Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, July 31, 2018
They are no longer subtle. In the original 2013 movie, The Purge, anti-white themes were camouflaged. The “purge,” a one-night period during which no crime will be punished, was the backdrop to a home-invasion movie in which a white family, helped by a shabby-looking black man with a heart of gold, fights off murderous villains dressed like WASP stereotypes. One could vaguely sense themes of race and class, but there was also an attempt to create suspense and drama over the characters’ fates.
There’s no such pretense in The First Purge, a 2018 prequel about the first such social “experiment,” which the government conducts in the hope that the rabble will exterminate each other and work the worst out of their systems. This is the fourth film in this series, and now there are no shades of grey: As with stand-up comedy in the age of Trump, it’s naked propaganda with the message that white people are bad and non-white people are good—the cinematic equivalent of a bumper sticker.
The film’s premise is that a new political party, the New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA), has taken over the country. The NFFA’s conquest of both Republicans and Democrats is left unexplained except for the revelation that it was supported by the NRA. Thus, from the beginning, we know that the NFFA represents conservatives. Almost all the members of the NFFA we see are white, while all of the main characters are non-white. Indeed, there is not one positive white character in the entire film.
The non-whites are a collection of stock characters. There’s Nya, who is the street-smart yet woke activist black woman who wants to organize the “community.” She lives in a leaky apartment, so we know she is oppressed by The Man. There’s Isaiah, her brother, the naive and soft youth seduced by the temptations of revenge and the criminal life. And of course, there’s Dmitri, Nya’s ex-boyfriend, the drug dealer/crime boss who considers himself a leader of the neighborhood he’s destroying. Dmitri upholds certain standards, such as trying to keep Isaiah out of the criminal life, and thus the audience is encouraged not to think he is responsible for more deaths in the “community” than the purge itself. The leading actors are virtually unknown and it shows—they try to sound erudite and “ghetto” at the same time, and can’t quite pull it off.
These wise characters want to thwart the “purge” by keeping the peace in the “community.” However, the naive brother Isaiah is secretly working as a dealer for Dmitri’s organization, unknown to both his sister Nya and Dmitri. While Nya is protesting NFFA policy, shouting “do not participate [in the purge]!” he is slashed by a deranged man known as “Skeletor.” Dmitri promises to keep Nya and her brother safe during the night of mayhem, but Isaiah is eager to get revenge, and decides to take advantage of the purge instead of lying low or leaving the neighborhood.
The plot is now telegraphed: Isaiah will join the purge, find he’s not up to it, will be rescued by Nya, and then both will need to be rescued by Dmitri, who will atone for his criminal past through heroism. For the first half of the movie, there’s little violence, no suspense, and not much forward momentum. The older Purge was a horror film with a gimmicky premise, but The First Purge has a message. It’s hard to care about the characters, who seem incidental.
Dmitri’s plan is to hunker down with his gang, but Isaiah goes out and confronts Skeletor. He finds he is unable to kill him, runs away, gets in trouble, and calls Nya. Nya leaves the church where she was hiding to rescue him. The movie really takes off only when NFFA leaders, disappointed that blacks in the “community” are not killing enough of each other, send in the white racists to stir things up.
Nya and Isaiah return to the church only to find that a group of middle-aged whites in white polo shirts and khaki pants (where have we seen that before?) have shot it up. They are riding motorcycles and waving something like the crusader cross. Men dressed as police officers beat a prostrate black man. Dmitri and his crew hear Russian on the radios of their attackers. By the time fully robed Klansmen are storming buildings, you may be roaring with laughter, but the filmmakers want you to take this seriously.
Producer Jason Blum argues that with Donald Trump in the White House, “the purge doesn’t seem all that crazy.” The film’s marketing used Trump’s trademark red hats in the posters. The national media also gave the film a major boost when President Trump announced that his 2020 re-election slogan would be “Keep America Great”—the slogan used in a 2016 Purge installment. There’s also a dig at the president when Nya is accosted by a white man grabbing at her crotch. She fires mace and flees, screaming, “P***y grabbing mother***er!” Van Jones appears in the film as a journalist asking critical questions about the purge, implicitly supporting the idea that we are supposed to find all this “realistic.”
— The First Purge (@UniversalHorror) January 30, 2018
As the action proceeds, a viewer may experience his first real sensation of fear not from the action, but from a suspicion that people in the theater may think something like the NFFA could actually exist. Of course, the virtuous non-whites—with the exception of the deranged “Skeletor”—defy the NFFA and host block parties instead of murdering each other. Alas, in the real world, despite constant pleas for nonviolence and community events organized to promote it, non-whites can’t seem to keep from shooting each other at major public events such as concerts and block parties. The idea that they would be celebrating peacefully if not pushed into violence by whites is pure Hollywood.
At the same time, the idea behind the Purge series and much of leftism generally is that the economic elite supports nationalism, social conservatism, and even racism. Yet the reality is that most elites donate to leftist causes and support globalist, socially liberal, and open-borders causes. Fictional portrayals such as the The Purge reinforce the idea that the state is somehow backing white nationalists and that the non-white masses are oppressed by an ethnocentric white elite.
The film ends with Dmitri and his compatriots heroically gunning down the right-wing death squad moving through their housing project. Black director Gerard McMurray carefully zooms in on the gore as Dmitri effortlessly butchers white paramilitaries. After choking one to death, the Dmitri rips off his mask to reveal blonde hair and blue eyes and orders the corpse to get out of his neighborhood. When the slaughter is finished and the night is over, Dmitri is asked what they are supposed to do now. He grimly replies, “We fight.”
The First Purge implicitly urges its audience to take pleasure in the slaughter of whites even as it supposedly pleads for nonviolence. It demonizes whites in a film that even East Germany would have regarded as propaganda. The political situation it portrays is almost a perfect inverse of reality: European-Americans actually live under a ruling class that is replacing them in their own country. The closest thing to The First Purge in real life is not Donald Trump’s America, but Nelson Mandela’s South Africa. This film fails as both satire and entertainment, but it’s a warning about how an increasing number of people see us—and for that reason, it is well worth watching.