Friday, August 26, 2016

Don't Breathe: Symbols & Analysis

Writer-director Fede Alvarez, who also did the awesome Evil Dead, said Don't Breathe was a response to critics' attacks on Evil Dead: too many easy scares, blood and gore; so, with Don't Breathe, there is no blood, no special effects and no supernatural elements. Right now, before opening weekend, it's rocking Rotten Tomatoes with a fresh score of 87%, which is quite impressive for a $10 million  horror film.
Right now, this is the best image of the house that I can find, so we will start here. First, traditionally, houses symbolize the soul, because a home houses the body the way the body houses the soul, which is why the windows of a house are likened to the "eyes" of a person and the eyes or a person are like the "windows" of the soul. What the three young people find in the house is going to be a reflection of what they find within themselves: that which is ready to kill them, i.e., they are embarking on a path in life that is going to get them killed. Horror films could be sub-titled: Judgement Day, because each character in a horror film really isn't a hero; we identify with them, because they have done something we have done ourselves--like wish we had some of Bill Gates' money to pay off our bills, for example--but the character allows us to see, quite graphically, how sin effects our lives, our souls and those around us. In a way, horror films are the notations to the Gospels.
Now, why is the film set in Detroit? The Detroit Free Press review thinks it's overkill and just because of the poverty and rust in the town. I couldn't disagree more. Detroit is the largest city to file for bankruptcy in US history (filed Chapter 9 in 2013); why did Detroit file for bankruptcy? In spite of Detroit being Motor City, it's been run by Democrats for 50 years and it accumulated a debt of  $18-20 BILLION DOLLARS; it has only 700,000 people (down from 1.5 million in the 1950s) and is home to liberals such as Michael Moore. When political conservatives see that a film is being filmed in Detroit--like Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice--we know it's a political commentary on the socialism that has strangled the city for decades now; it's my understanding there are plenty of shots of the abandoned city and unlit streets to remind us of what Detroit should be, but isn't, at least, not anymore. The theme of "wealth re-distribution" that is the heart of the film (the old man has all that money sitting in a safe, but I need that money to get away and make a life for myself, so I'm going to take what he obviously has too much of) is the foundation of socialist politics Detroit itself has been running on for decades (unions and Democrats borrowing more money than the city could possibly make and pay back), so keep this in mind as we watch the characters' situations unfold and the path they take to remedy that situation. 
Opening this weekend is Don't Breathe, the trailer of which I gave as homework a few weeks ago; how have you done? I haven't seen the film yet, however, Evil Dead was so well written and conceived that I am confident Don't Breathe will be full of symbols and layered meanings, so here is a trailer to jog your memory (again, I haven't seen the film so there are no spoilers in this post, just ideas to help us better watch the film):
Why are horror films so popular?
They have huge fan followings, and yet, their fans are the very ones so quick to criticize every single detail of the horror film they waited for so long to see; so, what gives? The film makers (and this applies to basically any artist in any medium) depend upon an unspoken arrangement with the audience, their willing suspension of disbelief, in exchange for the enjoyment of the story and experience the artist(s) is about to provide. In other words, so that I can get to enjoy The Hobbit, I am going to agree with JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson that I won't criticize the impossibility of Hobbits existing; I won't question wizards and their powers, or Orcs riding on the backs of wolves, I will, however, quiet my mind and enjoy the story they want to tell me; I get the experience of The Hobbit, while the artists get the joy of crafting the tale for my enjoyment.
That's an exchange.
Horror fans don't buy into it.
Why not?
Most of what we have seen so far in the trailers and clips reflect a muted color scheme, like the image above, and the reason film makers will incorporate muted schemes is for two reasons: first, it highlights moral ambiguity, that is, the issues aren't going to necessarily be "black and white," rather, there will be gray areas. Secondly, since a muted palette is not realistic (that is, it doesn't reflect nature realistically which has lots of colors and saturation) it means we are supposed to understand the images in abstract terms, not literally, but figuratively, and we are supposed to think upon them. The image above has a green or blue filter over the lens as the scene is shot, and that "filter" means we, too, are supposed to filter what we are seeing and what we are not seeing, but should be thinking about regardless.
Money, who stands in the doorway--and doorways will be important symbols in the film-- probably is the least complex of the characters, however, thinking that about him might be a trap; why? Look at his clothes: he's wearing four layers, this easily suggests that there are more "layers" to Money's character and we are easily "blinded" by what we want to see and don't want to see, as well as by what Money's character is willing to let us see. For his character, watch to see if he hides something, like if you get the feeling he really loves Rocky, and hides his true feelings for her, or if he doesn't love her, but is maybe afraid of being alone.
A normal, average critic would look at this scene and say, see how unrealistic this film is? First, we have this blind guy asleep while the kids break in, but later, he has this amazing hearing, so how can he not hear when they break in? The answer is because, at this point, the kids could still turn around, repent of what they have done, and leave. When they try to open the door, they commit themselves to stealing the money they believe is in the house. Being asleep usually indicates death, at least in some area of a character's life, or it foreshadows the character's own death. We are "dead in sin" and that is usually interpreted as being asleep, as The Blind Man is above. Money sees The Blind Man, not as a man, but as "Money," that is, Money (the character) doesn't see a man, he sees the $300k he wants to get for himself, therefore, Money is killed by money.
The basic vehicle of a horror film is morality. Strict morality. Absolute morality.  The very people who need the moral teachings of horror films the most are the ones who tend to laugh off those teachings (which implies that their own lives are a type of horror film since they refuse to fall into line with the moral teachings of society). These would be critics who only exist to condemn everything they see because it makes them feel superior. Seriously, they do a great disservice to themselves and a treasonous disservice to humanity. Because fairy tales--Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel--became stale to audiences: the lessons of social teaching were valid, but audiences chose to ignore them, to the increasing degradation of the foundations of society, so the lessons had to be given more intensity, more severity, hence, the horror genre of film (if you don't believe me, you have obviously never seen the film Scream; please see Decoding the Decoding: Scream). By mocking every horror film produced, critics and fans mock the lessons they inherently contain and, thereby, the very purpose of horror films.
For example,...
The second Money opens the door to the basement (I'm not sure that it leads to the basement, but bear with me) that is the same second The Blind Man appears in the other doorway; meaning? That opening the door unleashes the monster.  Note the dollar sign tattoo on Money's neck: he is led in life by money. Why does The Blind Man have such big arms? This is an artistic device, and in this case, it means that The Blind Man (when he's a victim and even later when he's villain) is stronger than the kids are morally speaking. 
In Alvarez's last film, Evil Dead, Mia (also played by Jane Levy who portrays Rocky in Don't Breathe), is raped by a tree,.... seriously. Most critics shrugged it off because Evil Dead was a remake and the tree-raping-a-girl-scene was done in the first film; did they shrug it off because it was done in the first, or did they shrug it off because they hoped no one would notice the statement Alvarez was making, namely, that the "environment" (the tree) is raping Millennials (Mia) and forcing Millennials to commit themselves to environmental issues even though the evidence for liberal claims about the environment are sketchy at best. SO, in discussing the moral codes and lessons of horror films, and how horror films have replaced fairy tales, horror films use scenes like the tree-raping to make a point, and then it just gets intentionally over-looked, mocked or counts against the film makers because they wanted to make the point; so why does that happen?
These are two fabulous shots because we see Alex being "blind." In the top image, we see only one eye, suggesting that Alex is only seeing half of what the situation is. In the bottom image, he has been beaten up so bad, his eye is swollen so he can't see out of it again. In this bottom image, he's calling his dad (I don't know if the call goes through or not) but his father works in the security business; what does this mean? Fathers symbolize the "Founding Fathers," and that this father works in the security business, we can say he probably specifically symbolizes the framers of the Constitution, which has been America's security for centuries now. The kids were more concerned with their rights to live their dreams, and ran rough-shod over The Blind Man's rights, now, he is running over their very right to life, and Alex has finally realized the costly lesson of taking responsibility for his actions and  why "wealth re-distribution" doesn't work. 
Do you remember the story of the adulteress woman brought to Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees in John 8: 6-7? Jesus said to them, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," and in humility, realizing they had all sinned against God, they dropped their stones and left her. Film critics and horror fans, on the other hand, when brought face-to-face with the sins played out by characters in horror films which critics and fans are actually committing in real life, instead of being grateful for having someone point out their sins to them, pick up stones and throw them at the director and other film makers because the conscience of critics and fans speaks to them; they know they are the ones who are the subject of the film, but woe to the person who points it out to them.  SO, if fans and critics are just going to stone the film makers of horror films and mock them, why are horror films still made?
