Sunday 31 July 2011

On the titwank scene in Top Gun

Despite the fact that I am from the 1980s, it wasn't until last night that I saw Top Gun for the first time. This is quite an achievement on my part. It's also quite an achievement on the part of that film's cultural ubiquity that I knew all the characters names and even some of the scenes to come before I watched it. Then again, it would be hard to soundtrack a shuffleboard evening with Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. It's really more of a jet fighter pilot, riding a motorcycle wearing aviators at night with no helmet on, in the Californian desert, sort of a tune.

Like another classically 1980s film which I only saw for the first time in my 30s - Scarface - Top Gun's soundtrack was provided by Giorgio Moroder. I think Giorgio Moroder is one of the key figures in the development of popular music (not just dance music) after his work in the 1970s. However, for his work in the 1980s I think he should be retroactively crowned as King Of The 1980s and literally given a crown to wear.

What everyone knows about Top Gun - whether they've seen it or not - is that it is a film synonymous with homoerotic undertones. Even more than the film Wilde, which has the homoerotic themes but not the Moroder soundtrack. However, things like this get exaggerated by word of mouth and parody. So I was curious to find out whether or not it was as blatant as I've heard it was.

Yes, it is. The Blu-Ray version that I watched was in such high definition that you could see every bead of sweat and every molecule of lust. Kelly McGillis also gets into the swing of things by looking exactly like Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Of course, it's hard to discuss Top Gun without mentioning Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise today is more than just an actor, he's a celebrity, a cultural icon and, if you're particularly suggestible, even an evangelist. 1980s Tom Cruise was just a chisel-jawed man who made MOVIES (I refuse to accept Tom Cruise has ever made a film), often playing scenes with his co-stars stood in a hole. However, it's nice to see people who've gone on to such massive global stardom purely doing the thing which elevated them in the first place. There's a lack of the pretentiousness which can later creep in.

How good is Tom Cruise in Top Gun? It doesn't really matter. Even the flamboyantly homoerotic dialogue and glistening volleyball scene doesn't matter. None of them actually needed to say anything. It's an action movie and I have to say I think that the quality of the action scenes still stands up to anything you can see today. One day I would like to see Hollywood be bold enough to look at some action footage and say, "this is awesome, this is all we really need and all anyone really wants to see... why bother spending extra tacking on a boring plot about ambition, desire and personal redemption, plus a love interest and a titwank scene?" Hollywood will never do this, of course. However, as personal computers get more powerful I'm sure home editing software will allow us all to make our own film - Ultimate Top Gun - with just the dogfighting sequences. Or just the powerfully sexually tense scenes in the shower room. It'll be your movie!

As a film I would only give Top Gun 5/10. This is in itself an all time high mark for any film featuring Meg Ryan. Apart from that one where she does a orgasm in Nando's. As a cultural experience, however, I'd probably have to raise it to a 7.5. Life is more exciting when its being soundtracked by Kenny Loggins.

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