Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No More Business: Gangster Squad & the Police State

Being as behind as I am in posts, you might wonder why I should stop and take time to get this one up; the answer is simple: it is so vehemently anti-capitalist that we need its reference to keep track of the debate we are following. During its opening weekend, it managed to bring in only $16.7 million. Why? Whether articulated or not, it's very possible (and probable) that Americans are saying no to Hollywood's liberal agenda. 2012 was a record year for Tinsel Town, but there were largely pro-capitalist films bringing in the biggest grosses (The Avengers, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Les Miserables, Brave, The Amazing Spider Man, Madagascar 3 and Men In Black III). There is really no reason why Gangster Squad should have had such a lousy opening except that it did and the obvious anti-capitalist tendencies might be the direct cause.
"No names. No badges. No mercy." In some ways--and this is important to articulate--we can sympathize with a vigilante group taking the law into its own hands because it seems carrying out justice is so difficult nowadays. But this frustration is exactly the kind of opportunity socialists exploit for their own ends. Case in point: marital law was actually declared in Boston as police went from house to house searching for the bombing suspects. Gangster Squad would be better titled Police State, because if you haven;t gotten that feeling of due process being violated consistently throughout the film, you certainly have by the end. "No names, no badges, no mercy," could have been the motto of the KGB. It's not a point to be missed that the squad hit Cohen at the Club Figaro; why? The Marriage of Figaro is, as Napoleon himself declared it, "The revolution all ready put into action." Given that Mickey Cohen is talking about his Manifest Destiny and the Golden Spike, we have a clear image of the "evils" of capitalism and how to get rid of them: burn it all. 
At the end of the film, two important things have happened: first, the two members of the squad who had been "the best" in their fields at what they did, die (Conway Keeler the wire-tapper and legend Max Kennard). Secondly, Chief Parker (Nick Nolte) addresses Sgt. John O'Mara's group (Josh Brolin) by calling them "Comrades." Now, in 1949, at the end of World War II, no one in their right mind would have called a fellow American "comrade" because in 1950 the famous red witch hunt began under Senator Joseph McCarthy. Let's discuss Mickey Cohen first, then we will turn out attention to the "hero," O'Mara.
Cohen was a boxer; why? Gangster Squad wants to pervert the American ideal of the person who has "fought their way up" to the top. By showing Cohen as a violent, irrational and unsophisticated man, they attempt to depict all business owners as such, and these are exactly the same techniques we will see again in The Great Gatsby. "That wasn't a murder," Cohen tells a business associate, "that was progress." I'm not definite, but I expect we will be seeing this exact same kind of position in The Lone Ranger. Cohen says that Manifest Destiny wasn't about a new start for all people, it's "take what you can, as much as you can," and that is the broad stroke by which socialists are dismantling capitalism in America. Specifically, Cohen's "robbing the palace theater with a baseball bat" is supposed to, once again, invoke the metaphor of capitalism and baseball and accuse film makers of "robbing" the art of film making for the sole purpose of making money, which is why LA is "losing its soul," according to the film. A clever way they do this is by having Cohen wear clothes too big for him, that Cohen doesn't measure up to what he should be.
"The children of the night, what music they make," Cohen says as he proceeds to order a rival drawn and quartered while wild wolves wait to eat the victim. We have discussed how socialists present capitalists as vampires, including Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Dark Shadows, Hotel Transylvania, Stoker and Mama (the ghost of Mama acts like a vampire, sucking the life out of Annabelle). It's not just that these are films about vampires, but they symbolize capitalists being vampires, so for Cohen the businessman to quote Dracula (Bela Lugosi), is like the film makers decoding his character for us. But it's not just businessmen like Mickey Cohen; when Jerry (Ryan Gosling) hears Mickey Cohen's name, he sarcastically replies, "Mickey Mouse?" and--as we saw in Lawless including all companies and corporations in with the Bondurants' illegal activities--even Walt Disney pictures is considered to be on par with the murderous monster Mickey Cohen.   
