Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Top Gun: Maverick and Participatory Propaganda

Posted by M. C. on July 14, 2022

by John Weeks

Top Gun: Maverick is a brilliant film. Any film that can elicit the praise of Ben Shapiro, Willie Geist and Russell Brand, receive a five-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival and make over $1 billion is, as the Stalinists would say, “objectively” brilliant. Moviegoers and film critics are loving it.

Unfortunately, for those of us opposed to militarism, empire and genocide, Top Gun: Maverick is not just a fun summer sequel to 1986’s Top Gun. It is also a preeminent cultural product of participatory fascism.

Participatory Fascism

Robert Higgs popularized the concept of participatory fascism in his book, Crisis and Leviathan.

Higgs wrote in 2012:

“For thirty years or so, I have used the term “participatory fascism,” which I borrowed from my old friend and former Ph.D. student Charlotte Twight. This is a descriptively precise term in that it recognizes the fascistic organization of resource ownership and control in our system, despite the preservation of nominal private ownership…”

In Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs argued that corporate America had become “half master, half slave” to the National Government:

“As Charlotte Twight has shown, the essence of fascism is nationalistic collectivism, the affirmation that the ‘national interest’ should take precedence over the rights of individuals.”

Hollywood’s Subservient Fascist Participation

Hollywood promotes nationalistic collectivism with the full cooperation of the U.S. government. In their book National Security Cinema, Matthew Alford and Tom Secker wrote:

“For over a century, filmmakers in America have received production assistance in the form of men, advice, locations, and equipment from the US military to cut costs and create authentic-seeming films.”

Top Gun: Maverick received invaluable assistance from the Pentagon. According to U.S. Air Force Major General Edward Thomas, the military had an agenda: recruitment.

In an interview with Geist, Thomas said:

“Back in 1986, Top Gun got a whole generation excited about Naval aviation. Excited about coming and doing military flying and joining the service. And our hope is that as people go and see this movie…that they’ll get excited all over again about flying for the U.S. Military.”

While 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope did function as an uplifting nationalistic collectivist film, George Lucas intended it to serve as an anti-imperial story, particularly when most appropriately viewed as part of a six-film epic. This reading of the film has proved more enduring. No one talks about Luke Skywalker boosting military recruitment. Top Gun: Maverick, meanwhile, was dreamt up by Hollywood and the Pentagon to boost the ranks.

A Deceptive Narrative

See the rest here

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