WHEN: 10:50am EST, February 15th, 2012; paused at 11:02am for a bed bug inspection, resumed at 11:07am

WHERE: My apartment in Portland, ME (Isla Nublar)

FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV

COMPANY: None, except the bed bug inspector and her sniffing dog

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Just woke up, prepped for bed bug inspection, a bit of residual yuck from some minor domestic squabbles the previous night with Becca, ready to suck all the love out of Top Gun

FOCUS OF THIS WEEK’S STUDY: Evidence for Polyamory in Top Gun, Plus Some Gay Stuff I’ve Been Hearing About

REACTIONS OF NOTE:
I’m actually going to give Reactions of Note a pass this week. Most of my scene-by-scene outbursts are getting their own paragraph this time, so I don’t want to be repeating myself.

THOUGHTS:
So I guess the time has come… we’re talking man-on-man love in Top Gun.

Only suggestive screenshot in this whole article, I promise.

Here’s the problem: talking about the gay in Top Gun is like talking about the awful in The Phantom Menace. Everybody’s doing it. It’s been done. Frankly, I don’t know how I’m still talking about jets this far into the year. And not only has it been done, it’s been done by Quentin Tarantino.

The one person who is not cool with anyone ripping off filmmakers.

If you weren’t aware, Mr. Tarantino had a bit part in the film Sleep With Me as Sid, a character whose entire role can be summed up as Guy Who Gives a Three-Minute Speech About Something from Pop Culture Meaning Something Totally Different Than You Previously Thought. In a party scene, Sid appears, blabbers on and on about how TOPGUN is actually a gay recruitment operation, and is then never seen again. In case you’re wondering if people liked that speech, it’s one of only two memorable quotes on Sleep With Me’s IMDb page. (And it’s not one continuous speech. They keep cutting back to it so as not to break up, you know, the story happening around it.) If you’re also wondering, Tarantino was not involved in the writing process of the film; he just happened to have that speech already prepared and mentioned to somebody on the set that he is, in fact, Quentin Tarantino.

How many people have actually seen the whole movie and not just a YouTube clip of Tarantino’s speech? I can assure you, at least one.

This one.

Yes, I bought Sleep With Me because I wanted to see the speech, to analyze it for accuracy against what you actually see in the film. It’s an interesting take on Top Gun, filled with factual inaccuracies included for the chuckles, and its biggest piece of evidence is actually the result of the elevator scene and the sex scene being added after test screenings, but Death of the Author and blah blah blah… what I found even more interesting was that the film it was included in inspired me way more to take another look at Top Gun.

Sleep With Me is about two men in love with the same woman, and how their relationship changes when she decides to marry one of them. That’s all I’ll say; it’s not a mind-blowing film, but worth checking out. The characters are perfectly portrayed. They’re the kind of unit I see working just fine until marriage gets involved. Then, society plus dishonesty equals HERE WE GO AGAIN.

I’m the Lorax of polyamory, and I speak for the threes. Or the fours. Or the seven-and-twos, except on Saturdays. I once read a list of common polyamorist frustrations that included how hard it is to watch movies where the solution is, “Just date two people and tell them, duh.” I’m not linking to it because most of the rest are about organic gardening and acoustic folk, and I’m here to break the “poly people are all hippies” stereotype that’s really starting to bother me. (The same goes for gay marriage ads: “Wait, you mean gay couples can wear ugly sweaters and be boring, too? Well, now I’m on board! As long as they’re not piercing things and listening to that punkstep music I’ve been hearing about.”)

So, I’m taking a poly look at Top Gun, because yesterday was Valentine’s Day, the cover of Sleep With Me made promises it didn’t keep, and, you know, I’ve been watching Top Gun a lot.

To begin: Maverick and Charlie. This relationship is the focus of the whole entire picture, so we’re going to move them aside and look at what I find to be other viable candidates for Maverick’s affection, including the evidence for and against as provided in the film.

Here it is, your target-rich environment…

Carole

Goose

Iceman

Viper

I did not include Slider because he stinks, and Maverick loves a good shower. Wait, maybe he was trying to get Slider into the shower with him? Agh, whatever, we’re not doing Slider, he’s too much of a side character.

Let’s begin with the two characters Maverick already knows before the events of the film, Goose and Carole. Now, Goose is married to Carole, and they have a son. Interestingly, this information is not given at the beginning of the film. As a matter of fact, Goose comes across as a single fellow for quite a long time. At the bar in the beginning, Goose says he’s looking for a girl to talk dirty to him. Maverick fully suggests that Goose could get laid, though he says “even you,” implying that it doesn’t happen often. Still, he’s married, so is Carole okay with this? This dialogue exchange could all be a joke, certainly, but every line counts when it’s time to analyze. Taken as serious, either Goose cheats on Carole, or Carole is completely okay with it.

