Top Gun: Maverick is ready continue its epic box office this weekend; without significant competition from U.S. multiplexes, it will soon zoom beyond the $ 250 million mark in domestic revenue alone, with $ 400 million or more still good in its view. It could end up being the highest-grossing film of the year, at least until Avatar 2 drops. If you read the analysis of certain right-wing experts, Top Gun: Maverick’s triumph is their triumph, and a rebuke of “awakened culture” – by that means, movies and TV shows that do not feature exclusively whites in their lead roles. .
It is true that Top Gun: Maverick doesn’t go out of its way to celebrate inclusion and diversity in the sometimes-confused, corporate way most closely associated with various Disney properties. (If there’s one “first gay character in Top Gun” that we know of, that’s fine; Disney will continue to assign similar names to minor and / or sexist characters for years to come!) white man. extraordinary Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a fighter pilot hero of the first Top Gun, training a new generation of recruits for a suspiciously Star Wars-like mission behind unspecified enemy lines. Many, though not all, of the practitioners who receive the most screen time are also white.
That outlets like the Daily Wire, Breitbart, and their lockstep members at Fox News described the release of Top Gun: Maverick for both a rare occasion and a rare victory for Hollywood are both absurd and narrative. Of course people like Tomi Lahren need to emphasize the “traditional” (read: white and male-Saxon) nature of Top Gun: Maverick; It is in their best interest to provoke outrage, and sometimes real violence, based on the idea that whites are being replaced – and that “true Americans” will not stand it. Somehow, a hit sequel to a blockbuster film from 35 years ago claims everything the right-wing has said about popular culture – or, indeed, the whole world.
Of course, there was no shortage of films boasting either about white men (Spider-Man: No Way Home, the biggest hit in years, imported white guys from two other franchises) or about traditional values (The Batman can pay as he pleases to class warfare). , but it’s pretty pro-police; Dog it is literally about a soldier and his dog). Nor is there much indication that audiences yearn specifically or exclusively for military-centric displays of “traditional” patriotism. Asian and Asian-American casts led last year’s hit Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and this year’s independent hit. All Everywhere All At Once. The average draft for these new Star Wars movie trilogies, which some of these experts could (and in some cases did) describe as unrepentant wake-up calls, is exactly $ 700 million in North America, putting its average popularity around the fifth place of all time. (or., adjusted for inflation, just as popular as Forrest Gump). The right-wing culture-war audience considers military cooperation, a completely medium (and extremely successful) production as Captain Marvel equivalent to an invading Marxist revolution.
All that said, Top Gun: Maverick does have a conservative slant; it’s just a more streamlined version of the conservatism of (contrary to the claims of these ding-dongs) so many films with craving. Despite a few scenes where Maverick reflects on his past and his legacy, especially a touching moment with his former rival Glacier (Val Kilmer), the film is an elegant empty ship that by default supports the status quo. Cruise’s Maverick was the best, is the best, and, due to Cruise’s reluctance to ever die on screen, will remain the best for the foreseeable future. Some characters may call Cruise a remnant of another time, but he remains the exception to every rule. What really keeps the film from feeling like an effort to American skepticism is how otherworldly it is Tom Cruise are coming these days.
In other words, Top Gun 2 is studiously “apolitical” in the way right-wingers love, because it allows them to claim simply simple-human victory where white male / military rule has no socio-political dimension – they are the default, the normal thing. Advocates of keeping “politics” out of films have an implicit definition of politics that includes radical concepts such as “non-white actors” and “more than one woman”. Some leftists inadvertently play into this as well, when we detect the insidious conservative agenda in films with ideological or provocative ambiguities.
It was fascinating, then, to see self-described leftists who watch Wonder for crypto-fascist propaganda capitulate to the seemingly neutral display of Top Gun: Maverick. But that is also an anecdotal evidence of Maverick’s appeal reaching beyond the traditionalists who claimed it as his own. It’s just something a lot of people can agree on – kind of like Black Panther (though Maverick may not make enough of that amount in the end). It’s delusional to treat it as the Last Success Movie; Doctor Strange 2, a sequel to a much-less-loved movie, grossed a lot of cash just weeks earlier. In addition, right-wingers have misread the real unity behind Top Gun: Maverick, which is much stranger: For at least a little longer, the United States is One Nation, Under Cruise.