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It is a truth universally acknowledged that Love Actually is the worst film ever made. Perhaps even the worst thing that has ever happened. You can try and name a worse film, but then, if you take a horrible moment to remember that drawn-out scene where Rowan Atkinson wraps a present, I’m sure you’ll agree, nothing, nothing that could be conceived of by the human mind, could be worse than that.

No, sorry not even that.

Radio waves travelling out into the cosmos carry the imprint of everything human beings have ever broadcast. Love Actually is so terrible is pretty much guarantees that there is no alien life anywhere in the universe, because if it had encountered the electromagnetic oscillations that make up Love Actually, they would have nuked us back to the Big Bang without a second thought.

If you, by some amazing chance, are lucky enough to have never seen Love Actually or have arranged to have it wiped from your mind by futuristic science, this article does a good job of outlining the basic the horror, the horror, of it. It doesn’t go far enough though, because it barely touches on the outrageous, gut wrenching, esophageal sphincter troubling sexism of Love Actually, which is at a shitness level more often found in medieval Europe. Yes, it mentions the ludicrous parade of men getting it together with younger women who are often their employees, and that 3 (mostly) middle aged male characters finish the film with their plotlines resolved by a quick meet cute with a supermodel and, points out the number of relationships that are based on physical attraction, but it should be noted that every time the lust object is female, the ending is happy, but in the ONE story where a woman lusts after a man she is guilted and punished relentlessly by the narrative, because, ugh whatta slut.

But, I know, sexist film is sexist, pass the salt, but wait: I have a point here. My point (it’s coming, really). Here it is. It’s this.

I promise you this. Love Actually could have been the most exciting, thrilling, romantic and radical film ever made with one simple, tiny change. Really. It could have been the most delicious feelgood delight that had ever happened. It could have been your comfort and joy for this and every Christmas to come.

Yep. Just one change.

That change: Flip the genders. All of them. Go on. Do it. Now take a second look. Holy shit.

Gender Flipped Love Actually is the greatest story never told, a radical progressive love story about female desire and true love that will blow your bloody mind: once you think about it, you will know I am right.

Gender Flipped Love Actually would open with a charming, witty, unmarried female Prime Minister talking about her belief in love. (I know, we’re already in a strange and magical land.) Later she will meet a new servant man. Maybe he’s a butler, maybe he’s some kind of cleaner, or a secretary. It’s not important. He is super, super sexy. Is he wearing the male equivalent of the tight office wear outfit the equivalent character is wearing in the original? Yes he is. Oh, dear god, would you take my ticket money now. That’s not all. Later a sassy, sexy female US president will try and be inappropriate with servant man and Lady PM will chase him off and as a result not invade Iraq. Lady PM and servant man fall in love. He’s a bit younger than her. The entire country is thrilled.

– Meanwhile a dashing lady crime novelist (whose ex-boyfriend was an evil slag) doesn’t bother to back up her work and it ends up falling a pond. Her cleaner, who doesn’t speak English, strips to his pants to retrieve it. Obviously, she marrys him, as he is really very hot.

– In a bittersweet plotline, a sexy voiced lady is the director of something important which is probably Comic Relief. A saucy young office tart boy flirts with her shamelessly and does dirty dancing at the office party. She is confused as she has a nice enough husband at home. But, you know, the guy in the office is persistent and way hotter than her husband, so you can’t blame her for sort of going along with it. He’s baddie tho. Boo. Homewrecker. Fuck that guy forever. No one likes him. You can tell he’s a wrong ‘un from the eyeliner.

– A lady and her daughter are sad because their husband/father is dead. The daughter fancies a boy at school so impresses him by drumming. Then she chases him dynamically through an airport. The mum meets a hot male model and ends up probably, basically glad her husband died, cuz, yay, hot young models are the happiest ending ever.

– A boring man who is over 30 works in the probably Comic Relief place and fancies a hot model-type woman. But with glasses, so she is also smart or sensitive or something. (It doesn’t actually matter, it’s obvious she is totally hot shit.) Sexy glasses lady goes home with boring man at the Xmas party but his mentally ill sister interrupts them. He is rightly horribly guilty the stupid old slag. And the sexy lady can’t really be bothered with this crap, so he has to give up on his idea of a sex life forever and get on with caring for his sister as that is a more rewarding role for a boring over 30 man, anyway.

