Oh, the Purge movies. How can I not talk about them? Four movies in and I feel like they’ve finally hit their stride. If you aren’t familiar with the Purge movies I’ll summarize them for you quickly: every year for 12 hours America partakes in a purge where all crime, including murder, is allowed with no consequences. The movies fall into the horror genre, but there’s not a lot of ‘scary’ scenes to be honest. Instead, the movies are a cautionary tale, an allegory for the world today, a political dystopia, and, oh yeah, a time to see crazy people do crazy things. The concept of the purge seems like fantasy; how could we ever get to a point where we are ok with killing each other for a day? But the underlying themes and political maneuvering is not so unrecognizable.
In the America where the purge is legal, the nation is divided, the government doesn’t know how to take care of the poor, and the people are angry and frustrated with no outlet to vent that anger. The purge is a way for America to reboot itself for a year. If they don’t let out that anger, the repercussions will be worse. At least, that’s what some people think is right. In the last movie, the purge was a way for the government to take advantage of minorities and hire mercenaries to wipe them out, proving they are the violent people they think they are.
The Purge champions the violent and punishes the good.
I have brainstormed a dozen different ideas for a Purge sequel (because there’s going to be like ten more, no joke). I won’t tell you the details here because you might STEAL THEM! But, the movies got me thinking; we may not have a national purge where we go around murdering each other, but we definitely have daily, weekly, and yearly purges that are rooted in similar ideas.
The word purge literally means to cleanse or get rid of. Say you work a twelve-hour shift. When you get home, you want to continue working right? Hell no! You want to take a nap. You want to play video games or watch a movie. You want to ‘blow off some steam’. Is that not kind of like a minor purge? You’re trying to cleanse this crappy day; save it, so to speak, before you have to turn around and do it again the next day.
When people get smashed on the weekend, is that not like a purge of their total week? Get your paycheck, buy some booze, and unload! I don’t think the comparison is that much of a stretch.
What about when you’re really angry? Do you turn on 50 First Dates and pop open the Riesling? No, I think you go to the gym and attack the punching bag. You turn on the most violent Mel Gibson movie and watch a man kill his way to success. You blast the Iron Maiden. These are all devices, or moments, used to cleanse your anger—purges. There was literally an entire genre of music (emo) dedicated to this.
We have gotten really good at holding in our emotions. Back in the day, they used to fight it out in the streets. Now, we sit behind screens and spew horrible rhetoric on people’s Twitters. I don’t think either option is healthy. We take part in these purges because we’re unhappy with the moment. It could be something as big as being stuck in a horrible job, or something as small as a bad hair day. Or maybe we’re just mad that someone else is happy while we’re sad. Either way, that anger’s got to come out.
Can purging ever be good? Certainly! You can purge all of the junk stacked up in your garage so you can actually park the car in there. You can purge social media (like I did!) so you can spend time during the day not worrying about what your 400 friends are doing. You can purge all those Zebra Cakes you have stacked in your closet. Well, maybe not all of them …
Purging is a good thing WHEN the act itself is done out of love. Sometimes, anger is a great motivator for getting stuff done. Sometimes, it’s good to take a break and crack open a beer.
So, you’re pissed off about your day? Is killing a hundred ants with a magnifying glass going to make you feel better? Geez, it might in the worst way, but is it actually solving anything? It’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
Are you taking part in your purge because you want to feed hate, or starve it?
Now, pleaaaaaaase do not think I am saying it is bad to wind down, or play video games after a long day, or even punch the punching bag as if your life depended on it. All I’m saying is—the best way to calm your anger is not in a fit of violence, but in the calm of silence. And maybe, a couple of hits to the punching bag too.
Purge properly, my friends.