The First Purge (2018) and Other The Purge Movies Spoilers Ahead
It has been a tradition of my wife and I to see each new addition to The Purge saga on the Fourth of July. Seeing the first film, I was immediately drawn into the not-so-far in the future political climate and its touching upon the issues of class and poverty.
The first film didn’t dive too much into the world and was mainly a unique a horror/suspense film, but I was then delivered the great news of a sequel and audiences finally got to see more of the United States in the world of The Purge.
For those who aren’t familiar with these films, The Purge revolves around a dystopian US where a new political party, called the New Founding Fathers of America, were elected to office on the platform of initiating a holiday where for one night each year, all crime, including murder, is legal, with the intent of releasing the country’s pent up anger towards the collapsing economy.
The first film focuses on the wealthy Sandin family, whose breadwinner sells personal defense systems that protects buyers from having their homes broken into during the yearly Purge. The son of the family, in an act of altruism, allows a poor man to enter their home who is being hunted by masked, wealthy purgers. The group threatens to break into their home if the family does not return the man being hunted.
In the first film, and the subsequent sequels, the main theme is of class and the rich using the poor for entertainment. The leader of the group threatening to break into the Sandin’s home suggests that the poor were made to be used for sport for the wealthy to purge. In later films, it’s revealed that the real intent of the lawless night was population control of the lower classes so that the government wouldn’t have as many people collecting welfare. The rich in this film franchise thus collect poorer people for hunts, games, and other violent rituals such as a nightly purge church service where sinners are sacrificed feeling that they are doing their duty to “a country reborn.”
Though it is implied that the government of this franchise is corrupt, audiences don’t get a truly in depth look into how until The First Purge.
As the title suggests, the newest film tackles the election of the New Founding Fathers of America to the presidency of the US and their initiation of what would become the murderous holiday. What makes this film stand out from the other three films is that the monstrous corruption of government is not hidden in the slightest.
In the beginning of the film, the NFFA offers citizens of Staten Island, who have been chosen as the location to experiment with the purge, $5,000 to participate in the night, with more money offered if they kill someone, and gives them special contact lenses that record their debauchery. Many of the residents take the money because of the hope of a new life it offers.
Protestors outside the offices, led by one of the main characters Nya, urging the populace to not accept the money and “do not purge. Do not participate.” Her ex-boyfriend, Dmtri, who is considered “king” of the neighborhood (he is a sort of drug lord/crime boss) appears but expresses that he doesn’t support the experiment merely because it is an unknown, not because it is immoral.
After news of Nya’s brother Isaiah is cut on the neck while selling drugs with one of Dmtri’s leaders, she confronts the king and expresses that he is destroying the neighborhood more than anything. Dmtri remains apathetic before the night of lawlessness urging his leaders and sellers to not participate because if they are killed he loses money. Later in the film, Dmtri redeems himself when he realizes the government is altering the purge to make it appear more successful.
In Washington D.C. audiences see the Chief of Staff and the social psychologist who created the concept of a night of murder-induced catharsis overseeing the event via video recording drones. They are disappointed initially as the only murders have come from the insane Skeletor, and residents mostly vandalize property, loot business and have “Purge parties.”
Around midnight, gangs suddenly appear who begin mercilessly killing. The social psychologist finds this unusual as her hypothesis predicted a high initial murder-rate that would quickly taper off. She goes to a private office to investigate.
Meanwhile, Dmtri, after having an assassination attempt and murdering one of his leaders who had planned it, has his convoy hit by another car and wakes up in the middle of a firefight between gangs. He calls for back and dispatches them.
Upon picking up one of members headsets, he hears Russian and what appears to coordinated attacks, leading him to believe the government is sending in mercenaries to make the experiment seem more successful. This is confirmed when the social psychologist finds video of the gangs suddenly appearing out of garages after midnight out of nowhere and the Chief of Staff has her sent to Staten Island to be killed for revealing the truth.
Dmtri takes up arms with his group to defend the island from the mercenaries and in action-hero style, single handedly takes out the mercenaries attacking the tower that Nya and Isaiah live in.
Frankly, the film left me stunned with its unintentional libertarian messaging on the terrors of a corrupt government, human nature and individuals defending themselves. There was a pinnacle moment that displayed the message of freedom when Dmtri and his group were arming themselves for the defense of the community and the king of Staten Island says “the government doesn’t give a f*** about us.”
The initial failure of the purge experiment showed that humans do not inherently wish to harm others even when frustrated by a system that is tearing them down. Most just wanted to do drugs that had been illegal, dance outside with music blasting and no qualms, and maybe cause a little property destruction (the movie did have robbery, but there was also a lot of harmless destruction such as throwing flaming bottles on concrete and blowing up stuffed animals). It was that human nature of the majority that frustrated the New Founding Fathers and caused them to send it hired killers to paint a different narrative.
This concept tells a lot about how government officials will go to extreme lengths to create situations where their legislation seems essential. Without the meddling of the Chief of Staff, the purge very well could have failed and the population would have seen that in general people just want a release from their frustration, but many of the options to do so aren’t afforded to them. Its It’s a lesson in the possibilities of decriminalization and legalization of illegal substances and “obscene” activities.
Finally, “The First Purge” offers one of the best arguments for the right to gun ownership and self-defense, as the only way Dmtri, Nya and Isaiah are able to fight the body-armored, automatic rifle toting mercenaries are with guns and knives of their own. Even the most ardent gun hater can’t deny that a corrupt government using deadly force on its citizens should have been met with the same force.
Every libertarian should go and see “The First Purge” (and the three previous films) and help make the message of freedom and fighting corrupt government spread. Films are one of the most effective tools to spreading a message and getting people emotionally invested, so using the market to accomplish this is one of the most libertarian things we can do.