Testing the Ability of Man to Resist Authority

1570 Words7 Pages
Behavior throughout the military setting is marked by a unique absolutism. Whether it be by the assertion of the supposed “absolute power” held over each individual in lower rank, through dependent mindset pressed on incoming grunts or from the supposed “honor” that is derived from following orders unquestionably, the strict organization found within the military leads to many instances of blind obedience. Critically acclaimed drama, A Few Good Men, directed by Rob Reiner, has been analyzed by many for its numerous homages to absolutism within the militaristic setting. To follow a pair of soldiers, Dawson and Downey, who unquestioningly, followed an order known to be unethical, offers a blank slate by which to scrutinize and analyze. When taken in light next to the findings of author, professor and Ph.D. of psychology, Philip Zimbardo, the almost stereotypical behavior of the two soldiers can be elaborated upon. Through his “Prison experiment” Zimbardo set out to test the ability of man to resist authority. His findings, however, would prove that the situation each man faces lends itself to role-play; therefore, each man develops a different persona (Zimbardo 240-252). Next in line to Zimbardo’s experiment is the real-life account of the My Lai massacre, as recounted by Herbert Kelman and V. Hamilton. In order to explain the actions of Lieutenant Calley, the soldier responsible for the brutal murders of over one hundred Vietnamese civilians, the authors alluded to the mindset of authorization, routinization and dehumanization; furthermore, such tactics can be seen scattered throughout the military in routine training and mindset (Kelman Hamilton 266-278). Within the film, no situation better defines why it is that unethicality can...

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...own, and Andrew Scheinman. By Aaron Sorkin. Perf. Aaron Sorkin, Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, and Kevin Bacon. Columbia Pictures, 1992. DVD.

Hamilton, V. and Kelman, Herbert. “The My Lai Massacre: A Military Crime of Obedience.” Writing & Reading for ACP Composition. Eds. Thomas E. Leahey and Christine R. Farris. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009.266-278. Print.

Wenker, Kenneth H. "Morality and Military Obedience." Air and Space Power Journal. Air and Space Power Journal. Web. 06 Nov. 2011.

Zimbardo, Philip. “The Stanford Prison Experiment.” Writing & Reading for ACP Composition. Eds. Thomas E. Leahey and Christine R. Farris. New York: Pearson Custom Publishing, 2009.240-252. Print.

Zwygart, Ulrich F. "How Much Obedience Does an Officer Need?" CGSC - Command and General Staff College. U.S. Army Combined Arms Center. Web. 06 Nov. 2011.

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