If we run with the second option and fast forward to the evening after their first training exercise, it’s revealed that Maverick’s parents died when he was young, and Maverick says to Goose, “You’re the only family I’ve got.” Maybe he’s referring only to Goose, but when we later see Maverick with Goose’s wife and kid, they seem like a pretty close family unit.

That’s not Maverick’s kid. Or is it? Wait, are we going there?

The “Great Balls of Fire” scene is the icing on the cake. Maverick and Carole seem to be even more affectionate than Goose and Carole.

Sit like this with a pilot’s wife sometime.

This is normal behavior for the two of them. In a private moment, Carole tells Charlie that she loves Maverick to death. This is also the scene where Carole says that Maverick is always getting with the hot women, while Goose goes home early every night so he can get up “for church.” As polyamorists often point out, most people will admit to the desire to want to be sexually active with multiple partners, but when it’s at the same time, especially during a committed relationship, it’s suddenly “wrong.” Maverick certainly enjoys going after many different partners, so why is Carole suddenly off that list?

Later in this scene, Maverick and Goose are singing at the piano with Goose and Carole’s little boy. Goose says, “Come on, brother, sing with the family,” and this ambiguous line could be directed at his son or Maverick. Either way, they are definitely a family of four, and they seem to be inviting Charlie into the group to make it five.

It seems clear to me, with all this closeness, that it’s not much of a stretch to say that Maverick and Carole have been sexually intimate, maybe not during her marriage with Goose, but perhaps prior. They make frequent reference to Mav and Goose’s Righteous Brothers routine as the second time they’ve tried it, and the first time they did, Maverick “crashed and burned.” Who did they originally try it on? Did Maverick make a pass at Carole and she ended up with Goose? Did Maverick sleep around too much to be a stable father, so Goose filled that role while Maverick tagged in every so often for a taste of Carole?

If we accept all this as a possibility, then [SEE THE DAMN MOVIE ALERT] what happens after the events of the film? It seems like Maverick decides to move to Miramar and be with Charlie, but what happens to Carole following the death of Goose? She cries a little bit and then disappears. You never see their kid again. And if I may go on a tangent, that kid is nothing but a tragedy token. No name, no lines, not even credited in the movie. Good luck finding his character’s name online, because he doesn’t have one. Might as well call him Gosling. No, I’m not doing another meme.

So with Carole and Gosling all alone, I think a previously obvious father figure could swoop in there, don’t you? Not that Carole can’t raise the little one, especially when he disappears so easily, but it just seems like such a logical choice to tag Maverick in. And going full poly, that’s fine. Charlie, Mav, Carole, and the uncredited child can buy a big house in Miramar together. Mav’s with two women who love him, the kid has lots of people to raise him right so he can earn his SAG card, and the world keeps turning.

But wait, was Carole in a pilot sandwich, or was that whole deal a triad?

Let’s look at Maverick and Goose, as I’m sure many slashfic forums have. I’ll read up on it as soon as they learn what a comma is. I’m going to put aside Tarantino’s argument (that TOPGUN is trying to convince all the pilots to “go the gay way”) and look at it more “the bi way.” And not because there aren’t loads (*snicker*) of evidence for Maverick discovering that he might be gay in the movie. I’m just doing this because I know bisexuals who would like some acknowledgement every once in a while (your sexuality is not determined by your partner percentage), and Tarantino never argued that Mav was trying for both ways. Happy friends + new analysis = everybody wins!

So, I’m layering this on top of the Maverick/Carole and Goose/Carole relationship structure. Already accepting that as indeed happening, now we’re looking for the full-on triad. This type of analysis is about getting to what films can imply versus coming right out and saying, so we have to take everything said between Maverick and Goose as evidence. A majority of their conversations are most likely jokes, but not any more!

When Goose and Mav make the bet, Goose says, “…carnal knowledge, of a lady this time…” Maverick smiles as he thinks back to all the times he had sex with men. Or maybe Goose himself.

As Maverick tells the tale of his first MiG encounter, Goose constantly begs him to say “we” instead of “I.” Because they’re a team. A duo. A couple, one might say.

Goose: “You look great, honey.”
Maverick: “Thank you, dear.”

During the volleyball scene, it looks like Goose spanks Maverick. It’s most likely a flip-side high-five, but would you be surprised if he did?

In the “need for speed” scene, Maverick and Goose finish each other’s sentences. Like a couple.

