After TV-channel Hallmark pulled ads that show a wedding couple of two women kissing, a storm of protest broke out, and the company had to come up with lame excuses. This double fault caused even more critique described in detail in some liberal newspapers and magazines. As an example, I use an article on the website ‘Salon’ by Amanda Marcotte.
She opens the article with the phrase: “Hallmark movies are fascist propaganda.”
For those who don’t know Hallmark, they offer cloying, saccharine family-oriented, and predictable movies. Especially during Christmas time, they attract many mostly female viewers. Until 2011 one could watch Hallmark in Europe too. Now only US cable or streaming services may broadcast its programs. How could someone come up with fascism in the light of such insignificant and boring television? Ms. Marcotte has her arguments.
- “Christmas movie offerings is like a trip into an uncanny valley of shiny-teethed, blow-dried heteronormative whiteness, with only a few token movies with characters of color.”
- She argues that the majority of movies in the Third Reich, managed by Joseph Goebbels, were escapist and feather-light, with a Hallmark movie-style emphasis on the importance of “normality.”
- For her, “there’s plenty of reason that empty-headed kitsch fits neatly in the authoritarian worldview. It’s storytelling that imitates the gestures of emotion without actually engaging with real feeling. The Hallmark movie steers clear of the real passion or deeper emotion that tends to be the engine driving more artful fiction.”
- Jewish people are only portrayed as characters related to Christmas.
- “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 in the Donald Trump era.”
There is a lot of (political) interpretation in her reasoning. It’s like saying, if you look too much to Hallmark movies, you’ll surely vote for Trump. There might be a connection between specific television programs and a preference for Trump, but that might be everything. Sports, cooking channels, scary movies all might fell in this category. Apart from that, her comparison with Joseph Goebbels is really distasteful. The whiteness of the characters also bothers her. Well, she should look once and a while to the Black Entertainment Television (BET) channel.
Where I live, three BET channels indulge you with music, comedy, news, TV shows, and complete movies all performed by ‘black’ people and targeting African American viewers. I myself sometimes watch those shows and, being white, find nothing offensive in the performances. Like in Hallmark movies, the stories focus on ‘normal’ good-looking people, shiny teethed, well-groomed, and well dressed. In my eyes, there is nothing wrong with that, even if the cast is all black or all white.