The sneaky politics of “Suicide Squad”: A popcorn movie for the prison-industrial complex era – Salon.com – How else would you describe a movie in which, during the opening scenes, we see prison guards blatantly abuse their power so they can sadistically torture characters like Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie)? Or how about a plot that moves forward because a sociopathic government official (Viola Davis) brags about her skill at coercing people to work against their own self-interest for the national security of the United States? What is the message of a film that depicts the state itself as, at best, incompetent, at worst, no more trustworthy than the super-powered beings they fear?
The mind wanders to our current national debate over the prison-industrial complex. America has the largest prison population in the world, with 1 out of 110 adults incarcerated in a prison or local jail and 1 out of 35 under some form of correctional control. A disproportionately large number of these are African American or Hispanic, and even Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton have been responsible for draconian legislation that has lined the pockets of private corporations that build prisons at the expense of the civil liberties of those who commit even non-violent offenses (like breaking our drug laws).
And this doesn’t even touch on the rise of #BlackLivesMatter in response to growing concerns that law enforcement officials, despite swearing to equally protect all citizens, have a history of violence toward minorities.