Friday, 24 February 2012

A Mini Rant

Love Actually opening scene

NOTE: Typos will be edited at some point. Have fixed my desktop and am trying to get used to the keyboard again.

Embedding disabled on all decent copies I can find, so have a look, above, and then read the following tirade. I'll try and incorporate some audience theory into my scathing assault on Richard Curtis and all who sail in his very naff little boat which I hope gets sunk.

Reasons why I  hate 'Love Actually' (hopefully confined to the first 2 minutes, as per the )

Okay, aside from the fact that Richard Curtis has gone from being the doyen of great British comedy to the keeper and maintainer of vacuous status quo-dom at the same rate that Ben Elton has gone from wonderfully-Thatcher-baiting-if-deeply-condescending-and-nowhere-near-as-clever-as-he-supposes luminary to purveyor of Queen musicals there are a great many reasons to hate this opening two minutes. A great many reasons to be insulted. A great may reasons as an audience to feel, at the very least, aggrieved at the shockingly mindless monkeys we are thought to be. How easily manipulated by trite sentiment does Curtis think a cinema audience is? Judging by the success of the film and all his other offerings the answer is very. And UK audiences are doing sod all to challenge this.

Just be warned, I don;t care if you like it. If you like it, fine. This is a personal rant about the cultural values it supposes and how it treats an audience. If you enjoyed the film, I'm glad (thereby neatly contradicting my previous couple of sentences - I'm trying to be liberal about taste whilst lambasting and that is a difficult skill).

We looked at Monkey Dust in class, here is a Monkey Dust version of every Richard Curtis movie ever* WARNING: a little subversive, don't press play if you might be easily offended. Remember, I'm covered by the spec as long as I'm not showing you anything inappropriate  and if 'Int he Loop' is a 15 according to the BBFC, then this is easily admissible in a court of Media Studies teaching.

But back to 'Love Actually'.

How is an audience manipulated? By setting up a situation where you have to buy into the premise or risk being ostracised. It may even come close to hypodermic needle theory ( see next video) only instead of reading messages in the media and being encouraged to kill, maim, rape we are, instead, forced to go along with an idiotic premise.

"As far as I know, when the twin towers collapsed none of the messages were about revenge".

1) A far as Hugh Grant knows, thereby fallible (start with your least convincing argument first - a sure fire way to alienate your audience, natch);
2) as far as Richard Curtis knows, thereby fallible;
3) if you were on the receiving end of a revenge message from someone about to die on the 11th September attacks, you probably wouldn't let loads of people know therefore making 1 and 2 even less convincing, thereby fallible;

and now we get more convincing...

4) this manipulates an audience to buy in completely to the premise of the film as, if you don't, it is heavily implied that you either don't feel compassion for the victims / agree with terrorism / aren't as lovely as the 300 other people you're sharing air space with in the cinema who have all, en masse, gone 'oh yeah, if 9/11 showed that people loved each other it must be. Therefore everything in this film is both immediately relevant and, furthermore, important**';
5) the whole notion is idiotic - taking a group of people who realise they are about to die as a representative sample and then going through their final messages to their loved ones as proof of the primacy of love is ridiculous. I'm fairly certain there would have been a high proportion of people who died from heart attacks before but it doesn't mean lots of people on planes around the world will die of heart attacks. There was probably, and this will sound crass and insensitive but it is the only way to highlight the sheer offensiveness of the love comparison, lots of people with soiled underwear. Curtis isn't going on about how it makes evacuating your bowels when hijacked and murdered a universal experience we can all relate to is he? No, because that isn't nice. But love is. Love is lovely*** and any audience member who dares now not buy into the whole shebang is, by association, evil. So he uses an atrocity to peddle his insulting little wares and make himself more money to send his kids off to private school with.

Because audiences are base, degenerate and unthinking.

Here endeth the rant.

* apply audience theory to the prevalence of white middle classness and work out who these films are really aimed at and how they're aimed at them.

** they might have thought this using less commas. I like commas, we have established this on numerous occasions.
*** the poem by poet Ann Ziety called 'Before and After Weddiflop' illustrates this perfectly but it is nowhere on the web so can't be shared unless I type it out. Which I'm not going to.


  1. Sir. You are officially the best person.

    In regards to the actual point, I can see this entirely. Although I am pretty much immune to human emotion (which is a completely different story!) the whole idea of throwing together your own interpretation of an actual historic event with nothing to back it up for the sake of leading your own plot seems fairly off-model in regards to writing. It's as though "we need to make a particular point here, but I can't think of any examples to reference. I know! Let's alter this well-documented historical event which had a massive impact on the way a significant deal of the world thinks to be about some point we're trying to make".

    Also in regards to the YouTube clip itself at the top, please go and start a flamewar in the comments. This could be hilarious.

  2. I used to love the film Sir, but unfortunately you are so true the way "different" people to the traditional white English being was portrayed negatively. E.g the french lady's parents offering to sell the daughter (well i think that happens) and that every American women lacks brain cells and rely on their looks. Also your rant in class about the opening minutes is a extremely disrespectful and was interpreted in the film wrongly.

  3. This is also could also be applied to
    "Lacans's" theories. first of all the "lack" the fact that in real life we cannot stand up to the American government, the institution create a confrontation where the Prime minster neglects America. Which portrays England as elegant and brave and America poorly as their President informally tries to sexually confront the tea lady representing that they he is only interested in English goods to fulfill his needs. The "lack" also ties in with "Lacan's" other theory the "mirror phase" that we represent our self (the British public) is all positive shown by the noble acts continuously through the English men and women and that the institution portraying the English characters with such a positive attitude pleases the public because by portraying them in such a great way is also like looking at the mirror gracefully and taking all the positives and no negatives as they continuously represent England in a good manor but neglect the many problems wrong with England (but actually Interpretations like yours Sir signify why it represents England poorly, as they take up a Hitler/Nietzsche view that our race is superior and we can only perform true love and that any one different is inferior, which is.) Which also links to the "mirror phase" that the image we see of England is deluded an we can not see the bad features in ourself and we neglect who ever is different. Linking back to the "lack", in fact there is a tremendous amount of irony used because every positive act performed by the English in reflection is what we "lack" for example in reality we would never neglect America. or the Prime minister would not live a normal life, the institution just delude the public to thinking Britain is this perfect country so there response is extortionate.

  4. Ben! Excellent use of your research to apply it to a media text. Very impressed. Keep it up. You can also start thinking about how to apply this theory to the film posters for your chosen case study films too.