– A goofy British girl is unlucky in love, because she is a rude idiot. She has heard American men really like British accents so goes to some random place in America and immediately attracts so many hot model type men that, after a short while living with them in some sort of harem set up, comes home and gives a spare one to her best friend, like he’s her property or something.

– The plot about the guy who fancies his best friend’s girlfriend is really weird in the original, and it is still kind of weird here, but it is actually a bit better if it goes: Lady fancies really hot BFF’s hot husband, makes dumb, doomed play for him. Gets over it and meets a male model.

– And, of course, aging lady rock star acts like a tit and tries to get an Xmas number one with some horrible novelty song. In the video her back up band are all male models who could basically be her grandsons, dressed in skimpy santa costumes, who all strip to their underwear behind her while she dances in a suit looking at herself in the mirror. They also so some sort of pole dancing or something. It turns out that the rock star loves her lady manager. (Platonically – this film is still the most heterosexual thing that has ever happened. Sorry. Can’t fix everything.) Later, she ends up with a sexy young male groupie, because obviously.

– Oh, and something about actors who block for porn stars. One of them is a Hobbit. No one cares.

– A weirdly eccentric shop lady spends a long time wrapping a present. (See. Even that becomes bearable.)

THE END. Cue hugging at the airport and God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You?

So, Gender Flipped Love Actually, ladies and gentlemen, (but mainly ladies). Can I get an AMEN? Wow lotsa middle aged women seeing off horrible slaggy boyfriends and falling in insta-lust with sexy young male models. Great movie.

Greatest. Story. Never. Told.

You reading this Santa?

(Don’t panic Santa, I know this film as described would be impossible. And the fact that the actual Love Actually got made and this film could never be made is the strongest evidence yet that we are, and continue to be, living in the darkest timeline.)

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14 thoughts on “Why Gender Flipped Love Actually is the Greatest Story Never Told.

  1. Hi there
    The thing is, gender equality means equality. Flipping an unequal scenario on its head doesn’t make it equal, it just makes it unequal the other way around.
    Also, Love Actually is the best film ever.
    Kind Regards
    P.S. I did actually enjoy your article, apart from the part where you said my favourite film was shit 🙂

  2. I think women should know there place…..and thats in films like this, that for some reason, somehow, still strike my heterosexual male nerve column. Look I can’t help it that I’d rather be with a hot girl than an ugly one or that nice bums make me talk with more interest than a jumped up righteous personality. Look I don’t mind being a backward thinker (get it) but I can be forward too. This article only serves the purpose of restoring the fact that men and women like to have their egos massaged through the very stereotypes that they would love to dissolve. I have a penis and you have a vagina, should be the name of your film. Penis goes into vagina (or anus) should be the hook. With love, Hugh

  3. “A weirdly eccentric shop lady spends a long time wrapping a present.”

    For some reason, in my mind this turned into the Joan Rivers scene from The Muppets Take Manhattan.

  4. Hugh, you’re gross.
    Jodie, I think this article is tongue-in-cheek, I don’t think this is an actual manifesto for someone’s idea of equality.
    This article made me realise how outrageously sexist Love Actually really is, and how it’s not about love but about men finding someone they fancy enough to commit to.
    Applause

  5. Putting “You’d be amazed how little I care what you think” above the comment box doesn’t make you clever, funny or witty.

    Love Actually is not nearly as bad as you say it is. If you wanna see examples of blatant sexism there are PLENTY around that do a lot worse than Love Actually.

    I see your point, and switching genders is an interesting way of looking at the problem and a good way to illustrate it. But finding as many clever (ish) ways to say how bad Love Actually doesn’t make you a good feminist.

  6. Gender flipping the narrative doesn’t really achieve anything at all, except layering on with a trowel another slab of unbelievable crap, this time with the gender roles inverted, of a bizarrely unrealistic series of vignettes that sit unhappily as one film. The original film does have some noble sentiments in it however, and the occasional touching moment of genuine romance, both of which you have chosen to overlook here..

  7. Gender flipping does make the point that you would NEVER see this story that way around. It forces us to ask: why is that? Oh, and it’s bloody funny as well. Thank-you for taking the time to write something thoughtful and provocative.

