‘The Purge’ Exploits American Icons to Bash America, NRA

There’s nothing like a movie that uses tons of American imagery to criticize … America. The American flag, the bald eagle, even “God Bless America” all form the backdrop for the new thriller “The Purge.”

The film asks the question: What would America look like if all crime was legalized for one night a year? The trailer opens with inspiring images of “America – A nation reborn,” in the year 2022, with a flag, a bald eagle, and a family walking into the sunset. Unemployment is at 1 percent. Crime is at an all-time low.

 

But this utopia comes at a cost. One night of chaos, where all crime is legal, to “purge” America of its violent tendencies. Of course the idea for this night of terror comes from the new patriot group that comes into power. Called the New Founders of America (NFA), they believe in God, guns, and the military draft. The group’s logo resembles the presidential seal, but the eagle now holds a gun and a club in its claws.

Apparently this is director James DeMonaco’s vision of how America could turn out to be if patriotism gets out of hand. The film makes it clear that the nation isn’t purging itself so much of violence, but of the poor and downtrodden.

The allusions to groups like the NRA and the Tea Party aren’t just reaches either. DeMonaco told Screenrant in an interview about his anti-conservative political agenda in making the movie.

“There’s so much stuff that I could talk about America and how we got here… I had other forms of Purging in early scripts – the rich would buy people who were dying…

That’s what I realized – there’s something already in the air in our country. Maybe this absurd, but is it really that absurd? I layered in these New Founding Fathers, this regime that we voted into power at some point, some kind of NRA-thing that took over the country. But I kind of left that to the audience. I think sometimes in my writing I try to spoon feed too much, it’s better to let the audience make their own decisions on things.”

The NFA even sounds like the NRA. Brandishing themselves as revolutionaries, their policies are a strange mix of conservative, libertarian and anarchist politics. The “self protection” section on the NFA’s fictional website even promotes guns, the draft, and patriotism in general. Calling itself the “New Founders of America” wasn’t a mistake either, clearly alluding that groups like the “Tea Party” could take their patriotism to a dangerous levels.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the film targets religious people (specifically Judeo-Christianity).Variety called the New Founders of America, a “wacky regime with a religious agenda (given how often the authorities mention God).”

DeMonaco’s film turns the tables, depicting law-abiding Christians, gun owners, and the Tea Party as the villains. But DeMonaco has nothing but sympathy for groups like Occupy Wall Street and their mission. Variety even called the film, an “Occupy-era class-conflict satire.” To Screenrant, DeMonaco admitted, “I did want to say something on class. I think that was always the intent, to play at this apathy of the rich. It’s a morality tale.”

Kristine Marsh
Kristine Marsh
Kristine Marsh is a staff writer/analyst for the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute.