WHAT IF “The Purge” WAS REAL?
Updated: Jan 16
Twelve hours where all crime is legal? This is the premise of 2013’s high-concept horror movie The Purge and its upcoming sequel, The Purge: Anarchy. In a future America, for one night, all criminal activity is legal, and although the idea is initially presented as a form of mass catharsis, the Purge actually serves as population control.
What did you find most interesting in The Purge?
There are two big themes that you would notice in the film. One, and this is a little subtle and perhaps harder to argue, has to do with race. It’s clear that the filmmaker, James DeMonaco, was trying to make any kind of comment about race, but it’s still there. The second, more pronounced, theme, which feels far more intentional, deals with social class, power, and wealth. A third thing would be a crime. The idea is fascinating that one time out of the year anyone can commit any crime, and nothing is illegal. Yes. One night, 12 hours, and you’re able to commit any crime.
The idea is that — at least implied — society is full of this pent-up anger; that we all need to get our anger out of our systems. What usually happens in societies — until this future time in which the Purge is supposed to be taking place — is that we seep out our anger in acts of violence. So you’ll have a murder on Sixth Street, and then later that day you might have a robbery on Sixth Street. The film didn’t explicitly talk about it, but there’s actually a theory for how society works. The film doesn’t really support good sociological theory: that we’re pent up with frustration and rage, and that if we were all allowed to commit a crime one night out of the year, that we would somehow hold onto that, let it carry to that night and unleash all of the violence that we wanted. It’s an interesting and provocative idea. But in point and fact, it’s just not how it works.
The Next Thing is Race.
Yes, Dwayne. He’s the guy who the son brings into the house. Right, and we think what I need reminding on is what he ends up doing because there being something of a twist. So he’s in the house and I don’t really see him up until the end because he’s sort of escaping and evading detection. And then doesn’t he come out and save the day, or does it turn out that he’s really a criminal ?
He kills the next-door neighbours of the Sandin's, the Ferrins. The Ferrins want to kill the Sandin's because they’re jealous of the family’s wealth.
So he kind of saves the day. The only thing I would notice about this is, it’s just another instance in a long line of Hollywood films where we actually don’t get a sense of his character. Those of us that study racial representations in films, what’s common is that we don’t actually know anything about him. Both the maniacal but very clever people in the film are white, and also the people who we are ultimately asked as an audience to sympathize with are white. There is no texture to the black man’s character, he’s simply a vehicle for the plot, and that’s the problem. Again, I think that was unintentional. I don’t think the director was trying to do or say anything about race in the film, but inevitably he does.
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Credit : Article written by Kunal Arora