‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

‘Top Gun – Maverick’ is Action-Based “Dad Cinema” At Its Very Best

The moving story in “Top Gun: Maverick” of a fatherless son’s journey toward healing is proving popular with audiences worldwide. This is a film highlighting the importance of fatherhood, portraying a tale of reconciliation and redemption.

Top Gun: Maverick is smashing box offices, and it’s easy to understand why.

The film is spectacularly outpacing its weak-because-they’re-woke counterparts, because the film’s unapologetic dad themes resonate.

Alongside the gutsy F-18 camera shots, audiences are in love with the Tom Cruise/Joseph Kosinski sequel because its father-son backstory hits home.

Even the, “it’s all flag-waving, MAGA propagandist tripe” critics are applauding the sequel for keeping to the consistency of the first film’s deep relational backbone.

As The Atlantic’s David Sims explained, the film’s ‘emotional weight rests on Pete Mitchell (Maverick) fighting to earn the respect of Goose’s son (Rooster), who blames Maverick for the tragic loss of his father.’

Childhood Memory

For me, Top Gun: Maverick cut deeper.

My family and I recently saw the film for a birthday bash. The only thing missing was my dad.

Watching the first Top Gun at the cinema with my dad was to be one of the only long-lasting positive memories I would have of him.

It was 1986, I was 9, and we’d turned up late to the cinema.

Missing the iconic afterburner intro of the first Top Gun, dad and I slid into our seats in rhythm with Tony Scott’s smooth golden orange sunset, shot high above a lone F-14 landing on the silhouette of the USS Enterprise.

It became a shared interest, a mutual pursuit, a common bond solely shared between father and son.

From the soundtrack, which always seemed to be on repeat in our broken-down housing commission home, to the old-school Amstrad computer game, the movie connected us.

This was true, right up until my dad’s final week, when, knowing he would never get a chance to wear it, I gifted him a T-shirt with the Top Gun logo on it.

Now covered in dust, I still hold onto the volumes of Warplane magazines he’d chosen to buy me, instead of paying “through the teeth” for participation in a weekend sport.

Healing

I related to the second film because of the first.

Similar to ‘Goose’s’ son in the film, I was confronted by what was lost, what might have been, and what my dad chose to abandon somewhere along the way.

The sequel made the memories all the more material when Val Kilmer (Iceman), tells Maverick — still haunted by the death of ‘Goose’ — “It’s time to let go.”

Seeing the first film at the cinema in 1986 with my dad was an oasis event, an anomaly of normalcy in a wasteland of ash.

This explains why, in almost every scene of Top Gun: Maverick, I heard, and felt my dad’s absence, and choked up at Hans Zimmer’s rendition of Faltermeyer’s iconic Top Gun anthem.

We’re taught in The Good Book to raise up thanksgiving in the face of suffering. Even the smallest object or event that is worthy of our gratitude puts points on the board when it comes to healing trauma.

In retrospect, watching Top Gun with my dad in ’86 was the first, and only time he offered me a healthy introduction to manhood.

His wasn’t perfect, but that was a perfect day. That day my dad did good, and for that I thank him.

For me, the only thing missing from Top Gun: Maverick was the man who took me to see the first one, sitting, at his best, beside me and my uber-impressed family.

Top Gun was, and is, about loss, grief, and recovery; fatherhood, and fatherlessness — as much as it is about courage, defiance, and the determination to overcome obstructions encountered along the way.

The sequel builds on its original father-son backstory. It is “dad cinema” at its very best.

To lean on Miles Surrey’s review in The Ringer,

‘Every single dad — past, present, and those who are expecting to be dads in the near future — should check out Maverick, if not for the sanctity of ensuring Dad Cinema doesn’t fade away, then for experiencing a blockbuster that surpasses its predecessor in every respect.’

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First published at Dads4Kids.

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Suffer the Little Children of Alice Springs

Suffer the Little Children of Alice Springs

In the town of Alice Springs and surrounding communities, there are children in need, not always receiving the things we consider basic human rights.

In our Sunday service recently, a couple of young boys worshipped Jesus, singing with all their hearts, and two little girls around the age of four danced with actions in worship! It was so glorious!

Neglect

Also recently, a three-year-old boy went missing, from his remote community one evening. He was found the next morning, but soon after died due to injuries incurred by camp dogs (the mixed breed dogs that roam freely around most communities.) A four-year-old girl was flown into town from a remote community, needing all her baby teeth removed as they had rotted from having too many sugary drinks.

We see lots of children who don’t always have adequate food and hygiene. We have seen very tiny babies and children with problems such as failure to thrive, and heart problems such as rheumatic heart disease, flown to the capital cities for treatment.

The parents of these little ones are indeed grown-up children who suffered the same neglect and poverty, facing many barriers to health, education, and meaningful occupation, now lost in addictions to alcohol, gunja, and gambling. It’s often the grandmothers who do the parenting and caring, despite their own failing health.

Nightlife

My husband recently drove through town at 2am in the morning. He was shocked at how many children were roaming the streets of Alice Springs, ranging from teenagers down to young ones around the age of eight.

