Critics take aim at Christmas movies classic, calling them sexist

Critics take aim at Christmas movies classic, calling them sexist

12/07/2021

Now the woke brigade are coming for YOUR Christmas films! Twitter critics say Love Actually ‘rewards toxic men’, ‘archaic’ Bridget Jones champions sexual harassment and Jack Black is a ‘dangerous sociopath’ in The Holiday

  • Popular Christmas movies are being blasted by ‘woke’ viewers online for plots 
  • Love Actually has been criticised for ‘condoning sexual harassment and stalking’
  • It’s far from the only classic film that faces being ‘cancelled’ – here are others 

Little beats cosying up to a festive movie with our loved ones in the run up to Christmas, be it a comedy or a classic romcom. 

But criticism has been mounting over staples like Richard Curtis’ Love Actually, The Holiday and It’s a Wonderful Live, with women’s lifestyle site Refinery29 taking festive films apart and lambasting the ‘toxic’ male characters. 

Meanwhile social media users have been ripping into some of the country’s most beloved movies, including Bridget Jones’s Diary, starring Renee Zellweger, for ‘sexual harassment, fatphobia and everyday sexism’.  

So, would your favourite Christmas film escape the cancel culture crackdown? Read on to discover some of the ‘offenders’ most at risk… 

LOVE ACTUALLY, 2003

‘Creepy stalker’ Mark, ‘body shaming’ of Natalie, and sexist treatment of ‘passive’ women 

Are your Christmas movie favourites problematic? Love Actually has been branded sexist by viewers who believe it condones sexual harassment and ‘sociopathy’ (pictured: Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon). Some suggested Hugh Grant’s character actually uses his power to flirt with his tea lady, who is played by Martine McCutcheon, before firing her after she is sexually harassed by the visiting president of the United-States

Reaction: Over the years, woke fans have become increasingly critical of the festive extravaganza, calling several of its tropes misogynistic and problematic

Richard Curtis’ Love Actually, was an instant classic when it was released in 2003 thanks to its impressive roster of stars, romantic plotlines and infectious musical numbers. 

The movie follows several characters’ stories as they unfold in the run up to Christmas.

Viewers fell in love with many of those storylines, from a grief-stricken step-father played by Liam Neeson looking after his late wife’s son Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) to a dashing Prime Minister played by Hugh Grant, balancing duty and fancy – and dancing around 10 Downing Street to the Pointer Sisters. 

But over the years, woke fans have become increasingly critical of the festive extravaganza, calling several of its tropes misogynistic and problematic.  

A much discussed storyline follows Mark, played by Andrew Lincoln, who is in love with his best friend Peter’s wife Juliet, played by Keira Knightley, and struggles to suppress himself from acting on it.

Tasked with filming their wedding video, viewers later learn that Mark spent the entire ceremony with the lens trained solely on Juliet’s face. 

A much discussed storyline follows Mark, played by Andrew Lincoln, who is in love with his best friend Peter’s wife Juliet, played by Keira Knightley, and struggles to suppress himself from acting on it. Tasked with filming their wedding video, viewers later learn that Mark spent the entire ceremony with the lens trained solely on Juliet’s face. Pictured, the moment Juliet discovers this

Jezebel writer Lindy West went viral in 2013 with her ruthless criticism of Love, Actually, where she said Mark’s behaviour was ‘not romance,’ it was ‘sociopathy.’

Even actor Andrew Lincoln has declared the character ‘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?'” 

He’s not the only actor in the film to criticise it after it’s release. Last year, child star Lulu Popplewell slammed hit movie Love Actually for being ‘cheesy’ and showing women as ‘passive objects’. 

Speaking about her experience doing the film when she was 12-years-old, Lulu 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.’

Meanwhile, some suggested Hugh Grant’s character actually uses his power to flirt with his tea lady, who is played by Martine McCutcheon, before firing her after she is sexually harassed by the visiting president of the United-States. 

One person commented: ‘I watched Love Actually for the first time last night and not only is it fatphobic, but it’s also sexist ??? there were maybe 2 or 3 times throughout the whole thing that I laughed but most of the film i was just like “wtf, how is this considered romantic.’

