Birds of Prey Ep
Chelsee: Hello and welcome to the Bi Pod. My name is Chelsee Bergen and my pronouns are they and them
Christina: I’m Christina Brown. My pronouns are she her. The Bi Pod is a podcast about all things bisexual. We are here to talk about our own identities, respond to bisexual representation in media and talk to awesome guests about their queer experiences and relationships with bisexuality.
Chelsee: We welcome anyone who has any kind of relationship with, or curiosity about queerness. We define bisexuality as experiencing attraction to both people who share your gender identity and those who don’t.
Christina: We don’t know everything. This podcast is one piece of the long history of bisexual and queer discourse.
We’re here to be part of the conversation.
Chelsee: Let’s get into it.
Hey friends, Chelsee here with a quick break in format because today’s episode is a special crossover between The Bi Pod and Casually Obsessed, Casually obsessed is a podcast about the pop culture we can’t stop thinking about I host and produce Casually Obsessed.
And when Christina and I sat down to talk about Birds of Prey, we knew that we wanted to release the conversation to The Bi Pod feed, because it is a very queer movie. If you liked today’s episode, I am very confident that you will like other episodes of Casually Obsessed. You can listen to it wherever you’re listening to this episode of The Bi Pod right now, we’ll add a link to the Casually Obsessed website in The Bi Pod show notes. Okay. Now here’s the episode for real
Christina: Hey Chelsea.
Chelsee: Um, we’re talking about Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, such a good title. Yeah. Um, it definitely, they changed the title while it was in theaters because no one knew what Birds of Prey was.
Christina: I didn’t know that.
Chelsee: Yeah. So they like one, the movie got to theaters, then they changed the title to Harley Quinn subtitle, Birds of Prey, which. It’s not as fun, but is more descriptive
Chelsee: Um, in that, like this movie sets up the birds of prey, but it’s not actually about them per se, in that like it’s Harley’s story, really. You just have all of these other characters who intersect and then come together in the end.
Um, but I think the like subtitle is so fun and not everyone was a fan. Um, but it does feel very like Harley to me.
Christina: Yeah. I feel like if it’s the tone very well too. And I was thinking about kind of like the, wow, that’s interesting. I didn’t know that they changed the title. Um, it just feels really important.
Like the theme of emancipation throughout, you know, like it feels like each, um, character, like each like main like woman protagonist is like, Being freed from something. Like that emancipation felt like a very intentional theme that they went into the movie with. Yeah. Um, but I think it’s, in some ways it’s kind of like a transitional movie because it’s like Harley coming out of one phase of her life and then the origin story of the birds of prey.
Yeah. And I think it does work cohesively as a movie, but I also wish that we lived in a world where it could be two movies, like where Harley Quinn could just have her own movie. And that could be that.
Chelsee: So , from what I read online, I didn’t do a ton of digging into this, but, um, from what I saw, Margot, Robbie was the one to pitch doing a Harley Quinn movie.
Um, and she. Specifically said that she wanted it to be a movie. Like she wanted other characters in it, um, to not leave Harley on her own because basically Harley can’t be alone. And I thought that was kind of an interesting choice, but I kind of get it like Harley as a character is so much reacting to the people around her, um, and to her environment.
But it was kind of interesting to see like that to some degree, maybe that was Margot Robbie’s vision. And she was an executive producer on the movie. Um, it seems like she has really like, um, I was going to say bought in, but that’s not quite the word I want, but like that she feels very connected. So she’s invested.
Christina: Yeah. Yeah. And I think you would have to change Harley’s character a lot because like, I guess to have her have a standalone movie, because I don’t really know what her motivation is. Like, she basically just wants to stay alive, which makes sense. But it’s not that interesting. Yeah. And I think like if the movie just continued from when like she and the joker broke up and, you know, she’s like trying to run from everybody.
Like she would need to be running towards something. And I don’t think that like, just the diamond would have been enough because like she, that would just be like, okay, great. I’ve survived today. Now I have to do it again. Um, so I do think that like, it does make sense again, like I think it’s a cohesive movie.
Um, I also think that it’s more like sustainable feminism to show like women working together. Like, I think that that reflects a lot of the, um, it almost feels like a clap back to Wonder Woman 1 um, which was not the worst movie, but it was like, Gal Gadot lives on an island of all women who are inexplicably heterosexual.
I don’t understand. Um, and then like the rest of the movie, she like, doesn’t speak to any women, um, as just like the one, you know, like the like last final girl or whatever. Um, and I like seeing women like succeeding together and like having complicated relationships and like being a team and like it’s fun.
And also like makes it feel like more of a breakup movie because it’s like, she like leaves her man. And goes to be with her friends. Um, but yeah, I’m like, still thinking about how they possibly could have not had that title . Yeah.
Chelsee: I think, I think that like, we will probably get into this, but I think that change in title and the like, um, maybe people not understanding the original title gets at like a lot of reasons that this movie was maybe not especially successful.
Like. Um, people wanting a kind of traditional comic book movie, and what they’re getting is, uh, something different, something that is a fantabulous emancipation movie, um, which I happened to love and feel very strongly about and think that it’s better than pretty much every other comic book movie I’ve ever seen.
But, um, not everyone feels that way.
Christina: Yeah. It definitely feels like a movie that is a part of a saga, but in like in a good way, like it does. I’m trying to think of an example, I guess like the second book in the Twilight series, like that’s a book that I would never recommend anyone to read just on its own.
Like, it’s not a good book in my opinion. Sorry, don’t cancel me. But when you read the whole series, like you have to have that information. Do you know what I mean? Like, it’s a good transitional story for me, but
Chelsee: it’s funny that you say that because of the Twilight novels,
Christina: that’s your favorite.
That was my favorite. But I think
Chelsee: because it’s like different and kind of weird, she spends a lot of the book being depressed. I was like, this is interesting.
Christina: I remember reading it in like, I don’t know, junior high and high school and being like, okay, why she’s still sad. I want action. Um, but I think like, to me, this movie maybe doesn’t feel that way. Like, it feels like it can stand on its own, which is good. Cause I have not seen most of the DC universe movies, at least not there.
Like I didn’t see suicide squad. And there are a couple of moments, like when she opens up the cabinet full of guns, I’m like, I think I’m supposed to know about that, but I don’t , that may have been in suicide squad.
Chelsee: Um, I think it was just, uh, like, uh, a reference to so the, the place where she takes them at the end of the movie is like the Joker’s lair so it was not a reference to suicide squad. Um, but I think it was a reference to the sort of canonical, like joker. Yeah. And the idea that like it’s, you know, filled with weapons and all kinds of weird places. And so when she’s like, there should be all these guns here. Um, I think she says something about like, he took, like, she has this reaction, like yeah,
Christina: yeah, yeah. It’s just, he took it and I’m like, who? So it was a reference to the joker. That makes more sense.
Chelsee: Um, so you did not see suicide squad, um, You, you really weren’t missing anything other than, yeah.
Christina: That’s what it sounded like
Chelsee: other than Margot Robbie. Um, and I guess I also liked Will Smith in that movie, but they tried very hard to make both of them very uncharming.
They were like, how can we make these very charismatic people, dour, impossible. Um, so what is your relationship to the DC universe? Um, and I guess also the Batman, um, universe that sort of exists within DC?
Christina: I don’t have much of a relationship with it. I’m not a huge superhero movie person. I’ve seen a lot of them, but I also, like, I feel overwhelmed by the fandom because I feel like it’s one of those fandoms where like, if you don’t know everything, you’re like not welcome or it’s, if you don’t everything it’s confusing.
Um, both of those, um, I have seen like the dark Knight trilogy, actually. I think a couple of times I’ve seen a lot of movies twice. Um, I saw like the original Batman movies. Um, but I don’t have much of a relationship with them. Um, aside from like general cultural osmosis. Um, yeah, basically. So I, the reason that I decided to watch this movie is because a Margot, Robbie, is it Robbie or Roby?
Chelsee: I think Robbie, but actually if you were, if
Christina: maybe I’ll just call her Margo, we’re on a first name basis. Um, but definitely I want to see everything that she’s in except for, I guess, suicide squad, um, and the soundtrack, um, when it came out a bunch of artists that I really like, like K Flay were on there and I was like, well, let me check this out.
I’m not like a movie soundtrack person generally. Um, very rarely will I like see a movie and think like, oh, I want like go listen to the soundtrack. Um, that happened with queen and slim. Um, that’s also how I, like part of my interest in the new movie promising young woman is like, the soundtrack is so good.
Um, but yeah, I played the soundtrack like all summer. Loved it, love everything about it. Love the mood. It’s so fun. It’s so like, there’s so much diversity in like tone and style and like everything. Um, so just very into it. And, um, that’s why I wanted to watch the movie because it felt like fun. I also wanted to see hot girls beat people up.
Um, and it did not disappointed.
Chelsee: I think I maybe found out about the soundtrack from you.
Christina: Probably. I told everyone about it. Um,
Chelsee: I think, I think I actually saw that you were listening to it on Spotify
because I’m a Spotify music stalker I’m always like one of my friends listening to, um, and I. I don’t think I even realized that they were making this movie or maybe I didn’t know that it was coming out.
