Roxy Bourdillon reimagines a Christmas classic
It’s that time of year again. The streets are full of shoppers festively screaming at each other, the Amazon delivery guy is weeping on the pavement – a broken man with a broken back – and you’re settling down on the sofa with a Terry’s Chocolate Orange (it’s not Terry’s, it’s yours) to watch Love Actually, a film that celebrates love in all its forms. All its heterosexual forms, that is, because “love is all around”, but only if you’re straight. Richard Curtis’ Crimbo classic features dozens of characters, and not one of them is queer. That’s not just disappointing, it’s statistically unlikely. What about Pat, the Prime Minister’s housekeeper? Come on Curtis, you couldn’t have made Pat a lez?
Love Actually is as straight, actually, as my mum wishes I was. But did you know that the crowd-pleasing flick originally included a same-sex love story? Naturally, one of the sisters of Sappho died, because nothing says Christmas cheer like Dead Lesbian Syndrome. Curtis took burying his gays to a whole new level. He went to all the trouble of shooting our death scenes, and then killed our storyline too, like some sadistic patriarchal puppeteer.
The lack of queer characters isn’t the only rage-inducing factor in the film. For starters, everyone wears polo necks and still finds each other attractive! (Bonus drinking game: every time someone wears a polo neck, take a swig – you’ll be wankered before Hugh Grant has dad-danced his way round Number 10.)
The thing is, even though the accepted wisdom is that Love Actually is Crap Actually, that it’s sexist and problematic and clichéd and all of those other qualities movie execs look for in the next box office smash, I still love it. I know it isn’t good for me, but like scoffing all my advent calendar choccies on November 15th, I just can’t help myself. But chin and bottoms and Terry’s Chocolate Orange up, because I present the festive rom-com of your lady-loving fantasies – Queer Actually...
We open on the airport and it’s full of lesbians and bi women hugging and kissing and scissoring as Prime Minister Ellen DeGeneres booms over the tannoy, “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that queers actually are all around.” Hear that, Curtis? We’re all around so put us in your goddamn deeply flawed, irresistibly watchable films! All of a sudden, Shane McCutcheon swaggers through the arrivals gate with nothing but a backpack full of strap-ons, on a quest to meet British women to hook up with. We form an orderly queue.
Find out what happens next in the December issue of DIVA, available to buy in print or digitally here.
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