“The Purge: Anarchy” tells the story of an America in the year 2023, with unprecedented low crime and unemployment rates. How did this happen? Did we finally get our proverbial s#$t together and enact laws, educational frameworks, and social services that truly support the needy? Nope. In 2023 America, we enact “The Purge”. Created by what are known as the New Founding Fathers, all emergency services are shut off once a year for 12 hours, and citizens are given free reign to rape, murder, and do whatever they want without consequence. The idea being the less people (i.e. poor people, minorities, undesirables, sociopaths) around to feed, clothe, and shelter, the better off America will be. But the government markets it as a way for people to just let go of all their past aggression and stress…by killing people. Sounds legit!
The above sounds like a frightening future and one is very likely to think, “This is America. There is no way something like that could happen!” True. But what if it’s happening now, and not in the manner described above?
Philadelphia and Chicago are twin cities as it relates to gun violence. It is pervasive and having a horrendous impact on those cities as a whole. In addition, many of these deaths are (allegedly) due to gang and drug related incidents. The news reports it as a typical day and the people living in these fine cities are left to wonder aloud, “Who is going to help us?”. The usual response is a short lived outcry of anger and resentment. Followed by platitudes from city leaders promising to stamp down on crime and do their best to “save the children”. But the measures currently taken to stem this type of violence are few and far between.
Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with violence in the inner city, a refrain you tend to hear is, “They’re gang members/drug dealers/animals. Let’s just put them in a cage and let them kill each other!”. Fortunately, that solution will never come to pass. Most (young) people who do this do it for survival. Not because they think it’s cool. You don’t see Bill Gates in a black mask goonin’ Warren Buffet. Why? Because those dudes have jobs.
Now, this is not meant to absolve people of their behavior. But ask, “What can we do about this modern day purge?” What can we do to stem the violence that takes away so many young people and the poor? I suspect that if we adults provided more economic and educational opportunities to the young people of Philadelphia and Chicago, especially during the summer months, they might not have to resort to creating their own opportunities and “purges” that result in selling drugs, using guns, and killing people.
But this isn’t localized to just the United States. With Boko Haram, the Israeli-Palestinian war, the tragedy in the Ukraine, the drug war south of the border, the newly emerging Ebola epidemic and many other conflicts/tragedies, we are witnessing “purges” on a massive scale. And there seems to be no end in sight. It’s as if we’re stuck in a state of emotional atrophy. We’re too bewildered and scared to do anything. Unfortunately, many of the victims mentioned above are also young and poor.
“The Purge” movies are not meant to necessarily engage the audience in any sort of intellectual discussion. It’s just non-stop violence after the second act. And after the 12 hours have gone by, the citizens of 2023 America move on and act as if nothing happened. It’s just normal, right? And the band plays on. But that’s the scary thing about this movie. It’s not the actual purge that should frighten you. It’s the acceptance of it by an entire “civilized” nation. Sort of like we’re doing now.
Sources/Credit and Links: Featured image via Blumhouse Productions