Armando Marcotte, writing on Salon:
… the most insidious authoritarian propaganda comes in the form of schmaltz….
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.”
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. Characters who have real feelings, after all, can prompt empathetic reactions in the audience, and empathy for others is the greatest single threat to the authoritarian mindset.
I went to this essay prepared to disagree but enjoy a good rant. Instead: Holy crap.
Marcotte notes that it’s fine to enjoy Hallmark movies. But be aware of the function they actually perform in society.