Um, and I found out about the soundtrack and I listened to it and I was like, this is so good. If the movie is like half as good as the soundtrack is, I’m going to love it. And, um, so I actually like went to see it in a theater, which is a thing that I do not do much of. It was the last movie that I saw in theaters before the pandemic lockdown.
Yeah. Yeah. This would be a really fun movie to see in theaters.
Chelsee: Yeah. I saw it in, I don’t even know what it’s called, but one of the like special theaters, um, where it, they played, they projected things onto the sides of the movie theater. And so it was like none of the, nothing important was happening on the sides, but it was like, um, the iconic scene where Harley goes into the police station and is she is shooting a gun with like glitter
Christina: the fun gun, my favorite weapon that’s ever existed.
Chelsee: And so at that point she you’ll see her like onscreen. She like fires the fun gun and there’s like confetti and like pink and blue smoke. And that would like go across the sides of the, um, the movie theater walls.
And I went to see it just because that happened to the time that I wanted to see the movie, that’s the version that was playing, but it was actually really fun. And this was like a perfect movie for that. Um, because it has so much like it’s, this is such a kinetic movie. And so it was to have like things going on all around you, very immersive and fun.
Christina: Yeah. And like the aesthetic of the movie is really important. Yeah. Like the coloring, um, And like, just like the vibrant shades and the costumes and like the lighting and everything. Um, it’s like very much a visual experience too. Yeah, that sounds really fun.
Chelsee: Um, since we have both mentioned the soundtrack and how great it is, um, I would love to hear any of your,
Christina: do you like to hear me sing?
Chelsee: Yes, please, please. Um, yeah. What are your, please give me your, uh,
Christina: my favorites. Um, so the first one that I heard was, um, K Flay’s song, bad memory, cause I’m obsessed with K Flay. Um, and K Flay like outside of birds of prey has been on this interesting musical journey. She started off very like emo rap punk, um, which like we all need in our lives.
Um, but her most recent album is much poppier and I still really love it. I like constantly listened to it. Um, but I feel like that’s just kind of been, her journey is coming from like really like. Roughly produced like punk rock, not punk rock punk rap, um, to like a song about comparing like her girlfriend to ice cream.
Um, and I love it all, but I think bad memory, um, her track on the soundtrack really like did a good job of, I think she did a very good job of like pulling back to her roots of like some of that intensity in the music um, but the song writing is also very good and I’ve seen her songwriting really like, um, grow, I think, over her career.
Um, and it’s just so fun. It makes me want to like walk down the runway with a bunch of my friends in stilettos and like make sound. Um, I also love experiment on me Halsey’s song.
Chelsee: um, I could just listen to Halseyl just like, scream like that. Yeah. Her just like. Yelling, like I’ve I’m not a screamo fan not my, not my jam, but her just like yelling.
I could listen to that.
Christina: Yeah. All day. So good. Yeah. She’s incredible. And she also just has such a range, like I’m thinking about her song, beautiful stranger, which is very like sweet and ballady and then she’s also like, screaming about killing people. I love it. Um, yeah. And I think, um, I was really excited to see like what scene they used it in and when they did it, when she was like fighting other people in the jail, I was like, hell yeah, this is the right place for it.
Um, but both of the songs I think I just like, love the intensity. Um, I’m trying to think. I also, uh, smile, like it’s stuck in my head a lot. It’s my party, my body, my business. Ah, so good. Um, I’m like looking at the track list. I love all of them boss, bitch, uh, constantly, constantly on my playlist. Um, but yeah, all of them, and I think what’s interesting is like the soundtrack does a really good job of like setting a scene and creating a mood.
And there are even songs that are in the movie that are not on the soundtrack, but they’re just like not new songs I think. Um, and when I rewatched it for this episode, I was like, oh, I wonder like how that, how my expectations for the movie would have changed if all of the songs were in one place, you know?
But I think it feels very like, um, intentionally crafted to like set a tone for the movie. Yeah.
Chelsee: Um, one of the songs I think it’s sway with me. Um, so good.
Is it that one that has like, uh, has, um, rap parts that were like clearly written for the movie? Yeah.
Christina: Oh, yeah. So, uh, yeah, about Gotham and stuff the most,wanted in Gotham.
Chelsee: Um, and it’s a really great addition to the movie, but also just like on its own is really great. Um, and I, I don’t have anything, especially articulate to say about it other than, um, I feel like Harley Quinn did deserve her own, uh, her own rap track and yeah. Glad that that exists in the world.
Christina: Yeah. And that’s so true. I think all of the songs, like they, they stand on their own as songs, you know? Um, the only song that sounds like particularly cinematic to me is hit me with your best shot, especially toward the end when they had like the buildup. Um, I’m like, oh, this belongs like in a really good trailer, but I still think it stands alone.
Like as a song.
Chelsee: Yeah. Yeah. Um, That is for anybody who hasn’t listened to the soundtrack, it’s a cover of hit me with your best shot. So it’s not the version that you have heard
Christina: yeah. It’s by Adonna.
Chelsee: yeah. And it’s very like slow down and drawn out. Like, it feels very like, uh, slinking around in a dark room kind of vibes.
Christina: Um, yeah. Yeah. It’s just, I mean, everything and like jokes on you. I’m assuming was probably also written for this movie because joke. Um, but like, it just, they all stand on their own, um, very well, and it was just so cool to see like so many different, like women on a soundtrack together that was like really variant, but also cohesive.
Yeah. Which I think also reflects a lot of the themes in the story.
Chelsee: The movie? Um, I saw someone online, who was talking about how each of the different characters in the movie is, um, kind of existing within their own type of movie. And so, um, you get like, Montoya’s story is like a cop drama and, and Black Canary is doing the, you know, lounge singer who like got caught up in that sort of like noir kind of like, they’re all doing.
They all have sort of slightly different, um, movies that they’re existing within that have been kind of pulled together in this, um, frenetic. Like not, it’s not pastiche, but there’s this sort of, um, or maybe it is like, it just there’s this element of, I think because Harley Quinn as a character and like a personality is so all over the place that you can kind of within the movie, be like zigging and zagging from different tones and different storylines in a way that I think actually really works.
Christina: Yeah. Yeah. I agree. And like the first time that I watched the movie, I was like, I know that they have a lot of characters, so you can’t have like a complicated backstory for every person.
But, um, I still had questions. I was like, why is Black Canary singing? Like, why does she work for this horrible man? Um, and there’s like that one scene where she tells Montoya like, oh, that man gave me a job and took me off the streets. But I’m like, but really any boss could do that. But then it’s like, it’s a Gotham.
And we talked about this off mic before. I don’t understand Gotham as like a concept. Not that I don’t understand it, but I’m not, I don’t know enough about it, I guess maybe. Um, but I had questions like that and questions, like, um, about Montoya. I’m like you get a backstory for her, but like. Why is she still working there?
You know? Um, but when I watched it a second time, I was like, actually I think that each of the characters like has enough, um, I think that they do enough of a job, like a good enough job of fleshing them out, especially because it feels like it’s setting up another birds of prey movie. Um, I feel like you get enough context to be like, okay, like I’m invested in these characters.
Um, which I think is not true of a lot of other, um, similar movies whenever they try to do like a girl gang movie, it’s like one, like, there’s like the one protagonist who has a complicated backstory and then one person has like, kind of a backstory on the other two. Who are you? Um, it’s also really rewarding movie, which I was very impressed by because I don’t usually like to watch a movie a second time, but I feel like I discovered new things on a second watch. Yeah.
Chelsee: Yeah. I think Black Canary has the least fleshed out story in the movie. I think they are relying a little bit on the idea that like, people will have some level of familiarity with the idea of Black Canary as a character, which like, I actually don’t know a ton about Black Canary’s backstory, other than I watched young justice in which Black Canary is a character.
And I also know Black Canary was a character on arrow. And like, that’s like basically all I know about Black Canary. Um, but I think with her, they were maybe trying to coast on, like, people will recognize like that as a character. Um, but it’s interesting how, um, I’m thinking particularly about like the character of Huntress that like, we don’t get a ton of information about her, but they do manage to like very quickly establish her character. I think the combination of the little bit of backstory we get about her and then, um, Mary Elizabeth, Lewinstead’s performance, just, you sort of immediately have all the information that you need to know about like, she’s a very good assassin and very socially awkward. And it just like fills in a lot of gaps in a way that like, um, Journey Smollet is like amazing in this movie, I think. And I’m, I have like such a crush on her. She’s just like so talented and like so beautiful. Um, but I think you don’t get the same level of like, uh, information about her.
Christina: Yeah. And that feels like not a performance issue. It feels like more of a writing. Yeah. But I also think that like, they’re all set up to have. Except for maybe Huntress I feel like I wouldn’t be that interested in like more backstory on Huntress I feel like I’ve gotten it, but like you could do a whole Black Canary movie, like Batman style of like her coming to be.