Glass and mirrors symbolize reflection, as in, "interior reflection," and our ability to see what we are doing and think about it in moral and social terms. For example, Rocky is the one who breaks the glass so they can enter the house, which means, she has willingly destroyed the moment of reflection she should have had about what she was doing, so she now must face the consequences of her actions because she refused to contemplate on how her actions would turn HER into a monster. In the image above, we get a good idea of Rocky's strange clothes, especially her pants. She wears black tights under short-shorts; legs symbolize our standing in society, so her tights reveal that she wishes her legs were completely covered, but the shorts reveal that she can't stretch her resources that far, in other words, Rocky's actual standing in society (the jean shorts) doesn't "measure up" to what she wishes her standing in society was (the black tights that completely cover her legs, but aren't pants so that she could just wear the tights, she has to have something else covering her). 
Humans have a compulsion to know.
It's not the compulsion to look at the car accident on the road as we drive by, as some have suggested: we aren't obsessed with the gross and cruel, rather, because horror films make our own deepest, most private and intimate self the subject of their narratives, we have to watch them because we have to learn about ourselves, we have to figure out who we are, and what the consequences are of being who we are. In other words, the very fact that we are human draws us to horror films because "being human" is the subject of every horror film; sure, humans populate other genres, like comedy and drama, and we do learn about the "human condition" in other genres, however, the situation--the conflict determining other genres--are central to those stories, whereas being a human being is central to a horror film. For example,....
The shadow in the image is going to be important, pay attention to that part of the scene. The dog (which belongs to The Blind Man) is actually going to be a metaphor for Rocky herself because Money calls Rocky "my bitch," which is a female dog, so the dog--which is a watch dog meant to protect people--is going to try and warn Rocky that there is danger and she shouldn't try to do what she is planning on doing (like when they watch The Blind Man and the dog jumps up; the window of the car (the window being glass and symbolizing "reflection") is meant to convey to the audience that Rocky's conscience should tell her that she shouldn't try and do this, but she does it anyway. 
When the three kids are inside the house and they use the gun to open up the door, and The Blind Man appears, why doesn't Money shoot him? Even if Money just injured him, instead of killing him, wouldn't that, realistically, have been better than letting the guy--who they know was in special forces in the army--get his gun? What has just happened is the type of  "analysis" a typical fan or critic uses to understand the film: "Why didn't Money just shoot him?"
Because Money can't.
In the top image is Rocky's mom, who feels she is "entitled" to what she wants, even if she doesn't have the money to pay for it, so Rocky should (rather how the whole city of Detroit has operated to rack up such a massive debt); while Rocky can see that her mom is bad for acting that way, Rocky turns around and does the exact same thing: she doesn't have the money to get to California, but someone should have to pay for it. The little sister, in the second image from the top, is probably a symbol or commentary on how Rocky should be, but isn't, that is, not everything can be blamed on Rocky's mom, Rocky has free will and has to own up to her actions, but doesn't, and this leads us to how Rocky is blind (the third image) when the lights go out in the basement, this is a graphic interpretation of how Rocky is living her whole life: walking in the darkness of willful ignorance (she doesn't want to heed the warning of the dog barking at her) and she's trapped, not because of her finances, but because Rocky doesn't have any idea where she is going in life, and no, taking yourself to another state is "going somewhere" in life: either you are going to hell, or you are going to heaven, and Rocky is going to hell because she walks only in darkness.
 The bottom image is brilliant because the light shining across the face of The Blind Man suggests that he's "enlightened" or "illuminated" with understanding, so this will be an important moment in this scene.
It's not that The Blind Man is blind, it's that all of the characters--and us in the audience--are blind. Whatever the villain in a horror film, that's really what all the main characters have become, that's what they are battling interiorly, and the film makers want to teach us, the audience, how to battle the same villain/monster. Money, then, is blind to how he really is, i.e., when Money sees The Blind Man standing in front of him, and Money draws his gun on him, Money really draws the gun on himself, because Money IS The Blind Man, just as is Rocky and Alex AND us in the audience. This is how horror films fulfill the fairy tale function of society: they show us the evils that lurk ahead of us in life, and either we prepare ourselves for meeting those inevitable evils by making good, wholesome, virtuous decisions in life, or we slowly turn into that evil ourselves so that, when we meet that evil, we don't  have a chance to win against it because we have been letting it win every day of our lives.
This top shot is one of many amazing shots in the film; why? Well, for one, the green light shining on the man's face. We know that green either means hope, life and rebirth, or it means that something has died and is rotten. The white film over the man's eyes is like the white shirt he wears: white either means a person is alive and pure of heart with faith, hope and charity or that a person is dead because faith, hope and charity are dead within them; this seems to be the case with The Blind Man; it might not be that way at the start of the film, but as the film progresses, it will become that way; the point is to determine at what point it happens and then why. In spite of his blindness, we can tell he has blue eyes; why is that important? Blue is the color of both sadness and wisdom: wisdom is the greatest treasure a person can obtain because the price to obtain it is our sadness in life. At the start of the film, he will probably seem pretty wise in his ability to be resourceful and protect himself from Rocky and Alex who have invaded his personal property; by the end of the film, however, we will most likely see how he has allowed his sadness to "color" everything in his life, so that sadness and suffering is all he "sees" in everything (again, Rocky, Alex , Money and we, the viewers, are really The Blind Man, so we need to understand how the characters have let depression color their outlook on life and how that subsequent sadness has led them to becoming "blind" about how they really are and who they are becoming because of their decisions). Please note his left eyebrow (it's cut off a bit in the photo) you can tell something is wrong with it; why? The eyebrows are a part of the eye, so when something is wrong with a person's eyebrow, it means they have a hard time seeing something. What, being "blind" isn't enough? No, this is actually different. "Seeing" is our ability to understand, so, for example (and, again, I haven't seen the film yet, this is just an example) we know Money, Alex and Rocky are in the house to get the money; The Blind Man may think they are there to kill him; the kids don't want to kill him, but that might be what he's thinking because his life has been so hard, that's how he "sees" the situation (the damaged eyebrow). What about the wound (scar or recent wound?) across his nose? The nose is the most prominent feature of our face, hence, because the face is the most prominent feature of our identity, the nose symbolizes our character (consider how Romans always gave a distinguished large nose to Roman who were held in high regard, regardless of what their real nose looked like, because a larger nose signified a strong character). When there is a scar, or the nose is deformed in some way, it's a reflection of the character of that person. Not knowing anymore about The Blind Man than we do at this point, we can't go into deeper analysis yet, but please keep this in mind as you watch the film, especially if there is a scene where the camera is close up to The Blind Man's face and the nose scar is especially highlighted.
What about the bottom image?
When a character goes up stairs, it means they are ascending to a higher level of consciousness, so they are going to be thinking in more abstract terms, rather than concrete terms (which is more of what happens on the main level of a house). When characters descend into a basement or a cellar, it's because they are going "beneath the surface" of who they themselves are, exploring the things they have "kept hidden" from the rest of the world on the main level of the house. So, this shot we see, is an interesting one, because The Blind Man is at the top, he's on a more abstract level; is that because he is thinking on a more abstract level, or because we the audience are supposed to think of him on a more abstract level? Again, we see him standing in a doorway, and sure, since most of the film is going to take place in one house, there is going to be lots of doorway shots; however, The Blind Man seems to linger in the vicinity of the doorway, and that's a part of his character building we need to heed.
When we see Money telling The Blind Man it's just him in the house and there isn't anyone else, it's like Independence Day: Resurgence's Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) taking the blame for what others have done: Jake taking the blame denies the free will of the characters who messed up; Money, by lying to The Blind Man, isn't giving Rocky and Alex a chance to get out, rather, Money recognizes that Rocky and Alex aren't real people, they are zombies, like the people they will find in the basement of the house. If you see critics bashing the film, remember, they are "blind" scribes and Pharisees throwing stones.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, August 22, 2016

Trailer: Hidden Figures

There have been a few crises this week, I am so sorry for not getting anything up. I am still intent on getting up Anthropoid and I saw Dinesh D'Souza's Hillary's America which was awesome; he used some interesting narrative techniques that are worth our attention. Don't Breathe opens this weekend, and I will be getting up a symbol post before the film opens because that will help us all be a little more alert to what is going on. In the meantime, here is a trailer for the upcoming Hidden Figures film, and this looks great:
This might seem like a minority driven, pro-feminist film,... and it may be (the man putting the wastebasket on the woman's pile of books and telling her it didn't get taken out the night before, and her responding, "I'm not the,..." the what? The Help? Is meant to remind us of the film The Help as a reminder of what some black women were going through during this time, while other black women were engineers at NASA even though they still faced challenges, but we as a nation were facing challenges; the story of America is ALSO the story of blacks and women, not just white men). But look at the context of this story: NASA. How many women support space exploration? How many minorities support space exploration? And yet, Hidden Figures wants to reminds us that the story of NASA and putting a man on the moon, is also the story of black women and men because they contributed to the victory and so it's their victory too. When someone wants to do away with space exploration, they want to do away with the victory and story of blacks and women, too, just like someone wanting to get rid of baseball is also wanting to get rid of the story of Jackie Robinson.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Friday, August 12, 2016

Anthropoid: Amazing

Sometimes God works in strange and mysterious ways; sometimes, He works in not so strange, and not so mysterious ways,.... I was supposed to go see Pete's Dragon this afternoon, but got the times switched and ended up seeing Anthropoid (which I had planned on seeing this weekend) instead. It was absolutely amazing. I knew it was going to be good, but this film was gut-wrenching-good. I knew with Cillian Murphy in it, I should expect great performances, and everyone, all around, were incredible. So, please, if you have free time this weekend, this is definitely worth it. I am working on the post now; what should you be looking for?
