Crime is Peace: The Purge as a Dystopia

The Purge is a horror/thriller movie that portrays American society in a new light. In this movie the country now participates in a national annual event called “the purge”. The purge gives the people of the country 24 hours to do whatever they please. All illegal activity including murder is legal during the 24 hour time period. The purpose of the purge is to give people the chance to release any hate that they have in their heart which in turn lowers the crime and unemployment rate within the country. This first movie revolves around a typical white upper class suburban family (the Sandin’s) and their experience during the purge. The father owns a security company so the family has nothing to worry about. However, trouble comes when outsiders such as the daughter’s boyfriend and a homeless man who is being chased find their way inside of the family’s house.

The concept of the movie I think is definitely realistic and that’s what makes it so scary for people to watch. The film portrays concepts that if anything are already present within American society even though it may not be explicitly present to the common eye. This in itself is a dystopian characteristic both seen within the film and in real life. The idea that there is a group of people who are oblivious or ignorant to the intense sufferings of another group. In a way they may benefit from such ignorance and will neglect to change the society to help the suffering group. Because of this the group who suffers will stay in a cycle of being stuck in a place of pain with no hope for the future, a dystopia. 

In the Purge, the group who suffers this fate includes “lower class” citizens and those who don’t hold high positions of power in the government. In the movie, the high ranked government officials were exempt from being targets of violence during the purge. Upper Class citizens also felt a sense of exemption which was clouded by their finances. Those who could afford so simply purchased an expensive security system that would protect them during the 24 hour event. This leaves those who don’t have such financial success to be stuck without any protection for themselves.

In the movie this group was recognized by the homeless man who was being targeted. He had nothing to help defend himself and no home to hide in which made him prey. This man lives in a dystopia himself because he lives in a constant state of fear with little hope of change. He is a target of violence and lacks the basic needs for survival. When he called for help the ignorance/obliviousness of others in the suburban neighborhood became clear. Concerned with their own lives, he was ignored until the child (Charlie Sandin) finally gave in.

Another dystopian theme within the Purge was the idea that hate and crime was okay. Whenever the children of the parents asked about the purge and their opinions. The parents would simply talk about all of the “good” that the purge has done and why it was necessary. The idea of people having hate and needing to act on it was normalized and if anything encouraged so that American society could progress in a positive way. In a sense, the government (higher power) is controlling the citizens by promoting the action of hate and crime. Those who don’t participate become prey and those who do promote the “peace” in the society. In this case crime is peace (war is peace).

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