I recently watched The Purge, and found the concept of an annual “purge” interesting (as well as horrifying). While LS previously posted about what one might do within this situation, I am interested in exploring this film as a depiction of a controlled apocalypse.
For those of you who haven’t seen this film or haven’t heard of it, it centres from the question, what if all crime, from petty theft to murder, was legal for 12 hours every year? Well this story takes the stance that it would result in crime rates being at an all time low and unemployment at 1%, thereby resulting a seemingly utopian America.
Here’s a trailer for better context.
This concept ties into the cyclical apocalypse as this annual purge represents an apocalypse in many ways. For example, during these 12 hours governments are basically non-existent, there are no emergency systems, and people are left entirely to their own devices. For the middle and upper classes protection is a possibility, but those living in impoverished areas are largely targeted and therefore would perceive this event as very much apocalyptic.
Despite the apocalypse in this film being a very controlled, what drives many to glamorize the concept of an apocalypse is the possibility of a better future. We see this belief system within many of the characters of the film, from active participation to the display of blue flowers on their steps as a way to showcase their support of the purge. Initially, as an audience we are introduced to this event as one of excitement and one that will ultimately make society greater, although this purge is dangerous it allows for people to live in a society where many of our largest problems are gone, as we are purging ourselves of our “need” to commit crimes. Nevertheless, it depicts humans as a very malicious species, one that innately enjoys violence and causing harm to one another and by the end of the film we can see that this society would be better categorized as a dystopia.