Another wrote: ‘I rewatched Love Actually tonight and I’m so shocked that I never noticed how sexist and bad it is??

‘There is so much body shaming, women are constantly objectified and the only gay couple literally fist bumps at the end?

‘Worst part is I never even noticed any of this before.’ 

THE HOLIDAY, 2006

‘Toxic and dangerous sociopath’ Miles leads women on 

The Holiday tells the story of two disgruntled singletons getting over terrible men by swapping houses and continents. But some viewers argued Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz’s new love interest in the movie – played by Jack Black, pictured, and Jude Law – treat them as badly as the men that wrong them at the beginning of the movie 

One social media user (pictured) declared: ‘The Holiday is terrible but utterly enjoyable, especially as Jack Black’s “charming” character behaves like a dangerous sociopath throughout’

Starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz as two disgruntled singletons swapping houses for a week over the holiday period, the 2006 movie The Holiday was a box office success at the time of its release and it has remained a seasonal favourite with many fans since. 

Winslet’s Iris goes to Los Angeles to forget about Telegraph editor Jasper, who has been keeping her hanging on for years, while Diaz’s Amanda jets off to Surrey after breaking it off with her cheating boyfriend. 

But while these two male characters have little to redeem themselves – and Jasper rightfully gets a tell off from Iris in a climactic scene – others have taken an issue with Miles, Iris’ love interest, played by Jack Black. 

Refinery29 has claimed Miles, a music composer who ends up with Iris when the movie reaches its climax, treats ‘her poorly’, leading her on throughout her time in LA, only to drop her the second his cheating ex-girlfriend wants to get back together. 

Social media users agreed, with one declaring: ‘The Holiday is terrible but utterly enjoyable, especially as Jack Black’s “charming” character behaves like a dangerous sociopath throughout. 

‘It’s a film about toxic masculinity that doesn’t know it’s a film about toxic masculinity.’

Meanwhile, Graham, who is played by Jude Law, shows up at Amanda’s cottage blackout drunk, has sex with her and tells her the next day she will never see him again because he is not good at ‘following-up.’ 

He has also received criticism from viewers, with one commenting: ‘Unfortunately I have realised Jude Law in The Holiday is a f***boy.’ 

LOVE HARD, 2021 

‘Problematic’ male behaviour and ‘racist’ plot for ‘portraying Asian men as unattractive nerds’ 

In Netflix’s 2021 Love Hard, Natalie, left, played by Nina Dobrev, is catfished by Josh, played by Jimmy O. Chang, right, but still falls in love with him 

Meanwhile others accused the film of racism. One wrote: ‘I rarely watch American TV/movies these days, but I made the mistake of hate-watching Love Hard on Netflix to relax. It got me to laugh and cringe at the parts the writers wanted their audiences to react to, but it’s pretty racist towards Asian men.’

The most recent addition to the Christmas film list is Netflix’s Love Hard, starring Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O. Yang, which debuted on the streaming platform last month. 

In this modern take on the Cyrano of Bergerac story, Natalie, a columnist, travels across the US to spend Christmas with Josh, whom she met online, only to realise he’s been pretending to be another, better looking man.

Spoiler alert, Natalie and Josh end up together at the end of this festive tale, but while the moral of the story promotes inner beauty and self-confidence, the fact Josh lies to Natalie and still gets the girl in the end did not sit well with some viewers. 

People on Twitter said the plot point was ‘messed-up,’ especially since Josh forces Natalie to pretend she is his girlfriend so he doesn’t lose face in front of his family, before guilting her into accepting a fake public proposal. 

One viewer wrote: ‘Love hard is such a problematic movie.’ 

Meanwhile others accused the film of racism. One wrote: ‘I rarely watch American TV/movies these days, but I made the mistake of hate-watching Love Hard on Netflix to relax.

‘It got me to laugh and cringe at the parts the writers wanted their audiences to react to, but it’s pretty racist towards Asian men.’