Um, and I think that they’ve set it up enough to where like, you know, that she like lost her mother traumatically. She was like, well, they found my mom on the streets and I’m like, what, where did that come from? Um, but it’s like enough to where you kind of know. I also like that she is one of the few characters who has, I guess I’m one of the few, but Huntress doesn’t really change that much. Cause she is like, I want to get revenge. I got revenge. Okay. What now? I guess I’ll just keep getting revenge. Um, but I think, and I guess Montoya too, I guess they all kind of do, um, change in ways that are different from like most other movies where like one protagonist gets to change. No one else does. Um, but I think Black Canary, you really see her go from like.
Well, I need to protect myself because no one else is going to, to being like, oh, like I need to draw some ethical boundaries. Um, and I think that that change happens in the scene where Roman, um, like makes that lady get up on the table, which was my least favorite scene in the movie because it made me really uncomfortable.
Yeah. Um, but I also think like that’s when she was like, oh, this man is sick. Like I cannot, I can’t be even a little bit complicit here, you know? And I think that, that was like very interesting, um, and very telling about like her like character and morality.
Chelsee: Yeah. I think it may be cause you’re right.
That is, I think the moment when the change really happens and I think it’s maybe one of those, like in Gotham, in a city where apparently it is like, incredibly crime written. But as you say, no one leaves the city.
Christina: Yeah. I’m like, you can move.
Chelsee: Yeah. Like it’s incredibly crime ridden and like slimy and you can’t leave.
Like I could see how it would be easy to say like, well, this I know that this guy might be doing terrible things like behind the curtain, but he like gave me a job. And like, like if you don’t have to interact with those terrible things, it’s probably easy to compartmentalize and say like, well, everyone in the city is doing something terrible.
And like, this guy hasn’t hurt me to then seeing the like level of misogyny and like the, that deep desire to like hurt people in ways big and small that then it’s like, oh, I can’t actually look away from this.
Christina: Yeah. Something that I think is really interesting and cool about this movie is that it’s like, very non sexualized.
Like, I mean, I personally was having a sexual experience watching birds of prey, but, um, like there’s really no romance to speak of, at least not like explicitly stated. Um, there’s not really a lot of like explicitly stated sexual motivation, but it’s also like aware of dynamics. And I think sometimes when a movie tries to like forego sexuality, they lose some of that like awareness.
Um, but I think that this movie did a really good job of balancing that. And I think like, even that scene with Roman, like it’s not, it doesn’t look like he like wants to sexually interact with that woman at all. Um, but it’s like, you just see it really peels back all the layers of like, this is just like an evil thing that he wants to do.
Like he just wants to humiliate people and there’s no like.
Chelsee: It’s a power dynamic. Yeah.
Christina: Completely. Yeah. Which is interesting. Like, there are a lot of moments like that throughout the movie. Um, like when Harley almost gets kidnapped, um, there’s nothing to explicitly tell us like, oh, like she’s going to be like sexually assaulted.
Um, but I think there’s, they do a really good job of building tension. Um, in moments where you kind of have to rely on your cultural knowledge, um, like in that scene and in the scene where, um, she gets hit with the tranquilizer tranquilizer dart, and she’s sitting there and there’s no explicit, like, oh, like she’s going to be, um, assaulted or she’s going to be, um, like violated or anything.
But, you know, Zaz is like, oh, are you my good girl and stuff like that. Like, it’s very aware of like sexual power dynamics and of like gender power dynamics, but in like a very. Not understated, but just kind of like
Chelsee: it’s very matter of fact.
Christina: Yeah. Which I think is very cool. And that must have been very hard to achieve in the writing.
Chelsee: Yeah. I think, I, I feel like this is a very feminist film, which I do not usually say about things because I think you get an, you can get into trouble, like trying to classify media as like feminist or not feminist. Right. But the reason I feel that about this film in particular is because I feel like the real villain of this movie is misogyny.
And that like this movie is dealing in a lot of ways with like, what are the every day experiences of women and what are the threats to their like bodily autonomy and to their existence. And I feel like that’s actually what this movie is about. And it’s just sort of in the trappings of a comic book story, which is why for me, I feel I’m like willing to say, I feel that it’s a feminist movie because the story feels inherently like about the issues of feminism.
Um, and I think that there’s a lot of things that I loved about this movie, but I think ultimately that’s one of the ones that made it really not just enjoyable for me to watch, but something that I actually feel really strongly about and felt like it was doing something really interesting. And it feels very much like a movie that is only, only exists in the way that, could only exist in the way that it does, because it was written by a woman directed by a woman like stars, women it’s coming from a particular experience and worldview. And I don’t know, I feel like there are some people who, the reason they didn’t like this movie is because they missed all of that. And I think the reason they missed all of that is because that’s not their lived experience.
Christina: Um, yeah, I think you have to have, there are some moments of like tension, um, or like where the stakes are actually very high that you’re really only going to get, if you have that tacit understanding, like if you have that lived experience or even just that like sort of cultural knowledge,
Chelsee: uh, recognition yeah. Of, um, of danger maybe, or of experience. Yeah.
Um, I think one of the moments in this movie where I was like, oh, this. This movie’s doing something interesting and where I started to feel like, oh, not only am I enjoying watching this, I’m actually like, this is doing something for me. Intellectually is relatively early on in the movie.
Um, Roman has, uh, his goons go and pick up Harley because he’s going to kill her. And she’s like strapped to this chair and he’s being a one note villain and she’s like making fun of him. Um, and then, um, he punches her in the face and you can see her sort of like getting her head’s like wobbling a little bit.
And then he punches her again and she goes into this like fantasy. Where she’s performing, diamonds are a girl’s best friend and she’s wearing like the same colors as Marilyn Monroe and like the original number. Um, and there’s some similar choreography, but then mixed in with it is like
Christina: a machine gun.
Chelsee: Yeah. Um, and I think she gets punched in the face again. And I was, as I was watching that scene, I was like, oh, this is like, there’s a trauma thing that’s happening here. Like yeah, you sort of, particularly because early in the movie, Harley tells us about her background and she talks about how her dad kept trying to get rid of her.
Um, and to me, like seeing that scene, I was like, oh, this is not the first time a man has beat the shit out of her. Like she has a place in her head where she goes, when bad things are happening to her. And to me that really spoke to. Kind of Harley’s world view, because one of the things that’s really fun about Harley Quinn as a character is that she is so like over the top and everything is so fantastical.
And so to see the way that, that for her has maybe been like a coping mechanism real that’s when I really felt like, oh, there’s more going on to this movie than your average, like run of the mill comic book movie.
Christina: And I feel like, um, I kept waiting for the moment for them to like take the whole lady psychologists thing too far.
Cause it’s like, that happens in a lot of movies where it’s like a trope of like a woman who just like diagnoses everybody with everything. But I feel like they did it enough to where, like we knew that Harley like knows her shit, you know? Like she was able to really quickly like. Um, maybe not even diagnose, but like identify like, oh, you’re doing this because of this, but it wasn’t in like an annoying way.
It was just in a way to show like, oh, she like has a PhD. She knows what you’re doing. Um, but you also see her dealing with, like you said, like her own traumas, her own experiences. And I think like they do a really good job in the beginning of setting it up with that cartoon, the cartoon, like definitely establishes like a fun cartoon tone.
Um, but it also gives you enough backstory about Harley as a character, um, to know that like she’s dealing with a lot, right. She’s coming into the movie with like, um, a lot of fresh trauma, a lot of like long-term trauma. Um, and now she’s in a totally new like place in her life where she’s like, I was dealing with all of this by like being protected by the joker and now I’m just not, and now I have to figure out like, How do I cope without that?
And there’s probably some regression that happens. Right. I think that happens with like most breakups, um, when you are like, I have to go back to whatever life I had before this somehow. Um, and when the life you had before, that was also traumatic. I think like, there’s, there’s an unraveling that happens.
I think that that scene shows that really well. Um, without being like, oh, she’s so crazy in her breakup, you know, like at no point do I feel like, oh, Harley is just like, crazy, like, like they’re very intentional about like, not just throwing that label on her and like moving past it. Yeah. Yeah. I also like that the joker wasn’t in the movie at all.
Um, not even cause I like, especially hate the joker, but just because I feel like that when I first started, I was like, oh no, this is going to be like, The joker realizes that he wants her back. Like I thought he was going to come in and save her and be like, oh wait, we’re broken up, but I want to protect you or something.
Like, I thought he was going to come back in the story, but like even there, I think there’s an actor who technically is supposed to play him like when she gets thrown out. Is that supposed to be him?
Chelsee: I don’t know that he’s, that’s supposed to be him.
Christina: It’s maybe, maybe she’s remembering something. I dunno. Yeah.
Chelsee: Um, I think it might’ve been one of his guys
Christina: Oh yeah that makes sense.
Chelsee: The only thing there’s a, um, part of Harley story is that she jumps into a vat of acid. Um, and they showed that in suicide squad and she’ll, they show that clip that was in suicide squad in birds of prey. But that’s the only time we see the joker
Christina: Yeah in a flashback.. Yeah. Um, and I think that that just like gives, it puts a lot of pressure on Harley as a character. Um, because now she has to like, truly go through this breakup alone, um, or at least like away from the other person who like might also be going through it. Um, but she, she has a lot of narrative control.
