Why Is Netflix’s New Rom-Com ‘Purple Hearts’ so Controversial?
Netflix's original movie Purple Hearts is shaping up to be a hit on the streaming service. However, the film has not been met with universal praise.
The project — which stars Sofia Carson as Cassie Salazar and Nicholas Galitzine as Luke Morrow tells the story of a struggling musician who falsely marries a marine to get on his health insurance plan. It only received a 33% score on Rotten Tomatoes and has been slammed for some more controversial plot choices online.
An essay on Teen Vogue noted that the plot device of the false marriage was a confusing solution for Cassie, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and struggled to ration her life-saving insulin. Instead of focusing on that very real difficulty, the film was criticized for turning into a romance and a confusing one at that.
Jezebel noted that the film contains racist language — specifically a reference to "hunting down some god d--n Arabs" — that also promotes war.
The way that the military is presented in general has been called into question. A post on social media called out the film for being "[U.S.] military propaganda that uses the invasion & deaths of 1.2 million [Iraqis] as a romcom."
Others compared the idea of marrying a member of the military to obtain health insurance to a trope that belonged in a horror movie rather than a romance.
"Purple Hearts is for the girlies with racist boyfriends," yet another critic opined on Twitter.
"I think [Purple Hearts] perfectly illustrates that liberal women cannot change their conservative husbands," another person tweeted. "Instead, they get more conservative themselves for their personal benefit, all while maintaining their shallow 'woke' aesthetic."
Check out some of the tweets on the subject below:
Despite complaints,Variety noted that Purple Hearts has been immensely popular on the streaming service. It amassed more than 100 million hours of viewing within two weeks of release and was the most-viewed film in that time period.
Both Carson and Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum — the film's director — defended Purple Hearts in an interview with Variety.
“I hope that people understand that in order for characters to grow, they need to be flawed in the beginning," Rosenbaum explained. "So we very much intentionally created two characters that had been bred to hate each other."
The director added that the film was about allowing two "flawed" characters to mend each other and become more "moderate" in the process.
Carson also emphasized that the project was more than a traditional love story. "Through the power of love, they learn to lead with empathy and compassion and love each other and turn into this beautiful shade of purple," she explained.
The actor added that "so many people have felt seen or are comforted by this movie."
Although it has been mired in controversy, Variety also noted that Purple Hearts garnered some positive reactions for its depiction of diabetes.