Top Gun produced by the dynamo team of Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson and directed by lesser-known Tony Scott was released in 1986 and grossed 344 million at the box office out earning Crocodile Dundee by 2 million. (1) The movie was huge (to say the least) and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016. The interesting thing about Top Gun is that it was made in “collaboration with the Pentagon.” (2) The movie is also well known for its ‘supposed’ gay subtext. Quentin Tarantino in a lengthy speech in the film “Sleep With Me” (1994) discusses the ‘gay’ love between the two lead characters in Top Gun played by Tom Cruise (Maverick) and Val Kilmer (Iceman). But is Top Gun all that? Or is it just a movie with (a lot) of buff bods and a heap of very loud, superfast aircraft? Let’s examine.
What you may or may not know was that the “Pentagon worked hand in hand with the film-makers.” (3) According to rumours the scene where Goose (Anthony Edwards) was killed was changed at the Pentagon’s request (the script was submitted to the Pentagon for approval), and the producers only paid 1.8 million to use the Military aircraft in the movie – a lowly figure indeed!
So why the government’s involvement in Top Gun? According to the Washington Post “when polls showed many expressing doubts about the post-Vietnam military… the movie’s celebration of sweat-stained machismo…proved a major force in resuscitating the military’s image.” (4) This is not the first time the American government and Hollywood have teamed up to produce military propaganda and the movie Top Gun worked to increase enlistment.
But what about the “sweat-stained machismo?” According to an unknown user on Critical Fumble, “Top Gun is actually about Maverick’s (Tom Cruise) struggle with his sexuality.” (5) Charli (Kelly McGillis) represents heterosexuality while Iceman and the rest of the pilot’s homosexuality.
There is so much of the film that can be read as ‘gay’. For instance, many of the lines in the movie have a gay subtext. For example, this famous line from the film: “Get your butts above the hard deck,” “I want somebody’s butt, I want it now.” As well as the many locker room scenes and the infamous volleyball game scene in which the pilots with buff and glistening bodies play-off team against team. (6)
As Freud once said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” According to Sean Braswell Top Gun’s ‘gayness’ is due to many factors. Braswell’s conclusion?
“In short, when your film’s formula consists of a carnally-inclined filmmaker, a fetishist director, true-to-life locker-room dialogue and a military recruitment wing looking to redirect the aggressions of testosterone-laden teenage viewers, then it’s not surprising that the result is a turbo-charged homoerotic vehicle capable of firing up imaginations”. (7)
(1)Pirnia, Garin, “10 Speedy Facts About Top Gun,”
https://mentalfloss.com/article/63980/10-speedy-facts-about-top-gun (accessed June, 7 2018)
(2)(3)(4)Sirota, David, “25 Years Later – How ‘Top Gun” Made America Love War,”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/25-years-later-remembering-how-top-gun-changed-americas-feelings-about-war/2011/08/15/gIQAU6qJgJ_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1d0e69478f8d (accessed June 7, 2018)
“Does Top Gun Have a Hidden Meaning” Sociology Live,
https://sociologyliveblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/does-top-gun-have-a-hidden-meaning-2/ (accessed June, 7 2018)
“Top Gun is About a Man Coming to Terms With His Homosexuality,” CriticalFumble.Net,
https://www.criticalfumble.net/forum/showthread.php?t=13477 (accessed June 7, 2018)
(5) (6) (7) Braswell, Sean,“How Gay is ‘Top Gun’ Really?” https://www.ozy.com/opinion/how-gay-is-top-gun-really/30378 (accessed June 7, 2018)
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