Grace Faraday (Emma Stone) is a perfect example of socialist hypocrisy. Just like the do-nothing princess Isabelle in Jack and the Giant Slayer, socialists promise women greater equality and more power, but don't actually deliver or depict women actually doing anything important; Grace doesn't do anything except sleep around like a whore. Her character wanted to be a movie star so she came to Hollywood, like the "Milk Skinned Blond" at the start of the film, and both women are attacked by men-turned-wolves instead. Instead of a few individuals taking the blame for their own behavior (the men attacking the girl) socialists blame the behavior of individuals on the system of capitalism (again, this is a demonstration of taking our free will away from us to blame the system so we want to blame the system and then have to believe them when they tell us we don't have free will because we sacrificed it to avoid paying the consequences for our actions). Most importantly, this is supposed to debunk the American Dream, that if you work hard and stick with your goals, eventually, it will pay off (we saw this in Rock Of Ages and even The Amazing Burt Wonderstone).  When Grace meets with Jerry after Mickey has finally figured out she's cheating on him, he sends two of his guys to throw acid on her face, thereby trying to "deface her." There is an additional facet of the Grace's and Mickey's relationship we will discuss below, but even the "working partnership" between husband and wife O'Mara and Connie is a traditional, husband and wife and not the socialist paradise feminists are falling for. Connie helps O'Mara pick out a team, but, big deal, she's still at home barefoot and pregnant and alone, being sent out of town when things get really tough; is that what feminists are pushing for? After all, feminists always thrown in their lot with socialists because the rely upon the government taking control of all material resources and then re-distributing them "evenly" and "fairly" without bias towards men and thereby they achieve equality. Grace and Connie don't even come close to resembling independent, capable women that feminists would champion and that's because socialists don't value feminists except as votes.
The second punch taken at Cohen is punching itself: he was a boxer, in more ways than one, and having worked his way up in life, he symbolizes everything socialists hate about competition, inside and outside of the ring. Capitalists admire someone willing to fight for what they believe and work their way up; socialists don't, and Mickey Cohen's character--with his lack of manners and taste for the finer things in life--all work to undermine the "virtues" of capitalism in general and business owners specifically; how? There is not even one positive image of a business owner in the film, every single business is somehow manipulated or owned by Cohen's business; why? Socialists believe (as we saw in Lawless) that all business is illegal if it is not directly owned by the employees (the proletariat), which leads us to our next point: biting the hand that feeds you.
No one dies in a work of art unless they are all ready dead. Why does the legend Max Kennard and wire tapping expert Conway Keeler die? Because in a socialist society, the very best have to die. Socialism is the rule of the majority and the majority is the mediocrity, if someone excels at something, there is too great of a chance they will use their skills or talents to advance and become an "unnatural ruler" over others who don't have their skill set. In every socialist revolution, it's always the smartest and most talented killed of by the socialists because there are far more mediocrities in the world and appealing to them--socialists believe--will keep them in power. There is another edge to this socialists don't advertise in their platforms but which plays an important part in their rise to power and how they keep power: envy. Socialists play off the middle and lower classes greed to target the upper-class' wealth through taxation, but they also play off a feeling of envy for those with greater talents: if Max Kennard dies, you can take his place and be the next legend, because he won't be there to stand in your way and you can have his place (this is why affirmative action always plays such a key part in the Democrats' public policy making)! This works to the socialists' advantage in two ways: one, the mediocrity feels loyalty to the Party for elevating them in society and, secondly, it removes real threats to the Party's security. If there aren't all these disenfranchised talents running around, trying to get the societal order back that favors them, there aren't any threats to the Party's power base. Films such as Gangster Squad hope to achieve two things: first, to sway viewers to believe their philosophy and, secondly, to accustom the public to "purges" of talent and skill from the ranks of society so, when they start doing it, it won't be so shocking, we have all ready grown used to it. That is why it is the minority Navidad who takes Kennard's place: "Navidad" means "Christmas," but instead of the Christmas of new life Christ's birth means--and the gifts of talents God gives to each of us--socialists want minorities and the mediocre to see that socialists will give you a new Christmas, a new Navidad of self-respect and position. That's why, in the shoot-out when O'Mara tries arresting Cohen, they are shooting at each other butchering the Christmas tree between them: socialists see Christmas as only a "money making opportunity" for capitalists, while capitalists see socialists removing the religious purpose of Jesus from Christmas because socialism does not tolerate religion. There is also the way capitalists and socialists fight over Mexicans--mentioned numerous times in the film--because of Navidad (the character).
