Jesus Christ, they made that Trailer big. Can everyone see what I written here? Good.
As the HUGE trailer above suggests, the one trite loophole in every corny horror movie is finally answered. To illustrate;
Annoying fan: “Why don’t the good guys just call the cops?!”
Director James DeMonaco: “Because… murder was legal that night!”
Sheer brilliance. Not only did he make it painfully obvious why calling for help is not an option, but it paints a dark fantasy in which the government allows total anarchy for the last 12 hours in which the movie’s conflict abounds. Well done DeMonaco. I will be there May 31st!
In fact, I would go so far to say that this new idea behind “The Purge” has me more obsessed then the movie itself. Because it got me to thinking…
How would it happen in real life?
I seriously doubt that any sane government organization would even consider the possibility of allowing something like this to happen. I wouldn’t even be surprised if it came up in some governmental brainstorming session long long ago, and was shot down before it could even become a classified operation. But as I engage the answers to this question, I suspend my common disbelief much in the same way I would when watching the movie that came up with the idea. So what would happen during the one night in which anything goes and even murder is completely legal?
My guess; probably not all that much. Most crimes are both heinous and harmful because the perpetrators usually have the element of surprise. No one expects you to rob them, let alone murder or attack them, and accusing someone of even being capable of doing so is considered offensive to say the least. Crimes by their very nature are a breach of common trust, which is why it is generally more effective to punish wrongdoers then to try to prevent things like that from happening in the first place, despite how tragic and horrendous such crimes are. The idea of making a time in which this trust is no longer enforced and in which American government encourages
these random acts of violence would simply hurl any notion of trusting your fellow man in that scheduled time period out the window. Thus, mankind would do what they always did when their civilization holds something out of the ordinary during a special time of the year; they would make like Christmas marketeers in July and prepare in whatever way they could.
The way in which they would prepare would vary depending on their income, home state,and background. Despite the drastic anti-weapon laws that permeate America in the wake of 9-11, the United States still has more private gun stores then actual military bases. There isn’t another country in the world that can say that; only one that comes close is Switzerland! People who live in states with more lenient gun laws would stock up as many weapons as they could afford. Does anyone watch Doomsday Preppers? Picture that kind of scenario, but every year with commercialized “Purge day specials” months in advance. Wall Mart would probably increase their gun sales to the point of having specials on automatics and barbed wire. Imagine what the advertisement for that would look like!
People with limited budgets and/or home states with stricter weapons laws would need to get more creative. Store owners would buy bulletproof doors and windows and cover them with steel wire. Communities as a whole would hold meetings to come up with security measures and contingency plans. Police and once active military men would lead these meetings, and help both train private citizens and plan for the coming purge. Clever individuals would scour the internet for ways to craft crude weapons and make cheap and deadly traps. Poor families in bad neighborhoods would have the hardest time prepping for the purge, and would either need to move out as soon as possible or find ways to hide and defend themselves. Probably the most prepared would be the criminals themselves.
Gangs, mafia members, and psychopaths would see this day as a kind of reckoning for criminal kind. Anarchist groups like Anonymous would see it as a battle fought hard and won. Organized criminals would see it as a potential payday. For most gang members, it would
be their own personal Ragnarok. Crypts, bloods, and other such gangs would stock up and prepare for war. Psychopaths will want to unleash their hidden rage, and might even disguise themselves in elaborate ways to both stand out and satisfy their sick psychosis. People who work for such organizations and plan to actually do crimes would make a habit of casing places of interest; be it bank, convenience store, or school parking lot.
The months that would lead up to the purge would be pandemonium. News stories of shoppers flooding gun stores would pop up Black-Friday style. Cops would litter the streets like Starbucks in Seattle. Police stops would become very common place, and every strangers who loiter in the wrong spot will be investigated one way or another. FBI would hoard information on all suspicious persons period and make as many manhunts as physically possible. Safety drills and contingency plans would be recited by families and neighborhood communities. Most people would flood out from the inner cities like they would during a scheduled hurricane; with no squatters, since everyone will know there isn’t going to be a rescue party. Locksmiths and paranoia warehouses would print money. The arrest record for most districts in the country would skyrocket, and the banks and super stores would lock up like fort Knox. Real rich people, like the main characters in the movie, wouldn’t even stay in the country. Why set up a security system when you could afford my own private jet, and spend the day of the purge in Cozumel? Everybody would be ready for the worst by the time the day actually came. Police would pack the streets more tightly then ever up to the second they were called off. Impatient criminals who couldn’t wait to go to town would be arrested on the spot, in a more timely fashion then ever in the history of man. Patrol cars wouldn’t even clear the streets completely by the time the purge actually started. Big news corporations might even equip armored vehicles with news equipment in the hopes of catching footage of the massive carnage. Prayers would be made. Doors would be locked. Weapons would be armed, loaded, sharpened, and ready. Children would hide and their parents would take turns keeping watch during the night.
