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Years ago, in the mid-80’s to be exact, I was given the opportunity to do something that felt edgy and radical when I earned a slot to go to Fort Benning, Georgia, to become a US Army Paratrooper. I had no idea what I was getting into but I had the sense that it was that thing - that full-on hard-charging take-no-prisoners kind of thing - that would not only be cool to do but would have some level of notoriety to it; that thing that would make me a part of something bigger than myself. All of that turned out to be true and it was a great experience that launched other experiences in future years.
I also distinctly remember that on the way to report in to Airborne School I was driving across the Alabama line listening to the soundtrack to the movie “Top Gun” just as loud as I could. Why? Because it was THE soundtrack for doing anything that could be described as a full-on hard-charging take-no-prisoners kind of thing!
By now you have likely heard that “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel that was three decades in the making to the epic film “Top Gun,” is out and killing it at the box office. I was already planning to see it, no doubt about that. Several friends and I had already been scheming for the right time. But then I began noticing a trend in various punditry, that locked that plan into a must-do.
Let me put it this way: when liberal outlets like Media Matters are railing against conservatives because of a movie, it sets my mind to thinking that I really want to see it! To go a step further, when conservative outlets and pundits are urging their followers to go see it … yep, I am even more inclined.
So, what’s the big deal? Isn’t this just another military-oriented action movie? Sure. You could label it that and stop there and you wouldn’t be wrong. But you wouldn’t be completely right either. From all accounts, this is a movie that avoided the massive amounts of ‘wokeism’ and virtue signaling so prevalent in today’s Hollywood. Having watched it now, I can tell you that’s true. And the word on the street from others is that it makes you proud to be an American, and proud of the US Military. And I’m for that.
Liberal hack Matt Gertz writing for Media Matters titled his piece, “Top Gun: Maverick is a success, so right-wing culture warriors are claiming it.” Gertz went on to express concern that testosterone and manhood were not dismissed in the movie. His equivocations about the movie’s public response continued by attempting to say that the cast was more diverse than the original movie. Gertz also quickly pointed out that the movie never really says “America is good,” so it’s not truly a “pro-America” movie. Gertz either doesn’t get it or more likely he’s panicking because Hollywood didn’t affirm the liberal mantra about America.
By contrast, I agree with conservative pundit Monica Crowley, who said very succinctly that the success of “Top Gun: Maverick” is found by the audience because, in her words "Even though it's set in 2022, it catapults us back to the mid-1980s, when we had a real President, men were men, and there was unabashed pride in America."
One conservative fan of the movie said that its success is because the American audience is hungry for an opportunity to be both entertained and filled with the pride that comes from being an American. How true that is! For the past several years we have been repeatedly told that we as a people, as a nation, even as a culture, are systemically racist. That we are filled with people who can’t follow the science and are therefore killing our neighbors. We’re beaten up by being forced to watch biological men beat up on biological women and told to call it sport. We have a President who inspires no confidence and apologizes for our very existence. The American economy does not in any way reflect the potential of the American can-do spirit, and our military has been tasked with flying baby formula in from foreign countries to stock the shelves for consumers. We are not allowed to fully drill for our own oil because that’s considered bad form and will kill the planet, but we can make deals for foreign oil with countries who cannot beat us in a soccer match, much less a real fight.
There is only so much of this emotional abuse that a people can stand before it becomes depressing. And then along comes “Top Gun: Maverick.”
A movie, yes. But a movie that is drawing record crowds with a message that it’s okay to be proud of who you are and where you’re from. That it’s okay to recognize that there are absolutes. That it’s absolutely correct that the muscle of America can be flexed without being offensive, that leadership can be unequivocal and balanced and conservative and compassionate all at the same time. A message about the real America where people stand for the anthem and get misty-eyed when Old Glory waves.
An underlying point from the movie is that doing what you love, what you’re called to do, is about more than just punching a timecard and working for the man. Doing what you love is about having a mission in life and taking pride in the quality of your effort and its outcomes.
It reminds us that we are ready to have a President, a Commander-in-Chief, who matches the description I told Rick Perry once when he was running for President. I said then, “Governor, I’m looking for a President who’s a God-fearing gunslinger.” He just smiled and said “I’m both of those!” I’m still looking for that leader and if I take anything away from this movie it’s the sense of awe that I live in a nation that is exactly the opposite of what current President Joe Biden describes.
I believe I speak for the majority of Americans that we’re ready to get a Top Gun mood going. This country should have no reason to hang its head or speak in hushed tones. The majority of Americans love being Americans and wouldn’t have it any other way. I walked out of the theater even more mindful of that.
It shouldn’t take a movie to do that. It shouldn’t take a Hollywood production to make us more willing than ever to look people in the eye and say “Jesus is Lord, America is Great, Alabama is beautiful and life is worth living.” But maybe it does.
I imagine that if the left-wing had made “Top Gun: Maverick” it would have been a depressing and sad story of a man who was broken and beaten with too many years in the saddle and the bottle, and unable to get the healthcare he needed from Trump's VA medical system.
But it’s not. It’s just the opposite. At the risk of over-promotion, “Top Gun: Maverick” is a movie that seems more like it was written by someone who served in the Reagan administration, where that former President famously said, “We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression” and that “the American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”
Those quotes may not reflect current political correctness, but I believe that they are still embraced by the vast majority of Americans who are tired of being told just the opposite by the woke mob. We are not what the left says that we are. This is America.
And I’ve got a pretty healthy dose of Top Gun Attitude right now
Phil Williams is a former State Senator, retired Army Colonel and combat veteran, and a practicing Attorney. He has served with the leadership of the Alabama Policy Institute and currently hosts Rightside Radio M-F 2-5 pm on WVNN. His column appears every Monday in 1819 News. To contact Phil or request him for a speaking engagement, go to www.rightsideradio.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.
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