The hit Netflix romance Purple Hearts has come under fire amid criticism that it contains racist and misogynistic themes. The narrative follows a liberal musician, Cassie, and Luke, a conservative Marine who enter a marriage of convenience but clash because of their differing worldviews. However, before too long a tragedy hits, and it all changes.
One scene that has caused a stir is when Luke toasts his fellow Marines saying, “This one is to life, love and hunting down some goddamn Arabs, baby!” At this point, Cassie criticises him for the comment and storms off, before he maintains his point.
Detractors have argued that the film paints racism as “a simple flaw”, with one Twitter user pointing out that Luke’s character does not change over the course of the narrative. Adding to this, others have claimed that Purple Hearts is purely anti-Arab and pro-military.
Now, director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum has responded to the criticism in Variety: “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”, she continued.
“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.”
At one point, the director explained that the film was not meant to be racist or misogynistic but quite the opposite. She claims she intended to reflect that America is a “very flawed” country.
She expressed: “I do hope that anyone who’s in any way insulted by it understands that our intentions are very pure, and it’s because we feel like people need to grow and need to start to become more moderate.”