“The answer is, mate, because I want to do you slowly. There has to be a bit of sport in this for all of us. In the psychological battle stakes, we are stripped down and ready to go. I want to see those ashen-faced performances; I want more of them. I want to be encouraged. I want to see you squirm out of this load of rubbish over a number of months.”
So said former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating just over 20 years ago. In parliament, no less.
While some of us were watching the Labour Leadership non-contest with heavy hearts as the sloganeering whistled past, a shrill battle cry of the left was being unleashed.
Transforming the Anyone But Tabby Cat Cunliffe Contest from a policy festival into a shoe-throwing farce has reduced the prestige of New Zealand’s politics below the exit vents of a piglet and in to the muck from which many our statesmen seem to arise.
"I'm going to tie a bungy cord around a sensitive spot,” contender Shane Jones said of the Prime Minister. “And then I'm going to get those callipers and cut them, and then the mercenary of capitalism can suffer what he deserves - a dead cat bounce."
Perhaps Jones considered himself in safe enough company to utter those words and still leave the town hall with his proletariat crown jewels intact. Perhaps it was a deliberate act of sabotage. We’ll never know.
Alas, poor Cadbury-clad Metiria Turei had to spell out the modus operandi of the Opposition over the coming months on Breakfast earlier this week:
“The common goal with Labour and the Greens is to get rid of this National government.”
Heard correctly, this implies that any shite will be made to stick against the Tories in the high offices, no matter the self-degredation that comes with it. Further lacking is any notion of affirmation or advocacy: little mention of what plans might be put in place, no real progress or track record to fall back on.
The diffident, apathetic, but still pragmatic New Zealand public still hasn’t been given a viable alternative to the common-sense chaps in their ill-fitting suits, but rather a tawdry, ruffled adolescent with a whoopee cushion and a slingshot in the back pocket.
So if we can’t have the decent, public debate we all deserve, then perhaps we ought to try the poison barb insult precisely targeted for the jugular, rather than a boring baseball bat blow to the gut.
Diamonds in the rough
And the still the praise pours down on Young Ella – undeservedly, I would say.
The rise of Lorde – whichever haunting visage of a pop artist that might be – has been meteoric in every sense. From the Morningside studio where she offers up her lyrics and voice for Joel Little to slather in echo and beats, to the heights of Later…with Jools Holland: the esteemed British live music show that has shed light on many a fresh-faced debutante.
I argued last week that 16-year-old Lorde’s Vector Arena show was a step too far, too soon. She appeared “weak and incapable of holding her own personality up against the expectation forced upon her, fulsomely crushed by her pre-recorded backing tracks”. Even without 5000 doting Kiwis before her, mobile phones at the ready like a sea of tribute candles, she still managed to appear affected and unpolished on Jools’ esteemed stage floor.
While sonic comparisons to Lana del Rey are tedious at best, their careers have run at parallel speeds and in similar circles: both produce music destined for the headphone listener, expansive and introverted all at once, while both seem to falter when the crucial kicker comes: live performances.
They strain and push for raw emotions though come off empty, perpetual almost-achievers.
I insisted in my review of the Vector show, and I’ll insist again: confidence, completion, the construction of a believable façade comes from years of hard graft. Sweaty elbows and grubby foreheads, nose down at the feet of an expectant audience who could walk away or kick them at any point.Without this touring and traveling and etching experience in to your face, the effigy is fake.