The Purge depicts a normal American life on the surface, but in reality the film represents a dystopian country that celebrates an annual national holiday in which all crime, including murder, is legal for a 12-hour period. This movie is an example of dystopia because it shows how ordinary individuals are willing to terrorize one another using extreme violence for personal gain and satisfaction. It also relates to the Hobbesian’s theory that humans are inherently vain and self-interested individuals who will do anything necessary to eliminate competition in order to sustain their own livelihoods. The annual event is what continues to save the country economically and politically by permitting violence from mostly upper class individuals to eradicate the lower class or the homeless because they provide little to no benefit towards society. By its effectiveness to reduce crime, this soul cleansing event unburdens society’s economy.
This form of self-regulating society by the actions of citizens is discriminative because not everyone is equally capable of protecting themselves such as owning an expensive, high class security system. This event also symbolizes as a scapegoat or cathartic release for individuals to justify their innate aggression and violent tendencies. According to Freud’s theory, civilization creates unhappiness from its restriction of natural behaviors and individual freedom. Therefore, the annual purge can be seen as something necessary for the whole country as well as for individuals to exercise their aggression by hurting one another. Overall, the need to sustain civilization and economic prosperity drives individuals into taking extreme measures.
The elements of powerlessness and exploitation from Young’s five faces of oppression are also evident in the film. An example is depicted when the random man is walking through the neighborhood screaming for help, but everyone is reluctant to provide aid. However, due to the obvious fact that the man was alone with no weapons and was being attacked by a group of masked murders, the Sandin son felt the need to provide aid and shelter for the powerless man. The son recognized the danger of being in that man’s position, thus he wanted to protect him. Ultimately, the Sandin family was later threaten and exploited by the attackers because they refused to cooperate which led to the invasion and terrorization of the whole family.