GETTING pelters on Twitter can be a sign that, as a critic, you’ve at least touched a nerve. But after my tweet that the new Paddington 2 movie was “ideologically weird”, I felt more like a brain surgeon carving his initials onto the collective neo-cortex. Abusive, were they? Heavens, I’m still clutching my pearls.

However it’s set me thinking about the ways we talk critically about popular culture. And why it often is the worst thing in the world, for some people, when others point out where power and politics lurks beneath the shiny (or sentimental) surfaces.

Not that I necessarily got it right about Paddington 2 (and how right can you get anything in 280 characters?). My beloved 20-year-old daughter had demanded we see it — and we laughed and cried in unison all the way through.

I was even pre-disposed towards it, politically. The first Paddington movie in 2014 appeared as UKIP and anti-migrant fever was on the ascent. The film seemed at least implicitly aware of this context — making the most of the tale of a bear from Peru landing alone on a train platform, with a label asking to be looked after, and a family willing to do so. “In London nobody’s alike”, says Paddington, “which means that everyone fits in.” You can run that line all the way to the election of Citizen Khan.

So I was settled in for a comfortable viewing that would press all my filthy cosmopolitan-Remainer-Yesser buttons. But when we left the cinema, something wasn’t sitting well.

“Liberal middle-class is near sanctified here”, I wrote in my offending tweet. The opening scenes show the wee bear smearing his social glue across the streets of Notting Hill — a place where dustman and postman, retired General and hysterical actor, forgetful Asian doctor and solicitous newspaper vendor, all link together cheerily and equally.

Yet in reality the area has been relentlessly gentrified, the Afro-Caribbean communities who landed there in the 50s long since evicted by the rich, super-rich and other creatures. A few years ago it even became identified with residents Micheal Gove, David Cameron and George Osborne – the literally lethal architects of “austerity”, but fluffily described as the Tory Party’s “Notting-Hill Set”. In reality, Paddington’s contemporary London is a polarized, divided and surreally unequal place.

So what a horror I am — imposing the iron grid of reality on such a light confection of family entertainment. Except that this is exactly what the bear’s originator Michael Bond did in 2007, in one of his final books. In Paddington Here and Now, the brave young Peruvian finds himself (like the current movie) behind bars — this time because of an identity mix-up. The cub is further involved in a minor media stramash around immigration rules and organ-farming.

So when the ideological intent of the author, however muffled beneath a charming storyline, is still clearly discernable — what’s so bad about pointing that out? Indeed, why can’t that be part of the enjoyment to be had from great popular culture — that is, to feel the deep pulse of social and economic struggle under its skin? Doesn’t that make the artwork bigger than smaller?

For example, no-one could argue that the Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart masterwork It’s a Wonderful Life is the ultimate Christmas screen experience. At the end of a plumptious 25th of December, I’ve sat with family and friends scores of times, laughing, bawling and cheering.

But who could also deny that at the core of its message is a complex and political story — about property, control, community and aspiration? Its hero George Bailey is stretched between poles. He burns with desire to go out and engineer the modern world. However, he is bound by the many communal ties of his hometown Bedford Falls. Some of those ties include his capacity, as the family director of the local bank the Savings and Loan, to provide low-cost loans for starter family homes.

His adversary Old Man Potter, a sheer worshipper of power and money, has only become more resonant over the years, as gargoyles like Trump and Farage transfix the public gaze. Potter’s defeat is also utterly contemporary. Bedford Falls comes together as a community to recapitalise Bailey’s struggling bank, in an act of what the trendies would now called “equity-based crowdfunding”.

Of course, all of this is borne forward by incandescent acting, the most sublime of fantasy sequences, and a powerful thrum of family emotions. But surely the greatness of It’s a Wonderful Life is that it’s more, so much more, than “just a piece of entertainment, mate”. Indeed, Bailey’s existential choice at the end — literally, life over death — has profoundly restored me more than a few times, at a moment when I needed it most.

To my mind, I’m honouring the ambition of great works of popular culture when I point to their inner political machinery — even (and indeed particularly) when it’s not my own politics.

In my original Paddington tweet, this is what I was trying to say about Mr Brown, the kindly patriarch of the bear’s new family. Mr Brown is originally described in the Paddington novels as a “City worker”. In the new movie he is a “risk insurance analyst”, who has as a “premier client” the movie’s baddie, ex-celebrity Pheonix Buchanan (the magnificently camp Hugh Grant).

My Twitter line — clumsily written, but again, how much can you achieve in a three centimetre box? — was: “Daddy Brown clearly involved in financial innovation that unravels the very social pluralism they proclaim.” Maybe that’s a harsh judgement. But we do see Mr Brown losing out on his election to a full partnership to his City firm, the assumption being that he’s lost out in the talent wars.

Is it so appalling to point out that he’s played by Hugh Bonneville, defined forever as the benign aristocrat of Downton Abbey?

Can no one ever ask questions about how, and why, concentrations of power — in land and capital — are given such charming and winning characterisations in our popular culture?

There’s no point in arraigning a filmmaker for the film they haven’t made. But it may be worth asking a few questions — which Scottish contemporary literature has been asking for decades — about the assumptions the commissioners of mainstream commercial culture makes about class.

And specifically, those social classes our production elites deem capable of being the heroes of our popular dramas.

There is a beautiful moment in Paddington 2 where the bear says, “if you’re kind and polite, the world will be right!” On the level of personal relations, I would never disagree.

Yet the bourgeois bubble of this movie can barely imagine people who are so ground down by neoliberal capitalism that “kind and polite” behaviour simply isn’t possible (one of the key messages in Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey’s recent book Poverty Safari). And when it does imagine them — the scenes where the jailed Paddington converts his fellow prisoners into pink-uniformed restauranteurs, by the sheer power of his marmalade recipe — it is both gigglingly silly, and sociologically infuriating.

When you’re tripping over the street beggars as you enter the multiplex to see this delicious, warm bath of a movie, when do you start talking to your children about the brokenness and unfairness of the world we’re bequeathing to them? Never? Not now, Pat? Ok, sure: it’s Christmas. And for the record, my daughter and I hugged each other all the way home after watching Paddington 2.

I don’t know how you get the anger and critique of, say Loach’s I, Daniel Blake into a seasonal movie for families — where the tears of reconciliation at the end makes you reach for a donation form, or a campaign sign-up, as much as another sweet sherry.

All I know is, if Capra could manage It’s A Wonderful Life, some tyro can make the effort for these even more polarised times.

Every movie, in a healthy society, poses its questions about the human condition — answered, ideally, by another movie. That’s the joy of all this. Forgive me for seeking more from my family entertainment than an unspecified warm glow.

Paddington 2 is out in cinemas now.