In the movie Top Gun Maverick says: "I'm gonna need a beer to put these flames out." This was part of a compilation of quotes supporting the gay theme of the movie.

Urbandictionary doesn't have a translation for this quote. What does it actually mean and what is its origin?

In particular, I'm referring to this compilation.

  • To put these flames out: > to extinguish- similar to put out a fire
    – Misti
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 20:44
  • 1
    There's a gay theme for Top Gun? Says who? Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 21:56
  • 1
    Sword fight!!!!
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 22:44
  • 1
    Guys. Flaming homosexual.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 23:09
  • 1
    It is ironic that Tarantino describes(in 2006) Kelly McGillis as the heterosexual element whereas she came out a few years ago. I guess she wasn't flaming. Excellent clip!
    – user98955
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 0:40

4 Answers 4


I'm not sure this adds something totally new, but...

When Top Gun was made, the typical phrase for being rejected by the opposite sex was shot down, as in went down in flames. I mean, the movie was about jets and fighter pilots, so he gets shot down by the woman, he went down in flames and says, "I'm gonna need a beer to put these flames out."

The phrase would be used metaphorically by fighter pilots in a movie about fighter pilots and jets and firefights and crashes, no?

  • 1
    Read this response with the Righteous Brothers soundtrack in your mind and you have the answer to the question.
    – Minnow
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 18:52
  • Yes: A beer to put these flames out - meaning I need something to soften the blow of rejection referenced as a metaphor to 'crashing & burning' after being 'Shot down'. I don't see any gay implications to this, unless he was rejected by a man!
    – NeilB
    Commented Nov 2, 2019 at 13:14

The reason this is confusing is because there are two separate interpretations of the same line. Although both have been covered separately here, no answer covers why there are two interpretations in the first place.

First, the straightforward interpretation: Either his heart is "on fire," or (as per medica) he's been shot down (romantically) and is on fire like a burning plane. Either way, he's going to douse the flames with a beer (i.e. forget about his heartbreak by drinking).

The alternate interpretation comes out of the fact that many famous movies, particularly those focused on a close male friendship, have a veiled gay subtext. It rarely seems to hurt any given movie among straight audiences, and can boost it among gay audiences (depending on how it is handled). Sometimes this is relatively blatant and played for laughs ("Some Like it Hot", "Without a Paddle"). Other times, it's more hidden. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, gay screenwriters like Gore Vidal often deliberately hid homoerotic imagery and double entendres in mainstream films ("Ben-Hur") as a subversive act of silent protest against prevailing homophobic norms.

The macho buddy movie Top Gun, starring the often-rumored-to-be-gay Tom Cruise, has long been identified as having a hidden gay subtext, even before Quentin Tarantino popularized the theory in the film Sleep with Me. There are any number of places to find the movie reinterpreted in this way, from the compilation you referenced to entire websites. While there's a strong case to be made for the movie as a whole, many of the individual interpretations are a bit of a stretch. In this case, the compiler is implying that Cruise's character is trying to drink away the fact that he's a "flaming" homosexual. While that could be a joke from some clever screenwriter, it doesn't make much sense in context.


I can come up with two connotations for this phrase (please keep in mind, though, that I have not seen the movie myself):

  1. Maverick wants to metaphorically "extinguish" the flames of passion, in this case by using a liquid (beer).
  2. Crudely enough, it may actually be an allusion to the phrase flaming, which is used to refer to overtly homosexual individuals.

Again, I have not seen the movie myself, so I cannot say anything about the scene's context.

  • I don't think your second point was mentioned in the discussion over here. That's awesome.
    – m33lky
    Commented Dec 6, 2014 at 4:26

The "beer" is significant. Among males of the species, "Having a beer" is a behavior used to demonstrate that one is "one of the guys". So, "needing a beer to put flames out" seems to be like doing a "man's thing" to wash away any feminine or effete appearance. ("flames" - meaning "flaming" or gay attributes)

I agree that the Obvious meaning may be that he was "shot down in flames" , or rejected, by the female - however, in keeping w/ OP's question, I submit that an alternate meaning is: He believes he is being rejected because SHE perceives him as gay.

  • The beer is a significant symbol of crafty advertising by Budweiser, apparently the only beer served in the club. The labels on the bottles are clearly visible, even when gripped by the actors.
    – user3847
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 9:10
  • That kind of advertising isn't "crafty". "Product placement" is a common source of revenue for visual media. The character's statement would have a vastly different meaning if he said he "needed a glass of ice water" or different still, if he "needed an appletini"
    – Oldbag
    Commented Dec 8, 2014 at 16:52
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    Oldbag's comment is probably as close as "Budweiser" will ever get to being mentioned in the same paragraph with "craft beer."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 6:07
  • I'm glad you pointed out that this sort of advertising is a well-known phenomenon, Old Bag. And here I thought that Budweiser agents were infiltrating the set of Top Gun and furtively planting Budweiser beer bottles on the bar counter in such wise as to entice the actors to drink the beers and unwittingly promote Budweiser beer to an unsuspecting movie audience. Gee, thanks!
    – user3847
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 22:19
  • @user3847- Methinks thou needest a physick.
    – Oldbag
    Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 15:41

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