Certain movies that were inspired by the time they were produced, making them the epitome of that period. Top Gun, directed by Tony Scott and starring Tom Cruise as Captain Pete Mitchell, is deeply rooted in popular movie culture since its cast of memorable characters, non-CGI action sequences, and classic love story.
For true filmmakers of the film, there is still one scene that continues to reverberate thirty years later: the beach volleyball scene.
In an impromptu beach volleyball game, Cruises Maverick battles his heated opponents Iceman (Val Kilmer) and Slider (Rick Rossovich). The movie''s plot has nothing to do with it except for the fact that it strengthens the connection between the two people (maybe?).
The notion that his scene is just randomly placed in the movie without any specific purpose besides showing off the muscle-built bodies of the actors has been subject of online chatter for years. Tony Scott has commented on the significance of the scene, saying that he essentially created the scene for exactly what it appeared to be, eye candy. When the scene is in context with what happened in 1986 America, there is more to it than Tom Cruise playing beach volleyball in jeans.
The 80s were a time of Reaganomics, a term coined by President Ronald Reagan, that reduced taxes and reduced social spending. It also enhanced the rich from the poor and created a boom period for a certain younger population of people who were addicted to financial success and the glamour that comes from a wealthy lifestyle.
Although they may seem unrelated, there is a correlation between what people were talking at this moment and the scene. Many people were stranded from the mainstream due to the conservative beliefs at the time. The scene became an iconic one for the gay community and placed the lens of the camera directly at the male body.
The top Gun beach volleyball scene does the exact opposite. It looks at the male body to make sure the job is done.
The beach volley scene in Top Gun may resemble a throwaway sequence to tense the stars and appeal to an additional audience. However, it is also a symbol of a decade of excess, where concerns about what to expect in a blockbuster film were gradually evolving and progressing. There is still a question: why was Tom Cruise playing beach volleyball in jeans?
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