“...Waffles and pussy. That’s all I ever really think about anymore…You laughin’; I’m dead serious.”
While The Purge: Election Year was expectedly good, it was not billed as a comedy. Though I found myself smiling, laughing and otherwise thoroughly enjoying every minute of the third installment of this captivating movie franchise. Let’s get into it.
Ever since the first release in 2013, the idea of an annual 12 hour period free of law enforcement has been very appealing. Not for the murder and mayhem that fill the streets, but for other reasons. Why the elites, the so-called New Founding Fathers and their capitalist brethren would implement and maintain such a brutal institution is made painfully clear as the storyline progresses. The Purge has proven to be an efficient method of eliminating their class enemies. Makes sense. But why would a proletarian be in support of such barbarism? In what way(s) could The Purge serve the interests of the Wretched of the Earth? Excellent questions that have been answered, again with progressive clarity, over the course of the franchise. For example, in the second installment, disingenuously subtitled ‘Anarchy’, we saw a Wall Street criminal type on the receiving end of some working-class justice; literally strung up outside the bank with a note of irony stapled to his person:
Here hangs stock broker such and such. He stole our pensions. Now he’s gone.
It’s action like that that spells The Purge’s value to the masses of exploited humans living in North America. It’s an opportunity for justice to be delivered when and where it otherwise wasn’t; with one crucial caveat though. Election Year finally corrected the most problematic piece of the annual purge: the exemption of senior ranking government officials, the most criminal element of any society. With the lifting of said exemption, the purge becomes much more useful to the proletariat, as Election Year well reflected.
Officially and fittingly listed as a social science fiction horror film, it explored a plethora of the different social phenomena representative of a society that purges. Alpha males in close quarters, gladiator style, deathmatch tournaments scattered throughout the city; the victors roaring and beating their chests while covered in blood. Mischievous teenagers, emboldened at the prospect of a little legalized vengeance, mutate into menacing, murdering monsters. Bloodthirsty foreigners flying into the nation’s capital, feeding the growth industry that is murder tourism, wearing the likeness of American icons, while slaughtering Americans in the name of America. Religious rituals centering around human sacrifice, in which innocent members of our species are butchered, as the believers yell “purge and purify.” Unresolved racial conflicts resurface to beautiful bloody ends, as a well-armed, well-funded unit of white supremacists gets punished by a set of Crips greater in number and more heavily armed. Camaraderie between peace-loving humans, one helping another by delivering a remarkably accurate warning shot to a group of would-be intruders, and explaining his unknown skill set with the words, “Everyday in Juarez is like the purge.” The community ambulance worker who earned a reputation for herself in previous purges, who now graciously services the wounded on purge night, but who will put out pain with the bullpup shotgun when her comrades get jammed up. As I said, the cultural and social dynamics are plethoric.
“How the hell did it get to this?” When that question was asked during the movie, notions of plausibility came to mind. Consider a nationwide ballot this November that includes a referendum on instituting an annual purge; not just on the big screen but in real life. Do you think it would pass? You might want to say no. But are you sure? The beautiful irony of the matter is that within Election Year itself is a subtle jewel as to why purging will likely remain on screen. At the presidential debate, the senator implored her fellow citizens to appeal to “the better angels of our nature.” Which I understood as a reference to Steven Pinker’s classic text subtitled ‘Why Violence Has Declined’ that details the continual decrease in violent behavior over the course of human history, and offers a very well-researched counterbalance to the cesspool of nihilism from which purges are born.
That having been said, peace to whoever put the box of honey buns on the shelf in the underground bunker, peace to the brothers who – with no hesitation and a smile on their faces – neutralized them white racist mercenaries, peace to those individuals with waffles and pussy on the mind, and peace to the fourth volume of The Purge. I look forward to it!