Purple Hearts viewers accuse the new Netflix romance of being ‘military propaganda’

Actor Sofia Carson and director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum are defending Purple Hearts against viewer complaints that their romance film is “military propaganda”.

In the Netflix film, Carson plays a liberal musician named Cassie who enters into a sham marriage with a politically conservative marine named Luke (Nicholas Galitzine) in order to enrol in a military health insurance programme that will enable her to afford treatment for her diabetes. The marriage also entitles Luke to new tax benefits.

Despite wide-ranging complaints, Purple Hearts is currently the most watched film on the streaming service, with over 102 million hours of viewing in a single week, according to Ad Week.

“Purple Hearts is US military propaganda that uses the invasion and deaths of 1.2 million Iraqis as a rom-com”, wrote one Twitter user, who took particular issue with a scene in which Luke and Cassie attend a send-off dinner prior to Luke’s deployment. “Not to mention him defending his racist friend and telling her to sit down and stop it when she called him out after he was cheering with ‘hunting down some goddamn Arabs’”.

Another viewer commented, “So many people hyping up Purple Hearts as if it’s not racist, misogynistic & american military propaganda. It’s not ‘enemies to lovers’ – it’s awful”.

Carson, who served as an executive producer, recently defended the film in an interview with Variety. “Why I fell in love with the movie is that it’s a love story but it’s so much more than that,” she said.

Sofia Carson and Nicholas Galitzine in ‘Purple Hearts' (Mark Fellman/Netflix)
Sofia Carson and Nicholas Galitzine in ‘Purple Hearts' (Mark Fellman/Netflix)

“It’s two hearts, one red, one blue, two worlds apart, who are really raised to hate each other. 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.

“We wanted to represent both sides as accurately as possible. What I think I’ve learned to do as an artist is separate myself from all of that and just listen to what the world is feeling and reacting to with the film.”

Rosenbaum, the film’s director, also acknowledged the criticism.

“I hope that people understand that in order for characters to grow, they need to be flawed in the beginning. So we very much intentionally created two characters that had been bred to hate each other," she said. "They are flawed at the beginning and that was intentional.”

“In order for the red heart and the blue heart to kind of turn purple, you have to have them be kind of extreme,” she said. “Some of the people that they’re surrounded with are even more flawed than they are. They both have been neglected by the system; he’s hurt in a war that doesn’t seem to be ending and she’s slipping through the cracks of the healthcare system.”

Purple Hearts is now streaming on Netflix.