Um, and I think that I love the way that they use that, where she, she’s not exactly an unreliable narrator, but she’s a very human narrator or she’s like, oh wait, I forgot. I should have told you this, which is so great. Even watching it the second time, like she goes into the police station with the fun gun and I was like, wait, I thought this happened later.
And then she’s like, wait, wait, wait, I got to go back. I’m like, oh, okay. That’s right. That’s what, yeah. But I think that there’s a lot of thought that went into like her, like the psychology behind her character. Um, that comes through really beautifully.
Chelsee: Yeah. Um, One of the reasons that I wanted to talk about this movie with you is because Harley is canonically bisexual. And, um,
as am I., I am also canonically bisexual,
um, Canon buys.
Um, and you had mentioned how much you liked the animation that they deployed in this movie, which I agree is super well done. It’s really fun. And also like gives us more information. Um, but one of the things that it also does is in the first, like couple of minutes of the movie establishes Harley as bi.
Um, and I would love to hear you talk about what that did for you, like seeing that in the movie and like how you have kind of felt about that.
Christina: Yeah. When I first watched it, I was like, I think it went over my head the first time, because in the cartoon, there’s the slot machine and she’s saying something like, oh, I fell in love a bunch of times where I had a bunch of relationships and it shows like a man and then another man, and then a woman.
And I was like, are they gay baiting me? Like what’s going on here? Um, and then like the movie went on and I was like, oh, like I kept seeing like little things. And I was like, maybe they’re like continuing that, like the like canonical bisexuality. Um, I’m glad that this movie for goes romance. However, I would not have been mad if she and Huntress ended up together.
Um, or she and Black Canary. Oh, which one do I want?
Chelsee: I have also asked myself that same question.
Christina: Yeah. Honestly, a throuple and I think Montoya, I don’t know why.
Chelsee: Well Montoya is she’s their owl.
Christina: Yeah, that’s true. I’m like she doesn’t feel. Yeah. Yeah, no, she can get back with Allie Wong now that she’s no longer that yeah.
Now that she’s no longer a cop, um, great choice. Um, she does probably need to get sober first though. Yeah, we should talk about that. Cause I was like, I don’t like that. Um, but I just think it’s cool when people or characters on TV and in movies are like just queer, especially when it’s something like bisexuality or pansexuality.
That’s like not as, um, easily communicated. Like I think it’s very cool when it’s just sort of like established as true and then not addressed again because it normalizes like those identities. But I also was like, I still feel a little bit baited because I’m like, I want to see her kiss a girl. Um, but that maybe is just me.
I can deal with that. But I think, um, if the movie had been more focused on just Harley and just her breakup, there may have been more of that, more of her, like looking for connections with people. Um, but I mean, it’s like, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen any bisexual superhero before. She’s not a superhero, but for this, for my purposes, she’s a super hero.
Um, it’s just not something that you see in this or that at least that I see in this genre, um, very often. So I feel like it was really cool, but I also was like, wait, did that happen? You know? Yeah. Which I think is good in some ways, but I also, because it’s such an over the top movie, I was like, I would have loved an over the top, like ex-girlfriend who came for her.
And I think I actually imagined one. I was like, did this happen in the movie? I can’t remember if one of the exes was a girl, but I don’t think they had that. I think they were all men.
Chelsee: Yeah. I don’t remember one of the people that comes after her being an ex-girlfriend, but also it’s possible that it was there.
Christina: Yeah. And it comes the, the words go by really fast. Yeah.
Chelsee: Um, which I really loved the way that they deployed that. And this is a moderate aside. I have a lot of things about this. I want to say, but when Roman is trying to kill or has his guys bring Harley in and he’s going to kill her and she lists off all the reasons he might want to kill her.
It’s a huge, long list. She’s like, because, because this, because like, because I make fun of him um, and one of the things that she says is because I voted for Bernie Sanders,
Christina: which means that Gotham is in the United States, but I’m like. Where?
Chelsee: It is. So actually I recently learned this it’s west of New York, but it is like right next to New York, I always thought that Gotham was a replacement for in New York, because it’s definitely like it’s supposed to be read as New York, but I always thought that that meant that it totally supplanted New York and New York didn’t exist. But I learned while watching young rewatching, young justice recently that no, actually it is right next to New York.
Um, it is just to the west of it. They both exist. Interesting. And I guess if you’re like a New York, isn’t a hard enough place to live, then you go to Gotham.
Christina: Yeah. That’s the thing that I don’t get about Gotham is it’s like, I feel like when you say like, oh, it’s like a crime ridden city that can mean so many like complicated things.
But when I say that it’s specifically about Gotham, I’m like, you could just like. I’m not a suburb person, but if I lived in Gotham, I would move to the suburbs because it seems like everyone’s lives are just so like interrupted by organized crime.
Chelsee: So many different types of so many different kinds. Like syndicates and supervillains
Christina: feels too involved. Like if, if the joker was in my city, I would just relocate, just know like, doc is one of my, like, kind of favorite characters. Like I don’t like that he sold Harley out, but he’s also like, yeah, I have enough money. I’m going to go open a new restaurant and he’s getting in his car.
So I’m like, he’s gonna leave. He’s like Gotham, I’m over it. I learned all of you. I know everyone here and I’m done.
Chelsee: Um, yes, no. Yeah. Gotham is kind of a weird, um,
Christina: It has to exist for the world to exist. But I like that it’s not that much of a character in this movie. Yeah.
Chelsee: Um, like most of this movie takes place at daylight, which like is not common with, I feel like, like every other Batman movie is like, it’s always dark
Christina: the dark knight, literally.
Chelsee: Um, but one of my, one of my gripes or one of my feelings of, I feel like you didn’t get this movie is I was reading a review that I think was in the New York times, um, of this movie that was not especially favorable. Um, but one of the things that the reviewer said was like, uh, that he couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Harley said, one of the reasons that, um, Roman didn’t like her is because she voted for Bernie Sanders and the writer were sort of like.
Bernie Sanders has just become so ubiquitous that it’s like a joke, but would it have still been funny? Had she said, like she voted for Trump or she voted for Hillary. He was like, no, it had to be Bernie, but why is that? Like, he was basically saying, and sort of tried to use that, to make the point that the movie gestured at having things to say, but didn’t actually have anything to say because he was like, why this Bernie Sanders thing?
And I was like, the reason Roman wants to kill her for voting for Bernie Sanders is because he’s a rich white guy who wants to keep all of his privilege and hoard his money. Like, yeah. Um, it just felt like this, like, it is not an important part of the story that she says, like I voted for Bernie Sanders.
But it really stood out to me that this reviewer was like, why would they say that it doesn’t make any sense? And I was like,
Christina: yeah, not to you,
Chelsee: she’s making a joke about like money and privilege and that this like guy who has all this money and wants all this power, like would not like that she voted for someone who wanted to change that.
Yeah. That goes back to like them being so steeped in like really intense power dynamics too. Yeah. Like in a small way, but definitely is played as a punchline. But I think like it’s, there are layers, which is true of a lot of the movie
Chelsee: and it goes by really quickly, it is really not. You could easily watch that scene and completely miss that she says that,
Christina: but that one white guy at the New York times did not, he couldn’t get over this feeling. Um,
Chelsee: I feel that this is in incredibly gay movie, like just so queer. Yeah. Um, but beyond the harley as a bisexual things that we’ve already discussed, there is nothing about it that is explicitly clear other than there’s a line that explains that Montoya’s character, um, played by Rosie Perez, dated the DA, whose name was said, like one time, but played by Allie Wong.
That kind of goes by in a flash though. You could honestly watch that and not realize, um, cause I think Harley just said in narration they used to date, but oh.
Christina: And that she says like, oh, and that’s her ex. Yeah.
Chelsee: Um, other than like that line, there’s nothing else in the movie that is explicitly stated as queer.
And so I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on or talking about like what it is that makes this feel like a queer movie, even if it is not explicitly queer and. Um, maybe also where that is and isn’t successful.
Christina: Yeah. I mean, I feel like the, for my first answer is the absence of heterosexuality, like besides the joker and Harley breakup, which like Harley’s established as queer so that’s like forgivable, um, forgiveable um, like there’s no, because there’s no like, explicitly stated like heterosexual even relationships. I don’t think, um, I’m like, oh great. Like, we don’t have to worry about that. Like we can just, everyone like has different motivations. Um, I also think I liked the Montoya and I forget the character’s name, but Ali Wong, um, I like how the characters were played like against each other, because like, they felt like queer exes in that they were like trying to destroy each other.
And this is like a broad generalization, but I feel like there’s a lot of jokes in the queer community about how people. Like queer exes know, like you kind of just stay friends or like you’re in the same community. Um, not that you’re necessary on the same, on like, on good terms, but, um, it’s just a different kind of experience a lot of the time.
