A writer for liberal news and opinion site Salon is arguing that Hallmark Channel Christmas movies are "fascist propaganda," full stop.
In the op-ed, writer Amanda Marcotte seeks to expose the dangers of the "empty-headed kitsch" that is Hallmark holiday film. Though seemingly harmless and inoffensive, Hallmark Channel movies encourage viewers to lean into the "conformist impulse" of "normalcy," she maintains.
This guiding hand of "normalcy" drives the narratives — "and unsurprisingly, that idea of 'normalcy' doesn't have a lot of room for the true diversity of American experiences."
This type of messaging "fits neatly in the authoritarian worldview," she says.
However, Marcotte had not reached her argument's destination, yet.
Watching the family-friendly channel's holiday programming is like taking "a trip into an uncanny valley of shiny-teethed, blow-dried heteronormative whiteness, with only a few token movies with characters of color," Marcotte said.
Then the hammer hit the nail: Hallmark movies "constitute the platonic ideal of fascist propaganda."
Marcotte cites the apparently striking similarities between present-day Hallmark films and the films approved for viewing in Nazi Germany:
That is probably a startling statement to some. When most of us think about fascistically propagandistic movies, we think of the grotesque grandeur of Leni Riefenstahl's films celebrating the Third Reich — grand, but cold sweeping shots of soldiers goose-stepping and flags waving, all meant to inspire awe and terror. But the reality is, even in Nazi Germany, the majority of movies approved by the Nazi minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, were escapist and feather-light, with a Hallmark movie-style emphasis on the importance of "normality."
Wait, there's something missing
The Hallmark hit-piece could not be complete, however, without a swipe at modern day conservatives and a resulting comparison between Nazi Germany and the Trump presidency.
Deep into the article, such language was not to be found. But then, alas, there it was:
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.
Marcotte was careful to admit that not everyone who watches Hallmark Christmas movies "is some kind of fledgling fascist." But, she warned, it is important people take note of the goal that Hallmark movies have for society, which is: "to enforce very narrow, white, heteronormative, sexist, provincial ideas of what constitutes 'normal.'"
Hallmark, considered a last beacon of family-friendly entertainment in America, has shown signs of wavering this year. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hallmark Channel chief executive Bill Abbott signaled that the company is "open" to making gay Christmas movies. Then, earlier this month, the channel came under fire for pulling an ad that portrayed a same-sex wedding. Soon after, the company apologized and began running the ad again.