  8. You make a valid point that flipping the genders would certainly make it more interesting to watch, if only because we rarely see older women with younger men on screen…but I don’t know that it makes it a better film. From a writing point of view the characters still barely hang together because they’ve crammed so many in to one film that we don’t get time to really know anything about them but the bare surface of detail. Plus even with a gender switch, pretty much everything in The Atlantic article (http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/12/-em-love-actually-em-is-the-least-romantic-film-of-all-time/282091/) still stands.

    The only ones that really benefit from it are the female Prime Minister version (WAY more interesting – great idea) and the crime novelist (if only to have a story line that doesn’t paint young women as evil temptress heart breaking home wreckers).

    The other plotlines don’t actually benefit from gender swapping: I don’t want to see a sad pathetic ageing rock star desperately trying to get a Christmas number 1 hit…and I certainly don’t want to see a woman doing that because, and I say this as a proud feminist, we’re just better than that! That whole story line makes me cringe and if I have to see it, well I’d rather it weren’t a woman making a total fool of herself. Same for the rude idiot who believes an accent is the key to happiness. He’s an embarrassment. OK, the girls he meets aren’t any better, but switching the genders makes no difference here – they’re still all moronic characters doing stupid things.

    With both the home wrecker/cheating plot line and the I’m in love with my best friend’s partner plot line – it’s pretty shit whichever gender. The morality doesn’t change because of that. Sorry but you’re just wrong here. It’s not even slightly better if it’s a woman in love with her best friend’s husband. Nor is it better if it’s a woman cheating on her husband with a younger man. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that in that case, Emma Thompson is an older woman with whom we sympathise – the audience are on her side so I wouldn’t want to flip that around. That’s not to say that there can’t be bad ass female characters, but there’s a difference between bad ass and just bad. Obviously, evil females exist too but it seems you’re saying morally questionable situations would be less questionable and more sound if the genders were flipped and I don’t think that’s the case.

    Gender changing is irrelevant with the boring office couple prevented from being together by a sibling…though you’re probably right that it’s more touching and unusual if it’s a man sacrificing his potential (flimsily written) happiness for his sister.

    I think the father-son relationship is more interesting than the mother-daughter version of that plot line because there have been so many examples throughout history, literature and film of women who lose a man and essentially say “well now what do we do?” and wait for another man to come into their lives. That’s incredibly boring and we don’t often see the male version of that. It’s one of the film’s few saving graces I think. Also that kid is undeniably brilliant.

    I wouldn’t enjoy watching anyone of either sex spending so long wrapping that bloody present. It’s not better if it’s a woman. It’s still annoying, a waste of time and an irrelevant scene in the film.

    And finally – the body double couple shouldn’t be dismissed on the issue of gender swapping, because actually they’re the only example of gender equality within the film.

    So I’ve basically written an essay in response – oops! Wasn’t my intention!! I know it was supposed to be a bit of fun but I found it interesting enough to actually think about.

    Side point: Hi Hugh – if you’re going to start off by telling women to know our place, you might want to use the correct spelling of “their”. When you put someone down, you lose credibility if you can’t even spell your own insult. You’re also quite clearly not a forward thinker – the entirety of your message indicates that.

  9. Love the picture at the top. They look like a festive girl gang holding Bill Nighy hostage.

    I like two scenes in this film and think that by just extending them for 45 minutes each an equally female friendly film would emerge.

    First, Colin Firth arrives home for Christmas to his family then decides to go back to France instead. His nieces and nephews are rightly outraged by this and all shout “I HATE uncle Jamie”. To fill the time they could talk about more things to hate about him like “how come uncle Jamie loves another woman now? He only just broke up with auntie slutty” “I LIKE auntie slutty. She’s always happy now she’s with uncle slutty” “Why does uncle Jamie write books about murdering women? Doesn’t he like them?” and so on.

    The second half of the film would be Emma Thompson listening to Joni Mitchell. Could probably fit a whole album in there.

    To lift the gloom perhaps the final scene could still be real people hugging loved ones at an airport. Reminding us that real life is actually more full of love (and more egalitarian love) than crappy films.

You'd be amazed how little I care what you think

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