Why would I regard some movie such as “The Purge” as anything other than irrelevant violence porn? The Purge is a movie set in a near future Dystopia United States, Nine (!) years after a nonviolent coup. In the fictional universe of the Purge one night every from year 7:00 PM March 21 to 7:00 AM March 22 in all of the United the ban on committing crimes is lifted, and people are allowed to use “category 1 to category 4” weapons to do pretty much whatever they like. The movie establishes this flimsy premise to establish highly predictable victims, heroes and bad guys, set in a self-evidently fascist US, where the pathologies of 2014 are ballooned in to ridiculous proportions. As such the movie is barely worth seeing as a popcorn horror flick. I’d give the movie itself a mere 4 out of ten. It is not a good movie, the acting is moderate, camera work is outdated and boring, the action is barely more exciting than a typical Stephen Seagal violence porn time piece.
When making a movie, the creative artists for coming up with a story purposefully tap in to the collective fears, frustrations, the anger and desire to hate alive in society. The Purge offers us a fascinating glimpse (spoiler alert) where the idle and perverse elites, as well as the sadistic establishment “crackers” are conspiring to tally up the death count in an orgy of violence. The movie knows three types of killers.
One, we have the predictable asshole-for-profit who makes a quick buck rounding up minorities and street losers and sells them to the highest biggers. I refer this to the regular movie trope of Orcs.
The second type of baddies depicted in the Purge are people who have some plausible (arguable) claim for violence. In case of this movie the protagonist is essentially a good guy but he seeks Vengeance for a drunk driver who was released on a technicality after killing the drivers son.
The third type of villain is what makes the movie The Purge essentially distinctive in the time-frame in 2014 we currently inhabit, and I connect several important conclusions to this choice of imagery. In the movie clearly elites are conspiring to kill minorities, the poor, senior citizens, sick people, the homeless, the unemployed. Certain sinister elements in the government are making the rounds, as they say “only doing their duty” and exterminating whole city blocks for some unclear economic benefit. The movie starts by alleging unemployment is below 5% on the US, suggesting that in the years of purging the process contributes to low unemployment, better social cohesion, and high over-all productivity. This premise may be valid and sound, and it is horrific and malignant. Killing useless people is made into a yearly recurrent 12 hour every year industry, rife with black-clad storm-troopers and mini-gun wielding white guys, who are executing (as they perceive it) a very important societal function.
As if that isn’t bad enough, in the movie apparently a significant percentage of the extremely rich are willing to pay inordinate amounts of money to hunt peasants. That is, another echelon of jackbooted thugs round up a selection of choice morsels, upon which the rich feast armed with hunting rifles, machetes and high powered automatic weapons.
The perversity of this fantasy is remarkable. In this movie the very decadently rich are depicted as monsters who hungrily kill the poor, and without any reservation enjoy the spectacle, either as chirping, botox-smile spectators, or as Aryan-styled hunters. Literally dressed in tweed as if going on a fox hunt.
This movie is a cultural sign of interesting things to come. If this movie is made for the typical violence-dulled movie audiences, it sends a distinctly revolutionary message. This message is in my belief one of many to come – the very rich are out to kill “us” and we need to rise and revolt up because they get us.
The metaphors between a yearly Darwinist gore-fest in the movie and cutthroat capitalism in the real world is unmistakable. In the movie it is strongly suggested that various forms of vengeance motifs are constantly feeding this yearly Purge, but are only a small minority of crimes enacted. During Purge night people rape, steal, commit arson, kidnap. Essentially the premise is that anything is allowed and the nett effect of the activity is a yearly institutionalized mass-riot covering the entire US where “people get to blow off some steam”. The choice of phrases between the Purge and “Free Markets” (especially the constant reminder the purge is organized by the NFFA -which just stinks like NRA) is palpable.
If I were in the 1% of society in terms of affluence or income, I’d be worried seeing such a movie. It takes generally 20 years between when people start making movies depicting an archetypal baddie, and the moment people start purposefully killing those people. This movie replicates pretty much the same themes as similar movies (the horror classic “society” comes to mind) and if these ideas catch on, they could very well renegotiate the current established status quo in western (US/European) society by any means available.
These kinds of movies could set the tone for a new kind of pervasive hatred of rich people.