Why is “Top Gun: Maverick” so popular? Now, let’s not think about it too much. It’s a fun, big-budget action movie full of Hollywood superstars. It also helps that it’s not just another tedious comic book movie or a repetitive entry in a children’s franchise.
But there’s another reason: it’s pro-American.
His patriotism is not the kind of scenic Lincoln Memorial snapshots or mundane but moving speeches about democracy and freedom. It’s not obnoxious or even overt. But it does present a United States – and its military – clearly projecting its power for the right reasons, to prevent an unnamed rogue country from obtaining nuclear weapons.
No character is perfect, let alone Tom Cruise’s Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. But we are the good guys. And we’re not sorry.
There’s a reason it works now in particular. After years of toxic politics, the failures of the pandemic and the shame of January 6, overcome by our current economic difficulties, we are in a crisis.
Bashing America has become a feature of both of our political extremes. The left wants to dwell on the history of racism in the United States and what remains of it, as well as economic inequality and other ills. Part of the right is convinced that America is culturally corrupt, full of vices and not very virtuous.
Some so-called conservatives even want to turn to Hungary, as if a small, homogeneous country in Eastern Europe holds lessons for the United States.
There’s also satisfaction in knowing that, unlike most corporate entertainment cowards, the producers of the “Top Gun” sequel took a chance and said no to China. Maverick’s jacket features a Taiwanese flag, and a Chinese company reportedly backed out of supporting the film in part because of its pro-American tone.
The film’s wild success at the box office shows that not all the profits have to come from the large Chinese market. Hollywood can make money while keeping some of its pride.
We’re on the cusp of two holidays that, done right, celebrate the best of America. The 4th of July recognizes the rise of a nation that stood up for itself and ultimately led the world to the heights of personal freedom and economic freedom. Juneteenth salutes the day all black Americans knew they were free from slavery, a day the country came closer to fulfilling the promises of its founding.
Even on these days, and even for a single day, some will not be able to ignore America’s flaws to celebrate its unique gains.
They should especially spend part of their vacation seeing “Top Gun: Maverick”. Maybe twice.X
Editor’s note: A version of this column originally appeared in our opinion piece, Worth Discussion. It comes every Wednesday with a fresh take on the news and a roundup of our top editorials, columns and other opinion content. register here.