Top Gun's Real Secret Hidden Meanings
There has been a lot time wasted over the years discussing hidden meanings under the glossy vacuous skin of 1986’s Top Gun. That it’s a primer for acing the Scientology entrance exams and getting in at ‘level four alien simp’. That if you write the film’s title backwards it’s called ‘Nug Pot’ and if you turn the volume down and listen instead to soundtrack from ‘Cheech & Chong Go Up In Smoke’, it actually makes a lot more sense. That it’s really all about Maverick’s struggle with his repressed homosexuality.
It is none of these things.
It’s just a dumb American war movie. One in a long line of really dumb American war movies that seek to turn everyone into an unquestioning military fan boy.
There are compelling arguments to be made for all of these other theories.
Cheech’s panic attack upon mistakenly eating a shit ton of acid synchs exactly with the panic attack of the pilot in the opening sequence of the film.
Pauline Kael in The New Yorker, called it a ‘shiny homoerotic commercial’ leading many to surmise it was only made to increase gay enlistment in the military to fill the new Orttu brand bodybags Halliburton had secured a lucrative contract to produce.
Secretary of State Colin Powell argued at the United Nations that the movie provided proof that our former asset Saddam Hussein had gone rogue and now possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, perhaps in an old piano, and was getting ready to launch ‘Great Balls of Fire’.
Quentin Tarantino, on the set of ‘Sleep With Me’, said Top Gun was such a potent gay primer that they’d had to cut a glory hole between Val Kilmer’s and Tom Cruise’s trailers as it was the only way they could complete the volleyball scene without any of the leads jizzing in their short shorts.
They are, however, all very wrong.
The hidden truth is that all these hidden truths actually obscure the real hidden truth of the film.
It’s just another dumb war movie glorifying the American military and presenting our storm troopers as lovable rogues and undeniable heroes. Even when all the wars of our lifetime are shady acts of aggression built on lies for the sole purpose of enriching a few cancerous planet wrecking corporations.
That Tom Cruise may be so far in the closet that he’s in Narnia rimming Mr. Tumnus is neither here no there. Good on him. Who really cares? It’s just more culture war distraction nonsense masking the propaganda that herds people into the poisonous gulags of patriotic group think. Whatever Mr Cruise wants to do with his penis is between him and his partners and his alien worshiping cult. It’s not a problem.
The problem is that we are wasting time picking over this shitty movie twenty years later to the point that they have just made a sequel. The problem is that our culture can not identify a brainless bombastic piece of military propaganda when its stomping on our faces in jackboots. Because, just like in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Purloined Letter’, the truth is hidden in plain sight. Right on the table, with all the billion dollar fighter jets and the bombs and the truly epic infrastructure of a rampant colonial war machine ringing the globe.
According to an actor writing in Salon last week, ‘Top Gun’ is actually a tender Trojan Horse of a movie that wonderfully advocates ‘the complex sensitivities of men’.
No, it really isn’t.
The major set piece of Top Gun is Mav flying upside down in a jet fighter and giving the bird to a fellow Russian storm trooper before blasting him away.
I guess it could be about the sensitivities of the military industrial complex. Its difficulty in having to constantly generate support for its endless need for war and exponential growth on a planet of finite resources.
And just like The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Black Hawk Down or any of the long long list of other American war movies, the message laid on thick is one of empathy for ‘our boys’. It’s totally OK, that we drone kill civilians, invade other countries on shady pretexts and bomb and starve nations to bits because, hey, our guys sometimes feel sad and cry.
Goose is dead and this is more haunting and pertinent in our minds than the death of a million Iraqi kids. This is not at all psychopathic.
That it has taken American culture to finally prove Stalin’s dictum that ‘One death is a tragedy while a million is a statistic’ should be chilling. That we have advanced the dictum further to actually be: ‘one fantasy death is the real tragedy while a million actual deaths are ignored’ is true American genius.
We are the First Order and the Evil Empire. we are the Harkonnens, we are corporation in that rubbish James Cameron thing. But because of Top Gun we get to pretend we are the Rebellion, the Fremen of Arrakis, the weird leonine blue things of Avatar. Whatever the fuck they call themselves.
Many other American movies have legitimate hidden meanings. WALL-E and Don’t Look Up are about climate change. The Star Wars franchise is an extended toy commercial. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is about a man who really loves and cares about his tools, especially his chainsaws which he manages to keep in really good shape despite coping with obvious crippling mental issues in a rural area that is clearly lacking in social services. Stand your ground Leatherface, we see you!
But Top Gun does not have any hidden meanings and it is absurd to invent some.
It only has overt meanings that it is ‘disloyal’ to acknowledge so they seem hidden. In your colonized psyche.
It’s just another shitty military movie in which the elephant in the room is a trillion dollar war machine paid for with money routinely conjured out of thin air that breaks the fourth wall of economics in a way we are told that if schools, hospitals or green projects did it, the very fabric of life in America would disintegrate into apocalyptic anarchy. An apocalyptic anarchy of broken communities, prescription rationing, food bank grid lock and near constant mass shootings while cops stand around waiting to pick up pensions with the bonus that they’ll get to do so early if they shoot an unarmed black man in the back.
But hey, thank-you for your service and be sure to treat yourself to the infinite bucket of popcorn when you go to the sequel. Also, don’t forget to take a hanky, Goose is still dead but is strangely reincarnated through a son who Mav is training to kill more fantasy enemies and possibly more stunt men in future flat spin offs.
America! Freedom Isn’t Free! Speak to me Goose! Honor over All! Abu Ghraib! And other thought terminating cliches!