Toby Jones portrays Jan Zelenka-Hajsk√Ĺ, a teacher who led one of the Czech Resistance groups. There's a imperative detail about his character: the other Resistance members call him "Uncle." Why? It's probably a subtle reference to The Man From UNCLE.In the film, before the organization known as UNCLE has been formed, "Uncle Rudi," Hitler's favorite architect of torture of all the Nazi concentration camps, is called "Uncle" throughout the film; why? The film wants to give us a choice: either we can call the Nazi's and socialist programs "Uncle," and expect to be treated like all the Nazis' victims of World War II or we can have an organization called UNCLE with people protecting us from the Uncle Rudis of the world (as in The Man From UNCLE; for more, please see Only My Mother Calls Me Napoleon: The Man From UNCLE). Throughout the film, Uncle Jan wears his glasses, an important symbol we will go into in greater depth, but--towards the end--he takes them off, and that's a deeply human moment the film examines because it's a sign of regret: he can't see clearly, because his end has come, and he regrets what they have done; it's profoundly human, but just one of the psychological perspectives the film asks us to consider about being "human" and those forces trying to take our humanity away from us. 
"Anthropoid" refers to a group of monkeys, an ape or even an "ape man." Someone like human, but not human, more animal in their nature. So, look for ways the film shows us what "human" is, and shows us what is "not-human," "sub-human" or even "animal." I intend to still see Pete's Dragon and Sausage Party, the rotation has just gotten switched around. If you don't remember Anthropoid, the trailer is here, below.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
Please, if you have time this weekend, go see this incredible film. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

TRAILERS: Resident Evil, Jack Reacher

This trailer, from Korea, basically confirms everything I have ever said. Just watch this:
I know they use the word "king" in the trailer, but Korea, still technically in a state of war between the communist north and the capitalist south, are talking about communism; how do we know that? Because they make "State" synonymous with "King." Information is being kept from them. A good king would want and encourage commerce, exploration and discovery (the more valuable raw minerals and materials a government has at their disposal, the richer that government is); think of the Louisiana Purchase and the exploration that happened, the frontier it opened; Korea is not just examining what "Korea" as a physical entity is, but also why South Korea is the Korea it is. The big news this week is the arrival of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, also sub-titled, Bio-Hazard, and this looks good:
According to the official synopsis, the film picks up immediately after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution and finds Alice as "the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse." So, what does this trailer give us? Please tell me you noticed the traffic sign that read RACCOON CITY home of Umbrella behind the three hanging corpses on the road? Remember The Secret Life Of Pets? Remember that strange scene when Snowball the bunny has been out of it, and suddenly comes to and says, out of nowhere, "That raccoon is not the president!" and then falls unconscious again? The last shot of Resident Evil: Retribution was of the White House and Alice unconscious on the floor of the great seal: because the evil forces of Umbrella had taken over the White House, that was where the final battle would have to be, and will be. We can go on about this, but let's look at the new Jack Reacher trailer.
Margot Robbie has confirmed that a stand-alone Harley Quinn film is in the works. The Chronicles of Narnia is coming back; the Silver Chair is back on schedule to be produced with the screenwriter for Life Of Pi doing the script. Man Of Steel 2 is in the works again: at one point, director Zack Snyder said Batman vs Superman was Man Of Steel 2, but the studio has changed its mind and is producing another stand alone Superman film; no word on when it will be released. Wolverine 3 likely last X-Men film for both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart; Jason Momoa is in lead for The Crow remake; Star Trek is getting a new TV series with a female captain and a gay character,... speaking of which, Star Trek Beyond has been in a "free fall" since just not quite meeting opening weekend expectations (the lowest opening of all three films). A remake of Ocean's 11 is in the works with Ocean's 8 starring Rihanna, Sandra  Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett,.. and speaking of all women re-making a film that was originally made with men, Ghostbusters appears to be at about a $70 million loss (even though I found the film to be pro-capitalist) and now the sequel is not likely. One of the two most hated films on my list since I have started this blog may have found an awesome new director for its sequel: Brad Pitt has been courting David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, Gone Girl) for the follow-up film to World War Z starring Brad Pitt; the film has had numerous delays, including losing its director which is why Pitt is courting Fincher to sign on.
I really like this new trailer: why? Because it's the exact opposite of Jason Bourne.
We have seen the scene before of the phone call and the corrupt officer being arrested; the phone call is the "call" for that man to have served and carried out justice, which he didn't do, so the phone call is an indictment of what he was called to do in life and failed to do in reality; him wearing the cuffs that are first on Reacher indicates that those who are being punished now by those who are corrupting their power, will be the ones who face justice and the consequences of their actions. When Coby Smulders character faces Reacher and tells him that her men were killed and some of them were the same ones who had been under him, Reacher reacts and goes to take care of the problem; in Jason Bourne, when Nicky (Julia Stiles) shows up and tells Bourne of the corruption she has evidence now, Bourne replies he doesn't care; late in the film, when Christian asks Bourne to help him bring corruption into the light of day, Bourne says, "I'm not on your side," because Jason Bourne/Matt Damon believes in socialism and corrupt governments.
Opening this week: Anthropoid, Pete's Dragon, and Sausage Party. Pete's Dragon and Sausage Party will most likely do well, targeting kids and adult kids, but I am most interested in Anthropoid. Why? With all the accusations going around about who Hitler is, and liberals obviously having no idea of what happened historically, the truth of the Nazis will have to be established, or it will be a massive brain washing campaign against history. It is coming out this weekend in spite of the trailer saying next month:
I'm going to see Pete's Dragon first tomorrow; we all know what happens when I make plans, but I hope to get a post up on Pete's Dragon Friday night and then go see Anthropoid Saturday night.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Types Of Criticism

There are three methods for experiencing art: first, to experience it without questioning it; secondly, to experience it, and to research the art to discover more about what your experience was like or, even, what your experience should have been like; third, to engage the art with various intellectual strategies referred to as "criticisms." Most people will, for example, go to a movie, eat popcorn, watch the film, laugh, cry, or experience emotional other triggers, then leave and be done with the film; there's nothing at all wrong with this. Some people will go to an art museum, for example, and see an image that stays with them, that somehow "speaks" to them, and they may go to the library or book store and get a biography on the artist and read up on the historical events; there's nothing at all wrong with this second approach, either. Then there are professors and students loitering in universities across the world determined to understand the art, and they form elaborate systems of cognition that have certain "goals" and engage methods of discourse with various erudite names like "Deconstruction," or "New Historicism," and even, "Psychoanalytic Feminist Marxism." There are, generally speaking, at least two things wrong with this third approach known as "criticism."
There are lots of different types of criticism, and each has its own aim to expose certain truths or oppression. For example, Psychoanalysis, the decoding of the mind's tricks and messages, is prominently utilized by Feminists to expose male dominance and sexual oppression in art. Deconstruction has been employed by minority groups in revealing political oppression. New Historicism, on the other hand, looks for dates and historical clues to understand more about the world within a narrative. Reader Response Theory is more concerned with how an audience member brings what they all ready know to a work of art and that is used by the audience or even by the artist for engagement, whether the audience realizes it or not. "Erasure" and "noise," two strategies I have used frequently for posts, are "branches" of Deconstrution. Marxist criticism usually focuses on how economics and class are structured in works of art. In this painting, The Dance Class by Edward Degas, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,and completed in 1874, the Marxist critic Robert L Herbert, in his book Impressionism Art Leisure Parisian Society, discusses how all these young girls are essentially being prostituted by their families because they come from lower-middle class families, and they hope that, by becoming ballerinas on the stage, they will attract a wealthy patron, i.e., a rich man who will support her in exchange for sex.Herbert goes on to demonstrate, in one of the absolute classics of modern Art History, how nearly all of the Impressionists incorporated the economic hardships of their subjects into works (I can't recommend the book highly enough, it's absolutely fascinating). Until Herbert had done this work, no one had any idea about the difficult social conditions to which the women in Degas' ballet pictures were subjected. He uses the paintings to further his views of society and to demonstrate how capitalism was causing this unfortunate vacuum for young women, but if he hadn't have done it, these facts of history would have been lost forever; so, while I am mocking criticism for not being based in reality, there are times with exceptionally talented and astute academics, like Herbert, who don't ignore reality, rather, make it the very subject of their inquiry and we all benefit then.
