The 1994 romantic comedy "Sleep With Me" has largely been forgotten over time, but there's one moment thrown in there that people still remember pretty well. It's that scene where Quentin Tarantino's character gets to go on a drunken monologue about how the film "Top Gun" is actually a story about "a man struggling with his own homosexuality." It might sound ridiculous, but the character lays it out pretty convincingly: The other pilots represent "the gay man" and Maverick is someone who's always getting into trouble for not wanting to "play by the rules." The gay side wins out in the end, which is best shown in that final celebratory scene where Iceman says to Maverick, "You can ride my tail," and Maverick responds, "You can ride mine."
In an interview with Outstanding Screenplays, Tarantino explained how his scene in "Sleep With Me" came about:
"Well me and my buddy Roger Avery kind of — Roger did come up with it first, but back when we were at Video Archives we worked on it, we turned it into a routine that we did at parties. We did it at parties, we did it at gatherings, it was just this routine the two of us did together."
So, Tarantino had an informal stand-up routine at his disposal, one that came in handy on the set of "Sleep With Me" when he was told to improvise something for his scene at the party. "Well, I had that routine ready to go!" he said. "So I just did it and that became a thing." It resulted in a moment Tarantino describes as being "in the same vein" as his "Like a Virgin" monologue in "Reservoir Dogs," although it's safe to say that his "Top Gun" theory is a lot more compelling.
What Inspired The Theory?
Quentin Tarantino's scene in "Sleep With Me" has little to do with the rest of the film, but it sticks with people because, well, "Top Gun" is a surprisingly homoerotic movie. With the not-strictly-necessary shirtless volleyball scene and the "don't tease me"-type throwaway lines, it's not a surprise that a lot of gay men love it. In the 2016 essay, "Top Gun and the End of the Homoerotic Action Movie," film critic Nico Lang described the movie as having "emerged at a fleeting cultural moment in which the action movie could be both very straight — in that all of the characters ostensibly have sex with women — and incredibly gay." The article marvels at how, "Just six years prior to ['Pulp Fiction']'s release, a studio tentpole like 'Top Gun' could be both subtextually queer and yet completely oblivious of its explicit implications."
Even today in 2023, it's rare to see a big blockbuster movie be so comfortable with itself in this manner. For instance, 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" gave us a wholesome friendship between Finn and Poe. The film's creatives seemed to realize that a portion of the fanbase was interpreting their relationship through a queer lens, so they spent the next two sequels either keeping the pair separated or shoehorning in female love interests for each of them.
Meanwhile, the "Top Gun" creatives have shown a complete lack of defensiveness over potential queer interpretations of the film's characters. Producer Jerry Brookheimer has referred to Tarantino's interpretation as a perfectly valid interpretation, and the popularity of the rant seems to have had zero effect on how the sequel was written. The "Top Gun" movies might not be particularly progressive by most measurements, but the lack of overly-defensive "no homo" vibes is still refreshing to see.
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The post How Quentin Tarantino's Top Gun Rant In Sleep With Me Came To Be appeared first on /Film.