And I think that the movie felt very aware of that because they weren’t like, oh, and you know, Montoya is trying to ruin her job or something. Um, even like when they’re walking and like Ali long is mad at her, she like doesn’t hate her. You know? And the only reason that she like turns her in at the end is because she’s like, you’re an alcoholic.
And also I like need to keep my job, which like are not ex hate things. They’re like something that anybody who cares about you would do, um, that felt really queered to me. Um, and I think also just like the. I don’t know, just something about like the aesthetic of the movie. Um, like Harley’s fashion is very like out of the box.
Um, and that’s not necessarily like tied to a sexuality. Um, but it felt very like free of like expectations and free of like, um, you know, norms and things like that. And I feel like that, um, also kind of contributes to like the gay sensibilities of that movie.
Chelsee: Yeah. This is a movie that is like incredibly joyful. Yeah. Which like is kind of funny because it’s also super violent. It has an R rating, but even when,
Christina: yeah, it is really violent. Like the, I love the cartoony violence of it all. Like when she breaks people’s legs backwards and stuff. But then when a Roman is like peeling people’s faces off, it was so jarring because I was like, I didn’t come here for this.
Chelsee: I think they manage to, they do something. In like when Harley or any of the other women are like in a fight, they, the way that it’s like shot is just very, it’s very different than when Roman is being violent. Um, and yeah, but there’s just something that is so fun about this movie. Like it has real stakes and we’ve already talked about like the tension that exists in it, but even it manages to have those things and still not be like dour in a way that like so many of the like comic book movies are just such a slog because they’re like, God forbid someone smile.
Um, And while that is not like inherently queer, there is something about like, there’s a bunch of glitter and like, there’s something about that that to me feels very, feels queer in this kind of like finding joy in like all kinds of circumstances. Also, I just assume that like everyone in this movie is queer in some capacity, like agreed.
I’m the fact that do we want Harley to get together with Huntress or Black Canary like
Christina: we get to dream that we have options, the wild. I also think there’s something really like inherently queer about. Harley’s situation of like, everyone wants to kill me, but I’m going to continue to wear these sequins
I mean, like when she, when, when Montoya is like chasing her and she like sees that Fanny pack and like stops, I’m like, you’re still celebrating your identity, even though the rest of the world hates you. And like, that is not the same. She’s not like her situation is not the same thing as like queerness, but I think there’s something like, again, just like tacitly queer about it, of like, I felt a connection to her, even though I like don’t live in Gotham and like didn’t force someone to get a face tattoo, you know?
Chelsee: Um, there are like so many more things I know. And I want to talk about, I feel like we could just like talk about this forever. Um, We didn’t even get to get into the glory of the breakfast sandwich.
Christina: Well, that’s, we’re not going to get out of here without talking about the breakfast sandwich. Um, my, one of my favorite characters is Harley Quinn’s breakfast sandwich.
That is like, that’s the romantic relationship in this movie. She lost, she loses her love. And then she gets it back. Yes. Um, the marketing was incredible. I immediately had to go buy a breakfast sandwich after watching it the first time. Um, yeah, that was fun. I also love that like, women eat in this movie and they eat like burritos and Thai food and breakfast sandwiches.
You never see that in a film. Yeah.
Chelsee: Also in addition to being truly hilarious, the breakfast sandwich sequence, it also, I feel like says a lot about Harley that like, she has a breakfast sandwich place. She knows the guy that works there and like, she knows that his name is Sal and he clearly has a relationship to her because she’s like talking to him about how he makes the sandwich.
And at the end she’s a dollar short and she’s like, you know, I’m good for it’s Sal. And like, you can’t just walk into like any bodega and be like, I’m a dollar short.
Is that okay with you?
Christina: Starbucks would be like, get out. Yeah. Yeah. I love like the, kind of like the underground community, almost that she has. Another queer aspect.
Chelsee: Uh, so the villain in birds of prey, other than just, you know, the spirit of misogyny, um, was actually personified is, uh, black mask. Um, whose name, real name, I guess. Cause I feel like black mask is his like a super villain, super villain name, his stage name,
um, Roman Scionis um, he’s a nightclub owner and runs some kind of drug syndicate or crime syndicate more generally.
But I think there’s drugs involved maybe.
Christina: Yeah. It’s unclear, but it is aesthetically drug lord dish. Yeah.
Chelsee: Um, I actually watched a thing earlier and animated, um, Batman movie or short, um, and black mask was in it. But in that version, that was just like, his face was like the black skull. It was not a mask.
Christina: Oh, interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Did you get in that show? Did you get to see, so that’s just like his body, like he doesn’t have like a street persona. Yeah, no, he, cause I was like, that sounds like black face, but I guess if there’s not like a, if that is like his body and there’s not a character behind that, I guess that’s different.
Chelsee: Yeah. It was kind of weird because he appeared to be like a regular white guy to like up to his neck. And then his entire like head was like a black skull sort of thing. Like very much in the, uh, like the mask that’s in the movie. But like, that was just like. His head. Yeah. Interesting. Almost like, uh, what is the name?
Red skull red. The villain from the Marvel movies. Oh yeah. The Nazi one. Yeah. Like that except black. And instead of just his face. Yeah.
Um, that was a weird tangent. I’m sorry.
Christina: Feels relevant. So what, cause I was wondering like, especially on the second watch of the movie as I was like, I was thinking about the villain a little bit more, um, after we were like talking about it.
Um, and I was, and I was thinking about, I was trying to like look at kind of his coding and I realized like, I don’t know all of the like pan African stuff that he had. Um, a lot of it, I think, was like played to make him look really sinister intentionally of like, look at these like dried heads that I have from this like tribe and this place that I’ve never been to.
But now I have them in my house. Like, it felt like the movie was maybe trying to like, make a statement about like insidious like whiteness. Um, but then it kind of never went anywhere, I guess. Maybe. I don’t know. I think that I was like looking for something for like black Canary to maybe like reflect on that.
But I also don’t know if I was just reading too much into it or like, if that’s even a part of the Batman cannon at all,
Chelsee: I don’t know about how it fits in to the Canon. Um, but I, to me, I read that as him like that he’s a collector and then it’s like a power thing of like, I have to what you said, like I have these shrunken warrior heads from a place I’ve never been to like, um, a kind of way of showing off like his wealth or like general power of like, I can have anything that I want. Um, because he also all of the things that he has in his apartment situation, um, he, I don’t know, there’s this way that he’s like, oh, isn’t it interesting, but like gross, like he does a weird, uh, Ewen McGregor is like really chewing the scenery in this role, which like I was kind of here for, but we’ll like, sort of get into the specifics of that, but he does this sort of like he’s, you know, telling black Canary about the, um, the shrunken heads that he has.
And he does this sort of like, isn’t like, he’s like this kind of voice of like, It’s so interesting, but also it’s disgusting. Um, and I don’t know what my point was about that, like that he, he sort of has these, all of these things that he’s collected that like really don’t mean anything to him, but they probably meant something to like the people that he acquired them from.
Christina: Right. Um, which also feels very white. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know. And I guess it’s just, it’s hard to, like, it’s hard to place that cause we don’t have a lot more context, but I do think that like, that’s a really good observation about it being like about collecting and power, because I think that ties back to like the dynamics we were talking about earlier of all of the like sex is not really present as like tension in the show.
It’s like all in the show in the film, um, it’s all about power and like it’s all these other like dynamics, even to some extent, like. Gender and like sexism and misogyny, like, it becomes so much about power. Um, and it’s all kind of like stripped the dynamics are just stripped down, um, to that in a really like, revealing way.
Um, and I’d be curious to know if that was something that the filmmakers like intended or if that was just like, uh, a way to just show off his wealth, I don’t know. Yeah. But I love Ewan McGregor, he, it took me a really long time to like, realize that that was him. I just he’s such like a, I don’t know, like a really good, I don’t know what the word is.
Like, I want to say like a plastic actor, but not in like a fake plastic and like a changeable yeah. Actor. I was like this man did Moulin Rouge and now,
Chelsee: oh god. Yeah.
Christina: Like that’s for me, that’s who he is. Yeah. Like diamonds are a girl’s best friend in both movies. Wow. Yeah. But, um, yeah,
Did not even think
Chelsee: about that
Christina: that’s all I could think about. Yeah. Imagine being into movies where they do diamonds are a girl’s best friend, like in drastically different situations.
Chelsee: Amazing. Iconic. Yeah. He, I think is a good choice for this role, because like, I think sometimes there are actors that, to me, I think, um, the, you can tell that the like director is kind of trying to play on like the good will that, that actor has sort of built in people’s minds in a way, and kind of subtly using the, the image that we have of that actor from other roles to kind of inform the performance.
And so I feel like Ewan McGregor in this role, he’s like terrible and like gross, but like, you don’t hmm
Christina: charismatic. Yeah. Like you still, like, I don’t question why people still go to his nightclub, even though he’s like, I don’t think there’s anyone in that room who doesn’t know who he is and who doesn’t think that he’s evil, but I can tell that he like throws a great party.
Um, so we pretty much never see Roman without his, um, lackey,
Christina: uh, friend? lover? assistant? bodyguard? Unclear.
