This is the world we find ourselves in: A movie with nothing much to say has one team denouncing it as propaganda, and another team responding with, "Hell yes, it's propaganda! Hooray!" And people say I'm too cynical.
A lot of this feels grounded in one of the great "received wisdom" quotes of the age: "Everything Is Political." The problem with that saying is that it simplifies a more complex truth as understood by the journalists and political analysts that popularized it. Phrased more accurately, it means "Everything has a political ramification." For example, there's nothing innately political about the phenomenon of Bronies, however, it could easily become part of the political discourse. After all, a male fandom for a female-targeted franchise could easily be seen as a (small) part of the broader discussion of the breakdown of superficial gender-divisions in 21st century culture, which is frequently seen (positively) as part of the LGBT-acceptance/equality movement or (negatively) as a conspiracy by "liberal feminists" to "emasculate male identity." So there ya go, and yes, I fully expect "Bronies: What Has Feminist Academia Done To Our Boys?" to be a Fox News headline/story within a year.
The problem with this kind of thinking, seeing the political ramifications of every piece of news or entertainment, is that while it's great for being an activist or a political campaigner, it can make you overly combative in other walks of life. Since this is the internet and everyone knows everything about everything, more people than ever are walking around with their political ramification antenna up: "Oh, a George Clooney movie? He's a Democrat. I don't like Democrats. If his movie does well, that means he might get more popular and use his popularity to advance his political ideas. I hope that movie doesn't do well." Or, conversely, "A movie with soldier heroes? Hmm, Republicans are supposed to be the pro-war guys, and I don't like Republicans. I hope that movie fails!"
Go ahead and laugh, but I've seen people make leaps like that over much more seemingly random stuff. I live in Massachusetts - do you have any idea how many "liberals" there are who don't want to publically admit to enjoying Country Music because, and I'm quoting, "that's Red-State music!"? (I assume the same holds true for Republicans and Lady Gaga, but can't verify firsthand.) Heck, since we're on a videogaming site right now, would it surprise you to learn that the above mentioned right-wing movie site routinely goes bananas at the sales figures for the Call of Duty franchise, which it interprets as validation that its political stance(s)re: the military, terrorism, etc., is being embraced by a younger generation?
Perhaps this is a futile hope, given that the U.S. looks poised to enter one of the most divisive Presidential elections since the Civil War (and certainly of the modern era), but maybe it would be prudent to remember that, while everything in popular culture may be easily repurposed in a political light, it doesn't necessarily follow that everything in popular culture was therefore designed to be. I don't regard Act of Valor as right-wing propaganda for the same reason I don't see Big Bird as a mouthpiece for The Socialist Agenda: lack of evidence. Reducing everything that falls within your field of vision into either a help or hindrance to whatever "team" you ally can only lead to missing out on a lot of stuff you might otherwise enjoy and it's probably not good for your blood pressure, either.
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.