Love Actually: Opiate of the Masses?


This essay will analyze the influence of the movie Love Actually on our social and emotional wellbeing. In the spirit of polarizing debates, I pose the question, “Is Love Actually THE-GREATEST-MOVIE (tied with Jurassic Park) or a pernicious threat to society?” But before jumping into the ring, let’s take some kind of relevant detours.

Friendsgiving. This year I partook in my first Friendsgiving, a gathering of young adults who create a Thanksgiving-among-friends rather than traveling to their ancestral homes, which for me is Pittsburgh. It was not my first Thanksgiving away from home—I’ve also done Fratsgiving, (Thanksgiving in a frat house) and Prague Thanksgiving (a banquet for American study abroad students marooned in the Czech Republic during the second best non-presents US holiday).* While Fratsgiving and Prague Thanksgiving are circumstantial happenstance, Friendsgiving is significant. It is a performance through which individuals consecrate separation from their home-groups, while simultaneously substantiating ancestral ties through ritual reenactment.

Because I’m talking about Friendsgiving, I’m going to have to introduce my friends. I rarely assign pseudonyms because real names are usually so fitting that any alteration would be an insult to the hilarity of reality. Like Peter Schlendorf, my schmuck prom date who was rejected by three girls before me, attended Duke as always was the plan, and is now a schmuck businessman with a nice fiance (so Facebook tells me). Or Meric Lieberman, the fat kid with duck feet who in the second grade picked me to be his wheel chair buddy when he had surgery for his duck feet. And let us never forget, Joey from the Bus. The guy I met on the #1 bus.

While I revere the names bestowed upon the characters of my life, I shouldn’t tarnish the reputations of my dear friends. I don’t want them to regret their decision to be my dear friends, or at least not more so than they already do. So I have created transparent pseudonyms. You’ll guess them in a second if you’ve spent more than a second with me in the past three years.

My wonderful roommate, Lauren Capable, and I offered to host Friendsgiving. I sent an overly ebullient email, describing our Friendsgiving vision. The TV/living/dining-on-your-lap/stretching-after-a-run Room would be transformed into a feasting ground. Gourds would spill forth from cornucopia. Autumnal leaves would be scattered about and we would sit on haystacks (because we don’t own enough chairs, but also, for the festivity!). All of this, and our offer was rebuffed and replaced by one from Ryan Black, who is so smug because he owns >2 dining chairs. Fine, we agreed to do it at his place. We couldn’t fit a turkey in our refrigerator anyway and would have had to store it on the porch, which seems kind of, how do you say, poor. As do haystacks for chairs.

You know what, this is getting long and I’m hungry, so I’m going to pull a to be continued! How will Friendsgiving go? How many chairs will Ryan Black own?  (the answers are well and benches, so it depends on everyone’s girths).  I promise my next blog post will tie Friendsgiving to Love Actually and resolve the eternal debate: is Love Actually THE-GREATEST-MOVIE (tied with Jurassic Park) or a pernicious threat to society?

*I rank the Fourth of July above Thanksgiving, but respect and recognize arguments for reversing this order. The holidays are nearly commensurate in potential wonderfulness, but the Fourth has fireworks. And fireworks are awesome (but of course not awesome enough to salvage New Years Eve, the most wretched of holidays).


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