First, criticism is largely inaccessible to most people: if you are not a student of literary criticism, art history, philosophy, or film studies, you probably are never going to be exposed to criticism except as a passing joke in a Woody Allen movie. Secondly, these modes of criticism, while they do offer up golden nuggets of intellectualism valuable for their own sake, really don't have much to do with reality and our day-to-day affairs. So, unless you are publishing a paper you hope other professors/students will read, the vast majority of people will never have reason to learn even one of the dominant methods of criticism, which leads us to my decisions for this blog.
So, is there any "moral" reading of a work such as this that we can make? Of course. Tomato Soup Can by Andy Warhol is a massively subversive social critique. Warhol was a devout Catholic who went to Mass everyday. He is critiquing that there are more people who don't join him for worship, but who slave away to make this Tomato Soup Can look to iconic, so important, so desirable. Yes, that's advertising, and Warhol himself was in advertising, but the soup can is an icon, that is, its virtues are being celebrated rather than the virtues of a saint, or just even virtue itself. Warhol recognized the eroding of values and the dwindling percentage of Christians attending Church regularly, and with his works such as Brillo Pads and Money, he demonstrated how "invested we are" in the material world, that there are name brands and generics from which we can choose to purchase, and we have certain likes for certain products and dislikes; but what about our spiritual lives? What about the world of the invisible where our real battles take place? In other words, Warhol wants to say, Tomato Soup might be good for the body, but is it at the expense of the soul?
I received an email from Andrew who wasn't complaining, but he complained that all I do is socialist/capitalist, or liberal/conservative viewpoints, and I need to expand my repertoire. I understand that it appears that it is all I do, but actually, that's not what I do at all. I do moral criticism. Post World War II, moral criticism ceased existing almost overnight; ask students and professors today about the "morality" of a literary work, film or visual art, and they will call you a Bible-thumper or something along those lines. Moral criticism does not exist today, except at this blog. I made a conscious decision that, because it was no longer done, and because there were no Christian critics (Film Review Mom and Date Night Review don't count) it was clear that was going to be my niche: re-discovering what moral criticism is, and how it does or does not support Christianity. There is, however, a problem with this,...
There are many different types of morality. Most people think they are moral people, even if they have been in the Sicilian mafia all their lives. Even among Christians, we have a tendency to disagree about what is and is not morally acceptable behavior: is homosexuality moral? Is abortion moral? Is drunkenness moral? Living with someone to whom you are not married moral? Etc., and while most of these answers used to all be "No," with no exceptions, because of the political atmosphere developing the last thirty years in the USA and other countries, these questions have been intentionally muddied by a small group of people intent on confusing people who are easily confused. Morality, in other words, has become a battleground, and rather than at church or even from family members (because of high divorce percentages and out of wedlock pregnancies) art, especially film and television, happen to be the ground upon which the majority of today's morality of what is and is not socially acceptable, public and private behavior, is taught. So why am I always mentioning socialism and capitalism?
Socialism has always, until about 2008, had "morality" in direct opposition to what Christianity has always traditionally taught; why? Socialism absolutely has to take God out of the equation of the relationship between individuals and the government; why? Because if individuals say they can't bake a cake for a gay "wedding," that makes the state who just "legalized" gay "marriage" look bad; so the state outlaws God and all religion in general. As Christians, we should be worried about this. The way socialism has gripped government and society with such strength is because, little by little, it has eroded our morality: easy divorce, easy birth control, easy sex, and increase of feeling over rationality, making it look like more and more people are "naturally" gay and so they should be accepted, couples living together instead of marrying, and this has largely been accomplished--not with wars, not with public debates or publications--but with language and art. I know plenty of liberals who claim that socialism is far more moral and Christian than erosive capitalism is, but these are also people who know nothing about socialism and very little about God. "Sexual orientation," and "women's choice," "healthcare," "personal choice" and "evolution" are some of the anti-Christian methods employed to erode Christianity in American society and throughout the world in order to achieve a population not rooted in God so they can become rooted in government. If this doesn't bother you, then you should find another blog to read.
So, the purpose of The Fine Art Diner is to expound and teach moral criticism in art so it is accessible on a daily and realistic level for Christians watching TV, reading a book, listening to music or watching a film; when demarcating between art being socialist or capitalist, (and I will be the first to admit, I almost never, ever point this out to readers, so my apologies), I mean "socialist to erode Christian morality," or "capitalist to protect Christian morality." Up until about 1991 or 1992, when political correctness began brainwashing people and controlling behavior, America was a free society: laws protected us from unwanted behaviors and their consequences, but we were free. We aren't now, and we will continue to become more enslaved. Because I think the statement is such a profound one, I made William Butler Yeats' observation on the role of art the motto of this blog: "Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned." If socialism takes over America and the world, art will cease to exist; there will only be propaganda glorifying the state.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Monday, August 8, 2016

Harley Quinn/Harlequin: Suicide Squad & Anti-Feminism

Why make a "super hero" film where the villains are the good guys? What has happened in our culture that the bad guys can be even be considered for one moment to possibly be the good guys? In American culture today, the people who were once considered good have become the bad guys, and those who were bad, are now the good ones. So it's easy to identify with a film of anti-heroes when you yourself have become one culturally. I read a review that suggested the "villains" who turn good guy aren't actually bad enough to be considered villains, and he was upset that they are even being called "bad guys." Why? He's one of those who have helped turn our culture upside-down, like Harley Quinn hanging upside-down in her cell when we first see her. Liberals believe people do not have free will and are bad to the core, with no redeeming qualities to them. Suicide Squad wants us to consider others as we would want ourselves to be considered: maybe I have screwed up, but that doesn't mean I am a screw up. Socialists believe human lives are cheap, and it's best to send off difficult ones to the work camps and find mindless, obedient humans to do the job the government wants, but that's not what Amanda Waller argues for in the film. But Suicide Squad assembles more than just the outlaws in the film: Suicide Squad, with countless references to other films, comments that all the anti-socialist films of recent years have been their own "suicide squad" for challenging the liberals and risk all the backlash and negative reviews (and financial ruin) as a result, and this is almost exactly what has happened the opening weekend with negative reviews; unlike with Batman vs Superman, however, audiences were not kept away from Suicide Squad, making for a record release at the box office. What is the difference? Conservatives had long been planning on boycotting BvsS when Ben Affleck was announced as Batman (because he has been so vocal about his hatred of conservatives and his own liberal policies), so that explains the under-performance in terms of finances. Liberal reviewers, however, also tried to keep audiences away from the very pro-capitalist film with an onslaught of bad reviews so conservative audiences wouldn't have their morals validated and their values celebrated; this has been a powerful strategy in undermining American culture and making the "good guys" out to now be the "bad guys." Since BvsS has come out on video, and plenty of have gone ahead and watched it, realizing it's a good film and one they like, audiences are now less likely to believe liberal critics trashing a film conservative audiences might like, which is what I think happened with Suicide Squad: viewers think, well, they didn't like BvsS either, but I liked it, so maybe I will like Suicide Squad, too.
One of the themes in Suicide Squad is how these individual squad members come together to become a "family," a group of friends for whom they would sacrifice themselves: other films such as  Penguins of Madagascar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Minions, X-Men Apocalypse (You have more family than you know), The Hobbit trilogy, Ghostbusters (remake), Warcraft, The Secret Life Of Pets, etc., all deal with someone finding family or finding a "new family," and this is certainly true of Suicide Squad; why? So people know they are not alone; we have each other upon whom we can depend, we don't need a massive, centralized government doing everything for us because we have each other, even when it doesn't seem like we do. Another important theme of the film is getting a "second chance," which we see in the Fast and Furious films, Cat Woman in The Dark Knight Rises and, Napoleon Solo The Man From UNCLE, to name a few. Suicide Squad is anti-feminist, which haven't happened with many other films, but we can highlight both X-Men: Apocalypse (since it's the feminist CIA detective Moira MacTaggert who unleashes Apocalypse) and even Zootopia with the female sheep Bellweather who sets animals up to turn society against the predators. These films are not anti-woman, they are anti-the-group-of-thugs-calling-themselves-"feminists"-because-women-of-the-past-were-"oppressed"-feminists. Why? Because like "Brother" in the film, individuals have accused society of false crimes, making good people out to be bad people, and those false accusations that keep building up, have turned society upside-down. 
