In any other year, the Fourth of July would be business as usual. Families would be enjoying a planned vacation. Everyone gets their outfits together, so they’ll look their best once they go out into the vast crowd of people all trying to have fun and enjoy the holiday. This year, though, those plans have been mangled. In responsible places, the BBQs have been canceled, and all of your favorite clubs/teams/lakes have canceled their annual fireworks this year to keep people from gathering when they shouldn’t.
With these cancellations, there has been an outcry from certain groups saying this is not what America stands for. For many of us horror folks, these comments remind us of a certain franchise. In The Purge movie series, The New Founding Fathers updated what they felt America stood for. Give everyone a night of release, to do any and everything they want to. A night to work out everything you’ve been holding in all year. While America isn’t quite there yet, the anxious and restless feeling in the air around the country isn’t too far off from what a lot of people felt before The Purge.
In The Purge, starring Lena Headey and Ethan Hawke, we’re dropped right into the last few hours leading up to the big night. With everyone outside all patriotic and proud with their American flags, it’s the big day that commemorates the idea of what America is about. For them, there’s no better way to show your appreciation than to do exactly as The New Founding Fathers intended – purging.
The Sandin family took a decidedly different approach. Parties were happening around them, but they felt the best way to celebrate the purge was to stay inside. For us, there will be people ignoring the rules like they don’t apply to them. If we can’t all agree on whether we should wear masks, I’m positive we won’t be able to agree on parties. If there is ever an excuse to party, especially on a holiday weekend for Independence Day, it’s right now. But just because people are willing to do it, doesn’t mean you should. This Independence Day won’t be the last one. The best thing would be to act like you heard the hoarse blast at 8 pm, maintain a safe distance, and look at the fireworks out your window, or in your backyard.
Another film from the franchise that really hits home right now is The Purge: Election Year. In the film, President Edwidge Owens believed in the establishment. The ideas The New Founding Fathers made into law are exactly what makes America so great. He told anyone who would listen that the Challenger was intent on taking away their rights. This new way of thinking was nothing more than nonsense spouted by an individual who couldn’t be as patriotic as him because she didn’t want to maintain the status quo. Sound familiar?
During this political run leading up to the purge, there was a growing divide that spilled over Into the streets. Protests around the nation where people were demanding equal protection. The incumbent’s base was defiantly dismissing those asking for their piece of the American pie, while the lines in the sand were being drawn clearer, day by day.
The fight to maintain versus the fight to change is the foundation on which America was built. In the movie, Senator Charlie Roan won the election, validating the people who fought for equality, and the end of the assault on those less fortunate than others. As we approach this holiday weekend, it becomes more clear that our election this year has the same stakes this November. Will we come out on the other side, with hope? Will we vote so that everyone here will begin to be treated fairly and equally? That remains to be seen.
The argument that people just need a release is valid. In The Purge franchise, people have been waiting all year for this day, to exorcise the demons they’ve been keeping in check. In the real world, people have been unable to do the things they counted on for release since March. Even in states that didn’t heed the warnings, most everything that constitutes a normal year was taken away.
Flocking to the beaches for brief moments scratched the itch temporarily until they were shut down again. Millions of tickets to concerts needed to be refunded because of rescheduling, and what looks like will be full cancellations. No Coachella or other festivals are here to provide an escape to the actual problems people need a break from. Though we’re being told to social distance, and by all means please don’t have large gatherings, the Fourth is the chance to break all of the rules, to get out there and have some fun for America.
In The First Purge, the proposed idea was met with cynicism. Change is always incredibly hard, no matter what the circumstances. When the proposed Purge hit the airwaves, the people couldn’t grasp that concept. Legally being able to do whatever you want to for one night, sanctioned by the government, smelled like a trap. Especially in marginalized communities, where the discord from the leadership is as painfully clear as the sun shining in the sky.
For the first time, doing everything we’ve been brought up to do on the Fourth of July is a bad idea. Getting together with friends and family, or heading over to whatever park that is having a party is at the top of the “whatever you do, don’t do this” list, that keeps adding to it by the day. That adjustment is going to be incredibly difficult for a whole lot of people. Taking the chance of thinking it won’t hurt, is a replica of the thinking here and in the movie.
Something will be happening where you live. There will be parties and kickbacks right next to you. Mass gatherings to see the fireworks, as well as people just out and about trying to enjoy what’s shaping up to be a nice, sunny, long weekend. Not enjoying all of that sucks. One thing you can do is stay inside and eat something amazing. Get that dessert you’ve been trying your best to not eat too much of since quarantine weight became a thing. Ignore all of the chaos happening outside by sitting back and binge-watching the entire Purge series.