I am — for someone widely seen as a grump — a big fan of Christmas. Some of my best memories of my life are of Christmas as a child and as a parent. I think it’s a wonderful time of the year when people do actually have some sentiment of well-wishing towards one another.
But my generosity of spirit doesn’t extend to all features of Christmas. Christmas pudding makes me nauseous. I dislike the fact that my now middle-aged body can’t handle drinking at lunchtime and that I rise from a two-hour nap at 5pm feeling like the living dead. And the whole consumerism thing leaves me feeling uneasy, even though I enjoy giving presents but not being too fussed about getting them.
Then there’s Love Actually.
There are no words, as they say. No, really, there aren’t any words that accurately convey the power of my intense hatred of that “film”. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind a Christmas movie. I was for a long time a big fan of that other mawktacular Christmas ritual It’s a Wonderful Life. I love the gothic horror-themed Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol. And of course there’s my favourite Christmas movie of all, The Thing (remember, puppies aren’t just for Christmas).
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But let’s deal with Love Actually, which has become a Christmas staple, indicating that a sizeable proportion of the population are, to be blunt, drooling cretins. Let’s deal with it, with extreme prejudice.
Now I’ve never seen Love Actually. And there’ll be some pedants who’ll insist I can’t criticise something I haven’t experienced. But that argument is quickly dispensed with. Do you need to read the whole Bible to know there’s some bad shit in there involving dismemberment, oppression and genocide? Do you need to see The Birth of a Nation to know it’s a steaming pile of racist crap? Do you need to hear every Nickelback song to know they are the sound of Satan’s bowel movements? I think not.
I’ve tragically acquired enough information about Love Actually in the last 18 years to offer a sound opinion anyway, Plus, I can read Wikipedia. And on that basis I offer you the following things to hate about it:
- I hate Hugh Grant in his full-blown, floppy-haired Hugh Grantness. Grant these days is a superb character actor who elevates any material he’s in (witness how he acted Our Nic off the screen in that thing where he murdered that woman… oh, er, spoilers). But this was before he went 10 rounds with Rupert Murdoch (and winning), and he is at his insufferable worst.
- I hate the heterosexual patriarchal normalisation implicit in it. Half the men are having relationships with women in positions of significantly less power. A prime minister has an affair with a staffer! Hello! On what planet is that OK? In a world where using the wrong pronoun can get you cancelled for life, how is this film still treated as acceptable fare? Billy Bob Thornton is supposed to be an evil lecher, but how is Grant any different just because of his diffident, slightly stammering English charm? They’re both predators. And where are the LGBTI+ relationships? Left on the cutting room floor, apparently, so we could spend some more time with the heterosexuals.
- Speaking of Billy Bob, I hate the insufferably smug lefty British West Wing-style fantasy world it portrays in which a charming British PM stands up to a boorish US president. Hello — the very PM the Luvvie Left lionised in the UK, Tony “Cool Britannia” Blair, was at the moment this was being made cosying up with George “I’m With Stupid” Bush. Your only response to that is a circle-jerk about Grant standing up to the president?!
- I deeply despise the way it co-opts 9/11 in a facile point about love. Creepy and evil.
- Speaking of creepy, what’s with the normalisation of Andrew Lincoln’s weird stalker? That’s not love, that’s bordering on a criminal act. Instead of being pursued by the victim of his obsession for a kiss, he deserves to be pursued by hordes of ravening zombies.
- I hate that some of my favourite actors — Bill Nighy, Alan “Cancel Christmas” Rickman, Laura Linney, Billy Bob — are defiled by their presence in this offensive dross.
- I hate the whole cloyingly twee Richard Curtisness of it. How many times do we have to see a film involving Grant in which the entire plot is about people who can’t quite express their emotions but somehow manage to achieve relationship success? There’s a direct line back from this stuff through to the British literature of the ’30s and ’40s, best represented by Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh, where too-fey-to-be-bothered-breathing middle-class men, who can barely sustain an erection let alone an entire novel, somehow make their way into the beds of beautiful, aristocratic women purely on the basis of their diffident charm, thereby enacting exactly the male fantasy that the authors themselves aimed to live off — gaining status without either being born to it or working for it. And I hate it!
Love Actually, is in fact a hate crime. It’s a hate crime against Christmas, against women, against LGBTI+ people, against people with any decency and, above all, against anyone with even the most basic taste in films.
In all seriousness, there is no reason why the primary perpetrator, Curtis, should not be sent to the International Court of Justice and placed on trial for his crimes. Curtis may plead in his defence that in fact he has made one of the best Christmas movies, in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, but this is a point that should only be taken into account in his sentencing. With Curtis sittin’ in a dock at the Hague, finally there can start to be some modicum of justice for his many, many victims.
Is he wrong? Or is he absolutely right? Let us know your thoughts by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name if you would like to be considered for publication in Crikey’s Your Say column. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.