Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blame It On Top Gun

A case is made that Top Gun was the film that started Hollywood's downward spiral.

Then came Top Gun. The man calling the shots may have been Tony Scott, but the film's real auteurs were producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, two men who pioneered the "high-concept" blockbuster—films for which the trailer or even the tagline told the story instantly. At their most basic, their movies weren't movies; they were pure product—stitched-together amalgams of amphetamine action beats, star casting, music videos, and a diamond-hard laminate of technological adrenaline all designed to distract you from their lack of internal coherence, narrative credibility, or recognizable human qualities. They were rails of celluloid cocaine with only one goal: the transient heightening of sensation.

Top Gun landed directly in the cortexes of a generation of young moviegoers whose attention spans and narrative tastes were already being recalibrated by MTV and video games. That generation of 16-to-24-year-olds—the guys who felt the rush of Top Gun because it was custom-built to excite them—is now in its forties, exactly the age of many mid- and upper-midrange studio executives. And increasingly, it is their taste, their appetite, and the aesthetic of their late-'80s postadolescence that is shaping moviemaking. Which may be a brutally unfair generalization, but also leads to a legitimate question: Who would you rather have in charge—someone whose definition of a classic is Jaws or someone whose definition of a classic is Top Gun?

The Top Gun era sent the ambitions of those who wanted to break into the biz spiraling in a new direction. Fifteen years earlier, scores of young people headed to film schools to become directors. With the advent of the Reagan years, a more bottom-line-oriented cadre of would-be studio players was born, with an MBA as the new Hollywood calling card. The Top Gun era shifted that paradigm again—this time toward marketing. Which was only natural: If movies were now seen as packages, then the new kings of the business would be marketers, who could make the wrapping on that package look spectacular even if the contents were deficient.

The whole piece is worth reading. Hollywood is in a sad state these days, but even though the author blames Top Gun for the start of it he ultimately blames us for continuing to pay to see the shallow crap put out these days.


Little Miss Gothic Muffet said...

I hated that movie. Come to think of it I really don't like those type of movies. They just gross me out. You'd think I'd get over it but, meh. No biggy.

I did sadly like iron eagle and before then I wanted to be in ROTC go to the airforce academy and be a pilot, hoping to be an astronat one day. Once I realized my eyesite and scoliosis would not allow me the chance to try I lost all hope :(. I just wanted to be in the universe. Now, lol, heights and the gforce bothers me mOre than it used to. Meh, suppose is cause I stopped trying. Lol if I were a chimp I would have probably had a better chance.

Captain Noble said...

Top Gun is so worth watching for the camp value, though. I certainly can't take it seriously.