Netflix film Purple Hearts, which tells the story of a liberal musician who marries a conservative Marine in order to get health insurance, is facing backlash for themes that viewers are calling racist, misogynistic, and military propagandist. Now star Sofia Carson is speaking out in defense of the film, which she believes emphasizes "the power of love" above all else.
"Why I fell in love with the movie is that it's a love story but it's so much more than that," Carson told Variety in a new interview. "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."
Purple Hearts has been called out by critics and viewers alike. Viewers have been particularly critical of a scene in which a Marine makes a dehumanizing statement about Arab people. According to Carson, some things were included purposefully in order "to represent both sides as accurately as possible."
The actress continued, "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. That has been so beautifully overwhelming and so many people have felt seen or are comforted by this movie."
Director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum also defended Purple Hearts. "I hope that people understand that in order for characters to grow, they need to be flawed in the beginning," she said. "So we very much intentionally created two characters that had been bred to hate each other."
Rosenbaum went on to say that the portrayal had to be "kind of extreme" in order to depict the characters' journey to accepting one another.
"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," Rosenbaum said. "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."
The director concluded, "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."
Purple Hearts is currently streaming on Netflix.
Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.