Purge and Dystopian Perspective

The Purge was directed by James DeMonaco and released May 31, 2013 (USA). This film takes place in the United States. It is classified as a dystopia, here morality has no existence. The government sanctions an annual twelve-hour sanction where crime is legal. This includes murder. Well off, protagonist James Sandin and his family are forced into participation of the blood bath. His youngest son allows a stranger, that is visibly seeking refuge from recently faced terror, into their home. The stranger is an African American male needing of sanctuary from the war outside. Strangely enough, the group of individuals that harassed the stranger came looking for him. This begins conflict between morality and immorality. They eventually form an alliance to fight the neighbors. This story portrays a dystopian like society where violence is accepted as an outlet for unwanted emotions. This day is imposed on the civilians by the government and it hugely affects the poor. They are targeted during the twelve-hour time period of crime. This presents an imbalanced distribution of power.

            It is important to pay close attention to the way class is portrayed within the film. The Sandin’s family is a well-off White family. The Black man who searched for refuged was of lower-class civilian. The group of individuals who request the Sandin’s to release him gave the family an ultimatum. The family could either release the lower-class Black man to his execution or the entire family will be murdered. This places the Sandin’s in the position to either participate in the purge or release the Black man to his death. Ironically, the individuals of the same class turned on the family as soon as they had something they wanted. Here is an example of where an individual can easily become the enemy. The family had no intentions of participating in the purge but were tested by morality to choose.

                        There is an obvious theme of race within the storyline of The Purge. It is something that many overlook simply because it is the 21stcentury, racism should be a distant thought. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world. The relationship between the Black man and the Sandin’s represents an alliance of Blacks and Whites. An alliance of poor and rich. The dynamic between the Sandin’s and the stranger portrays what it looks like to work against the system that was put to destroy society. Neither the Sandin’s, the individuals terrorizing them, or the stranger can control the fact that they are forced into a night of chaos. The only option is to fight for what is morally right. The theme of morality is seen throughout the movie.

            Dystopias can be defined as a real or an imagined place where a group of individuals are being oppressed and everything wrong happens. When comparing The Purge to the term dystopia it fits perfectly. The civilians in The Purge are the ones that cannot afford protection during the twelve-hours of anarchy. The Purge is governed and “enforced” by the government. The very idea of a night of complete chaos is the definition of everything wrong happening. Historically and contemporarily speaking, the urban areas of cities often are referred to as a war zone. Violence is more prevalent in inner cities than their suburban counterparts. The government, more than many would like, imposes laws that do not benefit the country entirely. There are laws that protect the rich and that simultaneously harms the poor. This movie could be realist except for the legality of murder. 

            The Purge is a perfect example of a dystopia for the simple fact that is presents the ugliness of capitalism, racism, and classism. It forces its audience to question the direction and relationship of politics and society.  

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.