched Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” for the first time as an adult.

“What?” you say. “Aren’t you the biggest Kubrick fan this side of the Mississippi?”

Apparently not.  I mean, I own all the Kubrick films and know them all by heart–except “Full Metal Jacket.”

When I was a kid, I remember coming into the living room while my parents were watching it.  It felt so heavy–not in intelectual material, but in mood.  This time around, however, I saw the beautiful cinematography and dark, fun house mirror wit that I love in all his movies.  I shouldn’t be that surprised; I hated “A Clockwork Orange” when I first saw it at 16.  Today, it’s probably my favorite movie of all time.

Kubrick’s genius really shines in the final scene:

By choosing to have the troops sing the Mickey Mouse Club theme song as they march silhouetted by flaming destruction, Kubrick ties three themes together:

  1. The journey from boy to man
    • Typical of most war movies, we see the main character grow from fresh faced recruit to hardened soldier.  This song, however, is effing intense. These guys probably sang this song along with the TV as kids.  Now they are singing it together as a shared nostalgia that not only binds them, but also serves to show the contrast between childhood and adulthood; innocent naivety and killed-a-man experienced.
    • Or maybe, it shows that these guys are still boys having to live as men. Hmmmm….
  2. Camaraderie and the solidification of a group
    • They’re singing about being members of a club, holding banners high, working in harmony and the shared nostalgia/experience mentioned above.  The inviting lyrics could also be mistaken for recruiting.
  3. Notion of the American ideal of bringing freedom, even if through force, to the rest of the world
    • Mickey Mouse is a symbol for America.
    • The lyrics are upbeat, inviting people around the world to join a club.  The soldiers singing this as they march across a conquered land in order to eradicate communism and forcibly bring freedom make those lyrics ironic.

When I was little, my grandfather would play an old Mickey Mouse Club record.  I remember marching around, gleefully raising my mom’s old baton up and down while singing the theme song with joy.  There isn’t that same vigor in the voices of these soldiers.  They have to make themselves joyful. By singing this particular song, they are able to grasp on to any last scrap of  humanity or any distant memory of innocence.  Brilliant.

Anyway, just same late night wanderings.  What do you think?

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Written by Chris Apollo Lynn

May 1, 2009 at 8:30 AM

10 Responses

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  1. http://collativelearning.com/FMJ%20contents.html

    the best analysis of FMJ i have come across… :) great observations regarding the final scene!

    …”what is this mickey mouse shit!?”–sgt. hartman…another reference to mickey mouse right before private pyle commits suicide.

    Lauretta

    October 25, 2009 at 2:07 AM

  2. I also loved this scene, and last night I found out where Kubrick got the idea. I was reading “The Doom Pussy” a book by journalist Elaine Shepard about the Vietnam War which was published in 1967. On page 167 several Air Force flyers have started their own “Mickey Mouse Club” in a bar in Saigon and they sing, beer in hand and Mickey Mouse ears on their heads, the song. Several verses of the song are spelled out in the text. This in and of itself made me think that Kubrick must have read the book, but then, on page 168, after the song has finished, one of the airmen, Tors, says “I hope the producer of Strangelove never gets a hold of that.” The bar owner responds, “Why, didn’t you know? It’s just possible that Dr. Strangelove lives in Peking.”

    Twenty years later Kubrick used the song in his Vietnam epic. A tribute to “Doom Pussy,” or maybe a little inside joke? The world may never know.

    Ryan M

    April 30, 2010 at 9:12 PM

  3. there is also a mickey mouse figurine in the newspaper meeting room

    kdeazy

    January 2, 2011 at 5:40 AM

  4. What about the Mickey Mouse reference when Hartman storms in on Joker and Gomer Pyle in the head at the conclusion of the first part of the movie.
    What do you think the connection is?

    Jon

    September 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM

  5. I feel it is also a connection to the concept of the Duality of Man “the Jungian thing” as war is a mans business and the Mickey Mouse club it a show for children.

    Yesfx

    November 16, 2011 at 11:22 AM

  6. Mickey mouse is a direct refrence to Mk-Utra mind control being used by the elites. Also Full Metal Jacket is not really about vietnam (If you look closley it looks nothing like vietnam- its really about Kubrick predicting future wars in the middle east e.g compare the pictures of the urban battalfield to Iraq). Also this movie touches on the phantom bullet theory about JFK conspiracy theory (for more info check it out here: http://www.collativelearning.com/FMJ%20pt%2015.html )

    Eyes wide shut: Really About Mk-ultra and secret societies (more information:http://www.konformist.com/flicks/eyeswideshut.htm and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2N14Zv7omE)

    THE shining:Kubricks confession of the faked moon landing and genocide of native Americans (more infromation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivFs8SKHW7k )

    Mike

    December 7, 2011 at 6:21 PM

  7. Full Metal Jacket happened to be on TV last night & I watched it…

    All of a sudden [during the “Mickey Mouse” scene] it dawned on me… The song has several meanings in this context [some are explained above]… But what stood out to me was that the fact that “M-I-C” is spelled out…

    MIC = Military Industrial Complex (which Eisenhower warned everybody about & what still holds the world by the throat to this day as a never ending machine IN THE BUSINESS of creating never ending wars (for profit)…

    That’s what Kubrick is referring to here (more than anything else)… It’s about as powerful a metaphor as the “GOLD ROOM” in ‘The Shining’… Go look it up if you want to know what I mean…

    cv

    January 5, 2013 at 9:03 AM

  8. I think it was a retreat back to innocence, to the only thing that could hold them together as a club. The whole squad had just learned some hard lessons about the war (and about themselves). Remember that the first scene in country ends with a rip-off and the question of why are we in Vietnam. There is further effort to explore that with some of the press interviews. And the song is the final answer, that it does not matter, Survival in that world of shit is the only thing that matters.

    Tomaso Paine

    April 8, 2013 at 2:55 PM

  9. why did they replace Donald Duck with Mickey Mouse in the song ??? does anybody know why…

    patrick

    May 3, 2013 at 1:49 AM

  10. The Mickey Mouse Club song at the end of the movie, was how the marines viewed the war. I was there
    and we all felt it bull shut.

    Gjungle

    November 10, 2013 at 2:23 AM


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