When I say "anti-feminism," being a woman myself, I mean "anti-feminist" in a good way (and by "good way," I mean Suicide Squad rips feminism apart the way it should be ripped apart): there are four powerful women in this film, and it's their decisions which propel all the events of the narrative (which is why it's getting bad reviews). Between Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Dr. June Moone/The Enchantress (Cara Delvigne) and Zoe, Deadshot's daughter (yes, she's imperative), women rule this DC corner of the universe and it all comes down to what is in the heart of each woman which is the exact opposite of modern feminist ideology. This post is full of spoilers; if you haven't seen the film and don't want it ruined, as usual, please stop reading and come back later; if you don't care, but you haven't seen the film, there is a good synopsis (with spoilers) at this link; you need to read this before you read the rest of the post; thank you.
So, "girl power,"...
Will Smith portrays Deadshot, lethal at 4,000 feet. There are three intriguing things about his "uniform" (pictured above) that he wears. First, he tells Harley Quinn after he puts it on that, when he wears it, someone usually dies (which might be a reference to James Bond and Skyfall when Bond tells Severine that someone usually dies when Bond sets out to kill someone; likewise, it might also be a reference to The Kingsman Secret Service when Valentine tells Gazelle his plans and Gazelle responds, "Sounds like a lot of people are going to die"; why reference these two films? Skyfall and The Kingsman were both very anti-socialist films, so Suicide Squad is telling us that ALL these anti-socialist films are going to be a "suicide squad" because of the liberal film critics and media who will try and keep people from seeing films like this). Secondly, his collar says, "I am the Light, the Way," which is a reference to Jesus Christ in the Book of John 8:12. Jesus has been asked about the woman caught in adultery, and no one has not sinned and so cannot throw a stone at her, and Jesus tells her, "Go, and sin no more," then he tells the crowd, "I am the Light" and the only way to the Father is through Him. So, you want a second chance like the criminals in Suicide Squad? God to Jesus. HE is the ultimate second chance. That Deadshot wears this quote around his neck symbolizes--not that Deadshot thinks of himself as being Jesus Christ--but that Jesus Christ is what leads and guides Deadshot, in spite of how confused Deadshot has been about how to use the gift God gave him (we see this same "confusiong" with El Diablo, who thinks his gift came from the devil, but more on that below). This might also be a reference to Pulp Fiction, and Samuel L Jackson's character who recited some bibilical verses before killing someone; Deadshot might want them to think of Jesus so they have a chance to get to heaven in their last seconds of life. You might think this is a long shot, but remember, when Deadshot is with Zoe, and talking about getting full custody of her, Deadshot wears a cross around his neck, and it's gold, because gold doesn't tarnish. Yes, absolutely, it's a very gangster thing to see people wearing crosses who are as far from God as they can be, but the neck symbolizes what leads and guides us in life, and Deadshot wearing the cross and the quote from Christ around his necks is meant for us to understand that we should be doing the same as he. The third interesting thing about his uniform is the mask he wears. The mask is like the identity-less monster army Enchantress creates for herself, as well as the identity-less motorcyclists in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and the storm troopers in Star Wars: evil erodes our identity, and when we commit acts of evil, it destroys our identity because we receive our identity from God. Deadshot realizes that when he starts shooting people, they lose their humanity to him and all he sees are "rats" he's meant to exterminate (how he addresses himself to his patron when we get his back-story). Taking away the identities of others means Deadshot loses his identity as well. Last but not least, when Deadshot and the squad finally get up to the building to free "the mark," and before Deadshot finds out it's Waller, he says, "He better have cured cancer or something." When was the last time Will Smith was in a film about curing cancer? I Am Legend and the infected beings in that film are basically what Deadshot and all the other members would become if Waller hadn't brought them together into the squad and provided them with a meaningful mission to exercise their gifts. So, just as Harley Quinn is also The Harlequin, so Deadshot is also a violent zombie on his dark side. When Enchantress shows him what he really desires, in hopes he will join her side, it's of Deadshot killing Batman; I don't think Deadshot wants Batman's head hanging up on his wall, rather, Deadshot wishes Zoe, his daughter, hadn't interfered and Deadshot went to prison; he wants to be free, but until Deadshot finds suitable employment, he's not going to be free and he can't follow the Light.
When Amanda Waller and Rick Flag go to see "what Deadshot can do," and they give him an arsenal to prove his skill, Deadshot shoots each of the targets in between the eyes; why? Because Amanda Waller mentions that meta-humans have always existed, like the Philistine giant Goliath, and how did Goliath die? David used the slingshot to hit Goliath right between the eyes, just as Deadshot does in his "target practice," demonstrating that a sharpshooter like Deadshot qualifies as a meta-human.
When we first see Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), she's hanging upside-down in her cell and her cell is a cell within a cell, so it's a double. When the squad first gets their gear for the upcoming mission, Harley's make-up is perfect; as events progress, her make-up runs and smears; when we see the back-story for Harley and Joker, we see her giving into everything he wants, even to the point of it almost killing her. When everything else has failed, in the end, to kill Enchantress and save the world, it's Harley who takes the risk upon herself to finish the deed, even though the world hasn't done anything for them. This is the rough outline for a powerful anti-feminist statement; let's examine the details.
If you will notice the two images at the very bottom of this collage, the far left and center left, we have the origin of Harley Quinn, from the Harlequin; as the Joker comes from a deck of cards, so Harlequin comes from the theater, which explains why Harley Quinn is so theatrical, but also her physical feats we see her perform, like hanging up in her prison cell when we first see her, climbing onto the rope Joker throws out to her and hanging on it while Deadshot aimed at her, and then her tumbling routine when she fell out of the helicopter to safety; these are all traits of Harlequin. Why does  Harley Quinn use a baseball bat? She likes games, whether they are play games--like racing against the Batman on the streets of Gotham--or mind games because she was a psychiatrist, she loves games. Note also the harlequin designs she wears on her black and gold checked gown (and the red and black checked tattoo on her right arm) as well as the pattern showing up on her ball bat and sledge hammer she carries. We discuss how the psychiatrist's doctor's coat might have been like a straight jacket to Harley; throughout the film we see her wearing different things around her arms, sometimes bracelets, some times a bunch of watches; why? It's difficult to tell. Arms symbolize our strength, so either Harley feels she is still being in a "straight jacket" even being with the Joker and his crazy influence, or she's intentionally holding herself back because she's even crazier than he is and she doesn't want to scare him off. Now, Harley has perhaps the biggest conversion in the film, and it's because she has the most important and vulnerable line: "He marries me?" Harley asks in disbelief when Enchantress shows Harley what Harley truly desires and how Enchantress wants Harley to believe Enchantress can give it to her (Harley, the manipulative player of .mind games has had a mind game played on her). Unbeknownst to Enchantress, Harley Quinn is something of a succubus herself, tempting all the men who see her to desire her; when the possibility of Joker marrying her is opened up to Harley, she realizes that IS what she wanted more than anything, for herself and him. Remember, when they are both in the vat of chemicals, their make-up comes off, and neither of them wears their make-up in the "domestic bliss" scene Enchantress shows her (again, this is very much like the offer the devil makes Vanessa Ives in Season 2 of Penny Dreadful, a life of domestic bliss with Ethan). It's with Harley, we can say, that Enchantress "deconstructs herself," because Enchantress is a succubus, a demon who arouses men's sexual appetites, just as Harley does; by Harley "getting married," it shows Harley and all women that, ultimately, there is nothing that can still beat marriage: it's dignity, it's respect, it's self-respect, it's security and the chance to love and nurture children. These are all the exact opposite qualities a succubus--and liberals and Democrats--want women to embrace, but Harley does. In the last scene we see of her, Harley has her hair in rollers, as she did in the image Enchantress showed her, and Harley is fully clothed, even her feet, so Harley has suddenly embraced modesty. Note the pink slippers on her feet: feet symbolize our will and for Harley to have pink slippers on suggests she wants to be more feminine (instead of whorish and unpredictable) and "softer" because of the fuzzy quality of the slippers. Now, why did she call Joker "Puddin'?" Because pudding is a sweet food, it's also easy to eat, it doesn't require any chewing (going over it and understanding it); Joker was like her "honey," the way money is Deadshot's "honey," that which makes life sweet for us." Now, Harley has an important moment with Joker: when he goes over the side of the road and crashes the car into the water; what happens? Harley goes through the windshield; why? She's not going to be upset that Joker didn't save her from drowning (remember, when she wakes up, she isn't surprised to not see Joker with her, she acts like she was expecting Batman to be there instead) but she does realize that her relationship with Joker could be the "vehicle" that kills her (the windshield symbolizes "reflection" as glass or mirrors always do, so she has reflected that even though she would die for him, he could also get her killed and for no good reason). 
Harley being upside-down means she's perverse, she has turned her world upside-down (this isn't revelatory), BUT, by the end of the film, she's right-side up in one of the last shots we see of her. So, what happens to turn Harley upside-down? She's unbalanced, but--unlike what everyone claims is the problem with Harley Quinn, that she is in a dysfunctional relationship with Joker--she's unbalanced because she's NOT with him at the start of the film.
Oh, it gets better,...
