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No, Hallmark Movies Are Not ‘Fascist Propaganda’

Hallmark movie

Feminist writer Amanda Marcotte, in a holiday hot take, attacked Hallmark Christmas movies as fascistic. In a Salon article titled “Hallmark movies are fascist propaganda,” she writes that Hallmark’s sentimental storylines “do not engage with real feelings,” instead push “normality,” and are insufficiently diverse.

She seals her case with the controversy that erupted when the channel rejected an ad featuring a lesbian kiss. Portraying diversity — and getting political — presumably would engage the real feelings of Americans. Says Marcotte:

Hallmark movies, as cloying and saccharine as they are, constitute the platonic ideal of fascist propaganda.

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.’

Contra Marcotte, Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” is still the gold standard of fascist cinema. Its glorification of the state and the military and denigration of the individual is what made it fascistic. Marcotte never explained what defined the fascist “normality,” but Goebbels’ emphasis on its importance was merely a camouflage for an abnormal regime in which politics overwhelms personal life, and the state supplants family and religion.

Absolutely nothing about Hallmark movies or chick flicks is fascistic. These films are normally tear-jerkers about heroines who find love and happiness. No matter how ordinary the heroines seem and how predictable the storylines, these leading ladies find love through exercises of their own free will. It’s not a very imaginative genre, but stories of monogamous heterosexual love and courtship have been a staple of the Western canon for millennia.

Unless Marcotte is prepared to argue that all of Western history is fascism (rendering the word “fascism” meaningless), sweet Cinderella stories really are normality not because they engage “real feelings,” but because they show a beautiful yet attainable dream.

In contrast, a totalitarian state deliberately undermines the traditional narrative of courtship leading to family formation and family child-rearing. One of the central themes of anti-totalitarian literature, such as Boris Pasternak’s “Doctor Zhivago,” is not inclusion of every minority group ever discovered by sociologists, but the right of individuals to live their private lives unmolested by the state.

Authoritarianism can’t allow this individual privacy. It might want to encourage women to breed soldiers, as in 1930s Italy and Germany, or punish women for having children, as in Communist China. Either way, from autocratic rulers’ point of view, matters such as family size are too important to be left to the family.

In totalitarian societies, the state coopts the generation of children from parents. In Germany, this was accomplished through brainwashing in the Hitler Youth, and in the Soviet Union through state-run organization such as the Young Pioneers.

During the 1930s collectivization, Soviet children were told to emulate Pavlik Morozov, a Young Pioneer who allegedly turned in his grain-hogging kulak father to the NKVD, for which his kulak grandfather murdered Morozov. Stalin seized the tragedy to stage a show trial, and the Soviet press concocted the story of a teenage hero. They continued using it for propaganda purposes until the very end of the USSR. The story was pushed so hard, particularly in the 1930s, parents were terrified to open up to their children. Morozov, not Cinderella, which was also read to Soviet children, was the fascist family’s canon.

We don’t live in a fascist society, but you know who acts most like the Soviet or Nazi propagandists? The woke establishment.

Public schools conditioning children to ask for each other’s pronouns is just one example of drawing a wedge between parents and children in a fascist manner. Most parents consider sexuality a private family concern and don’t want schools to confuse their children about it. Parents would much prefer that educators just teach academics, but find they have little say about the matter. Again, we don’t live in a fascist society, but the left’s impulse to crowd out family from what has historically been family turf is totalitarian.

Stories of heterosexual monogamous courting, like Hallmark Christmas movies, are the exact opposite of fascism. They depict free people charting their own destiny and are apolitical in nature. Marcotte dislikes that. The question, then, is not what’s wrong with Hallmark, but what’s wrong with her.