By Wayne Allensworth
On Memorial Day, my wife and I went to a movie, something we had not done in a long time. Our absence from movie theatres wasn’t simply a result of Covid restrictions, but because movies, a medium I’ve loved my whole life, have generally become nothing more than another platform for “woke” propaganda. Like Soviet movie watchers, we had learned to content ourselves looking for hidden, subversive messages in the subtext of popular films, little bits that got past the watchdogs of woke. Those bits had grown more obscure over the years. That’s not to mention the celebration of ugliness and perversity that are the hallmarks of what passes for popular entertainment in this post-modern age.
Things have been moving in that direction for a long time, but as recently as the 2000s we found films that were worth seeing, and our children became devoted fans of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, movies their parents heartily approved of.
That day, however, has passed, so your humble observer spends a lot of time re-watching older films and searching for worthy movies I have not yet seen. I’m automatically suspicious of anything produced later than the 2000s, but occasionally a rare diamond turns up, shining amid the vile muck.
I was skeptical, but the buzz for Top Gun: Maverick convinced us to give Tom Cruise’s sequel to the Reagan-era original a shot. We were promised heroic American pilots doing their patriotic duty, a celebration of friendship, loyalty, bravery, American know how, and a complete rejection of the usual nihilistic agit-prop we’ve come to expect.
For the most part that was true, though the film made its obligatory bows to “diversity,” undoubtedly pleasing the Hollywood political commissars in its portrayal of the “best of the best” pilots chosen for a daring mission. That had me wincing from time to time. Steve Sailer has pointed out that the real best of the best contingent is overwhelmingly made up of white males, but as he wrote in his review of the movie, “the diversity casting is solely in fungible supporting roles, while the great majority of the film’s considerable drama consists of the main six white male dinosaurs butting heads.”
Thus, it’s no surprise to me that Top Gun: Maverick is a huge hit, bringing back a host of older moviegoers who had, like us, I suppose, given up on the movies.
We enjoyed the show, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable with the film’s premise (just who gave “us” the right to unilaterally bomb some unnamed country’s nuclear power station, not because it threatened “us,” but for an “ally?”), along with a sense of regret, even melancholy, the kind that comes over you like a cloud when you are reminded of something as irrevocably lost as the world of Top Gun: Maverick.
Tom Cruise’s sequel to his huge 1986 hit is a sad, wistful nostalgia trip, a dreamy return to those halcyon days of yesteryear that a lot of us imagined as the pinnacle of can-do Americanism. It’s a love note to the days of Reagan, Rambo, and the illusion of invincibility that era conveyed to us even while the country continued to rot from within. As Sam Francis once noted, in spite of the era’s shallow optimism, the 80’s did not so much herald morning in America as they did chime the eleventh hour for an older America that was rapidly disappearing, with President Reagan’s signature on the 1986 illegal alien amnesty marking a critical juncture in our ongoing demographic displacement.
At the time, an MTV-compatible music video like Top Gun, memorable for its snappy dialogue, unforgettable characters, catchy soundtrack, fast planes (Maverick’s “need for speed” seemed to fit the era), sexual banter, some shirtless volleyball, and our guys winning for a change made it the quintessential 80’s movie. America was back, coming out of its post-Vietnam malaise.
It was all an illusion, and a big part of the illusion was the very superpower pride that Top Gun evoked, the pumped up, aerobicized American dream fueled on F-14s, space shots, technological advances, deficit spending, and credit-fueled consumption. It was the kind of flag waving boosterism that made us an easy mark for the globalists, who dreamed of an even more expansive “American” empire, one that would encompass the entire world. What became the Blob, that conglomeration of trans-national corporations, elite institutions, the D.C. “Swamp” bureaucracy, the US-NATO war machine, and the Davos oligarch Politburo, was even then formulating its nightmarish dream that required the demographic displacement of the core peoples of the West and the dissolution of their countries.
The small-town America of our past was in its death throes, and cultural homogenization was erasing regional identities, accents and sub-cultures. We had once been Americans in part because we were Hoosiers, Buckeyes, Tarheels, Texans, and Volunteers. That was going fast, and patriotism found its last refuge in superpower posturing, even as we lost wars and our own sense of ourselves as a people. They waved the flag at us like a bull in a ring, and we sent our now professional military off like Hessians to fight pointless wars in remote corners of the world for causes no one really understood.
If that wasn’t enough to win our support, the Blob could always invoke Vietnam-era shame—we hadn’t “supported the troops,” and now we were required to, even if that “support” meant backing wars we were lied into, or just because we were a superpower and superpowers are, by definition, world policemen.
No “peace dividend” materialized at the end of the Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union simply opened the door wide for the Blob to pursue its aims, its wars to end all wars, its bombing the rest of the world into submitting to “democracy,” woke madness in the service of creating the Blob’s Tower of Babel monstrosity of atomized consumers. We know now that the Blob’s operatives were cynical enough to continue the Afghan war even after they knew it could not be “won,” whatever that might have meant. The war machine had other priorities. Defending America was never one of them.
Some of us flinched (Couldn’t we support the troops by bringing them home?), but most kept their reservations to themselves. Power, even its illusion, is an addictive narcotic, especially for a people living in a fractured society who longed for a truly grounded identity, but who could increasingly express their patriotism only by “supporting the troops,” that is, supporting the Blob’s wars.
We had forgotten how to love our country for itself. How to love our friends, families and countrymen, our hometowns, the grand American landscape once celebrated in old Hollywood movies, as precious things worth preserving for their own intrinsic value. It’s a love that cannot be rationalized in economic terms or justified in utilitarian economism. For loving your people and your country is a good of its own, like loving one’s mother and father, one’s children, one’s home. It is that love that in part makes us human and worthy of one another.
Speaking for myself, if my country had never been a superpower, had never landed on the moon, or boasted of riches unimagined in the world, I would still love the land that made me, the people and culture that global superpower status paves over like a parking lot for the limousines of the bloated oligarchs who hate us and use us as cash cows and cannon fodder, a role we have enthusiastically played for far too long.
If all a movie like Top Gun: Maverick can stir in us is a nostalgia for a faded superpower dream, then to hell with it. God save us from the heady poison of superpower status and the duplicitous Deep State that is at its core. War is always a pact with the Devil, even for the “winners,” and the voracious monster created in the 20th Century to fight global conflicts is now consuming its own people.
We had a choice of a Jeffersonian republic and a chance at life at a livable, human scale, or losing our souls as a global superpower. Too many of us grew to love the latter, forgetting all about the former.
If we fall for it again, then we are surely lost. It’s a vehicle the Blob and its minions know all too well how to exploit.
To all the young people out there who chafe at the ennui and emptiness of globalism’s false promises, we need you. We need husbands and fathers and wives and mothers who will raise their children in the fear of God. That is our real fight. The real war is here and always has been.
In rightly celebrating the heroism of our military past and present, we have failed to appreciate and celebrate another kind of courage that is desperately needed at this juncture in our history. It’s an everyday kind of unheralded courage that endures and persists and preserves in the face of increasingly difficult challenges from a corrupt anti-culture. It’s the courage that can make homes and keep families. That’s real patriotism, not the superpower jingoism sold to us to mask the Blob’s designs. It will be a real fight, one well worth all the heartache that comes with it. You can find fulfillment and even joy in it, and you will be doing your real country the greatest service of your life.
Chronicles contributor Wayne Allensworth is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.