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All you need is love, actually I Chuck's World


Last updated 12/13/2017 at Noon

We’ve now put a few years between ourselves and Peak Listicle, although some nerves are still jangling from those primitive days when nothing worth saying went unlisted.

Listicles are random gatherings of stray facts masquerading as articles, snack food for the attention deficit we all apparently developed at once. Anything could be put into a list, but now this appears to have been only a stopgap measure.

If 2014 was the Year of the List, as some noted at the time, then 2017 might be the Year of the GIF. One or two seconds of jerky video, looping endlessly, now seems to represent the depth of our devolving ability to pay attention. We’ve now reached a point where actual adults are communicating with low-tech graphics designed to hold the focus of a toddler for

maybe a minute.

And who could blame us? The past two years have been glum ones, as one by one some of our most beloved entertainers and other notable people jumped ship, leaving us without Prince’s showmanship or Carrie Fisher’s sardonic survival skills for inspiration while we kept one eye on what was shaping up to a bizarre national election.

But votes were counted and memorials held, and now our icons began to topple from their pedestals without actually dying. I can listen to David Bowie these days anytime I want; I’ll never again be able to watch Charlie Rose interview an interesting subject with his bizarre but often comforting folksiness.

For one thing, I’d be wondering if he was actually wearing pants behind his desk. Life has become uncomfortable.

And however you view our current holiday season, comfort seems to be what we’re looking for. I can’t blame us for this, either.

I keep reading articles about the Hallmark Channel, and how increasing numbers of viewers are tuning in to watch saccharine holiday-themed movies. Our stomachs are being soothed by sugar, alcohol sales are strong, and the other day I noticed a group of senior citizens exiting the local recreational cannabis store in a very good mood, apparently.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I embrace this with all my heart, by the way. I for one welcome our new Hallmark overlords, at least for the rest of the year. In a world with a nuclear North Korea and an Alabama electorate in a strange mood, I’ll seek out joy wherever I can find it. This includes eating nothing all day but cookies, which has actually happened.

Not that pleasure comes without a price. Our personal choices exist in a very public world these days, and heaven forbid we refrain from clicking the “like” button and sharing our tastes with everyone else. It’s obviously a very small step from rolling our eyes at some friend’s affection for dumb movies to pointing out punctuation errors, and then we’re off to the races. Conflict is in the air.

So let’s get into it. ‘Tis the season, and there’s nothing that gets us going (aside from discussions about the pronunciation of “GIF,” anyway) than our annual arguments about the merits of “Love Actually.”

My email inbox just went on high alert. Standard operating procedure. I’ve been here before.

We all have our favorites, and this is the time of year for them. It’s not a complete Thanksgiving, for example, if I don’t at least watch a few scenes of “Home for the Holidays” and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”

I start sneaking Christmas carols onto my playlist in mid-November, and by December I’ve already been reworking my annual listicle of favorite films I need to see before 2018.

I have my quirks. I don’t mind missing “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which has itself been on an endless loop for decades; I tend to favor Cary Grant over Jimmy Stewart this time of year, anyway, much as I prefer Albert Finney to Alastair Sim when it comes to Mr. Scrooge.

But “love” and “actually” are fighting words, at least when they appear in the title of a movie. Friendships are strained and fistfights are on the horizon come December when attention turns toward London, Liam Nelson, and that Laura Linney subplot that could probably have been dropped, don’t you agree? Or no?

I don’t know why “Love Actually” has become such a focus of strong feelings. There are better holiday films, certainly (in fact, “The Holiday,” which has less of an ensemble but some of the same themes, is better), and we all have favorites.

There’s just something about this 2003 romantic-comedy, from the “All You Need Is Love” wedding scene to Emma Thompson’s Heathrow stoicism at the end, from 10 Downing Street to Milwaukee, from a high school auditorium to a remarkably lavish porn film set (don’t show this part to grandma, maybe), from Bill Nighy’s anarchistic brilliance to Liam Nelson’s quiet grief to Joni Mitchell’s music to Colin Firth being transported in from another movie, apparently.

Something passionate people respond to, in a variety of ways.

I think this is what we should be fighting about, in fact. No friendships are lost squabbling over sentiment, not really. I love the movie. You can sneer at it. Neither of us can vote in Alabama. We can do this nicely.

I know it’s rough out there. I’m just suggesting that love could be in the air, that silly stories can be comfort food, that Hugh Grant is underrated and so is this movie. Go ahead, send your emails.

I’ll send you back a GIF, I promise.


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