Another added: ‘Netflix, why do you promote movies like love hard with racist stereotypes, again Hollywood is portraying Asian men as unattractive nerds that don’t get girls and speak in Asian accent. 

‘Wtf is this sh**? It 2021. stop with the racism.’ 

BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY, 2001

 ‘Archaic’ plotline which ‘romanticizes sexual harassment at work’ and is ‘fatphobic’ towards Bridget 

While a cult classic for some, Bridget Jones’s Diary has come under fire, with viewers claiming on social media that the 2001 romcom ‘romanticising sexual harassment at work’ (pictured: Hugh Grant and Renee Zellweger in the movie, while both at work) 

Social media users have accused the movie of ‘romanticising sexual harassment at work’ by portraying Bridget’s affair with her boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant)

Following a single 32-year-old woman desperate to lose weight, stop smoking and find a ‘nice, sensible boyfriend’, Bridget Jones captured the hearts of the nation when it was released in 2001.

But viewers today have dubbed the movie ‘sexist and fatphobic’, with one claiming the hit romantic comedy, starring Renée Zellweger as the titular role, is reflective of an ‘archaic time’.

Social media users have accused the movie of ‘romanticising sexual harassment at work’ by portraying Bridget’s affair with her boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).

And after leaving the publishing world following her affair Cleaver, she is faced with harassment at the fictitious TV show Sit Up Britain, where the heroine is told: ‘No one ever gets sacked for shagging the boss.’

While it was seen as progressive in the early noughties, modern viewers have raised concerns about Bridget’s obsession with weight loss, arguing that she has an average body size and the film is ‘fat phobic’.

Last year, body confidence campaigner Alex Light, said watching Bridget’s obsession with weight as an impressionable teenager made her vow to diet as she was left thinking 9st 4lbs is fat.

Even Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding – who based the much-loved character on experiences from her own life- told Desert Island in 2020 she ‘could not believe the sexism’ in Bridget’s world. 

Watching the trilogy with her children years after its release, Helen said: ‘You couldn’t write that now. The level of sexism Bridget was dealing with, the hand on the bum in so many of the scenes, [Sit Up Britain boss] Richard Finch, ‘Let’s have a shot of the boobs.

‘I mean in the end she turned round and stuck it to them but it was just part and parcel of her life.

‘It was quite shocking for me to see how things have changed.’

It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946

‘Extremely misogynistic’ 

It’s  a Wonderful Life was released in 1946 and has been beloved ever since, but some viewers have said it condones sexual assault 

They also criticised the scene in which George (James Stewart) is shouting in the face of wife Mary (Donna Reed) before suddenly grabbing her and passionately kissing her – with viewers saying his wife had not consented to the act

Reaction: One Twitter critic commented: ‘It is probably 30 minutes too long, and has some weird (and extremely misogynistic moments) but I am always a blubbering mess at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life.’

It’s difficult to think of Christmas films without considering the heartwarming classic It’s A Wonderful Life.

It follows George Bailey, a businessman, who is visited by an angel named Clarence sent to show him life is worth living by revealing what life would have been like if Bailey wasn’t born.

The movie, based on a novel of the same name by Philip Van Doren Stern, has been branded ‘deeply problematic’ by social media users, who take issue with several elements of the 1946 film.

One particular scene viewers picked out shows Mary caught naked in the bushes after her robe slips off by George, who refuses to give back her robe and jokes that the ‘police would be on my side’.

They also criticised the scene in which George (James Stewart) is shouting in the face of wife Mary (Donna Reed) before suddenly grabbing her and passionately kissing her – with viewers saying his wife had not consented to the act.

One Twitter critic commented: ‘It is probably 30 minutes too long, and has some weird (and extremely misogynistic  moments) but I am always a blubbering mess at the end of It’s A Wonderful Life.’  