And obviously, Maverick takes Goose’s death pretty hard, as anyone would if they lost a good friend. However, Jester and Viper seem to imply throughout the rest of the movie that he’s taking longer than most to get over it. Indeed, it’s almost an entire act of the film.

So, I think there are quite a few moments that suggest that not only is Carole romantically involved with both of them, but they also completed the triad. I feel like there’s a “buzz the Eiffel tower” joke to be made there, but I have two more fucking characters to go, so let’s not waste any time.

Iceman. Maverick. Probably boning.

Alright, on to Viper!

Unacceptable.

Okay, fine, here’s my assessment of Iceman and Maverick, trying very hard not to move in on Mr. Tarantino’s turf: they’re shitty actors.

I know, newsflash, right? But seriously, Ice and Mav won’t stop smiling at each other… in scenes where they’re pissed off. What’s up with that? The scene where they meet, they’re giving each other “I hate you” eyes, but their toothy mouths are just grinning away. In the locker room, when Ice is chewing Mav out, they are yelling in each other’s faces while smirking up a storm. Then Ice gives Mav a love bite. Chomp. This is flirting, plain and simple. You know what you call it when you hate someone but you smile through it? A relationship.

We’ve seen this sometimes confusing sort of macho, aggressive flirting in other movies. Brokeback Mountain comes to mind. Why do cowboys love with punches?

I wish I knew how to kick your fucking ass.

So, since Goose is worm food and Carole disappeared, Maverick can move in with Charlie, but go out for sexual fisticuffs with Iceman whenever he’s in town. (They never say where Ice goes at the end.)

That leaves just one man: Viper. I find this the most interesting pairing on the list, because I daresay Maverick actually makes his move in the film and is shot down.

Not today, Maverick. Not ever.

When it comes to parents, Maverick ran out. His father died in combat and his mother died shortly after. (Becca theorizes that she commit suicide; something to look for next time around.) Goose is the only family he’s got, but really, the most Goose could ever be is a brother. When you need a father figure, you need Viper.

Charlie or not, I think Maverick fancied him in a new, confusing way. I think he could see Viper as a father or a lover, and either way, Viper isn’t having it.

If you watch the scene where Maverick goes to Viper’s house, it’s very awkward. Viper’s wife is glad to see Maverick, but as he turns around, she makes the most troubled face I’ve ever seen. She may be concerned for his mental well-being, but she may also wonder what his other motives are. And after Viper tells him about his father, Maverick is relieved, but then suddenly looks flustered. He eyes Viper’s house, says he’s sorry to bother him on a Sunday, and then proceeds to get the hell out of there. He got the closure he needed in regards to his father’s hero status, but maybe that’s not why he showed up in the first place.

Later, at the TOPGUN graduation, Viper gives him a firm send-off: “Give me a call. I’ll fly with ya.” He’s supportive, but stern, as if to say, “But I won’t do anything else with ya.” Viper is simply not attracted to Maverick. He has his wife and is most likely happy with her; Maverick is not invited into their family. And if my earlier poly analysis rings true, it makes sense for Maverick to be confused. Why can’t I be a part of your family? I’ll let you be a part of mine.

In The Ethical Slut, essentially the how-to guide for polyamory, role boundaries are often mentioned. In a group relationship, roles similar to a family unit are sometimes assumed. In a triad, the more authoritative member may fill in a “parent” role, where the two other members may feel more like siblings. Some even go so far as to nickname each other things like “Daddy” or “brother.” It may sound strange at first, but it’s difficult to pinpoint the roles others fill in your life when you go beyond the “traditional” couple, so you stick to what’s familiar. One of the perks of poly is that you can get needs met that go unfulfilled with just one partner.

This probably provides the strongest evidence for Maverick being a successful polyamorist. Though not everyone is on board, Maverick seeks a “wife” role from Charlie, a “fling” role from Carole, a “brother” role from Goose, a “father” role from Viper, and, I dunno, maybe some sort of aggressive dickhead “cousin” from Iceman? Somebody to smack him around. Maybe he goes to Iceman for rough play.

“Hey, Maverick. Look what I found in the attic!”

Did all of this make it into the movie? Probably not. Was it their intent? Again, probably not. I’m certainly a strong advocate for polyamory, as long as it truly works for you (though some argue there’s no such thing). I definitely think it could work for Maverick, but maybe not. Does Maverick belong with Charlie and Charlie alone? Did she finally “tie him down,” as they say? I dunno.

This might just be a movie.

(Big thanks to Polyamory Maine for their help with my research into this. Many links and resources came from their forums.)