Scoot Blog: 'The Purge' - is this where we're headed?
What if…all crime – even murder – went without punishment in America one night a year when citizens could unleash their rage about each other and society? That’s the premise of “The Purge” – the #1 movie at the box office this weekend.
“The Purge” is set in America in 2022 at a time when our ‘new founding fathers’ control America. The new government sanctions and promotes, as a patriotic duty, one night annually when citizens can seek revenge on anyone. That one night is a national holiday of sorts when there are no police, no ambulances and no firefighters from 7:00pm to 7:00am.
Before seeing “The Purge,” I read a few critiques that blasted the movie and I even talked to a couple of listeners Friday night on The Scoot Show who had seen the movie and had only negative comments about it.
I will talk about the general message of the movie and if you read further nothing will prove to be a ‘spoiler’ if you haven’t seen it yet. “The Purge” delivers a commentary on where America may be headed if we, as a nation, don’t find ways to ease the expanding hate in our country.
On the night of the “Purge,” an injured homeless man wanders into the streets of a prominent neighborhood while he is hunted by a group of young people. The young son a family in a fortified house in the neighborhood watches and hears the pleas of the homeless man and decides to disarm the house and offer the man refuge. This, however, jeopardizes the safety of the entire family.
The homeless man is black and the group hunting him appears to be young white conservatives who are demanding their right to kill the homeless “swine” and purge him from society since he is seen as a non-contributor. Since this family has given the homeless man shelter, the young group threatens the entire family unless they turn him over to be killed during the Purge. The battle over whether to turn the man over is compelling and there is intense action from the moment the sirens sound to officially being the Purge.
I’m sure I will be challenged on my assumption that the young group hunting the injured homeless man is a group of young conservatives. While it may not be fair to judge people by the way they dress, in this movie the attire and the dialogue project a definite right-wing extremist attitude. But you can decide for yourself.
The message of ‘art’ is always the result of individual interpretation, but the message of “The Purge” seemed obvious. The word ‘purge’ had two meanings in the movie – to ‘purge’ society of those people seen as not contributing to this country and to ‘purge’ one’s soul of rage on this annual night when all crime goes unpunished.
The movie may be criticized for what many will perceive as an anti-right-wing message, but there is also an obvious message toward the end that could be considered anti-liberal. There was also a compassionate moment near the conclusion that gives hope that those who help others are appreciated.
Ethan Hawke plays the main character, the father of the family in the fortified house during the Purge, and was very credible in the role. The directing, storyline and editing made for a compelling movie that even inspired the audience I was in to applaud several times when they felt justice had been served. The movie almost became interactive at times.
So why have there been so many negative reviews and comments? Maybe it was the subject matter that gave some critics and movie-goers an uncomfortable feeling. As we were walking out of the theater I asked my date what she thought of the movie and she said, “I hated it!” I asked her if she hated the movie or the message and she said she enjoyed the movie but hated what the movie said the direction of our society.
I enjoyed the movie and the message, but to say I enjoyed the message does not mean I like the message – I just saw it as a fictional manifestation of the growing hate we witness everyday in America today when it comes to political debate.
I recall reading in a book years ago about success and the idea was rather than think about where you want to be in your life in the future from where you are now – it’s better to visualize where you want to be in the future and look back and think about what it took to get there.
Movies are usually exaggerations of life and “The Purge” gives us an exaggerated theory of where America might be headed if the social and political hate continue to grow.