The Santa Clause, 1994

‘Racist jokes’, trivializes ‘casual workplace sexual harassment’ and 

The Santa Clause is a fun and heartwarming tale from 1994 starring Tim Allen, pictured, but some viewers have called out the movie for a racist joke about the Asian community 

It has been criticised due to the ‘casual workplace sexual harassment’ taking place when Calvin’s colleagues comment on his drastic weight gain – a side effect of gradually becoming Santa Clause (pictured)

Reaction: Social media users noted the ‘fat shaming that everyone does to Tim Allen’ 

Christmas comedy film The Santa Clause following an unsuspecting man is tasked with becoming the new St. Nick was a commercial hit when it was released in 1994.

Starring Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, who accidentally causes the real Santa to fall from his roof on Christmas Eve, the film received positive reviews upon release – but has since come under fire for some outdated themes.

One scene picked out by viewers is the ‘racist’ restaurant scene where the protagonist calls a local diner an ‘American institution’ before entering to find tables full of Asian businessmen.

It has also been criticised due to the ‘casual workplace sexual harassment’ taking place when Calvin’s colleagues comment on his drastic weight gain – a side effect of gradually becoming Santa Clause.

The film has even been slammed for it’s ‘kidnapping plot’ which sees Scott’s ex-wife call the police when he takes son Charlie to the North Pole because she didn’t recognise him as Santa Clause – which viewers called ‘problematic’.

JINGLE ALL THE WAY, 1996 – ‘Creepy’ neighbour 

People of Twitter have been calling out ‘creepy’ character Ted, the neighbour of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Howard, who makes a move on his wife 

In one scene, Ted visits Liz in her home (pictured) and tries to convince her to go take a bath and tries to get her apron off her chest, while Liz protests

People on Twitter have been calling Ted ‘sleazy’ and a creep as a result of the awkward scene

Romance is not at the heart of Jingle All the Way, with Arnold Schwarzenegger running around town to find his son’s Christmas present in this classic from 1996. 

However, a particular scene focusing on Ted, Arnold’s perfect-seeming neighbour, has been leaving a bad taste in viewers’ mouths. 

In the movie, Ted always seems to succeed where Arnold’s character, Howard, fails and enjoys showing him up. 

It is also suggested in the movie that divorced dad Ted offers a sympathetic ear to Howard’s wife Liz, played by Rita Wilson, but is actually trying to make a move on her. 

In one scene, Ted visits Liz in her home and tries to convince her to go take a bath and tries to get her apron off her chest, while Liz protests.

People on Twitter have been calling Ted ‘sleazy’ and a creep as a result of the awkward scene. 

ELF, 2003 – ‘Sexist’ Christmas song, ‘Rude’ Buddy doesn’t care about family’s feelings  

While 2003’s Elf, starring SNL alum Will Ferrell, pictured, is a Christmas cult classic, some pointed out that Buddy barging in a women’s bathroom would not fly by today’s movie making standards 

And while for some the scene where Buddy (Will Ferrell) has a festive singalong with Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) while she’s in the shower (pictured) is light-hearted comedy, for others the Elf barging in a women’s bathroom is hugely problematic

Reaction: Plus, the pair are singing the controversial Christmas tune Baby It’s Cold Outside, which has been criticised for it’s ‘predatory undertones’ in 2018

For many viewers, the 2003 festive comedy documenting the adventures of Buddy The Elf as he takes on New York City is a beloved Christmas film.

And while for some the scene where Buddy (Will Ferrell) has a festive singalong with Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) while she’s in the shower is light-hearted comedy, for others the Elf barging in a women’s bathroom is hugely problematic. 

Cosmopolitan even dedicated an article to why Buddy was actually ‘the worse’ in 2018.  

Plus, the pair are singing the controversial Christmas tune Baby It’s Cold Outside, which has been criticised for it’s ‘predatory undertones’ in 2018.

Concerns were raised about the call-and-response song, which tells the story of a woman singing that she has to leave a man’s house as he tries to persuade her to stay, with critics claiming it’s offensive to women.

The song, written by Frank Loesser in 1944, is considered so offensive that in 2019 John Legend re-wrote the lyrics to the classic festive tune replacing controversial elements of the song with more palatable phrases.

What was originally ‘I’ve got to go away, but baby it’s cold outside’ was replaced with ‘I’ve got to go away, I can call you a ride’, while adding phrases such as ‘it’s your body and your choice’.

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