Harley was a psychiatrist at Arkham where Joker was kept and she was his therapist before falling in love with him. When this scene is being introduced, what we first see of Dr. Quinzel is how high her high heels are; why? We know feet symbolize the will because feet take us where we want to go the way our will directs what we want to do with our lives. What is Dr. Harleen Quinzel's will? To be feminine. To be a woman. This isn't only revealed in her high heels, but when Enchantress tempts Harley, how does she do it? With a picture of "domestic bliss" with Joker, so Enchantress also knows (not to mention what June Moone wants) and even Amanda Waller (as we will discuss below) and Zoe, Deadshot's daughter. 
Please note the incredible balance in this image (above): light pours in through those windows which are evenly positioned on Harley's side and Joker's side; it looks though that Joker has more of the share of the windows on his side; why? Note that both of them wear white jackets: Joker wears the straight jacket to keep him from causing harm, and because of the mirroring quality of this scene, and because of the choices Harley makes, we can say that Harley also wears a straight jacket, that of the doctor: she probably choose psychiatry because she had a psychosis brewing inside her and she was looking to escape through knowledge, but when she met Joker, he gave her the ability to escape through love. These issues lead us to Harley's encounter with Enchantress.
Harley can't swim, and this comes up in two important scenes. First, the scene where Joker wants Harley to prove her love for him, so he has her jump into the vat of chemicals and, of course, she can't swim to save herself. Joker  turns away to leave her to her fate, but then he stops (bottom image) and he turns around, takes his jacket off and then falls into the vat after her, saving her. What happens? Harley had the white straight jacket in the top image removed so he would be free (getting him the machine gun so he could escape the asylum) and now, her devotion to him has genuinely touched him and he needs her, so when Joker makes that dramatic move of removing his jacket himself (the leather one) he's being helped by Harley to escape another straitjacket: the jacket was leather, meaning his animal instincts have been removed, and his shirt, which is purple, is open at his chest; why? It's exposing his heart, meaning, Joker is exposing his vulnerable heart to Harley and she is going to become his very heart. The purple shirt he wears is a sign of his suffering, that is, he is willing to suffer for Harley, and that suffering he endures on her behave will make him a better man. When Joker pulls Harley out, it's like an immersion Baptism, she emerges as a new woman: a woman who faced her fear of giving everything to a man and him not returning it, and Harley won. This is the bond that unites the two of them, and we can be confident of that because when Joker and Harley are in the vat, swirls of color surround them, the color from the persona make-up Joker wears, meaning, just as Harley gave her stripped emotions to Joker, Joker is giving his stripped self to her (free of the make-up he wears for the public; that doesn't mean they aren't going to put on an act for the rest of the world, but for each other, they know what they other needs and wants to give the other). That is the first scene where Harley not being able to swim is important; the second scene is the third image on the left when Joker and Harley are in the purple Lamborghini, racing Batman and Joker takes the car over the cliff; as Harley screams she can't swim. When Batman jumps into the water, Joker has all ready gotten himself to safety, but left Harley to die,... or did he pull a "Teddy Kennedy" like at Chappaquiddick Island? Actually, no. Joker knew Batman would save Harley and send Joker to death row, so by saving himself, Joker was also saving Harley, because we saw how distraught she was after he supposedly died in the helicopter crash and Joker would have the resources to free Harley, but if both of them were in prison/the asylum, they couldn't count on anyone freeing them.  
Enchantress promises to give the squad members whatever they want if they will join her; we have seen this before as a means of socialism to ensnare followers, from X-Men: Apocalypse, to Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted not to mention the season two finale for Penny Dreadful and the showdown with the devil Vanessa Ives has. Enchantress offers Harley a "normal life," and we know that, deep down inside, that's what Harley really wants: just as neither Harley nor Joker wear their make-up in Harley's livid day-dream of bliss, so, after Harley threw herself into the vat of chemicals and Joker went after her, the make-up came off and swirled around them, so the important element in Harley's hope is that they always have that connection of the deep, emotional (not skin-deep) bond they share.
Katana has more in common with Enchantress than any other character; how? At the end, when Rick Flag has crushed the heart of Enchantress, June breaks out of the "mask" Enchantress had become for June and is saved; Katana also wears a mask. Enchantress wants to be rejoined with a spirit (her brother Incubus) just as Katana wants to be rejoined with a spirit (her dead husband). Both Enchantress and Katana let hair hang down in their face; both women also wear symbols on their heads, Enchantress wears a moon and Katana wears the flag of Japan, which demonstrates via word play the relationship to Rick Flag both women have: Katana is meant to protect Flag, Enchantress wants to kill Flag. Enchantress took the body of June, but Katana takes the soul of anyone she kills. Katana, however, was actually married to her husband, but June/Encahntress was not married to Rick even though he was playing the husband. What about June? Please note this important scene (the right photo of her in water): this is the first time Rick Flag sees the woman he's going to start sleeping with, and it's important that June's reflection is so dominant in this image because June can see Enchantress in herself, in other words, June doesn't have to become possessed by Enchantress to actually be a succubus, or at least, do the work of the succubus, because it's easy enough to get Flag to start sleeping with her. 
Again, at the start of the film, she's upside-down because she's away from Joker who "sets her right," but at the end, even though she thinks he's dead, she looks normal: her hair is in rollers, as in the vision Enchantress showed her, and she's reading a romance novel because she knows what she wants now; the stand-alone film for Harley coming up will reveal what happens next, but, just as Mr. J's alter ego is The Joker, so Harley Quinn's alter ego is the Harlequin of the commedia dell'arte, showing they make the perfect couple, which leads us to the other couple in the film, Dr. June Moone and Rick Flag.
Slipknot doesn't get much time, however, he does something important which comes up later: when we first see him, he gets out of the SUV and a female guard says something to him so he hits her hard, then says, "She had a mouth on her." Later in the film, when Rick tells Deadshot about his relationship with June/Enchantress, Deadshot tells Rick that Rick needs to go slap her around and get her to start behaving. These are important situations, even though they end up slipping into marginalia, because there is a DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANTI-FEMINIST AND ANTI-WOMAN. Slipknot exhibits anti-woman behavior, and we can even say that Diablo, in not respecting his wife (he loved her but didn't respect her) killer her because he was, at that time, anti-woman, thinking he was better; when Rick tells June she has to turn into Enchantress to get the bomb close to Incubus, June doesn't want to do it because she knows Encahntress plans something, but Rick basically forces her to do it, thereby disrespecting June instead of finding another way to take out Incubus. The film argues, with the characters of Enchantress as a succubus, that mainstream feminism is bad for women and men because it keeps women from being who they really are (Harley, Waller and June Moone) and tries to shape them into an army for socialism rather than as individuals who love and know who they really are (like little Zoe). 
Dr. June Moone is an archaeologist, which is imperative for the events of the film; why? That big hole she drops down, where she finds the skeletons and the idol of The Succubus, aka, Enchantress is also where the heart of the Enchantress is buried.
What does this hole symbolize?
The vagina.
How can I say that? Later in the film, after Enchantress has kidnapped Waller, Flag asks Deadshot, "Did you get far enough in the report to see that I'm sleeping with her?"  That is exactly what a demon known as a succubus does, it lures men into having sex with them, and where does the sexual act take place? The vagina. Why am I making a big deal about this? Because the film does: why are there skeletons in this hole that is an alter to the succubus Enchantress?
Because those are aborted babies.
El Diablo is my favorite character in the film. He has the heaviest burden, and the greatest victory. Now, we know that a character doesn't die unless they are all ready dead; so, when Slipknot dies trying to escape, it's because he's all ready dead (being a woman-hitter as we discussed in the caption above). El Diablo, on the other hand, has been through confession, penance and enlightenment (he's the one who recognizes the "mind games" Enchantress plays with them in her offers to them each and saves the others from giving into them). When he sacrifices himself so Incubus can be blown up, El Diablo makes the greatest sacrifice there is: to lay down one's life for their friends. As he said, "I've lost one family, I'm not going to lose another." In the poster at the top of the page, I noted how, with all the different films quoted in Suicide Squad, the anti-socialist films are themselves a type of suicide squad because of the likelihood of them getting rejected; 47 Ronin is likely another film to add to this club. There is no real reason for El Diablo to have his facial tattoos, but they are most likely a visual quotation from 47 Ronin which had a similar character and was also anti-socialist.  Earlier in the film, Amanda Waller tells directors she wants to "fight fire with fire," and that is an often mis-understood phrase: we fight the "fires of damnation" with the "fires of purgation," so that, instead of being damned, we find the Light (Deadshot's collar) and salvation, for ourselves and hopefully others. El Diablo, when he tells Deadshot that his powers didn't come from God, was mistaken: they did come from God, even though El Diablo let the devil use him for so many years; once El Diablo saw what he was allowing to happen (the consequences of his family) he stopped and began his time of penance and meditation. This is where the strength to defeat Incubus, Brother, came from. Now, on a very different note, I don't think we can overlook the political metaphor occurring as well. Being Mexican, with wife and children who are also Hispanic, El Diablo has a big responsibility: him burning down his house, killing his wife and children is what many criminals in Mexico have done: the wife, because she is of child-bearing age, symbolizes "the motherland," Mexico, and the children symbolize the future. Men of child-bearing age symbolize the economy and driving forces of production in a country, so the criminal activities El Diablo is involved in, reflects what criminals have done to Mexico: burned it with lawlessness (the box of money and drugs his wife shows him and he tells her to put it back and she tells him she's leaving, so that's when he starts the fire) and ruined it for future generations (the kids). El Diablo's death will be discussed in the next caption for Incubus. 
