Top gun that most macho of 1980’s Regan era military films. While somewhat lacking in logic and reason is without a doubt a top-notch action film by recently passed director Tony Scott. This film launched Tom Cruise’s career into the stratosphere and sold millions of aviator glasses, bomber jackets and volleyball sets. This was also one of the first films my brother and I owned on VHS. We may have ended up watching Top Gun more than a few times.
While on the surface this films seems to be super masculine in a classic sense, a closer look provides a much different analysis. Is this film actually about Maverick’s (Cruise) struggle with coming to terms with his own sexual orientation? Did acclaimed director Tony Scott create a modern action film with positive message about acceptance of gay military personnel. Do we have Scott to thank in part for the military’s recent decision to allow gay personnel to server openly? What Top Gun can’t have any homosexual scenes in it you say? Let’s just check out the infamous volleyball scene for a prime example.
Now I have played my fair share of sports in both high school and college and let me tell you this sort of oiled up posing and grab ass is not what I would call typical behavior. Never mind that everyone watching this game is male and in a similar state of undress. Well except for Goose our token straight guy in the film. Not to worry we will take care of that problem soon enough.
A bunch of guys walk into a bar dressed in Navy uniforms. Next thing you know they all bust out into a group sing along. “baby baby, I’d get down on my knees for you”. This looks more like an episode of Glee than a bombastic action film. Also interesting that as soon as Maverick walks into the bar he declares it to be a target rich environment despite what looks like an 80/20 percentage of male to female patrons. Can you say sausage fest?
Plenty of tunes on this well selling soundtrack are filled with similar odes to male love and sexual innuendo. Now that I think about it I had this on vinyl and would listen to it on my record player while looking at the Top Gun Poster hanging on my wall. Just check out these lyrics by Kenny Loggins in the song Playing with the Boys:
It’s a strange anticipation,
Knock, knock, knocking on wood.
Bodies working overtime,
Man against man
Need more evidence? Then let’s hit the showers. Have you ever seen a film where guys spend more time in the shower prancing around like roosters in a barn yard than in Top Gun? Don’t these guys have a rec-room to hang out in or pants for that matter?
Sure I know maybe these guys are really just into cleanliness. Just because they are way ahead of the curve on that whole metro sexual thing does not prove anything. Well how about that fact that Maverick’s love interest in the film is named Charlie? Similarly, he is confused about his relationship and runs away without closing the deal. He eventually is able to get the job done, but only after Charlie approaches him dressed as a man. Why is it that Maverick does not close the deal earlier? It’s because Maverick is in fact gay and in love with Iceman (Kilmer).
This film is filled to the brim with close talking, close-ups of sweaty guys, ass shots, tight pants, sexual innuendo, missiles, rockets, guys jockeying for position and males in various states of undress. Just check out the sample of the dialogue provided in the above picture. I did not have to search very hard for the examples I provided, and I am sure you could find a lot more evidence to back up my hypothesis.
Still not enough proof that Top Gun is the 1980’s version of Brokeback Mountain? Well how about this take from Tarantino.
So what’s your take is Top Gun a macho man action film, or is it actually about one man’s struggle with coming to terms with his own sexuality? Can you think of any other instances in this film that would suggest Scott had an agenda hidden just below the surface of this Reagan era action film?
I would like to thank two people for inspiration for this weeks post Film Reconsidered http://www.ladgefull.com/?page_id=45 Has a much more in-depth analysis of the gay themes in Top Gun. I would also like to give a shout out to Fogs Movie Reviews for giving me the idea for this post with his post about Top Gun this week http://fogsmoviereviews.com/2012/08/27/movies-that-everyone-should-see-top-gun/