We Try to Survive the Centrist Apocalypse Called 'The Purge: Election Year'

Most horror franchises don’t survive the transition to a sequel, let alone a third movie. We were pleasantly surprised by the action-y, Punisher-esque turn of The Purge: Anarchy, but there were enough red flags to have us deeply concerned about where The Purge would go with its third entry, Election Year, a movie centered around protecting a bizarre Hillary Clinton stand-in, who promises to save the country if we just vote, y'all. Austin, Patrick, Danielle, Natalie, and Rob dive gathered around to dive into Election Year, and hope for better things from the final entry, The First Purge. (Spoiler: That one’s a much better movie.)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/mbyvx3/we-try-to-survive-the-centrist-apocalypse-called-the-purge-election-year

“I know some writers who use subtext and they’re all cowards” - Garth Marenghi


Punisher-esque… yeah, I’ll agree with that statement.

i liked Election Year a lot because it’s one of those films where every part of the text contradicts the ending. obviously it’d be better if it didnt end on saccharine nonsense about how centrism and electoral politics will eventually defeat entrenched class violence, but also, the entire film basically spells out how that thesis is bullshit; you can slap that ending on there all you like, but at the end of the day, you come to The Purge to watch some class war, and a little telling off at the end isn’t going to distract me from enjoying the fuck out of some God Damned Class War.

im honestly so glad you’re doing this series because i’ve been yelling about The Purge series being badass for years and now all my friends are watching it so i can have bigger conversations about that without feeling like i’m yelling at the void. thank you waypoint, for allowing me, to honk my clown horn, about The Purge.

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In the end, Charlie Roan fails. On the radio at the end of the film they talk about civil unrest and riots in the wake of the end of the Purge. I think that this is intended to lead into the 5th film, but ultimately it is a bit of bad filmmaking because there isn’t enough emphasis put on it. I read the film as being about reforms and the effectiveness of reforms, and I was pretty disappointed in the message right up until the very end. At the last moment the film tells you that the reforms were useless, and the only thing that will actually work is force. This could be a studio decision (unlikely, given that they seemed to let Anarchy get made with a radically anti-capitalist message) or it could be a last-minute addition tacked on as the state of American politics took form near the movie’s release. But my reckoning is that the next (final?) movie will be about ending the Purge through revolution.

I actually think that all the Purge movies believe in the tendency of humans towards good. Anarchy reveals that the populace doesn’t participate enough, leading to the use of government death squads in their place. To me this says that the average person doesn’t want the Purge, and that the oligarchs have to maintain the illusion of participation in order to maintain their control.

Also I think y’all are gonna like The First Purge. It is a radically different movie from the first 3, and better for it. Of all the Purge movies, it most effectively brings forth a vision of the Social Realist hero figure, which ain’t something we see too often in modern film.

The Purge Teens as a whole were terrible, I agree about them feeling like cookie cutter characters that the writer felt obliged to put in there. But the scene that bothered me most in this movie was when one of them is run over by protagonist in a spectacularly brutal shot, she is just minced by an ambulance going at high speed. And I end up feeling sorry for these horribly written teen troublemakers that are right out of a movie in the 50s with teens hassling shopkeeps. If we are talking purge movie logic, no one deserved vehicular manslaughter more…but still it was a messed up scene. And no one brings it up again! ever!

It’s such a gross, wish-fulfillment moment, getting revenge on those teens that scare you.
By running them over in your car!

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I could be way off base here, but the teens read to me like a shitty allegory on “hip hop/thug culture”. Quotation marks included to indicate that the actual culture has nothing to do with it and I’m talking about racist white viewings of the culture.

There’s that classic white person line about how maybe white people played a part in putting black people in the ghettos, but black people are keeping themselves there by idolizing these “thugs” who get a little bit of money but immediately spend it all on flashy things. And that idolization causes other poor black people to spend all of their own money on flashy things they don’t need rather than save their money responsibly to help themselves get out of poverty. And so black people stay poor, not because of system racism, but because they keep buying shiny status symbols rather than spend their money responsible.

So the teens are the stereotype of black people with no impulse control just spending all their money as soon as they have it. The lead girl even killed her parents to really drive home the fact that she has destroyed her future just to have fun tonight. And all of this is especially stark because they’re attacking the incredibly respectable Joe. A man who is doing things the “right” way to try to improve his life.