Friday, July 19, 2019

The Nostalgia Distraction

We live in strange times. The release of a new trailer for a movie, the trailer not the movie itself, can be a significant cultural event. Of course, so can the release of a trailer for a video game. People went crazy about the trailer for the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game which features Keanu Reeves. When he walked onto the stage after the initial viewing of the trailer, people went nuts.

Yesterday a new trailer hit for the very long awaited sequel to Top Gun, titled Top Gun: Maverick.



On Youtube for 17 hours and it already 8.9 million views.

In spite of being a pretty jaded person, that initial tone took me right back to the 80s when Top Gun first came out and kind of gave me a chill. The rest of the trailer included some cool flying but also a lot of shots of Tom Cruise looking like his face is completely re-manufactured via plastic surgery, plus a quick shot of the required wammen of colour fighter pilot:

Includes the obligatory "I look angry and super serious" face
One of the nice things about Top Gun in the 80s was that it was all about men. Sure we had Meg Ryan as the wife of Goose and Kelly McGillis as Maverick's love interest, but even though her character was a defense expert, she was a civilian contractor, not a fighter pilot.

"She has a Ph.D. in astrophysics and she's also a civilian contractor, so you do not salute her."

Her character was not added in for gender equality, she was added in to give Tom Cruise a love interest that would have a legitimate reason to be in close proximity to what otherwise was an all male environment. Her character wasn't a butch, angry, androgynous lesbian, she was incredibly feminine and oozed female sexuality. When she was introduced to the pilots, we got a long shot of her legs, walking in high heels and stockings between the rows of pilots before we even saw her face.

No one needs to ask her preferred gender pronoun
In Top Gun, all of the pilots are male, all of them are arrogant and chock full of "toxic masculinity". Their instructors are all men. It was a boys clubs and the boys were boys, partying hard, playing hard and chasing skirts like the world was ending the next day, and pretty much no one thought that was an issue. The women were either supporting love interests or nameless background. That is OK, it was a movie targeted at a male demographic. Women don't love Top Gun like men do, women don't say "Talk to me Goose" in the course of a normal conversation.

The original Top Gun was released in 1986. I was 14 years old and suddenly we all wanted to become jet fighter pilots. The theme song from Kenny Loggins, "Danger Zone", was one of those pulse pounding movie songs that still gets me fired up (see also: Eye of the Tiger from Rocky III and Lunatic Fringe from Vision Quest). Can you think of a movie score from the last decade that anyone can remember?

So why release the sequel of Top Gun now, over three decades later in 2019? Part of it is the trend in Hollywood to only produce remakes (with as many white male characters eliminated as possible, more on this to come. Hint: 007), do endless sequels and movies about increasingly obscure comic book characters. However, I think a lot of it is not just being safe and making a ton of easy money. It is the power of nostalgia.

Nostalgia can be a great distraction in an era when things are changing rapidly and not for the better. You look fondly back at the past when things were better than they are now. Think about how many radio stations still play classic rock and music from the 80s. Again, do you think people will still be singing along to Taylor Swift songs in a few decades?

Top Gun was a Generation X movie. We were kids and young adults when it came out. Life was simpler. America was still around 80% white. Reagan was President and people were more optimistic about the future. We had the Russians as convenient bad-guys for a few more years. We understood who we were as a people, we knew our place in the world and things made more sense. We didn't have to pretend men could be women and vice versa, we didn't buy water in the store, kids played with other kids outside and without headsets and homosexuals still had the decency to keep their degeneracy behind closed doors.

Gen X is a pretty quiet generation. We are middle-aged now, from our early 50s to the very end of our 30s. We are not the much larger and entitled Baby Boomer generation nor are we the whiny slackers of the Millennial generation. Even though we are quiet, there are a lot of us. There are around 65 million Gen Xers and that is nothing to sneeze at. We are also slowly coming to understand what has happened and it is pissing us off. Nostalgia along with a sense of general helplessness and a carefully cultivated self-loathing helps keep that anger in check. Perhaps if we are busy being nostalgic about a by-gone era we won't be so inclined to get violently angry about what has been done to our people in the last three decades.

That sounds a little tinfoil-hat but at this point is there anything that is too loony to consider? Short of lizard people, I don't dismiss anything out of hand. Hollywood is one of the most political institutions in America. Giving Gen Xers like me some red meat nostalgia , for example Maverick flying a fighter, is just the sort of distraction that can buy a little time, keep the lid on the pot for just a little longer. I assume the film will be full of social justice nonsense, wammen and pilots of color, probably even some of the gheys for good measure but many of us will still show up because dammit, when Maverick and Goose were flying things just made more sense and perhaps for a couple of hours I can forget about the demographic and socialist sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. I can forget that after a quarter of a century in the workforce, paying into Social Security since I was in high school, I am never going to see a dime of that coming back. I can forget about millions of people who screwed up their own countries irreparably now coming to my country to do the same thing. I can forget about the 22 trillion in debt, I can forget about perverts and freaks dressed up like demons grooming young children while their mom smiles approvingly. I can forget about people who want to see me and my children dead, who fantasize about prison camps, who think they are going to disarm us and muzzle our free speech. Sure, when the movie is over and we walk back out into the bright sunlight, all of that crap will still be there but the warm glow of nostalgia will linger long enough for the 2020 football season to kick off.

Pete Mitchell's country needs him once more, not to fire us up but to keep us distracted, and once more Pete "Maverick" Mitchell is answering his nation's call.

2 comments:

  1. "So why release the sequel of Top Gun now, over three decades later in 2019?........It is the power of nostalgia".

    Holy shit, you could not be more wrong. You're an incredibly smart, savvy man and you don't see it? I'll spell it out for you: it is about erasing White Men.
    The best example is Ghostbusters. Sure, you have Ghostbusters (1984), but you now have Ghostbusters (2016). Which one do you think will come up if you google "Ghostbusters" in about 5 years or so? Eventually, the majority of gen-Xers who knew the original film will be forgotten about and all evidence of the original will be forgotten and we'll be left with the fempowered abortion of a movie which will be the only Ghostbusters in existence. The same thing will happen for Top Gun. The original was white man central, the remake will be diversity personified. But the only Top Gun that will be in existence will be the pozzed remake.

    The greatest power in a tribe or nation is the tribe's/nation's stories. If you control a nation's story/myths, you control that nation. Nowhere is this more in evidence than current day America. Or 1930's Germany.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No need to spell it out for me, the erasure of white men and white culture is at the heart of everything Hollywood puts out, from making Heimdall of Norse mythology into a black man to the new 007 as a homely black woman (more on that to come). I was speaking specifically here of how nostalgia can play a part in the overall process.

      Delete