Back in 2013, The Purge tapped into that dark part of us that we dare not speak of. Who hasn’t fantasized for a second about what they would do to someone who wronged them if there were no consequences?
Surely the vast majority of people would never actually harm someone, but the thought it is there, however briefly. And upon the release of the first film, that’s all it was; just a sci-fi horror/thriller that played out like a typical home invasion film.
With recent political division, global pandemics, and economic disasters, it’s starting to look like a scary reality!
As previously mentioned, the first film very much feels like a surreal exercise in generic horror. It deals with the idea that if we could all just “purge” our negative feelings and violence in one night, it would make us better the rest of the year.
And so this new dominant political party, known as the NFFA (New Founding Fathers of America) puts the purge into place and it saves the nation. It drops unemployment below 5% and renders crime virtually nonexistent the rest of the year.
Because people are allowed to go all out that one night, they don’t feel the need to anytime else. It of course excludes all crimes of passion and profit. But that’s not really what the film series is trying to say.
The first film merely hints that it benefits the rich and powerful. After all, the main protagonist (played by Ethan Hawke) got rich by selling purge-proof security system to his upper middle class neighbors.
The second film, The Purge: Anarchy with a much bigger budget, is able to showcase everything the first film couldn’t. It’s also the first one that truly explores how the purge disparages the poor and lower classes.
The rich can afford to either leave the country, or purchase advanced weapons and participate. While the poor often end up being the victims. Anarchy even has a storyline involving people from the projects being abducted and thrown into a sort of arena where wealthy bidders get to go in and “hunt” them.
In the end, it’s quite clear that the NFFA had put the purge into place to eliminate those members of society that they believed to be drains on the system; those who relied on government programs to survive. And again, back in 2014, this all seemed very farfetched.
We may only be a few months into 2020, but things seem more chaotic than ever. This global COVID-19 pandemic has millions around the world feeling anxious and afraid.
States, cities, and nations are on mandatory lockdowns, and the idea of martial law doesn’t seem too far off. Some police departments have announced they will stop making arrests for certain minor crimes, which some fear will lead to looting.
Much like in the film series, we’re also seeing how the rich and well off can afford to get tested, and are generally better off during this time of missed work and staying isolated.
Meanwhile, many homeless are uncertain as shelters close to due to restrictions on large gatherings, and hospitals are struggling to fulfill their supply needs with all the new cases.
If ever there was a perfect recipe for a purge, it’s now. Not only is the disease costing thousands of lives around the world, but it’s also leaving an economic crash that may last years or decades.
While everyone is practicing quarantine and social distancing, small businesses are going bankrupt, and an estimated 18% of Americans are now either unemployed or facing reduced hours (compared to the 25% unemployment during the Great Depression).
An event like this is truly unprecedented in most of our lifetimes. And how we handle this will determine our future. Hopefully, this ends up being the catalyst to unite a nation that was already very politically divided.
Or it could be the spark that ignites the powder keg of anarchy just beneath the surface. Our nation once descended into civil war and it’s always possible that it could happen again. And perhaps that would be how life could imitate art, the dreadful purge might one day become close to reality.