The Purge movie franchise served as the inspiration for some real-life horror on Halloween night in France. A French teen posted a video on his Snapchat account calling for a "purge," as well as violence against police. The post ended up going viral and led to instances of looting, destruction of property and resulted in police officers deploying at various spots around the country to deal with the offenders, some of whom directly claimed to be part of the "purge" movement.
The teen in question, a 19-year-old from Grenoble who hasn't been identified publicly, sent the Snapchat video on October 29 that called for an event similar to those depicted in The Purge movies. It went viral, which caught the attention of local authorities. In the franchise, a dystopian future sees the government sanction an annual holiday where all crime is legal for a 12-hour period once a year. Interior minister Christophe Castaner received a complaint from the national police union and responded on Twitter. Here's what he had to say.
"Calling a 'purge' against our police is calling for murder. The purge is not a joke, the purge is a threat."
All told, more than 100 young people were arrested on Halloween, much of it attributed to the post. Store windows were smashed, trash cans were set on fire and cops were harassed in Lyon. There were also reports of looting in Seine-Saint-Denis, a particularly poor area of the country. The Purge movies make a great deal of political commentary about the class divide between the rich and the poor. Authorities ended up having to use tear gas to control the riots.
The poster didn't specifically set any groundwork for such events. But those who took to the post started creating their own rules and the whole thing took on a life of its own. For the trouble he caused, the teen who posted the video has been arrested and will face trial on November 28 for public provocation of willful attack, which comes with a possible sentence of five years in prison and a $51,500 fine. The teen did post an update once his original video went viral, saying it was intended as a joke.
"The purge was a huge joke and an invention on my part! It took on too much scale so I decided to announce to all my snap that it was a joke! There will be no purge in Grenoble, Paris, Geneva, Lyon, etc."
What's strange is that the damage and violence were actually less severe in France this year than it has been in previous years, according to Christophe Castaner, but he notes that it's still "totally abnormal, [and] scandalous." The Purge franchise has been very successful, spawning four movies, including this year's The First Purge, as well as a TV series that has been airing on USA Network. While franchise creator James Demonaco and those at Blumhouse Productions can't be held accountable for the actions of this teen, it's very clear that their work did, at least in part, inspire this event. This news was previously reported by The Hollywood Reporter.
Appeler à la "purge" contre nos policiers, c'est appeler au meurtre.— Christophe Castaner (@CCastaner) October 29, 2018
Et cela, je ne l'accepterai jamais. Une plainte a été déposée à mon initiative pour que ces comportements fassent l'objet de poursuites judiciaires.