How a Marines Ego Works

NINJA_PUNCH – I just got done watching the move “Revolver” if you haven’t seen it I would highly recommend it (You can watch the full film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPNnu7QPtz8&wide=1 ). I’m not here to write a movie review, but I feel this applies. In the movie, a couple of people (who remain unnamed until the end) believe they’ve discovered the formula for the perfect con. Their student, Jake Green (Played by Jason Statham) Explains the formula as follows:

“The formula has infinite depth in its efficacy and application, but it is staggeringly simple and completely consistent. Rule one of any game or con, you can only get smarter by playing a smarter opponent. Rule number two: The more sophisticated the game, the more sophisticated the opponent.
If the opponent is very good, he will place his victim inside an environment he can control. The bigger the environment, the easier the control. He’ll toss the dog a bone, find their weakness, give them just a little of what they think they want. So the opponent simply distracts their victim by getting them consumed with their own consumption… The bigger the trick and older the trick, the easier it is to pull, based on two principles: They think it can’t be that old, or they think it can’t be that big for so many people to have fallen for it.

Eventually, when the opponent is challenged or questioned, it means the victim’s investment, and thus his
intelligence, is questioned. No one can accept that. Not even to themselves.” ~ Jake Green

Does anyone else think that the “opponent” sounds a lot like the marine corps and the “victim” sounds a lot like the marine? I sure think it does.


PerfectScapegoat Responds –
Revolver is one of my favorite movies, Ninja. That was a great post.

Another main theme the movie focuses on is the conceptualized self, the ego. They call the ego an agency of literalism because the mind doesn’t want to accept a concept that is too difficult to grasp- it will naturally choose a path of least resistance in order to satisfy the pride within the individual. The ego is incapable of correlating price with product, and it conveniently separates the two while we hang ourselves with the rope given us.Towards the end of the flick, Jake realizes that he suffers from a syndrome that most of us (especially Marines) succumb to at one point or another- we’re approval junkies.  As an added caveat, the Corps loves to emphasize the self-importance of urgency: “go here, go there, be there at this time OR ELSE, look important, carry yourself in a manner that suggests that you’re saving the world, etc.” But on pretty much any given day, what is really accomplished with such gravity and fabricated surliness? In exchange for their obedience, they’re given the illusion of importance.

Given enough distractions and false hopes, a Marine can spend 20 years in an organization that has only given him the illusion of accomplishment. I especially like the end of the movie when Jake takes away Ray Liota’s incentive for wanting to kill him, especially after the damage is already done. So Ray Liota is not only financially broke, but his power base has been completely toppled on a psychological level. The parallel here is that I don’t claim the USMC did anything for me, and when I have to mention my past I only say “the military.” I don’t specify. I give the Corps as little credit as possible, which is commensurate for its performance.

I think most former Marines think they have some kind of obligation to pay homage to the Corps, or they want people to swoon whenever they hear they were a Marine. This is leverage the USMC just loves to employ against them because they already invested so much into it. To turn their back on the USMC means you would have to develop their own identity instead of it giving them one with its own serial number. Most people just want to bask in the reputation, even if it’s undeserved. I know a guy who’s been out for 15 years, and he still uses Marine Corps jargon. It’s not my job to “reach” him- he’s lost forever. But I do take it upon myself to downplay my USMC experience because I want to be honest with them and myself.  What bothers the USMC (and I believe this wholeheartedly) is the idea of scores of former Marines disowning their parent organization and treating the experience like it was more like a bad acid trip instead of a patriotic rite of passage. At best (which is usually my take on it, since I’m a fairly optimistic guy), it was just a job. No more. No less.

  • Fuggit

    Whoever wrote this post… you see the Marine Corps for what it is. I am not at all surprised that you got out, either. Also, I’m glad that you’re out in the world telling the truth about the Marine Corps. If people learn the truth about it then it might be forced to change into a less dysfunctional institution. Good on you.