Monday, June 17, 2013

Are You Waiting For “The Purge”?

I saw a movie the other day that was deeply disturbing, violent, and invasive.  But as much as I wanted to look away, I was drawn to the movie's theme and its, well, execution.

The movie is set a decade into the future, in a time where America is recovering from a period of war, economic decay, and high crime.  On the verge of collapse, a new government came into power and declared that one day a year the citizens can go wild and get away with any crime – including murder.  Certain levels of weaponry and of course high-ranking government officials were exempt from the annual rite of chaos. 

Imagine, you can do what you want and get a free pass. It is a little bit like what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, only here it's a carnival not just of gambling and cavorting, but of killing and pillaging.

Many people saw this as a way to vent pent up anger and frustration.  Others saw it as a chance to rid the country of undesirables; however one defined them (elderly, poor, minority). 

Somehow the day of rage allowed the country to prosper the rest of the year, with low unemployment, and virtually no crime.  Nothing makes you feel more patriotic than killing your boss, neighbor, or a random stranger, right?

How do people who try to kill one another on one night go back to things being normal the next?  How do you prevent the momentary lapse in civil law and ethics to not continue once the bell has been rung to conclude the event? '

I could not help but think the movie was a little like The Hunger Games, where lawless violence is sanctioned by the government for the good of the people.  It’s also part Halloween, where it’s permissible to assume another identity and project fear, anger, and insanity.  And it reminded me of the Amish Rumspringa, a time out for the group's young members to act out the exact things that are normally forbidden.

The film shows a number of interesting things, including how there are always those who prosper financially from the death trade of guns, alarm systems, etc.  It also shows how petty jealousy can rage in each of us and that if given permission to act on it, could lead us to have someone pay the ultimate price.

Though the film rightfully focused on the human toll of such an insane proposition, it didn’t explore how property would be destroyed beyond repair, how the things people spend their lives building could be destroyed in a crazed moment, or how innocents, such as young children, animals, or the severely handicapped could be swallowed up in a scenario that doesn’t allow for an opt-out option. Still, the idea of going wild without consequences certainly has its appeal. 

Who would you confront on your day of purge?  Would you bitch-slap an annoying colleague or boss at the office?  Would you find an ex-love and show him or her just how much you hate them?  Would you settle old scores and destroy those who’ve stood in your way?  How petty would you be?  How extreme would you be – torture, rape, kill? 

Look out publishers, literary agents, and book reviewers – for all the times you turned an author down or criticized their work, you might be on someone’s purge list.  Let the festivities begin!


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

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