When Cinema Tackles Politics—The Purge: Anarchy

by / 1 Comment / 316 View / July 25, 2014

The movies we see in theaters are often nothing special. There isn’t much to them — no real depth to speak of — just the audience-pleasing normalities that we all flock to $5 Movie Mondays to see with our friends. Every now and again, though, a movie defies these expectations. Such movies tackle issues in our society that are often paid little attention to by movie audiences, while still providing the twists and thrills that make for a positive cinematic experience. The recently released sequel to The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy, is one such movie and deserves to be hailed as such.

America is often thought to be a class-less society, but this is a fact that economically conscious individuals know not to be true and one that is all too clearly disproved in The Purge: Anarchy, specifically on the night of The Purge itself.  Protestors of the national event stand opposed to The Purge in saying that it is a holiday created to cleanse the nation of its lower-class citizens in order to make living more simple and more pleasurable for the upper-class elite. As events of the film unfold, this idea is proved to be true in the most terrifying ways that give the Dead Kennedys’s song “Kill The Poor” a whole new meaning. The issue is unfolded in layers of increasing clarity throughout the film, and it is made visually clear that the level of poverty is also closely related to race, although this is never directly spoken about by the characters. While an obvious and extraordinarily violent dramatization, The Purge: Anarchy is the most effective broadcast thus far of a very real and very serious problem that American society has in dealing with its poorer population.

In real-life, modern-day America, there is not a night in which the poor are hunted. There are, however, systematic injustices that — intentionally or not — are intended to keep the poor in their place and blame them for it. When faced with questions concerning the poverty-stricken percentage of citizens (15%), the response most heard is “Why don’t they just get a job?” As simple a solution as this may sound, finding a job is not what it used to be. Between the years of 2000 and 2009, about six million jobs were lost in America, and between outsourcing and failing businesses, they aren’t growing back on trees. These statistics make for an incredibly difficult experience for an individual to land even a minimum wage job. When a Walmart store opened in Washington, D.C., 23,000 people applied. This sounds like a wonderful number, a number of people really moving forward into an employed lifestyle, until you realize that there were only 600 positions available. These numbers made the acceptance rate for minimum wage positions at Walmart only 2.5%, twice as selective as Harvard University. 

As the decrease in available jobs continues to keep the poor poor and the wealthy wealthy, there are darker issues that face lower-class citizens in America that much more closely resemble the horrors of The Purge. Stop-and-Frisk policies and police brutality have placed a certain fear for law enforcement officials in the eyes of citizen, rather than the trust and respect that is expected to be displayed. While many say that it is unfair and unwise to fear the police force, it is completely justified by the parties who hold the fear. In the last decade alone, more citizens have been murdered in cases of police brutality than have American soldiers in the concurrence of the Iraq War. This is a terror that is primarily connected to citizens living in areas of high poverty, but is more specifically a racial issue. Of the 191,558 individuals who were stopped and frisked in New York City in 2013, only 11% were Caucasian, while 56% were African American and 29% were Latino or Hispanic. This circles back to the alluded to, but not discussed, correlation of race and poverty in The Purge: Anarchy.

Poverty and the oppression of those living under it are not issues to be ignored, but they are issues that are under-represented. The Purge: Anarchy has taken on these societal problems in a manner not yet seen in mainstream media, and it is my hope that it calls to attention the true beast that we are dealing with in this nation. So wait for $5 Movie Monday to roll back around, go see the film that speaks for itself and for those who are not heard, and remember all the good that The Purge does.

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  • John Giant

    I’m so glad to see someone bypass the superficial attraction of its suspense and horror and delve deeper into it’s meaning and message!