Speeding in opposite directions: ‘Lightyear’ and ‘Maverick’

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There are many similarities between movie characters Buzz Lightyear and Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Both are talented test pilots with a penchant for going rogue and taking risks, even when bosses and protocol direct them to play it safer. Both prefer analog know-how (human instinct) to artificial intelligence (especially the dreaded autopilot). Both are brave men, bound to duty and willing to risk their lives to accomplish the mission entrusted to them, even if the way they go about it drives their superiors crazy.

Both feel the need for speed. In the opening minutes of their respective films—Light year and Top Gun: Maverick—the emblematic pilots break speed records. Both Maverick and Buzz are a bit cocky, yet both appreciate the importance of teamwork and pushing those they lead to be the best they can be. There’s a lot to love about both men. They aren’t perfect, but they are heroic and inspiring.

Yet despite all these similarities, the two summer blockbusters that bear their names couldn’t be more different. And the differences between maverick and Light year reveal subtle but important cultural divides in how we view the past, the future, and the nature of progress.

‘Lightyear’: Accelerating towards a new morality

Although a spin-off of the 1995 classic toy story, Light year falls far short of this groundbreaking film – in almost every way. where the original toy story was a wide-eyed marvel of artistry and enchanting storytelling, Light year is overloaded and uninspired. And or toy story childhood celebrated like childhoodeven making adult viewers feel like kids again, Light year does the opposite – pushing childhood into adulthood inappropriately.

In Light yearIn the first 20 minutes, we find out that Buzz’s partner, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), is a lesbian who gets engaged and marries a woman. The ensuing lesbian kiss rightly raised concerns among parents and religious conservatives, leading to the film being banned in countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Kuwait. . But the kiss is just one problematic part of a larger montage that shows the lesbian couple progressing through life’s stages – including marriage, pregnancy, child-rearing and beyond – in a manner similar to the opening sequence of At the top. Make no mistake: the decision to represent a same-sex couple in this At the topThe “married life” style montage is an intentional attempt to normalize LGBT+ relationships as healthy and natural as the married couple in At the top. “Love is love”, we are told.

The decision to represent a same-sex couple in this At the topThe “married life” style montage is an intentional attempt to normalize LGBT+ relationships as healthy and natural as the married couple in At the top.

In a movie featuring robot cats and predatory alien plants, it’s telling that the wackiest plot Light year is the framing that opens the film and connects it to the years 1995 toy story. We are told toy story‘s Andy received a Buzz Lightyear toy inspired by a 1995 movie. Light year is this movie, supposedly. But let’s be realistic. A movie like Light year could never have been achieved in 1995. The world has changed dramatically in 27 years, and while a gay kiss in a kids’ movie might seem justifiable in 2022 (at least in Disney’s mind), it doesn’t. would have ever flown in 1995. The normalization of what was considered abnormal for most of human history has been rapid and sweeping.

Granted, the lesbian subplot isn’t the focus of Light year; but neither is it an insignificant part. By nonchalantly weaving homosexuality into the arc of one of the film’s heroines (perhaps the more likable character), the film suggests that “gay” is normal and good – simply a neutral attribute assigned to one of the characters, just as some characters are tall and some are short, and some sport Kiwi accents and some not. But it is this subtlety of framing it as a demographic “representation” without any moral dimension that makes it so insidious.

Progressives are acting like it’s absurd and irrational for parents to worry about this queer “representation” in a Disney children’s movie. Chris Evans, who voices Tim Allen’s Lightyear, said those who find the gay plot problematic are “idiots” who are “scared and unaware” and “will die like dinosaurs”. Essentially admitting that becoming “awakened” is the primary value at stake in Light year, Evans said in the same interview that “what makes us good” is “social advancement upon awakening”. . . constant social awakening.

Is that really what makes us good? Are parents and conservatives bigoted and delusional in wanting their children to be morally trained in history, tradition, old Christian wisdom and the ideals that do not have changed – as opposed to rapidly changing mores and “constant social awakening”? Is virtue reliable when presented as something so fluid, changing drastically from decade to decade?

No. As a parent, you are not out of place to worry about how this “new world” of social awakening shapes your child’s moral imagination. And so if you choose not to take your child to see Light yearyou are not a dinosaur.

“Maverick”: going backwards to go forward

Whether Light year favors awoke on wonder, maverick promotes wonder instead of awakening. Whether Light year plunges children into adult problems, maverick makes adults feel like kids again – to dream big dreams and embrace the “thrill” wonder of movies as a good in their own right. Whether Light year complicates the “hero saving the day” trope (Buzz: “I can’t save you.” Izzy: “You don’t need to save us. You have to join us.”), maverick embraces rescue heroism with old-fashioned simplicity and heart-pounding bravery. Is it therefore surprising that Light year underperformed at the box office while maverick became the biggest hit of the year?

Whether Light year favors awoke on wonder, maverick promotes wonder instead of awakening.

The only barrier maverick is the break is the speed of sound. This is not a film that attempts to break new ground in representation or advance a cutting-edge moral agenda. Instead, maverickThe boldest message is that it has no bold message. Yet, at a time when everything from bullets issued by the army Burger King Whopper must become carriers of Important Social Messages, maverickThe refusal to preach is radical. Even more radical maverickthe belief that the best way forward is to look to the past recovery: honoring the past rather than rejecting it; seeing the value in some measure of traditionalism rather than constant iconoclasm.

While certainly driven by a healthy dose of 80s nostalgia and the lucrative prospects of rebooting a treasured franchise, maverickLoyalty to the past goes beyond dollar signs. It is a film where generational commitments matter and where institutional continuity is valued. He dares to affirm that all that is old must not be rejected and that all that is new must not be adopted. When Maverick (Tom Cruise) is told, “Your species is heading towards extinction,” his response is defiant: “Maybe so, sir, but not today.

maverick dare to affirm that not everything old should be thrown away and not everything new should be adopted.

Certainly not all in maverick is morally laudable, just as all “traditional” values ​​have no moral value (unless they are biblical). But while movies like Light year see progress as a “constant social awakening”, films like maverick see progress as a social memory. It is not a posture that sanctifies the past or looks at it with rose-colored glasses, as if any antecedent was automatically virtuous. It’s not uncritical of the past, but he humbly appreciates it – recognizing that the surest path to moral wisdom is a thoughtful excavation of the flawed past more than a pioneering path to an unproven future.

Good pilots can be in bad planes

In maverick, the titular character says at one point, “That’s not the plane; it’s the pilot.

As pilots, Maverick Mitchell and Buzz Lightyear model similar values ​​worth emulating. But their respective vehicles – the films in which they reside – fly in very different directions.

While movies like Light year regard progress as a “constant social awakening”, films like maverick see progress as a social memory.

While one rushes confidently into the past, hoping to find virtues we will need for the future, the other is heading full speed into uncharted territory. Ironically for the franchise that pioneered the tagline, “I feel the need, the need for speed”, Top Gun: Maverick suggests it’s wise to put the brakes on, rather than rushing recklessly without a plan or map. Light year, on the other hand, only sees its mission in the direct sense: “To infinity and beyond”. Focus on beyond.

What is the end point “beyond” where the “constant social awakening” will take us? I don’t want to be on that plane to know where it lands, and I don’t want my kids to either. I would rather take them on a journey of recovery: remembering days past and generations past (Deut. 32:7), discovering and learning to love the timelessness of God’s truth rather than reveling in reinventing it for each passing age.

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