Culture Clips: Fascism … on the Hallmark Channel?

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It’s officially 2020, folks, and we all have our own hopes and dreams for what the new year might hold. But some of us have radically different hopes and dreams. For instance, I know that some folks may dream of watching Hallmark Christmas movies all year long. But Salon political writer Amanda Marcotte hopes that we all see Hallmark Christmas films for what she says they really are: fascist propaganda.

Marcotte began her story by referencing the kerfuffle involving Hallmark’s initial rejection of a commercial that included a lesbian kiss (which we reported on a couple of weeks ago). But she takes real issue with the movies themselves: how sweet and saccharine they are, how restrictively Christmassy they are (an odd complaint for Christmas movies) and how “normal” they are. “… unsurprisingly, that idea of ‘normalcy’ doesn’t have a lot of room for the true diversity of American experiences,” she writes. Also, these movies put way too much emphasis on the joys of small-town living. To quote Marcotte:

Hallmark movies, with their emphasis on returning home and the pleasures of the small, domestic life, also send a not-at-all subtle signal of disdain for cosmopolitanism and curiosity about the larger world, which is exactly the sort of attitude that helps breed the kind of defensive white nationalism that we see growing in strength …

As you might expect, the conservative website The Federalist takes issue with Marcott’s stance, as does former Superman and frequent Hallmark star Dean Cain. “It’s insane because Hallmark movies are about love,” he said on Fox & Friends. “They’re about bringing people together. They’re not about division or anything of that nature.”

Speaking of normalcy, Friends—the show that normalized the idea that six young Manhattanites with normal jobs (or no jobs at all) can afford apartments there—has left Netflix at long last. As of New Year’s Day, Friends will not be there for its fans. It will return on HBO Max when that debuts sometime this May.

But Netflix insists that’s OK. Look at its own list of its most popular streaming bits of entertainment for 2019—both movies and television—and you’ll find the Adam Sandler/Jennifer Aniston movie Murder Mystery, Stranger Things 3, The Irishman and, even though it was released just a couple of weeks ago, The Witcher. Friends isn’t on the list. But, as The Verge notes, it wouldn’t be, since it wasn’t released on the platform in 2019.

Slate, meanwhile, notes it can be really difficult to watch—or even know about—some of the quirkier offerings on the sprawling streaming service. You just have to figure out Netflix’s bewildering algorithm.

The new Cats movie may be coming to a streaming service near you sooner than anyone expected. Why? People don’t like it, that’s why, so its theatrical release might be shorter than a catnap. Sure, we mentioned that it bombed opening weekend, but its makers were hoping that the film would draw more families in over the holidays. That did not happen. “It doesn’t feel like a family title despite the PG rating,” noted Paul Dergarabian of Comscore. “This feels more like an art house musical.” Also, despite some emergency CGI patches made to the film after it was released, the digital fur seems to be a bit … off-putting. And, as it turns out, Cats does a great disservice to cats themselves, according to a veterinarian. Sure, it’s nice that they’re the heroes and all, when so commonly they’re being chased around in films by more heroic dogs. But when asked what was the “least believable part of the movie,” the vet said, “um, most of it?”

It’s never a good sign when even some of the movie’s stars won’t go see the film they’re starring in. “I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard it’s terrible,” said James Corden (who plays Bustopher Jones in the movie).

Much more popular is Chris Evans’ sweater in Knives Out. The knitted accoutrement has become the film’s breakout star—so much so that Evans himself set the internet ablaze when he decked out his own dog in a mini-version of the sweater. (The pooch pic has been liked nearly 600,000 times.)

Evans will likely not be returning as Captain America, the actor’s most famous role. But another Marvel captain—Captain Marvel, actually—may be coming back with a love interest: a female love interest. “Carol could eventually have a love story with someone of the same sex,” producer Victoria Alonso said during a Reddit AMA.

While we’re on the subject of Marvel superheroes, most of us are aware of the super-nifty accoutrements embedded in Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit. Well, apparently, a software engineer has taken the next brave step into superherodom. Ben Workman has implanted computer chips in his hands. So far, those chips work a little more like X-Men villain Magneto’s abilities than Iron Man’s: Using his hand’s newfound magnetic field, he can pull paper clips with nary a thought. They also replicate some of what was once the rarified province of a smartphone—a device commonly held in one’s hand, but not synonymous with one’s hand. “If I have a router and I have its configuration, I can send that configuration to the chip,” Workman tells ABC News. “I can configure a Wi-Fi network automatically.”

And to think, I’ve had to pick up paper clips and configure wi-fi networks with my non-digitized digits all this time. The new year may indeed be a year of wonders.

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

seraph_unsung 15 days ago
The "fascist" terminology seems melodramatic, but I can see what the original piece is complaining about: If you prefer to see movies that reflect our nation's rich ethnic diversity as well as wide acceptance of LGBT couples (I am not saying this as an endorsement), but then you're bombarded with movies that are mostly about white, exclusively heterosexual couples, I can see how asking the question, "Why don't you make movies about other ethnic groups or non-traditional couples" can come across as asking, "Why doesn't the rest of America get a turn?"

I don't watch Hallmark movies and don't know anything about them (though "Knives Out" had a funny gag about those very movies).

As for Marvel and LGBT, Disney's already been criticized for editing out (for certain markets) that same-sex kiss some of your commenters became noticeably upset about, and I'm not convinced that they really care about making romantic interests in their Marvel or Star Wars seem plausible (Episode IX, and I apologize in advance if this is a [Spoiler] seemed more concerned mostly with making fun of "Finnpoe" and then tossing it out [End Spoiler] ).