Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.
Yesterday evening I watched The Purge: Anarchy (2014), sequel to The Purge (2013) which I blogged about in a previous post entitled “The White Supremacist Purge“.
Before I go any further, I should like to state for the record that I found the film made for constructive Counter-Racist viewing despite the inevitable plot holes, somewhat far-fetched premiss etc. The film has generated a host of critical and negative reviews, but I do not think that should stop the discerning Counter-Racist from engaging in viewing of this movie.
Here is the official trailer on YouTube:
For a summary of the plot, I should like to refer interested readers to the entry for the film on Wikipedia.
In terms of film reviews, consider the following from Mike McCahill, writing in The Guardian on Thursday 24 July 2014:
Last year’s hit The Purge ventured a superficially eye-catching premise – what if the US government granted its citizens an annual mischief night to get any crime out of their systems? – before retreating indoors into indifferently staged runaround. The sequel, again overseen by James DeMonaco, thinks the idea through, following those left outside as the Purge kicks in. Flickers of dread materialise – care of those one-percenters co-opting the event for entertainment – though again we’re mostly in second gear. If the first movie was a lack-lustre Assault on Precinct 13 (the remake of which DeMonaco penned), this is a modest Escape from New York, with growly lone wolf Frank Grillo steering representative survivors between Gothy bikers and lip-smacking private armies.
I’m a big fan of those two John Carpenter films and I think McCahill is pretty much on point in connecting the dots between this installment of The Purge trilogy (a prequel is planned) and those classic sci-fi / action B-Movies.
Observer film critic, Mark Kermode, had this to say on Sunday 27 July 2014:
This surprisingly grim follow-up to last year’s dystopian near-future fantasy escapes the home-invasion confines of the original to take to the streets of the city, where chaos once again reigns. During an annual 12-hour free-for-all in which crime – including murder – is temporarily rendered legal, a bedraggled group find themselves huddled together in downtown LA where vigilante gangs, mysterious hitmen and wealthy scumbags wreak violent havoc.
The post-Rollerball / Hunger Games premise may not stand up to much scrutiny, but writer-director James DeMonaco keeps us distracted from the underlying silliness by taking class-war potshots at the ruling elite, whose barbarity (both fiscal and personal) proves the real theatre of hate. Despite the box-office success of The Purge (which DeMonaco envisaged as “a politically subversive indie that would play in small arthouses”), this sequel still resembles a nasty little B-picture, unashamed of its exploitation roots [emphasis added].
Again, I would concur that the film is somewhat of “a nasty little B-picture, unashamed of its exploitation roots”.
However, from a Counter-Racist perspective, I should like to problematise Kermode’s (and others’) framing of the movie as being about “taking class-war potshots at the ruling elite”. Consider the following comment from a blogger called Ralph on The Truth About Guns:
All things considered, The Purge: Anarchy is probably the most anti-capitalist movie I’ve seen since Robocop. Because of the serious nature of Purge 2 it’s far more vicious. It’s also the most racially inflammatory movie I can recall [emphasis added].
I’m not sure I would go that far, but I think Ralph is onto something here in flagging up the overt “racial-polarization” in the film. As he states elsewhere in his blog post:
A lot of people of color get killed, and The Symbionese Liberation Army (or whatever they are calling themselves in 2023) doesn’t like it. On the other hand, evil white people are doing so well that they can actually indulge their pent-up taste for hacking terminally-ill black people to death with machetes without fear of repercussion, after the payment of a suitable, negotiated fee [emphases added].
Yet another reviewer picking up on the ‘racial’ theme is Roger Moore, writing in The Columbus Dispatch, July 18 2014. On his view,
Anarchy is more overtly about race and class as the mixed group of five tries to survive [emphasis added]
and Jonathan Kim, writing in the Huffington Post on 25 July 2014, concurs with this assessment pointing to the film’s critique of “racism, classism and political conservatism”. Kim goes on to state that:
[Carmelo,] the shadowy leader of an anti-Purge resistance group (Michael K. Williams) makes clear that the Purge isn’t about the ritual purification of the nation’s soul, but is instead a way to keep the disenfranchised scared, weak, and poor as the rich consolidate their power with the money that would otherwise go to creating a more equitable society. In a movie where anyone could be a murderer, it’s the rich who are painted as the film’s biggest villains as they wait in fortified mansions and fancy ballrooms for mercenaries to deliver fresh victims whose lives will be bought or auctioned off to the highest bidders.
However, Moore reads the character of Carmelo differently, viz.
Black revolutionary Carmelo is preaching against the purge, calling it a racistway for the rich to cull the minority population [emphasis added].
I am strongly inclined to agree with Moore’s “Black Revolutionary” interpretation over Kim’s somewhat milder ‘resistance’ rendering although I accept the connections between these ideas. Most poignant for me is a scene in the film which depicts the anti-Purge group and its leadership as some organisation akin to the US Black Panther Party or South African Economic Freedom Fighters engaging in Fanonian (Counter-)Violence as a means by which to “break the grip of shame” foisted on the poor = people of colour = non-white VoRs (Victims of Racism) by the system of Racism (White Supremacy).
In this regard, consider the following observation of another online commentator,USMC94 from 31 July 2014:
… White people are crazy as fuck.
1. The white rich family bought the Dad so they could kill him.
2. The white girl in the room started the gunfire and tried to kill her cheating boyfriend.
3. Hundreds of white people were hosting an auction and bidding on people to kill them.
4. All the psychos and killers were white.
1. The black gang with masks said they didn’t want to kill people. They were just capturing them and selling them to white people.
2. I don’t recall any killers in the movie being black. They were all white.
3. I don’t recall any black people dying in the movie.
I was surprised by all of this. I don’t know if it was purposely done or what.
Edit: Now that I think about it, in the first movie, the crazy white people wanted to purge on the innocent black guy. Lol
In response, another commentator notarealaccount states:
Black people don’t need the purge. They live through that shit erry day
However, what really intrigues me about The Purge: Anarchy is how it might function as a coded message to / for White Supremacists (Racists), viz. “the barbarians are at the gates”, and there is a “rising tide of colour against white world supremacy”, to domesticate / localise a global thesis explored by Lothrop Stoddard in his 1925 work of the same name etc. (Ronald Segal later explored a similar thesis in his 1967 work,The Race War.)
In closing, I should like to invite interested readers to check out the following promotional sites: