Netflix’s ‘Purple Hearts’ proves love shouldn’t conquer all

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Collegian | Dylan Tusinski

Ivy Secrest, Life and Culture Director

Netflix’s new romance “Purple Hearts” starts with the promise of health care and increased income from a fake military marriage. It ends with one of the more concerning messages you could project to impressionable young people: If you love someone, sacrifice all your values and become submissive to their beliefs. 

Following the “fake it till you make it” trend of many recent romances — such as “Holidate” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” — this movie appeared to be attempting to call for a countrywide embrace of differences. And honestly, it couldn’t have been done worse. 

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While the concept of two opposites finding a way to navigate their seemingly insurmountable differences is older than “Romeo and Juliet,” the part when they completely abandon their morals and disrespect each other’s mere existence is certainly new. 

This film establishes early on that Cassie Salazar (Sofia Carson) is struggling to make ends meet. Even with her several jobs and income from gigs with her band, she can barely afford rent and can’t get access to her insulin. 

Reflecting the common issues many Americans face, Carson’s character is meant to represent the liberal side of the political spectrum. And lucky for her, a solution walks into her bar in the form of U.S. Marine Luke Morrow (Nicholas Galitzine). 

Galitzine’s character is a stand-up guy with strict morals that heavily center around the importance of the U.S. military. However, he has outstanding debts from when he was a drug addict and needs money to pay them off fast.

This unlikely pair decides to fool the government and form a fake marriage for the extended financial and health care benefits. With their clear hatred for what the other represents unresolved, the two are married just days before Morrow is deployed. 

This plot had potential. If Carson’s and Galitzine’s characters were able to discuss their views and show some sort of moral growth in either direction, then maybe their end romance would’ve been believable. 

Instead, Carson’s character is portrayed as an unreasonable, intolerable social justice warrior rather than a young woman with real concerns about the government she lives under. Galitzine plays the good guy, savior Republican who comes to pluck her out of her “snowflake” delusions.  

Heavily skewed in favor of right-leaning values, immigration, military and health care are just a few of the issues the two never actually work through. 

One offensive, jarring moment is just before deployment, when one of Morrow’s buddies hollers about “hunting down some goddamn Arabs!” Carson’s character stands up and argues with him only to be told to sit down and stop it by her now-husband. 

“Unfortunately, having a hot Marine husband for a muse is not a good enough reason for dropping your values.”

Instead of listening to her, her husband embarrasses her in front of his buddies. He then leads a fake conversation so it looks like they resolved the issue, while they actually discuss how to make it look like they love each other. 

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About half way through the movie, Salazar simply stops standing up for her beliefs at all and starts to fall in love with Galitzine’s character after he returns injured. What ensues is a sickeningly sweet plot twist that’s meant to make viewers forget all of the bigotry from the first half. 

While there are several steamy or even caring scenes written in, it is hard to watch the couple and ignore the broader context: A liberal woman caters to the needs of a conservative Marine and drops all of her beliefs, while he sacrifices none of his own. 

The only benefit Carson’s character seems to receive is health care and a thriving music career. Unfortunately, having a hot Marine husband for a muse is not a good enough reason for dropping your values. 

There is nothing romantic about abandoning your beliefs, especially just because someone’s cute or your muse. Painting this film as a standard for modern romance is an incredible disservice to the young people who are susceptible to its underlying message. 

This film had the potential to demonstrate some real conflict resolution — even just basic character development. Instead, it introduces issues never to be resolved and plays into underdeveloped stereotypes of both the right and left political parties.

Reach Ivy Secrest at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @IvySecrest.