Image credit: CNAS

August 11, 2022

‘Top Gun’ boosted recruiting and brought the tailhook scandal. So what happens after the blockbuster sequel?

Featuring Katherine L. Kuzminski


Journalist Thomas Novelly

Katherine L. Kuzminski, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank who researches military culture and family issues, pointed out that recruiting may have seen a slight bump in the weeks following "Top Gun: Maverick."

But she noted that one major change between the "Top Gun" audience of the '80s and the "Top Gun: Maverick" audience of 2022 is how the service has been pitched to the public.

For many young Americans, the thinking has changed from what they can do for their country to what benefits can their country provide them.

"Even though we were kind of in the Cold War era in the '80s, there was a clear view of who the enemy was," Kuzminski said. "There was a combination of the kind of patriotism that the movie elicited, plus a clear threat. ... Now, a lot of the recruiting messaging is targeted at, 'You can get a VA loan and you can get the GI Bill and go to college.' That this is a method of personal improvement."

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  • Katherine L. Kuzminski

    Senior Fellow and Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

    Katherine L. Kuzminski (formerly Kidder) is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Military, Veterans, and Society (MVS) Program at CNAS. Her research specializations include Dep...