A Critique of The Purge’s Dystopian Elements

The Purge is a movie that depicts a society in which crime and poverty are all but eradicated through an annual Purge Night where all crime is legal for a period of 12 hours. On this particular Purge Night, a man and his family prepare for the Purge by arming their newly installed alarm system. However, his children jeopardize their safety by allowing other people to enter their home. The remainder of the film is the man and his family fending off zealous purgers who threaten their safety. Since murder is legal during the Purge, the Sandins are literally fighting for their lives from the zealots who would kill them.

            The society depicted in the Purge does have dystopian elements. The annual purge was instituted by a new government seeking to somehow improve society – in this case, by eradicating crime by allowing it to occur within specific parameters. They used propaganda like the emergency bulletin and the various ads about the Purge to convince the masses about the merits of this barbaric solution. This propaganda also created an atmosphere of hysteria that led to chaos during the Purge. Moreover, the events of the Purge imply a system of strict social stratification. Mr. Sandin is able to protect his family from the violence of the Purge because he is wealthy enough to purchase an alarm system for his family. If his children had not let outsiders into their home, they would have been safe. Other characters, especially the man that the son lets into the home, do not have that same privilege and suffer because of it. Similar to 1984, there are opposing opinions regarding the Purge. While the Sandins try to stay out of the Purge completely, other people embrace the Purge and use it to justify their violent desires. These zealots are just like the members of the Inner Party who want to promote the new regime. 

            This dystopia is fairly realistic because the new society could easily emerge from the increase of crime and poverty in the capitalist society. Like most dystopias, the society emerges from a group of elites who have good intentions, but the execution ultimately results in exploitation of people. The improved society does not actually solve the problem though; it just creates a new type of exploitation. In the Purge, homeless people become victims of the elites because they are unable to participate in the Purge to become socially mobile. Even though poverty is eradicated during the Purge, this is only the case because purgers are murdering poor people.

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