‘Purple Hearts’ is not a romance movie

Netflix film enables anti-Arab sentiments, military propaganda, and blatant racism

Not even the enemies to lovers trope could save this movie.

Purple Hearts has taken Netflix by storm over the past couple months, racking up over 100 million hours’ worth of streams. While this popularity seems commendable, the movie’s plot does not deserve applause.

Without even discussing how the acting is at the same level as a grade 10 high school drama performance, the movie promotes racism, anti-Arab sentiments, and military propaganda.

The main character, Cassie—Descendants actor Sofia Carson —is a singer/songwriter with diabetes who can’t afford her medication given the claiming cost of insulin. After learning the wives of marines receive healthcare benefits, she schemes with Luke—Nick Galitzine—to defraud the system by getting married. This benefits Luke as he needs to pay off a drug debt—how romantic.

What’s even more troubling is the movie’s focus on the two characters’ opposing political ideologies.

Cassie, a strong-willed Liberal, and Luke, a stubborn Republican, work through their differences to make a purple heart. Unfortunately, there’s no compromise in getting past these differences. One person compromises their own ideologies to make the other person comfortable and—spoiler alert—it's not the one who uses the word “snowflake.”

When Cassie and Luke first meet, Cassie makes clear her distaste toward military men, making comments like “I have an ethical code that doesn’t include blind obedience.” In turn, Luke insists Cassie is a “liberal nut” and a “snowflake.” 

Not only does this movie feature a tone-deaf glorification of political polarization, but it furthers the far right’s stereotyped view of liberals: obsessive crazy people who easily get offended. The movie guides audiences to relate and sympathize with bigots.

The movie is an hour-and-a-half’s worth of military propaganda and MAGA movement messages. In fact, the United States military aided in the production of the film. 

Beyond that, the film is full of anti-Arab, racist sentiments.

At a military dinner, a fellow marine cheers in excitement of “hunting down some goddamn Arabs!” Cassie responds in distaste, to which she is met with a sarcastic thanks for her sensitivity training and asked if she’d like to teach “them” pronouns.

Not only is there an overload of bigotry, ignorance, and explicit racism in his comments, but he makes a kick at the transgender community to further the depiction of a “sensitive liberal.”

Luke orders Cassie to sit down, angry with her for calling out a racist man—and angry with her for anything she says or does. Most regrettably though, he never apologizes.

As a couple, Luke and Cassie show zero characteristics of interest to romance watchers but, over a short couple of months, the two begin to really “fall in love.” This clearly must’ve happened off-screen, because I saw no reason to believe in this love story.

By the end of the movie, Cassie puts her beliefs aside, sweeping Luke’s poor behavior and frightening ideologies under the rug. Completely dismissing all faults of his own and abandoning her strong-willed, empowered ideologies, she hangs an American flag outside her house, next to the Pride and Black Lives Matter flags.

The film has received immense backlash given its ignorant plot.

It glorifies the message that explicit racism can be dismissed for love while fueling political stereotypes. This movie is not the message viewers should be receiving, and racism should never be excused. Netflix’s error in decision to release the movie is not only irresponsible, but dangerous for young, impressionable viewers.

Cassie and Luke’s story is not the cute “enemies to lovers” trope that audiences want to see. Purple Hearts isn’t a romance movie—it’s a horror movie.

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