Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Purge



I recently watched The Purge starring Ethan Hawke and while the concept was intriguing, it brought about some logistical questions. The setting is 2022 and apparently America has undergone a dramatic shift in governance at the hands of “The New Founding Fathers.” Crime and unemployment are now at historic lows and this socio-economic progress is attributed to an annual “purge” where all crime is legal for a 12-hour period. During this time, all emergency services are suspended and all United States citizens are on their own.
Those participating in “the purge” are free to harm anyone (except certain government officials) utilizing anything (except certain military-class firearms) for any reason. Apparently, this annual felony festival provides the catharsis necessary to mollify the collective anger of the populace and prevent economic downturn. An emergency broadcast at 7 PM signifies the purge’s onset and its conclusion is similarly identified at 7 AM.

Those that choose not to participate (but wish to convey their support for the process) are to place purple flowers outside their home or place of business. This implies solidarity with those who participate and would presumably make the occupants less likely to become targets. For others, it has become a social event and they host “purge parties” in their home where they socialize and become inebriated while watching coverage of the event on television.

As I sat through the film, I could not help but wonder if the “new founding fathers” had rescinded daylight-savings time in order to eliminate confusion. Can you imagine being the one guy who got prosecuted for a homicide because he forgot to “spring forward” and thought he had another hour to settle the score? Do I get an extra hour to commit grand theft-auto in Arizona? Time zones would be even worse. Does the purge begin at 7 PM everywhere simultaneously on just the contiguous US? Is the purge the same day every year or is it a floating holiday like Easter?

It would appear that our “new” government officials are not too terribly different from the ones we have now since they enjoy creating legislation almost as much as they enjoy exempting themselves from it. Judging from the obligatory purple bouquet, I would say that the floral lobby is still a force in Congress as well.  It is somewhat depressing that America can apparently come to a consensus on the temporary legalization of sexual assault before we can agree on civilian gun control.

I also found the idea of the purge party somewhat disconcerting. I see social events to be somewhat intimidating already, I cannot imagine attending one where a simple faux pas could so easily lead to my impalement. One caddy remark about Sara’s plunging neckline and suddenly the den looks like the sound stage from Mad Max.

Even if I got invited to a purge party, I would spend hours agonizing over whether or not I should go. What if you unintentionally slighted this person last spring and they plan to jack you with a sock full of pennies the second you walk into the house? What if you erred on the side of caution and didn’t attend, but your refusal to attend was viewed as an insult therefore leading to the very situation you were trying to avoid?

Staying home with your own family could be just as detrimental to your health. Suppose your wife is still stewing about that new cabinet hardware you promised to have installed before President’s Day? You think you are going to get any sleep knowing that she might decide to hold a pillow over your face until her luck changes? And how many women would harbor suspicion when their husband looks up from his phone and casually mentions that “we should invite your mother over for the purge this year.”   

The film never provided a satisfactory explanation as to how “the purge” lowered unemployment. I suppose the legalized killing of others would create some openings in used car sales and investment banking, but I doubt the overall economic effect would be that profound. I can only imagine the Twitter updates from that 12-hour period, “Just stabbed the hostess at Chili’s!” #yousaid10mintuewait #iaskedforabooth #slowservice=box-cutter #lol

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