Ah, Top Gun — the 1986 alpha male saga of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and Nick “Goose” Bradshaw as they intercept combatant aircrafts over the Indian Ocean.
Well, not really.
While the film may have fit appropriately into the confines of mid ’80s mainstream masculinity, the Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer bro-fest now rests squarely in the gay camp/innuendo corner. Chalk it up to shifting perceptions and a more knowledgable public when it comes to gay subtext.
Thirty years to the day since it’s release, let’s relive that hilarious (and hot) legacy:
1. The volley ball scene
The glistening shoulders, the shirtless players, the tight jean-shorts, the shirtless onlookers, the music! This could easily be the beginning of an adult film.
2. So much locker room
These guys just had so much to process with one another…naked…still glistening.
3. The overtly sexual dialogue
The Telegraph sums it up nicely:
“Giving me a hard-on!” whispers one flyboy to another while watching videos of dogfights. “Don’t tease me!” replies his buddy. “I want butts! Give me butts!” shouts an angry air traffic control officer. “You can be my wingman any time!” says Iceman in the final reel consummation of his coquettish dance with Maverick. “Bulls***, you can be mine!” comes the reply.
And then come the references.
4. Quentin Tarantino argues the film is actually about queer sexuality in the 1994 film Sleep With Me, saying, “What is Top Gun? You think it’s a story about a bunch of fighter pilots? It is a story about a man’s struggle with his own homosexuality.”
5. Bill Hader as Harvey Fierstein calls it out on SNL in 2011 (head here if video isn’t showing up):
On the film’s 25th anniversary, SNL put together a mock audition reel featuring Harvey saying:
“This is not a gay thing? But it says in the script we play volleyball in jean shorts. I say, ‘Iceman’s on my tail. He’s coming hard.’ I literally said that to a bathroom attendant last night.”
“The last line in the movie is, ‘You can ride my tail anytime’? You guys–that’s like my mantra.”