As part of ongoing cultural competence activities, PRA sponsors a film series where staff and their invited guests can participate in viewing selected films followed by a group discussion.  The most recent film selected by PRA’s Cultural Competence Committee was Ears, Open.  Eyeballs, Click, which presented “an unfiltered, fly-on-the-wall glimpse into the chaos and pain of boot camp.”  In this documentary there is no narration and no acting – just a what-you-see-is-what-you-get second-hand experience of Marine Corps Boot Camp.  And, what you see is intense.

The film opens with a busload of recruits arriving quietly at Camp Pendleton.  As soon as the bus arrives, chaos ensues and the atmosphere on the bus becomes incredibly pressurized.   As a viewer, I immediately became anxious and tuned in intently as I tried to follow the commands barked by the drill instructor, as if I also needed to hustle off the bus with these panicked recruits.

From this inside look at what recruits must endure during boot camp, it is clear that there is an element of breaking down and building back up, but the post-movie discussion revealed more to it than that.  Drill instructors and recruits use strong, loud voices because strong, loud voices are necessary for combat.  Carrying the “dragon tooth” (picture a trapezoidal-shaped cement block) with a partner everywhere you go isn’t simply an endurance test (or form of torture), it also promotes team work and problem solving.  Boot camp is chaotic and there is a lot of shouting because in combat, getting things done under pressure is essential an