Monday, September 26, 2016

Top Gun

Jack Gannon

Dr. Waggoner

Writing as Inquiry

26 September 2016
The Toughest Test Mav and Goose Really Face

Thirty years ago, a movie based on an elite pilot school called Top Gun was released. This film takes place during the Cold War. It showcases Tom Cruise as the lead actor among a bunch of other young jock pilots. This is your typical young Navy movie with beach volleyball and bar scenes showing off all the guys. However, I bet you’d be quite surprised to see what is scores on the REP test. Although this movie mainly involves a bunch of young jocks it also has one-woman character who plays a massive role.
              In the women section of the REP tests Top Gun scores two points for having a woman protagonist, and another for representing woman as more than objects to graze at. Throughout the entire movie Kelly McGillis, or Charlie in this case, is shown leading classes on air combat to a group of young men. In these scenes not only is she instructing the pilots on how to fly their own planes, but she’s also wearing very professional business clothing. This really shows how Top Gun wanted us to see her as a strong person and more than just a body. To add onto this, when she is being introduced to the flight school the head General says how she has a very well respected PHD in Astrophysics, and holds a position in civilian contracting. This already lays the line as someone to respect and look up to. On top of her impressive position she is also controlling of situations in this movie. When Maverick, Tom cruise, is trying to hold information from her about how he knows a fact about an enemy aircraft, she quickly responds by saying: “Lieutenant the Pentagon sees to it that I know more than you.” This clearly depicts how she is viewed as more than something to gaze at and actually holds much more importance to the film. However, it doesn’t score points in any other the other categories. There’s absolutely no woman of color, and no woman has a diverse body type. Although there are roughly three scenes that have an opportunity to score a point on the Bechdel for two named woman characters talking; their conversation only consists of dialogue about another Male. 
Moving onto the male categories: Top Gun does score a point for having one male of color in a speaking role who isn’t reduced to racial stereotypes. When Goose, Mavs Co-pilot, dies he gets replaced by the only black actor in the film: Lieutenant Williams, call sign Sundown. When Maverick and Sundown are paired together there isn’t one sign of racism at all. We see in many combat scene Sundown advising Maverick where to steer the aircraft and Maverick following his commands just how Goose would direct Maverick previously. We see them also have a lot of passion for doing well as a team. After one combat exercise, Sundown approaches Maverick and discusses how they could’ve had the kill shot. Since this is a more subjective answer I think the role Sundown plays isn’t a racial stereotype because all of the other pilots are white and he talks and engages in the activities just like all of the others. He actually gets more screen time than the majority of the co-pilots. However, this movie doesn’t score any other points in the male categories. It truly does glorify men with the beach volleyball scene showing all of pilots with their shirts off diving around with their perfectly sculpted bodies. This also carries over to how it perpetuates a body ideal for men that is unrealistic. Adding on, every male role is the typical stereotype you can imagine. From the pilots being young cocky men to the instructors being old stern Navy Officers. Not one male plays an obscure role.
              Top gun does score a point in the race category as it avoids celebrating offensive racial, ethnic, and cultural stereotypes. Not one scene has any crude dialogue or depicts this which is impressive considering they’re fighting the Soviets in this movie. However, in the remaining disabilities and LGBT categories it doesn’t score any points as no one in the film is LGBT or has a disability.
              Overall, The REP test is a fair method of grading movies relative to what they want. If you want the film to include as much diversity as possible than this is a good test for that. However, if you’re looking for a movie just to portray other things, such as in the case of Top Gun a woman’s strength, it does that, but only score a “C” on the test. Overall, I think a movie can have a very diverse cast but still not receive an “A” on the test. I would improve the test by limiting the number of roles it has to fulfill in order for this to become more achievable. I would also grade some movies on just individual categories. 

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed the blog. I really agreed with your thoughts on the RepTest at the end. You said that a movie can be very diverse, yet still not receive an "A". I totally agree with that and I would change the test just as you would and in some other ways as well.