June Moone is not only split into two personalities once Enchantress possesses her, but June Moone herself provides us with two different personalities. "June" probably invokes "June Cleaver," the all-American mom of the TV show Leave It To Beaver (if you saw The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner, you might recall he gave Rachel Weisz's character the name "June Monroe," because it was a mix of June Cleaver and Marilyn Monroe). So, part of Dr. June Moone is to be like June Cleaver; and "Moone?" If you have seen the mockumentary No Men Beyond This Point, you know the importance of the moon on women and the moon tends to symbolize the "lesser sex" with the sun being the alpha man, and the moon merely reflecting light from the sun. The moon stands in direct contrast to our spiritual life, because we are supposed to live in the Grace of God (remember the woman who makes the sign of the Cross over herself when June Moone turns into Enchantress? We should be doing the same) but the moon symbolizes how nature controls us, we don't control nature, (nature and the world of the flesh vs God's Grace and the enlightened life of the spirit) and we never have the sense that June can control Enchantress, Enchantress controls June. So we all ready have a complicated character, and then you put her in the situation of  being possessed and you really increase the layers of interpretation. You cannot have a woman who is sexually promiscuous (Enchantress/June Moone) that is not in need of birth control unless she is in menopause or wanting to get pregnant. Those skeletons in the alter area are the remains of babies aborted to "worship" both the Enchantress succubus and her "Brother," who is the demon incubus. What else is buried down there with the alter and skeletons? The heart of Enchantress; why?
Unfortunately, this is the best image I can find of "Brother," Incubus. An Incubus is a demon who has sex with women; you're right, this doesn't come up in the film, and it's not important for "Brother," at least not at this point. What is imperative, however, is who Enchantress chooses for her brother's spirit to inhabit. Enchantress takes a black male, gives him as a host to her brother's spirit, then takes her brother to the subway, and tells him to feed and make himself strong; he feigns illness; a white male security guard approaches him and calls for help; a white male physician volunteers to help the man and starts chest compressions. This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT SCENE IN THE ENTIRE FILM, especially since we just saw a similar scene in Ghostbusters which invoked the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman (please see The 4th Apocalypse: Ghostbusters for more). In Suicide Squad, we see Enchantress has taken this successful business man (who is in the act of washing his hands, suggesting his hands are "clean" of any dirty business, or of the past even) who is then "feeding" on white men in an underground railroad; he transforms from a black man into a demon, rather like Patti's character in Ghostbusters claiming that the audience at the rock concert are sexist, racist or both, and then a demon sits on her shoulders; the demon form "Brother" takes on is exactly like the demon of socialism in Warcraft (please see To Kill a Demon: Warcraft & Fel Magic for more). Why does Enchantress choose a black man to embody her "Brother?" Because liberals and feminists see themselves as minorities, and by banding together against a common enemy--especially white males who are the power-holders in American society--the minorities feel they can overwhelm and overcome their enemy. The reason this is the most important scene is because it definitely establishes the morality of the film: if we had any doubts about the morality of Enchantress and how she utilizes June Moone to entrance Rick Flag, we can't doubt what happens with "Brother" and the white men he feeds upon. This sets the stage for understanding why El Diablo fights him, and how that fight happens. As a Mexican, El Diablo would be one of the demographic liberals preach would benefit from socialism (Enchantress offering the Squad members anything they want (especially since each Squad member is considered a political and economic minority), is a promise of socialism, like all those people who thought Obama was going to pay their bills for them). El Diablo realizing that these promises are just mind games, strengthens himself to fight against them. He realizes that his friends and new family are worth more than any power or enticement Enchantress might offer, and so, like a real man, El Diablo lays down his life for those he loves. How? He summons all his strength and talent, everything unique and singular to him, his individuality. and he uses that to get "Brother" into a corner,... why a corner? Because socialism can't defend itself when it's backed up and there is no where to run; socialism is good at destroying things--like the massive ring of trash in the sky Enchantress creates for her weapon--and through self-sacrifice (not buying into that others "owe you" or you can't take care of yourself) El Diablo finds his true being and makes the ultimate act of heroism.
It is demonic for women to believe that sex does NOT lead to love; feminists and liberals want women to believe they can be just as promiscuous as men and not have any consequences (as long as the state keeps them in birth control, condoms and abortions); the truth is, nature has other plans for women: oxytocin is the hormone released in a woman's brain when she climaxes, and that causes her to fall in love and want to stay with the man she has just had sex with; men do not have this happen to them.The emotional ties a woman feels with the man after sex is supposed to make her bond with him and want to stay with him, so she is more careful about who she chooses to have sex with (because she is going to have emotional consequences of rejection and heart break if she doesn't) but, again, for political reasons, women are being sexually exploited with lies against how our nature truly is. For the succubus Enchantress, like all women, whoever controls the heart controls her; this is why it has to be Harley Quinn who takes out Enchantress,...
Enchantress very much embodies Rowan North of Ghostbusters (especially starting out in not-so-good bodies, and getting "upgrades" to better bodies) and the Queen we are likely to see in The Mummy with Tom Cruise. 
Harley, who has just lost her "Puddin'," knows that a woman's heart is what controls her, so Harley--as a woman herself--is the fire who will fight the fire and Harley is the one who has to cut out Enchantress' heart. Because Flag had treated her like a soldier and used her as a "weapon" against Brother in the subway station, he has to be the one to destroy the heart and risk losing June; the reason Enchantress tells Flag he "doesn't have the balls to do it" is because he is a soldier who puts his country and duty first; he would see the benefit of keeping Enchantress alive to be used by the government (we saw a similar situation in The Man From UNCLE when Uncle Rudi, the Nazi, offered to tell the US government everything he knew in exchange for clemency and Solo and Kuryakin had to think about it before Rudi went up in flames). Destroying Enchantress was the cleansing Flag needed so he could truly love June and not be bound to her through the succubus. This leads us to the woman "without a heart," Amanda Waller.
In this dinner meeting, note how happy Amanda is to dig into her meal; when we see characters eating, or not eating, drinking or not drinking, it symbolizes that they are "taking it in," whatever "it" is that is at hand, and they are digesting it and the consequences (of course, when they don't eat/drink, that means they aren't taking it in or refuse to be "fed" the line of reasoning someone else is trying to feed them).
Is Waller a villain? She might have a difficult moral code, but no, she's not a villain. She has a heart, and she has given her heart to the Squad and she protects them with her "tough love" because they are so dysfunctional, that is the only language they understand. True, she might be able to get their sentences reduced even more than just the ten years, but then, if they just walked free, what would happen? They would go on being the same bad guys they were before, because they haven't had a chance to break their bad habits and traits. By giving them a reduced sentence, and privileges (again, we saw this with Napoleon Solo in The Man From UNCLE) she's earning their trust and she will know exactly where they are the next time they are needed; she also has the benefit of the bond they have built between themselves. Was Waller right to order Deadshot to shoot Harley as she escaped with Joker? Yes, actually, Waller was right, because there was an agreement in place and Joker circumvented that agreement which Harley took advantage of and caused a riff in the Squad when she returned. Was Deadshot right to "miss?" Yes, he was. Just as in The Man From UNCLE, Solo didn't shoot Illya when he had the chance(s), because Solo knew Illya was too good an agent to die easy (and Solo was rewarded because Illya saved Solo later in the film) so Deadshot knows Harley is too valuable to die so easily and the Squad was rewarded (and Deadshot vindicated for missing) when Harley was the only one who could cut out the heart of Enchantress. 
When Waller meets with other members of the CIA and military about her pet project, she tells them, "The problems with meta-humans is the human part," and she's right about that, but it's also the human part that makes them so much more powerful than just a superhero: having an inherent weakness to overcome, the "human part" gets better at adapting to weakness and challenge rather than a super hero who has no weakness, and Waller herself is an example of what happens when we don't heed our hearts.
