What does The Purge tell us about the national mood?

Purge: Bad Guys are coming
Purge: Bad Guys are coming

Current movies, books and music are obviously connected to the national mood, but I’ve often wondered if they create it or merely reflect it. Movies like Rambo expressed a national mood of rage over losing the Vietnam War, and revenge came in the form of several thousands rounds of ammunition pumped into a lot of Viet Cong; machine gun held steady in the brawny arms of America-still strong, so ef you, world!

But what does the success of The Purge indicate? The Purge is a 2013 science fiction horror-thriller that made a ton of money and is planning to release a new version this summer. For twelve hours all laws are suspended. What will people do? This tactic, instituted by the New Founding Fathers, is supposed to relieve mass frustration at least once a year, though it also serves to reduce the population.

Some purgers kill off society’s rejects, but some go after the rich. In Purge: Anarchy all the CEOs and bank officials will be done in. What does that tell us? There is lots of blood and possibly more rounds of ammo taking out fellow citizens than Rambo used to take out Viet Cong.

What does all this mean? I suggest it means Americans are very angry and this time the enemy isn’t external, but right here among us.-yet we disagree on who that enemy is. The national mood is fearful, tense and angry. There are some valid reasons for this mood. Of course, grabbing guns and shooting lots of people is not a valid solution, but it’s a quintessentially American one.  Perhaps just watching The Purge will purge some of the anger out there? or might it inflame it?

Do movies create or reflect our worldview? Or does it go both ways in a feedback loop?




1 Comment

  1. I would say it does both, but I’d lean a bit more heavily on the reflect side of it.

    For example, the successful show 24, which created and reflected how America was feeling going through 9/11, it’s emphasis on how Muslims were the bad guys, and creating tv that played on our fears, and recent traumas. But for more ignorant Americans, this helped shaped their view of the middle east.

    Great post though, and good thoughtful insight!

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