The year is 2003.
The British Prime Minister, in love with a junior staff member in his administration witnesses her being sexually harassed by a boorish American President. Soon after, at a press conference, the British politician shows great courage and resolution as he publicly rebukes this bullying Yank. In the process, he charms everyone in the room and inspires a grateful nation.
Now it is 2016….
and there has been a real-life reversal of this scenario. One of Britain’s most prominent politicians, London Mayor (and possible future Prime Minister) Boris Johnson has most definitively not charmed everyone in the room. In an extraordinary display of boorishness, he’s written a widely-condemned, blustering and racist editorial condemning Barack Obama on the basis of his “Kenyan heritage” on the eve of a Presidential visit to the UK.
The President’s response to this bullying provocation has been, well, Presidential. The Guardian has called it “deft, pointed and considered.”
Is it possible that a British politician could be a clumsy, hateful oaf and an American politician could come across by comparison as graceful, restrained and intellectual?
Is it possible that Love Actually lied to us?
Forget whether these kinds of real-world incidents reveal that the entire campaign for Britain to leave the EU might also be based on xenophobic emotional tribalism and not much else… what really matters here is that Love Actually, one of the nation’s most-beloved films, shown ritualistically every Christmas season – might actually be full of shit.
That’s a reversal of perception I don’t think the United Kingdom is prepared to accept.