Grace (Emma Stone) serves two roles in the film: first, she shows how--according to socialists--the American Dream is only a myth (her and the "Milk Skinned Blond" from the opening sequence both go to Hollywood to make their dreams come true and instead are beset upon by men preying upon them, including Mickey Cohen). Secondly, O'Mara can't convict Mickey Cohen because no one working for him will testify against him because they are not going to destroy the big boss who gives them a job; socialists see this as the dominant reason why revolution doesn't happen in a society (they think all societies naturally want to be socialist unless the evil capitalists have such a strong hold on the workers that no one will want to go a while without a paycheck after the revolution, so they just go on muddling through with the evil capitalism brings because it's better than having to suffer. Grace, after seeing Cohen kill Jack Whalen (Sullivan Stapelton) is willing to testify against Cohen. Even though Cohen has been supporting Grace (as capitalists support workers) the relationship she hopes to have with Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling) is more of an impetus to turn on Cohen than stay with him, which leads us to the importance of socialists recruiting Hollywood stars to begin with.
Especially at the start of the film, there is an intentional effort to make John O'Mara (Brolin) into a "new" or "real" Captain America. The film starts in 1949, just at the end of World War II, which is mentioned numerous times, and O'Mara keeps saying how they went to fight this war and when they came back, they didn't even recognize America; probably because there weren't soup lines or unemployment lines anymore, people were in jobs again and had money to do what they wanted instead of waiting for the government to hand money to them like under Franklin D. Roosevelt (when America could have really become socialist).  America was a super-power at the end of World War II, and that's what the real Captain America symbolizes, and that's what O'Mara doesn't recognize, America as a world leader; O'Mara argues that they went to fight socialism over seas, and then came home to be shocked that America wasn't socialist herself, and--like The Hunger Games--argues that America naturally would have become socialist if it hadn't been for World War II. Why does Connie have the baby in the bathtub when the gangsters come and attack the house? The violence from capitalists will "give birth" to a new future that will be cleansed (the tub) of the violence of the past.
What socialists need to sell socialism to America are those--like Grace--who "turn on" their bosses or, like Jack in Jack the Giant Slayer, have attained to the ultimate position in society and then turn it down because they don't believe in class mobility, they believe in socialism; the problem is, even in the films it doesn't work like that. By having Hollywood elite (and we won't name any names) bash capitalism and the American Dream, it creates a strong propaganda that fulfilling your dream really isn't worth it and probably won't come true anyway. Why on earth would ****, who has made so much money making great films, want to go socialist unless capitalism really is bad,...? So, in line with traditional Democrat tactics, Gangster Squad appeals to women like Grace and minorities like Navidad, and promise them, that by overthrowing the majority of white men in power, they will make their dreams come true. 
"The penalty for poaching the king's deer," Whalen tells Wooster is a permanent vacation, referring to Wooster wanting to have Grace for himself, meaning, capitalists view women as property, not human beings... which is typical of socialists' accusations just as capitalists accuse socialists of treating people like livestock devoid of souls.
At the end of the film, seeing the police who have been elevated as a result fo the events makes it seem like a "police state" (all ready experienced in Boston) is a good idea after all, I mean, didn't the Soviets love it? Having police all over the place will make sure men like Cohen don't exist anymore, and all will become virtuous and happy,... so the film promises. Just as they accuse Cohen of "pledging alleigance to his own will power," the film hopes the Pledge Of Allegiance will be seen as a vehicle of capitalist greed and will be done away. Gangster Squad articulates many socialist concepts, both those we have been seeing all ready, and some new ones; as the debate continues, we are apt to refer to the film again (as with The Great Gatsby and it's class warfare). Like other fims advancing soicalist agendas, however, we also have to ask if it isn't revealing its own weaknesses: the sex role Grace plays--and not much else except being used by both sides rather than being active and controlling her own destiny, in accordance with Feminist assertions, and the image created of Navidad as well as the "purging" of skilled individuals like Max Kennard and Conway. We will be referring to the film in the future, so for that reason, I suggest you see it.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
We have all ready seen an image like this in the poster for The Hunger Games Catching Fire: some small people in front of an enormous monument to industry and capitalism (please see image analysis at this link for more). When looking at images, people naturally identify with people in an image, so the people in the image--"at the bottom"--are meant to draw our sympathy and not the inhuman monument behind them; we are being asked to make a choice, which side of the "war" are we on?