Romance movie

Why Netflix’s Purple Hearts Is a Controversial Romance Film

One of Netflix’s newest romance movies is taking social media by storm, but not necessarily for the reasons people think. purple hearts debuted on the streaming service in July and has consistently ranked among the top ten movies on the platform. The film follows Cassie (Sofia Carson), a young musician, and Luke (Nicholas Galitzine), a former drug addict and sailor, as they marry for military benefits. Cassie is a recently diagnosed diabetic and struggles to pay for her medication, and Luke needs the extra living allowance to pay off his dealer.

While many Netflix romance movies get the same kind of hype on social media, this one gets publicity due to its unsavory content. There are two firm camps on the movie: whether it’s a cute romance movie with tropes like enemies for lovers, a bed, and a fake marriage, or whether it’s a movie that perpetuates harmful rhetoric and tropes like a young woman abandoning him. moral for a man.


The latter has some highlights on the film. It’s not a fluffy romance movie of two people from different worlds falling in love. It’s a film that results in give and take between individuals and their morals, in a romance that doesn’t really make sense because of those morals. Let’s break it down.

Giving up morals for a man ain’t cute

It’s clear from the start of the film that Cassie and Luke are two very different people. The musician is further to the left, displaying Pride and Black Lives Matter flags on the balcony of her apartment. She’s also not worried about defrauding the US government when she initially suggests the fake marriage to her childhood friend Frankie (Chosen Jacobs). She notes that they are part of the problem with her insulin affordability and that her mother spent years paying taxes to them before she got any kind of legal documentation. Overall, her comments about the military, based on her mother’s interactions with them, make it clear that she’s not a big fan of the armed forces.

Luke is the polar opposite. He grew up in a right-wing Marine family, expects his wife to listen to his every word, and has strong opinions about the US southern frontier and immigrants. He is initially very put off by Cassie’s suggestion, commenting that his father was once a military policeman and had to report these types of incidents, showing that he is completely against her idea until he realizes at how useful it would be.

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Throughout the film, the two are at odds. Whether he’s calling Cassie a ‘lib nut’ or making derogatory and overtly racist comments about his mother, who started life in the United States as an undocumented immigrant, Luke seems to take issue with morality. of Cassie and the fact that she is even an American citizen.

While it’s safe to say that the trip the two took has given Cassie a more nuanced understanding of the military, as she’s exposed to a new point of view, there’s no evidence that Luke changed his mind. notice. Even when he chooses to go to military prison and take responsibility for their fake relationship, it’s Cassie who gives the speech showing her changes, not him. It sends the message that she had to be the one to change so that their relationship could go from fake to real, which is not a good message to send.

Military propaganda and harmful rhetoric

In addition to Luke’s unchanging values, the film contains racist and ableist language that causes some pretty uncomfortable moments. In particular, there’s a scene after the two get married, when they’re having dinner with the other members of his platoon, which is hard to watch. An African American man toasts as they are about to go on tour and makes a rude and xenophobic remark about Arabs. It’s uncomfortable to listen to, and even the other men around the table don’t react positively to it.

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The scene only gets worse when Cassie tries to correct the individual, rising to respond to his position, as he continues to comment on how all she wants the military to do is c is “teaching them the pronouns”. Luke asks him to sit down. The rest of the men agree, telling him to listen to him, and Luke doesn’t let go. To his credit, he also asks his friend to sit down too, and later tells Cassie that his friend was just full of “b*llsh*t bravado”.

While both the scene and the movie are clearly trying to have a more pro-military edge to them, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if done right, like in Top Gun: Maverickthis scene only reinforces the fact that there is a certain type of person who joins the military, which hurts both the way people view the military and military people who don’t identify as that .

Later in the film, after Luke’s tragic accident, he calls himself a “cripple”. The term has a negative connotation for people with disabilities, particularly because when used it should be derogatory, much like Luke uses it to describe himself in the film. Cassie mentions that “people don’t really say” that word anymore, but it’s glossed over and just shows how little Luke’s view of the world has changed since he started a relationship with Cassie.

Ultimately, those who criticize the film on social media are right. Unlike other recently released Netflix romance movies, the love story in purple hearts relies on all the wrong stuff and leans into its xenophobic and racist tones.