His passenger, an Aboriginal Pastor, explained that since the Intervention, the children’s reply to any form of discipline was “we’ll call the police”.  There is a lack of respect from young adults for their parents and elders, and a lack of parental authority and discipline by the parents. We know of cases where adult children steal money from their own parents who are less technologically aware.

During the night, adult family members drink together, while their children roam the streets together in groups, and the reputation of Alice Springs continues to dive as people get weary of the repeated vandalism of their businesses and property.

The neglect and abuse of children, which goes so strongly against our natural God-given desires to love and protect our offspring, is evidence of shattered and broken parents.

Trauma Upon Trauma

Levels of domestic violence and sexual abuse are very high here, and the little ones are witnesses. We have heard about some cases of very early sexualisation of children. We see many very young mothers. Then there is the high rate of youth suicide and the highest rates in the country of sexually transmitted diseases. The prison here holds hundreds of young men.

Similar problems are widespread in the communities in Central Australia. So sad and shocking — we ask, how can this be in modern Australia? Problems that no one seems to have solutions for. Money has not, so far, been able to pay for solutions.

There are many wonderful people here working hard to help, in the hospital and health system, and in social services, easing the pain and symptoms, while not addressing the causes. Change is slow. But please let us not say it’s all too hard.

Without a vision, the people perish — I think this is at the heart of the matter. There is very little vision for a future for the next generation, caught between two cultures. When there is no meaningful purpose for life and for suffering, bitterness, anger, and destructiveness follow, as the youth of Alice show us.

Attempts to change (not a traditional value) can leave people open to accusations of wanting to be like whitefellas, and means to be different from family, which means everything to Aboriginal people.

But God

God, interrupt the cycles that begin when little ones are open books and are being so damaged emotionally and physically, that they are being set up for all the problems and addictions of their parents. We know how crucial the first five years of a child’s life are.

Instead, through the power of the gospel, the gift of Christ, bring forgiveness and peace, freedom from addiction, fear, violence, and trauma. Instead, bring safety, and change, to the heart, and good fruit will follow.

We are excited to see a few more men coming along on Sundays, asking for prayer to be strong, and sharing their testimonies in our meeting, saying “it’s all about Jesus”. Like the cloud on the horizon, we are hopeful that it’s the beginning of real change, one family at a time. Please pray, especially for the children. God can do what may seem impossible to us!

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From Fatherlessness to Faith: Dysfunction with a New Start

From Fatherlessness to Faith: Dysfunction with a New Start

Despite the failings and traumas handed down from past generations, with the grace of God, we can break free of toxic cycles and build a far better future for our children. Those who grow up hurting from being fatherless can learn from our parents’ mistakes and develop into life-giving, dedicated fathers.

Like every single one of our five kids, wearing the dad hat was for me a cliched process of having to learn to crawl before I walked.

Once past the dizzy, surreal, “Gey, I’m actually a dad” phase, my life as a dad looked more like a traineeship than a masterclass.

Having little to no examples of what healthy fatherhood is, was, or what healthy fatherhood even looked like, every metaphorical hands-and-feet advance was a literal basic training moment.

Generational Trauma

For as far back as I have been able to go, the broader pattern of my family’s history is a continuous cycle of pain, separation, fatherlessness, divorce, and death.

As my tight-lipped late grandmother’s 83-year-old sister often states,
“Why do you want to know? There’s not much, if anything, there to celebrate.”

The “scrapbook” family album is a disfigured family tree, mangled by a century of dysfunction, enough to be the envy of goth poets like Edger Allen Poe when they were at their darkest.

There isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. This makes the few special examples worth cheering on, all the brighter.

Like my great-great-grandparents who, with five children, including a newborn, travelled from Scotland to Australia in a converted tramp steamer in 1912.

A great-great-grandfather who worked on locomotives on the Western Front during World War 1. He was sent home a nervous wreck, because trains can’t dodge falling artillery shells or shell damaged tracks.

Stories matter. Learning about our genesis helps us to learn from others. No matter how broken — sin-packed, or sin-impacted — their lives offer a wealth of knowledge, and, with it, motivation.

Honour Thy Mother and Father

When talking about parents and children, flawed father, husband and theologian Karl Barth defined the fifth commandment in the light of education.

He stated,

‘The willingness to learn is the honour which is required of the children in relation to their parents.’

For Barth, to honour our forebears is to learn from their instruction, steering new life away from their paths of destruction. We preserve the good, shear off the bad.

Not all suffering comes from God, but God works through all suffering.

Ever the Christian, Barth infers that the ‘light of grace’ can pierce even the darkest, or most shattered, cruel, cold and silent of disfigured family trees.

In Barth’s words,

‘The Fatherhood of God lends its meaning and value to human form.’

This is because,

‘No human father, but God alone is properly, truly, and primarily Father.’

The value of vocation is intricately entwined with the importance of stories.

Our hands and feet are charged to ‘imitate God’s action’: a genuine emulation forged by a healthy grasp of HIS-story, and with it, humility and honesty.

Crawling through my family history taught me the importance and the value of fatherhood as a vocation. I was born a father out of fatherlessness.

I was its raw recruit pioneering a way through the muck of past dysfunctional experiences. Its basic training taught me to be responsible for the life of a new family, creating a new history, alongside new memories, with new people, into newness of life.

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk.

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