Thursday, July 14, 2016

Novels Help Us Purge Without Risk or Regret

Not too many movies inspire me.  I recently saw the sequel to Independence Day and was reminded of how great the original was by how bad this 20-year follow-up is.  How does Hollywood green-light such familiar  trash?  However, one sequel that just came out and was done well is the third installment of The Purge.

This is a fantastic series of films that violently explores a theme that enlivens theater-goers.  The premise is this:  A futuristic America is overpopulated and financially challenged to take care of its weakest and poorest.  A new set of founding fathers “saves” the nation by creating a one-night event each year where citizens can commit any criminal act they desire with immunity – provided it’s not perpetuated against high-ranking government officials or government buildings.  Rape, robbery, murder, and mayhem are the norm during the nightmarish evening.

The movie touches upon numerous issues, including racism and classicism, but it also cuts to the core of human nature.  Do we, at our deepest hearts, want to commit atrocities against all kinds of people who hurt us, disappoint us, or otherwise represent some deficiency?  People killed bosses, parents, and authoritative figures.  They took out rivals and those who were different from them.  It’s amazing anyone was left standing in this film.

The movie is a good defense for why people write and read novels that delve into themes of violence, lust, greed, and behavior that we otherwise can’t perpetuate or tolerate.

But the world is slowly moving towards a purge-like existence.  Acts of terrorism are becoming the norm and mass shootings by the unhinged are regular occurrences.  How will authors compete with the dark reality of life?

We embrace films like The Purge or dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, because we want to explore the ugliest side of humanity without getting ourselves bloodied.  We want the adventure of being in danger but would never actually desire a chance to confront evil so close up.

Books take us to where we can’t go otherwise, to where we can’t afford to be, and they allow us a safe journey every single time.

The Purge is seen by some as just an excuse for gore, mayhem, and hatred to rage.  Exactly.  The movie is our outlet, like the novel, to feel a part of the aspects of life we’d never really want to risk our life, freedom, or dignity over.  I couldn’t really kill off the people I can’t stand, but it’s another to contemplate such a thing, and to share the experience with fellow movie-goers.

We want to live in a cartoon, where a character is blown up in one scene only to return as good as new in the next one.  Novels let us live –and die – a thousand different lives.  Novels exist so a real purge never has to take place.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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