10 reasons why ‘The Purge’ premise rankled

Although it recently left local theaters, I wanted to mention why the advertisements and basic premise of “The Purge” teed me off. I had no intention of seeing it — this sort of home under siege thriller is not my kind of movie, but the dystopian future concept was infuriatingly flawed. I was constantly thinking of more and more reasons why it couldn’t work (or would very quickly fall apart).

The A.V. Club posted a review of the film and I added a comment detailing why I thought the society of “The Purge” would simply be unworkable based from the ads. My comments on the matter received 137 likes from fellow commenters, so I thought I would present them here.

I supplemented the list after someone who saw the movie pointed out some details that were missing from the trailers. It was interesting, but it didn’t seem to make the premise any more workable than before.

  1. If all crime is legal, what’s stopping the terrorists foreign and domestic from bombing the hell out of everything? If there is a Fortress America in the near future, the idea of the Purge seems to give terrorists a free pass for 12 hours. Perhaps this would allow the military to stop threats without the mamby-pamby law, but that brings us to:
  2. No law-enforcement or military organization would readily be available to maintain order. Even if they weren’t stood down as the review indicates, there would probably be a lot of fragging among the ranks or trying to defend themselves from civilians who felt slighted over the past year.
  3. However, that’s apparently not the case — a commenter noted federal employees are out of bounds. This fact instantly betrays the idea of equal (non) protection under the law.
  4. A commenter also noted that there was apparently a “no heavy weapons” rule. That sounds intriguing, but it seems unenforceable considering the likely lack of law enforcement during the Purge. Unless there are federal agents monitoring the annual massacre and doing nothing besides looking for violators of that one specific clause. That seems particularly evil.
  5. Let’s say the government and rich people try to use robots to defend their property. No human thought means there would be no desire to strike back during the Purge, right? Sure, until someone hacks the system.
  6. The idea of the Purge is a health and insurance nightmare. First, there would realistically be no medical care during the event because no rational person would probably expose themselves during it. Second, paying for medical care after the fact would be a nightmare — what sane health insurance company would cover injuries that would be inflicted during the 12 hours? There’s no legal recourse to sue the person who inflicted the injuries … because all crime is legal. The injured citizens would have to pay for their injuries entirely out of pocket. Only the ultra-rich would be able to afford to pay for medical care from what happens, leading to economic ruin for everyone else and the rest of the nation.
  7. The movie appears fixated on the idea that some would go all-out killing each other, but the laissez-faire nature of the Purge seems to indicate that any number of other heinous crimes could and would take place. The ads show rioting, but any number of unconscionable acts would likely happen, like sex crimes of all sorts.

    Perhaps some sex offenders would be “taken care of” during the Purge, but how does that balance out the fact these sex crimes could happen during the 12 hours and be all hunky dory?

  8. Even if heavy weapons are excluded, that brings up a point I forgot to mention earlier — there could be cyber terrorism from outside sources.
  9. Also, what’s to prevent a bank from stealing everyone’s money? Even if you invest in a bank that _promises_ it won’t steal your money, a bank could go back on its word and be in the Bahamas before you can say “D’oh!” Again, there would be no legal recourse and the weakening economy would again damage this society’s chances for survival.
  10. Finally, this whole system seems geared to create a really violent, really stupid populace, like that of “Idiocracy.” Only the ultra-violent or ultra-rich would seem to survive this nightmare, leading to an increasingly violent population.

I’m sorry this is a bit long, it’s been bugging me for weeks for all the reasons stated above — and the fact that “Star Trek” did it as a small aspect of an episode nearly 50 years ago (the “Red Hour” in “The Return of the Archons“).

Apparently, that’s not a coincidence — the writer/director apparently had it in mind, according to Badass Digest.

I should probably accept that this home-invasion movie isn’t for me, but the half-baked political angle rankled.