Amanda Waller. It's strange but, if  you look at her wearing pink in the top and middle images, she has something in common with Captain Boomerang (and his pink stuffed unicorn) and Harley (her pink fuzzy slippers). Why? Amanda may not seem like it on the outside, but she has a soft, feminine side and it's her wearing those pink shirts that tell us so (as well as the hot pink scarf when she goes to meet Deadshot at the shooting range), so in spite of her having such a tough, "mean lady" exterior, she's quite feminine, and that femininity is about love and nurturing. She has nurtured the Suicide Squad, even though none of them would probably admit that: again, Waller is about "tough love," and it's because that is what each of them needs, but also understands; her softer side is shown when giving Croc the TV, Deadshot time with Zoe and the espresso machine for Harley. The most controversial thing Waller does is shoot the women who were working intelligence while the Squad was on their way to save Waller; why did Waller kill them? Unfortunately, even that was an act of tough love: they were NOT cleared for the confidential role they played, putting themselves and the Squad members in jeopardy, but also because the women were likely to be captured by Enchantress and her minions (like how the minions are turned purple and crazy in The Minions movie) and the women would have suffered a similar fate.  In the bottom image, when she's pitching the idea, we easily see her pearl necklace; why? We know that whatever is around our necks lead us, like a leash; pearls are always the jewelry of wisdom because pearls take s long to form, and her peal necklace tells us that Amanda is guided by wisdom, NOT POWER or prestige (even if we are tempted to think that) but the wisdom of having a team of the "worst of the worst" who can do what no one else can. That is wisdom for the country as well as wisdom for the Squad members because this is the path to their redemption. Remember, they save Amanda, twice, and from incredible odds, so she is the first to benefit from her own wisdom. She's not wearing pink in the bottom image, but blue; why? Blue, we know, is both the color of wisdom and depression, because the price of wisdom is sadness and sorrow; having worked on this project for so many years, Amanda has learned about meta-humans and she knows why they are needed and how difficult it is for them to function normally. Again, this is Amanda being guided by wisdom, not power plays, and because wisdom is the greatest of all virtues, that is why we don't have to see Amanda Waller as a villain. 
When Enchantress goes to Waller's home and finds Waller in her bedroom, Waller wears a leopard print shirt as she sleeps on the bed; why? It reveals that Waller, too, has "animal appetites" like the Joker (who took off his leather jacket before saving Harley) and even Killer Croc who put on a leather jacket after he licked it. Waller doesn't have anyone to love, she's lonely, and that's the sacrifice she has made, but that doesn't mean she hasn't given her heart to someone, because she has: the Suicide Squad. The Suicide Squad is her baby, she had worked on the project for years, and even after it had been rejected, she kept working on it; to prove that the Squad could work, she even put her own life in jeopardy to where they were the only ones who could save her, and they did. Deadshot said, before he realized they were saving Waller, "He better have cured cancer or something," so finding Waller was actually better than curing cancer: "He" would not have been a minority like Waller, and Waller took others at the bottom of society--the "worst of the worst"--and brought them together in a working unit that saved the world,... that IS a cure for the cancer in the human spirit. To prove that Waller has given her heart to the Suicide Squad, she makes the ultimate sacrifice for her child: she gives it up, which leads us to the mid-credits scene.
Why does Captain Boomerang have that pink unicorn, Pinky? Because a unicorn usually symbolizes some kind of utopia, and pink--like Harley's pink fuzzy slippers--generally symbolizes femininity, so Boomerang has a hope, that he keeps to himself (him putting Pinky inside his jacket) that he can still find the "perfect woman," which he sees in Katana, not Harley. When they are at the bar, Boomerang tells Harley, you are amazing on the outside, but you are ugly on the inside, and he means it. He asks Katana if she has a boyfriend because he recognizes a kind of perfection about her that draws him to her; so, is Katana drawn to Boomerang? At the bar, when Deadshot gives his "Honor among thieves" speech, Katana reminds him, "I'm not a thief," but that isn't true: through her sword, Soulkeeper, she steals the souls of people. Those souls don't belong to her, but she keeps them in her sword anyway. So Boomerang being an obvious their, and Katana also being a thief of the not-too-obvious-proportions, are drawn to each other. Boomerang is still alive at the end of the film, but we kind of don't know why: he wasn't heroic at any point, and--as he himself points out to Waller--only getting 10 years taken off his three consecutive life sentences doesn't do him much good, so we can look forward to either his conversion the future, or his death if he refuses to convert. 
Waller meets with Bruce Wayne to get his protection. Waller giving the file of meta-humans to Wayne is like Jochebed putting Moses in the reed basket and sending him down the Nile so he might still find a chance at life in spite of the odds (we also saw Drakka do this with her son in Warcraft). In this very creative and protective act, Waller and Wayne are becoming the parents of these groups, Suicide Squad (which Wayne has threatened he will shut down) and Justice League (which wouldn't exist without Waller giving Wayne the necessary information he couldn't get on his own). This is like a scene out of Zootopia, with the fox--billionaire Bruce Wayne--and the police officer bunny Judy Hopps--Amanda Waller, CIA director--working to make the world a better place. So, even though it doesn't seem that way, this is actually an incredibly happy ending and the promise of a beautiful (if sometimes difficult) friendship, just like at the end of Casablanca.
Killer Croc is definitely a miniority. What can we say about him? He has the ultimate "animal appetites," but even those are more refined than what liberals want humans to adopt in the real world. Note how Croc all ready looks like the "hostiles" of Enchantress's army she creates by taking people and deforming them; now, does Croc look like them, or do they look like Croc? I would say they look like Croc, and that's because socialists have to have people believing they are animals rather than human because animals are easier to control; please note, however, that Croc wears a leather black leather jacket, with a brown hoodie underneath. Why? The leather of the jacket suggests the "animal appetites" and the black color is that Croc is either dead to the world or dead to the things of the next world; unless we look at the brown hoodie, we can't interpret the blackness of the jacket. So, what does brown symbolize? Dirt. Either a person is as humble as the dirt ("From dust we came, to dust we return,") or a person is dirty, filthy with sin. Given that Croc is known as "King of the Sewers," we could easily interpret him as "dirty," but there are three problems with this: first, he's still alive at the end of the film (we can argue that Joker is still alive, too, but Joker is going to be the kind of "eternal evil" that sticks around because his purpose is to make good people like Batman even stronger than they would become without him). That Croc is still alive means he has redeeming qualities, at least more redeeming qualities than vices. Second, he offers to sacrifice himself: it's possible he could die getting the bomb in the submerged subway, but he offers to do it in place of the SEALS, and that's a heroic act. Third, when Harley mentions that Croc is ugly on the outside, he responds with, "I'm beautiful," and that is a genuinely humble response, because he realizes he is a creation of God, and that makes him beautiful (like Diablo realizing he's a human and not a weapon). Because of these issues, we can interpret the brown hoodie to be a sign of Croc's humility (the hood symbolizes that he keeps his thoughts to himself, but also that he thinks a lot). The black of the leather jacket, then, suggests he is dead to things of this world; why does he want a TV then? That, too, is a sign of humility, because he has no companionship; regardless of what Croc watches on the TV, he realizes he needs some kind of human interaction and companionship, and that's him honoring his humanity. 
This leads us to our last female: Zoe Lawton, Deadshot's daughter. Harley asks Deadshot at one point if he has ever been in love, and he says no, that he couldn't do what he does and still look himself in the mirror. The truth is, he is in love, with his daughter, and the highest form of love: self-sacrifice, because he learned that from Zoe, who takes care of her mother instead of her mother taking care of her. Harley Quinn looks like a little girl ("Doll face"), but the little girl in the film (Zoe) acts like a grown woman: all we see of her is that she wears a white coat, because she is wrapped "in faith" for her dad (white is the color of faith and purity): she knows he does bad things, but loves him anyway and, loves him so much, she knows it's better for him to be in prison than on the street killing others. That's maturity. That's love. That's what it takes to be a woman. It's tough love: no one wants to go to prison, and no one wants their loved ones to go to prison, but if that is what it will take for them to go straight, that is what it takes.
And that's how simple it is to be a hero.
Love.
Just the fact that Suicide Squad is about meta-humans tells us it's not going to be a pro-socialist film; how? Socialist ideology is intent on everyone being equal, no one any better than anyone else, and if someone is the best at whatever it is they do, they have to be handicapped or killed off. So the exceptionalism of each of these individuals is meant to encourage the exceptionalism in each of us: whatever it is that you do, do it the best you can; be exceptional, be great. Not only will you benefit from it, the whole world will as well.
In conclusion, Suicide Squad thanks all the anti-socialist films which have come before it, preparing the way for this film; by laying out a clear, anti-feminist agenda, the film makers communicate to women what women really need to hear: stop abusing yourself. The film is clearly not anti-woman, nor does it encourage any abusive behavior towards women, rather, it tries to make women see who they really are and the heroic task ahead of them, for themselves, those they love and the world. Each woman needs to ask herself, which of the women in the film am I? In spite of the film being about the world's worst heroes, it tries to help us be the best of heroes.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner