What “The Purge” Can Teach Us About Human Rights
Ten years in the future, America has undergone a fundamental change in both government and society. After teetering on the brink of failure in the mid-2010s, the United States elects a new regime to power: the so-called “New Founding Fathers,” who have managed to restore our nation. Unemployment has been nearly eradicated and crime rates have dropped to 1%. America enjoys prosperity — all thanks to one night of the year known as “The Purge.”
For a 12-hour period, Americans are permitted to “feed their beasts” by purging themselves of their evil thoughts. All crime is legal — up to and including murder. The only citizens protected from The Purge are “category 10” officials, who viewers are led to believe are the politicians promoting the program. The Purge is glorified in society, and citizens participate without a second thought.
The film follows James and Mary Sandin, a young, wealthy couple who have made their living by selling home security systems to those rich enough to afford them. Though James and Mary choose not to partake in The Purge, they have no option but to protect themselves when their son saves a ‘target’ from being murdered. They must make the decision to protect the refugee or hand him over to those wanting to kill him.
The concept of the film forces viewers to ask themselves what they would do in the Sandins’ situation. For decades, real people have had to make these hard decisions, yet they are portrayed in the film as an abstract concept.
Rwanda. South Africa. Yugoslavia. The Holocaust. Genocide, the systemic killing of specific groups of people, has been going on almost since the beginning of time. At the end of World War II, many nations came together and promised that “never again” would they sit idly by while human beings were massacred.
‘The Purge” is an overt example of genocide. Throughout the film, characters discuss the fact that the poor are the true victims of the program. Because they cannot afford to protect themselves, they make easy targets. The rich in dystopian America have gained a sense of entitlement and view the poor as a drain on the system. They use “The Purge” as an opportunity to cleanse the nation of its “scum” and “pigs.” What is disguised as an opportunity to meet “natural, animalistic urges,” is really just an opportunity to rid the United States of a group of people viewed as undesirable.
Human rights are based on the idea that every person is a moral and rational being and should be treated with dignity. They go beyond just freedom of speech and other rights we hold dear here in the US. They are basic and primal. The very first right assured to any person is the right to life. No one human being is allowed to take the life of another for any reason. And as simple as this concept sounds, history has showed us repeatedly that this right is often disregarded. Freedom of thought, religion, speech, all of these are important, but they mean nothing without the right to life.
What does “The Purge” teach us about human rights? It teaches us that they can easily be ignored. All it takes is for a few people to not stand up and speak out, and even the most basic human right can be lost.
– Allana Welch
Source: European Convention for Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Human Rights, IMDB
Photo: The Nerdpocalypse