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By Olivia Pierson
[First Published on Insight at the BFD 1/8/19]
If only television satire shows existed in NZ as they once did, it would make the world of politics less absurd. Having a collective laugh is a great antidote to the serious nonsense that politics throws in our faces every day. In fact, it’s probably the only antidote.
Anyone who came of age during the ‘80s and ‘90s could turn on the telly and be entertained by a slightly saner and much less PC world – a world where McPhail & Gadsby, Spitting Images and the Billy T James shows subjected absolutely everybody to light-hearted ridicule which, aside from just being amusing for the sake of fun (remember that word?), also helped to keep our politicians and our broadcasters a little more realistic and humble.
Here’s a classic example. During late Prime Minister David Lange’s notorious rejection of ANZUS, David McPhail and Jon Gadsby came up with this little number set to music: “There is nothing like a nuke, nukes are number one. Nothing better for a gook, than a 95 mega tonne.”
It’s not hard to imagine the outrage, the firings, the sponsorship withdrawals and the endless crawly apologies if something like this hit TV screens today.
Consider this slap-stick interview with David McPhail acting as Winston Peters, called “Ask the Bastard.” Comedian Jon Gadsby opens with: “Good evening and welcome to Ask the Bastard - and never has this programme had a more appropriate guest.”
Also on the topic of Winton Peters, this little gem was thrown together when Jenny Shipley became NZ’s first female Prime Minister after ruthlessly rolling Jim Bolger, inheriting a fragile coalition with NZ First: It’s titled “The Godmother - coming to a disintegrating coalition near you.
Who could forget feminist Marilyn Waring being taken off by David McPhail in a hilariously silly song with a gaggle of other female MPs: “With six of us in Labour, though I sing a different tune, Ruth Richardson’s in National but she’ll be in Labour soon. And though we are divided by our different politics, we all agree that male MPs are just a pack of… members.”
Notoriously masculine Helen Clarke, NZ’s second female PM, and her finance minister, Michael Cullen, got the satire treatment as they’re avoiding the press in a cupboard somewhere inside parliament:
M.C “It’s a note.”
H.C “Well read it.”
M.C “I can’t it’s in Maori.”
H.C “Well give it to me, I’m bi..”
H.C Bilingual! Good god, you know what this means?”
H.C “The great helms-person has lost his rudder. We’ll have to come out.”
H.C “Of the cupboard… I’ll appeal to her as a woman.”
M.C “That won’t work Helen, you don’t appeal to me as a woman.”
The late Billy T James relentlessly played to Maori and English stereotypes by poking fun at colonials and natives, from Captain Cook’s amusing arrival onto the shore:
…to Otara’s state-housing Home Improvements: “Chur… if you wanna know more about this product, just write to Full Frontals, Maori Parts, Private Box, Rotorua.”
The latest attempt at political and social satire in NZ fell totally flat with Jeremy Wells’ Eating Media Lunch. Lefty political correctness sucks all humour out of comedy and little News Boy just isn’t funny.
The weird, post-modern climate of today is ripe for some hilarious satire - blue and green-haired lesbians, transgender teens on transitional drugs, folks becoming utterly hysterical because a Christian sportsman says some sinners are going to hell. Then there’s the ridiculous spectacle of our current PM swanning around in a Muslim headscarf and still trying to hold a coalition together with a baby on her hip - and I don’t mean an older Winston Peters.
What about the current leader of the opposition who likes to pronounce his name as Soy-man? There is a recent ad of Bridges being portrayed as a used-car salesman with atrocious speech (which is exactly the way Soy-man does speak), but it was deleted by the Greens for being “in poor taste and lowering the tone of debate.” Listen to them! Making the ad then pulling it to try to sound virtuous! However, Stuff is still showing it. And it’s funny. We know Stuff wouldn’t be showing any piss-take of Jacinda, who offers endless material for satire by just being herself.
It’s totally hypocritical of the Greens to talk about “lowering the tone of debate” when Golriz Ghahraman and Marama Davidson have already made it their habit to keep the tone of debate in this country down at its very rock-bottom by pulling the racist/sexist card every five minutes. There’s a good laugh to be had right there.
I detest this puritanically dour “no-humour-please-we’re-Kiwis” attitude. This is not Who We Are.
Bring back the satire! Poke fun at everyone!
Oh the fun that could be had!
What a sad lost opportunity for us all, as we live out our lives together on this little island paradise trying to be so poker-faced about everything. It’s a giant bore and I resent that PC has murdered humour on our air-waves. That particular crime is squarely the fault of the Left.
If you enjoyed this article, please buy my book "Western Values Defended: A Primer"
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