“Life imitates Art,” declared Oscar Wilde. A recent review of the cringe-worthy film, The Forever Purge, has me thinking Wilde might have been onto something. In popular culture, leftists are indulging their fantasies of right-wing mayhem and seriously confusing their delusions with the real world.
The Purge movies started out as low-budget horror flicks, but over time they morphed into political statements. A sequel, The First Purge, produced at the height of Trump hysteria, “was explicitly antifascist and antiracist,” writes Noah Berlatsky, “with Black and other nonwhite protagonists fighting an explicitly right-wing government and white-hood-wearing radicals.”
Berlatsky finds the latest installment of the series even more politically relevant. In this film, a couple fleeing the Mexican cartel are hunted by citizens who break any and all laws, killing with abandon. “The movie is extremely clear,” he concludes, “that when the violent right talks about overthrowing the wealthy, it’s just propagandistic cover for white populism and racism.”
Berlatsky, “a Chicago-based writer and “culture critic” at NBC, praises the film for its “honesty” and its forthright demonstration that “fascism is an American ideology.” A more reasonable conclusion is he and the makers of these films are living out their self-delusional fantasies on the movie screen.
After all, this is not the first time Hollywood liberals have presented a warped view of reality as a faithful, albeit artistic, depiction of the real world. For seven seasons (1999–2006), West Wing hinted that conservatives just weren’t as nice, smart, compassionate and good-looking as liberals. Six years later, ABC’s show Scandal kicked it up several notches, making it clear that conservatives were not only the enemy but were, in fact, led by a murdering, psycho-right-wing president.
Much of the current delusion is reached by super gluing radical wackos to the conservative movement. Here is what is wrong with that presumption. For starters, organized political violence is not mainstream in America. It is outside the scope of the American polity. It is not part of America’s politics on either the Right or the Left. Kooks who want to overthrow the nation are part of nobody’s wing. By definition, they are not allowed in the American political house.
Further, not to put too fine a point on it, the most active, radical, violent, organized and sustained political violence in America today is cheered by the same people with whom, one suspects, Berlatsky shares chips and dip.
What impels the Left to create and embrace the Right-as-boogeyman meme isn’t a critical analysis of life as most people know it. It is merely the desire to use their “creative genius” and “their art” to delegitimize their political opponents. Increasingly shaped by critical race theory, the 1619 Project and the racist “anti-racist” doctrine, the progressive view of American society has become as cruel and destructive as the imaginary right-wing monsters in The Purge.
The elite Left’s hatred of the Right, which has become increasingly more virulent and out of touch with reality, may be driven more by the fact that conservatives won’t roll over and let progressives remake America. Hollywood’s silliness on this front is likely to only get worse.
Look at the top issues most Americans really care about, and it is increasingly clear some of them don’t like how the Biden administration is steering far Left. The Left’s reaction to this rejection will likely take the form of even more vitriol, anger and frustration. Indeed, things will probably get so bad, Hollywood will crank another execrable Purge film. That’ll show them yahoos!
James Jay Carafano is a Heritage Foundation vice president.