Accused of disguising human traffic as a love affair, of being highly sexist and dated besides promoting body shaming and the objectification of women, Love Actually is a polemic Christmas tradition.
A film by Richard Curtis, Love Actually became a classic immediately upon its release in 2003. It had everything: captivating stars, empathetic romance, good music and Hugh Grant dancing. But now people online are saying that the film, much like Hugh Grant, has not aged well. It seems like the internet enjoys debating Love Actually’s misogyny almost as much as we love fighting over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie or not.
This Christmas classic features many love stories all reaching climax on Christmas night. One of the most serious accusations involves the plotline of Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz) and Jamie (Colin Firth). After a messy breakup, Jamie hires Aurelia as a maid for his holiday home. Aurelia is a Portuguese immigrant who does not speak English but they somehow fall in love. In the end, Jamie learns Portuguese in a month, runs after Aurelia in Portugal and asks her to marry him.
The plotline has been heavily criticised in a 2013 viral article by Lindy West who said that Mark’s behaviour was ‘not romance,’ it was ‘sociopathy.’ West added:
“Okay. Seriously. Is this Colin Firth storyline actually about human trafficking? Colin Firth shows up in France and this woman just gets dropped off at his house and he “falls in love with her” even though they cannot communicate and the only thing he knows about her is that he’s really, really into her butt.”
Meanwhile, Hugh Grant’s character has also been accused of using his power to flirt with the tea lady – played by Martine McCutcheon – before firing her after she is sexually harassed by the visiting president of the United States. Many narratives are being revisited after the #metoo and #BLM movements, and Love Actually is not an exception.
One person commented: ‘Watching #LoveActually with the family is all fun and games, til you remember one of the storylines involve a porno being filmed…’
Another wrote: ‘Every woman in that movie gets a raw deal.’
Andrew Lincoln’s character, Mark has also been accused of sociopathic behaviour in the past but the discussion seems to be rekindled every year.
Mark is in love with his best friend’s wife, played by Keira Knightley. Mark’s best friend Peter asks him to film the wedding but Mark ignores all other guests – including the groom – and only gets shots of Juliet’s face. Juliet discovers that Mark is in love with her once she watches the wedding video.
Last year, child star Lulu Popplewell who played Daisy in the film has slammed it calling it ‘cheesy’ and showing women as ‘passive objects’.
Speaking about her experience doing the film when she was 12-years-old, the actress said she thought it was s***, adding: ”I think it’s aged badly. All the women in it are sort of passive objects. I think that there was an article describing them as passive objects to be acquired.’
The actor Andrew Lincoln has also said that his character was ‘a weird stalker.’
In a 2017 interview, he said: ‘I kept saying to Richard [Curtis], ‘Are you sure I’m not going to come off as a creepy stalker?'”
Regardless of the online rage, some people are still in love with the film. One person said: ‘I know Love Actually is crap, I know Love Actually is dumb, I know Love Actually is sexist, I am watching #LoveActually. #Christmas’
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