Chelsee: Yeah. Zaz has, um, played by Chris Messina who honestly like very playing against type here. And I was also really here for his performance. He was like, absolutely terrifying. Oh yeah.
Like. Um, also really rocking the bleach blonde in the, again in a terrifying way. Um,
Christina: yeah, it felt like an evil Backstreet boy, but in like a really good way. Like when he was like pull the car over, I was like, he’s going to kill her right now. You know? And then when he just called Roman, I was like, oh, okay.
Nevermind. But still very terrifying. Yeah.
Chelsee: And, um, him and Roman have a very interesting relationship, um, which we wanted to talk about, um, because there’s definitely some thing happening there. Um, maybe they have a sexual relationship, maybe they don’t, there’s really not.
Um, it’s inconclusive. Yeah.
But there’s definitely something. Zaz seems very threatened anytime Roman pays any kind of attention to any woman. Um, and he seems like very much, like he just wants to kill everyone. Um, which I think goes beyond, like, there’s a sort of possessiveness that goes beyond just the general, uh, run of the mill misogyny, but like it’s targeted at like, while someone else might like take Roman’s attention away.
Yeah. Um, like you can see a sort of like turn when Roman expresses, um, interest in black Canary as a, like, uh, they bring her in as a driver, as his driver and, um, Zaz does not like that. She’s seen, she’s sort of, um,
Christina: But yeah, when she she’s brought in as the driver, like he’s, doesn’t like it. No, um, yeah, which I’m like, is that really a promotion, but I guess it’s closer to him.
Yeah. Closer to Roman, which Zaz is not happy about.
Chelsee: And Zaz has definitely seems to always be kind of like working Roman in this way. That’s like, um, he’s very enabling and seems to very much be like encouraging all of Roman’s worst impulses, like in that scene where, in the nightclub where Roman terrorizes, that woman doesn’t Zaz sort of, I don’t one hundred percent remember, but isn’t Zaz sort of like, yeah, she is laughing at you.
Christina: I think so. He at least doesn’t say like, oh no, she’s not. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I’m trying to think of a like, example that I very clearly remember. Well, even when he calls Roman about black Canary, when like he sees that she’s texted someone where they’re going, um, when they’re going to meet Harley, he says, oh, like, your little bird has betrayed you.
Do you want me to kill her? And that feels different from being like, Hey, she like, we’re like she’s jeopardizing us. I should kill her. Right. Um, it feels very like, oh, your little bird that you like care about, she like, you are wrong about her. I’m going to swoop in and save you. Yeah. Very toxic. But I guess not but just that he’s not redeeming.
It’s interesting because I feel like we were talking about how everybody in this movie, you can just like be presumed to be queer because like there’s no indication otherwise. Um, the only sexualities that we have confirmed, like are not heterosexual. Um, so in that way, When I think about how like, villains are almost always queer coded um, like I almost didn’t notice it on the first wash because like, to me, everybody was kind of queer coded. Um, but I do think there’s something very specific about how, like, I don’t even know what adjective to use. Like flamboyant doesn’t feel like the right word, but very like showy and like, um,
I don’t know, like there’s a lot of, kind of, he goes Roman specifically like goes back and forth with like masculine sort of like mannerisms and then feminine mannerisms and like everything in between, um, in a way that I don’t think most of the other characters really do most of the other characters are like more consistent.
Um, but there is something that feels queer about him in a way that doesn’t stand out very much. I think that if we put him in a straight movie, I’d be like, this is. Disney’s work. Right. Um, but in, in birds of prey, I didn’t really feel like it was like insidious, queer coding, at least him on his own. Um, but then he and Zaz together.
I was like, this does feel like a power dynamic, but it’s not very clear. It’s not as clear as most of the other power dynamics in the film are. Um, because they’re both men. And even though like, Roman is obviously the boss, like Zaz clearly has a lot of agency Zaz, is not afraid of his afraid for himself.
Even when he loses the diamond, he isn’t afraid for his life in the way that like black Canary would be, you know, um, or any other character. Um, and they’re, they’re very like touchy and kind of like intimate. Um, usually when they’re talking about like getting money or like gaining power or something like that.
Um, but I’m also like, why can’t you just be in a relationship or why can’t, or like, why do I want you to be in a relationship or do I want you to be in a relationship? I don’t know. Um, But yeah, I like that there are no relationships like that, like that, no romantic relationships really in the film. But I also feel like it’s weird that there’s one kind of coded that doesn’t feel very necessary, but I could also be like, I feel like I’m reading a lot into his character that maybe isn’t there.
I don’t know.
Chelsee: I mean, I don’t think you are, there’s definitely something going on there. And I think people, for sure, like picked up on it because there was a little, I think, a little bit of a, like controversy around it. Um, and like people specifically asked Ewan McGregor and Chris Messina about it, I think at the premiere for the movie.
And, um, so there was definitely like discussion around it. So a lot of times it bothers me in movies when you see like villains being queer coded um, And in this movie, it didn’t. Um, and I think part of it is you talked about where it’s like, I just assumed that everybody in this movie is gay. So like makes sense that the villains would be equal rights.
Gays can be villains too. Um,
Christina: and it, like, it didn’t feel jarring at all. I feel like sometimes in like, like I just keep calling them straight movies, there must be a better, and I’m in a different movie. Like, um, if we saw that kind of like, I’m trying to think of a good example. Um, like I dunno if Jafar, um, in Aladdin had a relationship like that with someone, it would be very jarring.
Chelsee: Doesn’t he have the parrot,
Christina: maybe that’s why I’m thinking of it. Maybe, maybe the, the same character. Um, yeah, but I think like, um, in some ways Roman and Zaz, their relationship feels very like cartoon villain and cartoon villain sidekick. You know, like, even like Ursula is so like touchy with like her, like the eels flotsam and jetsam.
And they’re like, obviously not really in a romantic relationship. Um, always, is that obvious? Canonically according to the musical. Definitely not, but like, there’s something very, there’s like a villainous aesthetic. It’s very like touchy and like, I dunno, I wish I had more adjectives in my head right now.
Um, so there’s something going on there, but there’s also something like queer about it when it’s like two human adults that doesn’t come across in the cartoon. Um, I think
Chelsee: there is like, we’ve already talked about how this movie is so much about power and I think like they definitely have a, a relationship that is sort of built around power, like the power dynamics between the two of them and the two of them trying to sort of like gain power in, what am I saying? I think maybe the reason that it didn’t bother me and I feel like this is problematic I haven’t quite
Christina: so many of my thoughts about this movie are like half-baked.
Chelsee: Yeah. So I have a thought, which I feel like is going to come out problematic and like maybe is problematic. And I’m going to trust that. Like, you will help me think it out a little bit. Thank you so much. Yeah. And, um, that, you know, anyone listening to this is willing to buy into the fact that I’m not trying to be an asshole.
I think part of the reason that it didn’t. This queer coding between Roman and Zaz part of the reason I think it didn’t bother me is because I was like, both of these men clearly hate women. Of course they would only be interested in like a sexual relationship with men because like they find women repulsive.
Christina: Hmm. Interesting. Yeah.
Chelsee: And I’m like, I, I don’t want to, like,
Christina: you don’t want to equate queerness with misogyny. Yeah, yeah,
Chelsee: yeah. I do not want to do that. That’s why I was sort of getting at the like that’s problematic. But I think in this specific instance to me, it felt like, well, yeah, like there’s, um, sexual relationships are, there is a power dynamic there, right.
And while we don’t see anything explicitly sexual happening between the two of them, there is. Definitely a power play happening there and they both hate women. And so it’s like, well, of course something about it. It just seemed like, yeah, of course these two, like would be more interested in each other than like anyone else.
Christina: Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah, because even like, I kept really like waiting anxiously for them to like sexualize Harley, um, in some way, because they have so many opportunities to where she’s like super drunk or when she’s like alone, um, and everything. And like, it doesn’t really happen. Um, and they definitely treat like when he peels the man’s face off versus like, when he’s like gonna hurt Harley, like it’s different.
Um, but it doesn’t feel different in a sexual way. It feels different in like a misogynist way. Um, like it doesn’t really seem to feel. Yeah. Like it’s not motivated by him wanting to have sexual power over her. It’s just him wanting to have like general power over her. Um, and I think it’s, it’s helping me like reframe some of the scenes in the movie to think about it in terms of like misogyny as the villain versus like masculinity as the villain, which is what I originally read it as like the first re uh, on the first watch.
Um, especially in the scene where like all of his men show up. I’m like, and then that’s when all the women are like, oh, we got to work together. Um, and I’m like, this feels like boys versus girls, but like, not like, but more complicated than that. And I think because like, they’re not necessarily against the masculinity, they’re like misogyny, is the villan misogyny is like the, the force that comes to the booby trap aptly named, they have to fight up against.
Um, and I think that, like, thinking about that obvious. Thinking about that in a world or in like a universe or film where like romance is kind of absent. I think like, it makes a lot of sense to draw that connection between like misogyny and like not being attracted to women, even though like in our lives, that’s obviously not true.
