The Navy is trying to turn your night at the movies into a commitment to risk losing your life, limbs and sanity in service to the sprawling, bankrupting, late-stage American empire—as recruiting tables are popping up in the lobbies of movie theaters showing the blockbuster new hit Top Gun: Maverick.
Published reports give no indication of whether theaters are being compensated for their cooperation, or whether they're giving away the space for free, out of a warped sense of patriotism. The war-flick opportunism comes at a time when the Navy—like other branches—is facing a challenging recruiting environment.
As Nicholas Slayton explains at Task & Purpose, recruiters' presence at theaters is a sequel in itself, reprising a tactic employed at screenings of the 1986 original. Top Gun: Maverick is a smash hit, hauling in $160 million in its four-day opening. That's Tom Cruise's best ever, which says a lot.
As is the case with almost every Hollywood movie that portrays the military, the Pentagon's exploitation of the movie started way back before production.
To gain the military's cooperation in making a film—which boosts realism and cuts production costs—movie-makers must submit their scripts for approval by the Pentagon's Entertainment Media Office. Glen Roberts, who runs the office, told The Guardian his mission is to “project and protect the image of our armed forces.”
Twitter's @ian_tb03 spotted these two Navy recruiters who've strategically positioned themselves by a theater's bathrooms—er, we mean, "heads":
Admittedly, the recruiters may be onto something...
Top Gun went so hard, if there was a Navy recruiter posted up outside the theater my head would be getting buzzed as we speak.— Jacob Albright (@Jache089) May 27, 2022
Just saw top gun. The next recruiter that texts me wins— california pizza kitchen bartender (@TRAlNSPOTTER) June 1, 2022
If the movie whips you into a patriotic fervor that has you yearning for adventure on the high seas and above it, please note: Your Navy experience may bear little resemblance to what's depicted in the slick Tom Cruise blockbuster.
Just ask sailors assigned to the USS George Washington. The Navy has forced hundreds of crew members to live aboard the aircraft carrier while it's undergoing a major, multi-year overhaul. Life on the ship has been likened to residing in an active construction zone, with sleep severely hampered by jackhammering and waking hours made miserable by noise, smoke and other odors. In April, three of the ship's sailors killed themselves in just one week.
Don't believe the Navy recruiters, Top Gun is a trap, you'll get in and suddenly the most important thing in the world will be painting over rust on your boat.— Lethality Jane🌻 (@LethalityJane) May 28, 2022
Then there's the chance that, after you've ceremoniously sworn to "support and defend the Constitution," you'll be ordered to violate it by engaging in warfare unauthorized by Congress—such as the Navy's 2018 strike on Syria, in response to a chemical attack by the Assad government that never happened.
Other branches are following in the Navy's Top Gun: Maverick recruiting wake. While the movie glorifies Navy pilots, that isn't stopping this Air Force recruiter from horning in on the action:
While Navy life may not be all that's advertised, at least the Twitterverse is having fun with the recruiting campaign...
Spending my afternoon sitting in a folding chair, continuously heckling navy recruiters outside a movie theater showing top gun— legitimate businessman (@shocks) May 29, 2022
navy recruiters… in the movie theater… outside showings of top gun… am i in an snl skit— sydney☀️🌸🌱🦋 (@syddlyman) May 28, 2022
“You can definitely start out as an MP and then work your way to becoming a fighter pilot.” pic.twitter.com/GPAuNrKNR9— Lo (@limadeltaflies) May 28, 2022