The call would come out, all hospitals and securities would close down, and most of America would turn on the news channels who could afford military surplus and witness…
No riots, no noticeably violent gang wars, no blackout style raids…nothing. Most criminals planning to do something drastic would give up before the purge actually began; that pandemonium I mentioned earlier would be CNN gold, and even the most hardened criminals try to avoid risk. Only the very boldest and most psychotic of villains would continue whatever plans if any they would have for the purge, and they would find their targets wanting. Big banks and federal reserves would only need to close their doors and vaults tight, and they would take most of the very dangerous night just to crack partway. Same for super stores, malls, most well to do homes (that aren’t cleaned out and vacated in advance), and pretty much any public building. Even if criminals found there way in, they would be vacated and emptied of anything too valuable.
The only places that wouldn’t be locked tight are the places either devoid of valuables or abundant in well armed, desperate people who more then likely rigged their home with traps and deterrents in advance. Since murder is obviously legal, nothing will stop home defenders from using maximum force. Real people aren’t so keen to hold on to morals in desperate scenarios, especially when they are under attack. Most would-be robbers and home invaders would be killed before they could even truly act. That’s assuming that the villains are crazy and determined enough to go all the way; most people would probably become so disappointed and discouraged by the outcome that they would go home before getting into any serious trouble. Then they would crash on the couch, and probably fry their brains with illegal narcotics, since its not like crime would be enforced today anyway. More people would probably die of drug overdose then they would of murder.
The most intense acts of violence would be between gangs, and even then, it wouldn’t amount to much. They would litter the now-abandoned streets of cities like Detroit or Trenton, shoot their mouths off, and get into multiple scuffles and fistfights. Even those between well armed thugs would rarely escalate to true war; keep in mind that most gang members aren’t soldiers or terrorists but jerky teenage boys with more ego then guts and almost no experience handling a firearm properly. True shootouts would be rare, and would rarely last more then a minute before all sides retreat. Even drug and gun dealers would spend the purge in frustration because the only people crazy enough to venture outside during this time would want to rob and steal from them. Only the most desperate junkies would buy from them, and they would have probably done the same any day.
The few times when something truly awful or violent would occur would be recorded by the armored news vans hungry for action, and air it on live TV. The local authorities would document the details, and surviving perpetrators would be added to the FBI’s over grown watch list. The purge would end before anyone could really feel threatened, and crime would probably be lower during that twelve hour period then the entire year. Everything would go back to normal the next day, crime would not deter, and the government would not bother with it again.
I can say this confidently only because it happens way too often. We all anticipated WWIII during the cold war; never happened. We thought back in the 90s that the internet would bring in the golden age of human intelligence; not even close. Same goes for Y2K, the bicentennial, 2012, and everything else that seemed horrible on the horizon but never made much of a dent in the grand scheme of things. This is why I don’t believe in Global Warming, Economic Collapse, or worry about North Korea invading our borders. Too many people are aware of these things, concerned about them, and taking measures against them as I write this. Same is true for things like the zombie apocalypse and the singularity; too many people are thinking about it. Once something stands out in the public consciousness, it rarely becomes a big deal.
The things that do impact our lives and the course of human history are the events the come from nowhere.
Prime example; 9/11. If you traveled back in time to September 10th, 2001, and told people that a bunch of crazy Islamic extremists
would successfully hijack american airlines and destroy New York’s tallest buildings by crashing the planes like kamikaze missiles, they would have called you nuts! And for good reason; the history channel actually aired a documentary telling the world how secure and indestructible the twin towers were. This was for real. The arguments they made were just as reassuring as the ones that said the Titanic was unsinkable, the Hindenburg was fail safe, the stock market in 1930 would only go up, and that America would never get attacked during WWII. Google any one of those things and see for yourself how wrong they were.
I’m not saying that big problems sort themselves out; they never do. It’s just that the ones that always get sorted out first and more thoroughly are the ones blown way out of proportion. The problems that most people don’t notice and are mitigated by those who do inevitably grow bigger then people could imagine.
That’s what happened with both the Cold War and 9/11; the Cold war dragged out for years, with both sides armed and ready. While we came horrifyingly close during the Cuban Missile Crisis, negotiations were settled and nothing happened. Whereas in the 90s, only a few obscure individuals were taking the idea of Islamic terrorism seriously, and no one else thought a bunch of third-world country whack jobs could do anything significant. History proved otherwise.
The moral of history; don’t believe the hype, and don’t judge a book by its cover. Ever.
So yeah, we just went from talking about a new scary movie coming out to speculating about government action to examining social infrastructure of our society and the impact of it’s media.
I apologize for any headaches, brain explosions, and insanity inducing epiphanies this article may have caused.
I will end things by reminding you all that these insights are only reflections based on my opinion. What’s yours?
Do you think the government would put together an event like the purge? How would it happen in real life? And more to the point, what would you wind up doing about it?
Share your answers in the comments; I would love to hear them.
Well, I read the statistics, and apparently this article is the most popular article on Tech Circuit! Seems a good as place as any for some shameless self-promotion
For those of you who like my work, here are a few links that connect to both my video game reviews and my more fictitious writings.