Um, yeah, that’s very interesting.
Chelsee: Um, I, what you said about them, not sexualizing Harley. I saw a post. This was a while ago and I tried to find it, um, for the purposes of this conversation and could not, I think it was like a tumbler thread that someone had like screenshot it and put on Pinterest. Like I really went down some rabbit holes trying to find it.
Um, but they were talking about, they were doing a compare and contrast between the way that Harley is dressed and filmed in suicide squad versus in this movie. Um, and I know that you have not seen suicide squad, but I would suspect that you’ve probably seen, um, the outfit that she wears in that movie.
She’s sort of tied up a cut up baseball tee that says daddy’s little monster and she’s in very tiny shorts and she’s got pigtails that are like long. Um, and I think she’s wearing like high heeled boots or something. And on paper, the outfit that she wears in suicide squad that I just described is not that different from the outfits that she wears in birds of prey.
She’s often wearing like very short shorts and like, um, some kind of not tube top, but like lots of midriff baring kind of. Um, and yet it comes across completely differently. And what this post that I saw was talking about is how, um, in the way that she’s portrayed in suicide squad, she looks like she was dressed by a man to look sexy.
And in birds of prey, she looks like she dressed herself to have fun. And there’s a, we talk, you know, about the joy of this movie. And I think you really see that in Harley’s costuming. I mean, all of the fashion in this movie is like so good. Um, the best, but like Harley wear some bizarre, wonderful outfits,
I want the whole
Christina: wardrobe, like that costume caution tape jacket with all like the I’ve talked about it already, but I’m just, I’m in love anyone.
Yeah. f anyone can find it for me.
Chelsee: Um, I’m definitely gonna look for, um, she wears that like oversized t-shirt that says like Harley Quinn on it and like, I’m sure someone is like making that, um, And she has pigtails in both movies, but in this movie, you see her at the beginning, cut her hair because she’s going through a breakup.
And I was like, yes. So relatable, your life changes and you need to cut your hair. I know it well.
Christina: Um, also part of the queerness of the movie is the hair change.
Chelsee: Um, and then gets a dog slash the dog has a hyena. She gets a hyena who she’s then obsessed with. Um, and I really loved the detail. She named him Bruce after Bruce.
Christina: Yeah. She says that hunky Wayne fella,
Chelsee: and she’s wearing a dog name tag in the movie, but it’s like, it says Bruce on it. And there was something about it that I loved a lot because she has so many, like she’s got tattoos on her legs for the joker, which she then like crosses out. She like turns puddin into like pudding cups.
She does this whole thing to sort of like reclaim her right as a solo person. But the idea that she, like she’s wearing. A dog necklace, but it’s not like property of the joker, which is like a jacket that she wears in suicide squad says that on the back, it’s literally her dog’s name because she’s absolutely queer and like obsessed with her dog.
Christina: Like she went through a breakup and yeah, her dog is her new buddy. Yeah. Yeah. I actually didn’t know that it said Bruce. Yeah. But yeah, so like I didn’t see suicide squad, but all of the, all of like the media and the pictures and like the visuals of Harley Quinn that I’ve ever really seen, um, are just like really, really over-sexualized t-shirts at hot topic.
Like, and I was never, it took me a long time to really even be interested in her as a character because she just felt like, uh, like in like the limited representation that I saw, I was like, oh, some, some man, like, drewthis girl with boobs and like wanted to act like Stockholm syndrome is like, A thing that I don’t know, like it just, I was like, okay, so she was supposed to represent Stockholm syndrome and she has huge boobs and she’s really skinny, not interesting.
Um, but as I like learn more about her, I was, as I learned more about her. Um, I like, obviously have a different reaction also seeing her like personified by an actress, like a live action actress is very different. Um, but I think that the cinematography in this movie is really important, um, because it would have been pretty easy with like some minor changes to just keep that, to make it like a sexy Harley Quinn movie.
Um, I do think the movie is sexy, but like not in an objectifying women kind of way. And like, uh, they’re all going to beat everybody up for me kind of way.
Chelsee: They’re like objectively attractive people, like, um, being effective, being highly competent. Um, so we really liked this movie. Um, we did a lot of people. Um, particularly a lot of men did not shocker, especially on the internet,
Christina: internet men are the worst kind. Um,
Chelsee: uh, I have a petty thing, but like, I’ve been like really waiting for the opportunity to share this with you. So there’s a moment in the movie where Harley is like in Roman’s nightclub. This is before he’s trying to kill her and she’s drunk and being loud.
And this guy tells her to like shut up. And she’s like, what? And he’s like I said, shut up you dumb bitch. And she proceeds to jump on his legs and like break them.
Christina: That’s my cartoon violence that I love.
Chelsee: And he’s like howling on, in pain. And she’s like, Ooh boo hoo. And she says, um, I have a PhD. Don’t call me a dumb bitch, motherfucker.
Christina: I have a master’s degree. And I’m still a dumb bitch. I’m sorry.
Chelsee: I was like, yes, Harley, you do have a PhD,
Christina: but also sometimes we still do be still dumb bitches.
Chelsee: and the reason that this is, this is relevant is, um, I saw someone on the internet post something about, like it said, I think that people who liked birds of prey don’t know what good cinema is to which my reaction was. I have a degree from the most preeminent film school in the world. What are your qualifications, motherfucker?
I mean, fair and then
Christina: break his legs or no, break the legs and then, and then say your line. Yes, yes. Yeah.
Chelsee: Um, yeah. Men on the internet.
Christina: Yeah. No, I think that that’s very valid. I validate that experience. Yeah. I was like, honestly, what that scene I just, I love how she’s like, oh, you think I’m a dumb bitch. I’m going to break your fucking legs. And then I have a PhD, like just, it was like a fun scene. So I was like, I’m not going to be critical of this.
I’m just gonna enjoy the like ridiculous, like knee bend thing. Um, but yeah, I’m also like. If she didn’t have a PhD, it still would be uncool. Yeah. To say that. Um, but I think that, that scene specifically like really, um, is important to Harley’s like character development and like character backstory, because you’re like seeing her like emotionally deal with the breakup and like get drunk and like confess.
Um, that she broke up with, um, the joker to black Canary. Is that the same scene?
Chelsee: Yes. Yes. Um, later after she’s like very drunk.
Christina: Um, and she’s like making, like, there’s a lot of plot setups. So to me, I was like, oh, like, this is a character set up that’s like a plot line. Um, so that just so we know, like she has a PhD, cause I do feel like every time Harley Quinn is like introduced in a movie, you like have to get her like resume. Like, I need to see her CV because like, and which I think is good because I think if you’re just like, oh, here’s this crazy woman, like, that would suck. But to say like, oh, she like has these degrees and she had this great job, but she also has these things going on and like, this is how it’s manifesting.
Um, so I’m not mad about it, but yeah, I disagree. I don’t even disagree. I, I do think that it’s messed up, that she was like, I have a PhD, therefore I’m not a dumb bitch, but I also love it problematic, but as somebody with not a PhD, but an advanced degree, um, you know, we can still be done bitches and it’s fine.
Chelsee: It also, so, okay.
I could go on like a whole, like, rant about this.
Christina: You can,
Chelsee: uh, but I think. What I want to get at is I don’t know that I don’t have anything new to say about like, oh, men complaining about things on the internet.
Christina: Neither do they,
Chelsee: but it’s like one of those things that it just feels incomplete to talk about this movie and not kind of situate it in that context. Um, uh, particularly because like, I would really like, uh, birds of prey 2 um, particularly because the director has said that she wants to do. She wants to do a story about Harley Quinn and poison Ivy.
And I’m like, yes.
Christina: Um, maybe then we’ll get our explicitly queer relationships.
Chelsee: Yes. They’re just going to be gay and have plants, relatable content,
like over here being plant gays, um, we’re all plant gays in quarantine.
Christina: Very true.
Um, I feel like it’s when we see like that reaction to the movie, it like, I’m like, can’t I just be happy.
Like, can I just like crave breakfast sandwiches and watch hot girls beat people up, like shut up. Yeah. Um, but it also, like when we think about how. Like most superhero movies are really marketed toward men. Um, honestly, probably even this one, um, like at least at the kind of like corporate ad level, um, when internet men are mad about a movie, um, that doesn’t bode well for the franchise’s future.
Um, and that’s just like a reality of our like shitty like masculine capitalist system. Um, so I feel like that’s why, like, why that has to be a part of the conversation. If that wasn’t true. Like if their opinions had no bearing on like my future, and I knew that I was going to get a birds of prey sequel regardless of their feelings, I would be like, let’s not give them the time of day, but I do think that’s like, that’s important to talk about.
Chelsee: Yeah. Um, this, like, they, the budget for this movie was much lower than most superhero movies. Um, it was like, 250, 200 million, or like 250 million, which for like really, almost any movie, particularly like a comic book movie is like a, is a pretty low budget, um, feature film. And, um, it, based on the like last numbers that I saw, um, when I was prepping for this episode did not break even.
