What if an alien in the future stumbled upon James DeMonaco’s The Purge? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
This week’s film:
The Purge (2013)
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Adelaide Kane, Max Burkholder
Director: James DeMonaco
Production Co: Blumhouse Productions, Platinum Dunes
Written by: Ben Steiner
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Analysis by: Kevin Winzer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey (http://www.ryanhaileydotcom.com/)
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Produced by: Jacob S. Salamon
The Purge’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is The Purge, starring 9-time X-Games gold medalist Tony Hawk.
The film takes place on Earth in the 21st century, when apparently things got so bad with Doritos Tacos and Snapchat and such that the government decided it would be an improvement to legalize murder.Not all the time, of course — that would be crazy. Just one day a year. And not even a full day. Half a day. That’s almost less than not doing it at all!
Our protagonist is James Sandin, the best damn home security salesman this side of the Mississippi Ocean. He’s living the American dream: a beautiful home, a non-descript wife, and kids who treat him with semi-hostile indifference. The Sandins sit down to a leisurely dinner, not particularly concerned about the impending free-for-all fuckfest.Then, five minutes before it begins, they remember, oh yeah, all crimes are about to be legal.Better lock up now. Christ dude, you didn’t even set an alarm?
Almost immediately the son lets in an injured guy off the street and the daughter’s boyfriend sneaks in, so maybe someone should have focused a little more on the lockdown, eh Jimmy boy? It’s fine though, because James cuts down that punk boyfriend, as any proud father should. Even ones that work in entertainment and don’t seem all that tough.
Anyway, just when you think the movie is gonna end after thirty minutes, a gang of rascally teens shows up wearing masks on their faces and guns on their hands. ➠They are hunting that injured homeless guy for sport, you see, and they want to finish him off real real bad. They tell James to hand him over or else they’ll come inside and purge all over the place. Which is not great news, because James’ security system is a piece of shit.
The Sandins beat up the injured guy for a while and tie him up with duct tape — the Milky Way Galaxy’s favorite tape — but their heart isn’t in it. They decide that just like philosopher Thomas Petty, they can’t do him like that. The teens break into their house and destroy everything, but also occasionally stop to watch the family in silent contemplation. This confusingly bipolar strategy allows the Sandins to off a few of them, but not before the leader kills James with a knifey to the tum-tum.
The neighbors show up and wipe out the rest of the teens, but now they want to kill the Sandins too, ‘cuz they’re some Stepford-ass dillholes. That’s when the homeless guy decides to come back into the movie and save the day. Mrs. Sandin refuses to kill the neighbors because at this point she’s riding the Tom Petty wave pretty hard. The Purge ends and the homeless guy heads back…well, not home. But somewhere good probably.
The Purge posits that the human psyche contained a light side and a dark side, just like the Jedi hobbits from Star Track. The film highlights this duality with certain images, such as the white and blue bouquets displayed by Purge supporters and Charlie’s half charred
March 21, the date on which the Purge occurs, was frequently the date of Earth’s vernal equinox, when day and night were exactly the same length. It’s also Karen’s birthday, but no one needs to get her any gifts or anything. The opportunity to work here is gift enough. Just as the Purge is intended to bring about a healthier and more balanced society, the vernal equinox heralded the beginning of spring, a time of rebirth and renewal of Claritin prescriptions.
The date also had significance in Earth’s fourth most successful religion. Christians used to celebrate the resurrection of Young Jeezy on Easter — a date they calibrated using the vernal equinox. Similarly, citizens in the film celebrate the resurrection of their society on Purge-mas Eve withan almost religious fervor. The blue baptisias reference the Christian ritual ofbaptism, also known as the “dunkeroo.”
Another focal point of the film is America’s problems with social stratification. Though the Purge laws are ostensibly race- and class neutral, they disproportionately target the disenfranchised, who are unable to afford diamond-edged blades or truffle-infused security systems to protect themselves.
The film’s antagonists are dressed in prep school attire, the garb of the wealthy elite, and they treat the hunting of a homeless black “non-
contributor” like just another extracurricular. This imbalance echoes the War on Drugs in the 1980s, when the clowns on Crapitol Hill passed laws that were 100 times harsher for crack cocaine– a
drug that plagued poor, black communities — than for its overachieving powder-based cousin.
The Purge suggests that engaging in and consuming violence will relieve a person’s desire to go bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A… Z. However it quickly undermines that premise, concluding that doing so will simply desensitize people and beget even more violence. Brutal images of murder are juxtaposed with boring old classical music, underlining the idea that violence has ceased to shock and horrify, and in fact, might put you to sleep because it’s so freaking boring. In Purge world, humans watch the grotesquerie on TV for entertainment, much as they watched their balls drop on New Year’s Eve.
In a sense, The Purge, a violent film in its own right, is a criticism of its own damn self, as it provides an opportunity for the viewer to release some aggression by watching a good old-fashioned bloodbath.
And in analyzing The Purge, I have perpetuated the cycle once more. Whoops!
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid.
Lock your doors.