Netflix’s Purple Hearts Director Responds To Backlash Over The Streaming Movie

Sofia Carson and Nicholas Galitzine in Purple Hearts
(Image credit: Netflix)

One of the most trending movies on Netflix right now with more than 100 million hours being watched is Purple Hearts. This romance film is about a liberal musician who agrees to marry a conservative Marine in order to get health insurance benefits. However, this movie was not without backlash and the director of the streaming film has something to say about that.

While Purple Hearts continues to be watched by the masses, it has faced criticism for its misogynistic and racist themes. In scenes like the part where a Marine toasts “This one is to life, love and hunting down some goddamn Arabs, baby!”, the extreme issues are glossed over and forgotten. The film’s director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum defended the film to Variety as she felt that the flaws of the two characters were needed in order to grow.

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. 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. Some of the people that they’re surrounded with are even more flawed than they are.

Politics have a history of getting in the way of a film’s success. For example, The Hunt was pulled from Universal’s schedule after the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso motivated by feelings of anti-immigration. So this wasn't exactly the best timing to release a movie about political divisions leading to violence. Even for John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place, there was criticism of one review calling the film too regressive. It proves that critics and audiences tend to look too much into a film’s political context compared to the film’s entertainment offerings.

The backlash followed on Twitter with one user saying the character of the Marine stays who he is while his liberal newly-wedded wife is the one who changes. Another tweet said Purple Hearts isn’t exactly subtle and is just “anti-arab anti-hispanic racist misogynistic AND pro-military propaganda.” While audiences can’t help but take the heavy themes of Purple Heart the wrong way, Rosenbaum continued to say that the two characters’ political differences helped their love grow in learning how to listen to each other.

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. So they’re both neglected by the system, and then they live under one roof, and in these extreme circumstances, they learn to become more moderate and to listen to each other and to love.

Some things to know about Purple Hearts is that the plot centers on a songwriter who is up to her arms in debt struggling to afford insulin to treat her diabetes while a Marine is deployed to Iraq. Sofia Carson, the film’s female lead and executive producer, has also defended the movie's mission of representing both sides as accurately as possible as well as its treatment of a character living with Type I diabetes. This two-hour-long movie is based on the book of the same name by Tess Wakefield. 

Despite the backlash that Purple Hearts has endured as well as receiving a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, you can see the film for yourself on your Netflix subscription whether its heavy themes are offensive or needed for the purpose of character development. A little warning, though, you may need to bring some tissues with you while watching. 

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.