Um, I don’t know if any of that has the numbers that I was looking at were all sort of around the time that the movie came out now it’s been out for a year. So like, I don’t know if anything has changed on that, but like, um, and you know, there are all kinds of reasons, all kinds of factors that could go into that we already talked about, like the name change.
Because people didn’t know what the movie was about based on just calling it birds of prey. Um, so like there’s probably a factor of there are people who, you know, didn’t know what it, I don’t know. There are lots of factors that go into it, but it is hard to not think maybe the reason that this movie didn’t do better is because it is a movie where there are basic, the only men in this movie are is like the villain and his villainous sidekick, basically like
Christina: and then the two men who make food for Harley.
I was like, that’s all. How does it feel? Yeah. Yeah. I also wonder like how much COVID. Is like, I wonder how we’re going to calculate movie success in COVID times. Um, I was just talking about this with somebody with, I forget which movie, but obviously like, people are not going to, um, the theaters hopefully.
Um, and some people, like I paid $20 to watch a promising young woman, but I’m sure it’s going to be free in like a couple months, um, or at least like through your subscriptions. Um, but I’m wondering like what the adjustment is going to be like, what we’re going to measure as successful. Um, so I do think that that’s part of it, cause this is a movie that I would have seen in theaters.
I just like didn’t cause it came out like right at the shutdowns, right. Did it come out in march?
Chelsee: Um, I don’t know when exactly it came out. Um, but it was very close to that because it was the last movie that I saw. In theaters. And I mean, I don’t go to very many movies in theaters anyway, but it’s, um, there was not an option really to see a movie after that basically
Christina: came out February 7th.
So I really should’ve seen it. I had a month. Um, but it’s a movie that I probably would have. I don’t go to the movies very often, but it’s a movie that I would’ve seen in person. Um, probably in like April.
Chelsee: Yeah. Um, I think the thing about it, the thing that I have really struggled with is like a lot of the negative feedback that I saw about this movie online.
A lot of it was very, um, like. This movie was so bad. Like anyone who liked it doesn’t know anything, basically anyone who liked it, like can’t have an articulate opinion. Anyone who liked it, like it’s all, it’s not the criticism. A lot of the criticism that I saw online was actually not about the movie.
And it was about people who liked the movie, which I’m willing to bet was mostly women who liked the movie since it was a movie that felt very relatable as we’ve discussed
Christina: too feminine experience. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And I think like misogynists don’t like it when misogyny is the villain. And like we talked about too, like there’s so there are so many important moments that make the movie very good.
Um, that you probably wouldn’t get, if you like, didn’t have a nuanced understanding of like gender dynamics.
Chelsee: Yeah. And like, I think about other superhero movies and a lot of people did not like the Aquaman movie.
Christina: Um, unforgivable, jason Mamoa is so hot. I took my mom to see that movie for her birthday because she likes them and she calls him Jason mimosa.
Chelsee: I watched it on a plane. I found it quite enjoyable. Um, I mean, was anything revolutionary happening in that movie? No, but that’s not why I watch comic book movies anyway. Really pretty. Yeah. Um, at any rate, when I’ve heard people complain about that movie, I have never heard anyone say anyone who liked Aquaman doesn’t have any taste.
Right? Like they just say that they didn’t like Aquaman and maybe like why they didn’t like it. Um, I’m sure there’s someone on the internet. Who’s saying anyone who likes Aquaman didn’t have, any taste,, but, but that’s not the majority.
It’s just a different kind of criticism. And it’s so frustrating.
Because I guess it’s frustrating for the reason that misogyny is often frustrating in real life when it is not actually life-threatening, but you can’t actually argue with it because if the criticism that someone is making is I couldn’t possibly understand why anyone liked this movie. I can’t tell you like to say that someone who likes this movie doesn’t know what they’re talking about means that when I tell you why I like this movie, you’ve already established that you don’t believe me and that my opinion doesn’t matter.
And it’s so frustrating to like, you can’t engage with that. So there’s not, if it feels very like, well, there’s not anything that I could do. And I mean, not that I’m out here trying to like.
Christina: Deal with incels on the internet, don’t recommend.
Chelsee: No. Um, but it just feels like, like how do we ever, like, this is why we can’t have nice things.
Christina: Yeah. Yeah. And it feels like that, like a decision was made, you know, of like, oh, this movie was bad and everyone who likes it is bad and they aren’t us. This is part of why I just don’t get into superhero fandom because I’m like, I’m not equipped for this. I don’t know all the details. I haven’t read everything.
I haven’t seen every movie. Um, and there’s a lot of like, at least from what I’ve seen, I see a lot of like, oh, well I have this opinion. If you feel something differently, it’s wrong. Um, which I guess is maybe true in like every arena of life. Um, but yeah, whenever something like this happens, I’m like you think that you own this franchise and like other people can’t access it.
And if we do like it. And it’s not what you want, then it’s not good. And it’s not part of like this superhero machine. I think it’s a very similar thing, happens with horror movies as well. Like promising young woman horror film. It’s not going to do very well. And in terms of like regular horror audiences, because horror films, just like, um, superhero films are typically marketed toward men.
Um, and I’m like, it’s such a good movie and it’s so scary. It’s so like horror film, but like you’re, it’s, it has a lot of the same like expectations of like, you need to have like an understanding of like gender and sexuality. And if you don’t have that, um, you’re not going to like it, but I think I just wish that they could market movies towards us and then be happy when we liked it and then make more.
Yeah. But we don’t have that. No.
now I’m sad.
Chelsee: I’m sitting here feeling like what is the solution? And I have to remind myself, like, actually I don’t have to solve all the world’s problems. Um, and
Christina: probably I’ll get on that.
Chelsee: Even if we came up with a really great solution, it, we don’t know what we’re talking about. Cause we like to movie. Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
We’re dumb bitches without PhDs.
Christina: Yeah. I’m a dumb bitch with the master’s degree. Um, who likes birds of prey and doesn’t like incels, I’ll say it.
Chelsee: It’s very controversial.
Christina: I know. I know.
Chelsee: Okay. Um, what would you recommend to fans of birds of prey?
Christina: So I was trying to think of like a. Like visual media because it’s visual media, but I just like didn’t come up with anything except for anything roller Derby, I feel like is gonna, um, is going to give you this feeling.
Um, but there are two music recommendations I have the first one is Donna Missal. Um, if you haven’t heard of her, you simply must specifically her live recordings. She’s very like, um, her voice is, I mean, she’s just such a powerful singer. Um, and she has a lot of, kind of like gravelly breakup songs, um, or like gravelly, like identity songs that I think play really well into this theme.
They wouldn’t necessarily fit on the soundtrack, but if you like these kinds of aesthetics, I think that you would like Donna Missal um, and this is also a very basic recommendation, but I just like thought about it last night is Miley Cyrus’s new album, plastic hearts um, she like also. Is like, she kind of screamed a little bit.
It’s a little, it’s her most rock album. I think that I know of so far, I’m not like a Miley head, but I do love this album.
Chelsee: I haven’t listened.
Yeah.. And I’m
Christina: not like I don’t hate Miley Cyrus, but, um, I wouldn’t consider myself a Stan normally. Um, but this album is so good. Um, and she has a cover of zombie by the cranberries, which like, I usually get personally offended with anybody at all covers the cranberries.
Um, but she does such a good job and her. It’s just so like, um, powerful and trying to think of a better adjective. You just simply have to listen to it. But I think that that same kind of like feminine intensity, um, also comes across in those musicians.
Chelsee: Love those recommendations that made me think, um, bikini kill is probably like if you were into the aesthetic of this film, um, you’d probably be into bikini kill also as mentioned, like you have to listen to the soundtrack for this, um, There is a Harley Quinn animated series, um, that originally aired on DC universe, which now has been absorbed into HBO max, um, which I just started watching.
I did not like the first episode, but watched episodes after it and enjoyed those. They like really made me laugh. Um, it’s an adult animated show. So if you like Harley Quinn would encourage you to watch that. And if you don’t like the first episode, it’s okay. Try like the second or third one, um, for there’s also a ton of Harley content.
So like, I’m sure I have not read a lot of it, but there are other Harley comic books. If you’re into Harley Quinn, those definitely exist in the world. Um, but something, a comic that is really fun that I would recommend it is no, it does not violent or gruesome in the way that birds of prey is. But, um, Rainbow Raul’s run of Marvel’s runaways, the show the, or, uh, the comic book was originally created by Brian Kayvon and like he did the first run, but more recently it’s been written by rainbow Raul who I’m obsessed with.
And those are just really fun. And I think has a similar, like playfulness to it and the new miss Marvel comics also from Marvel, um, again, have a fun and there it’s an interesting new perspective, so I would recommend those things.
Christina: Awesome. Yeah. Well, thank you for having me Chelsee.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the bi-pod. You can follow us on Instagram at the bi-pod. You can email us at this is the bi-pod at gmail.com. You can find show notes and transcripts of our episodes on our website, the bi-pod dot com. The show is hosted by Chelsee Bergen and Christina Brown. And this episode was edited and produced by Chelsee Bergen.
Our theme song is coming home by snowflake.