Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A few (more) words on The Hobbit

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  • Islander, in reply to Sacha,

    Sacha _ I'm really tired of being lumped in with a so-called generational bulge, when that bulge includes people born in 1945 & breeding by 1965, and people born in 1965 are supposed to be the same generation...no bloody way, however convenient this is for statisticians & polemicists.

    Jacqui -no sneaky editing! Gertrude was a very strong-minded person.

    Ben Wilson & andin - your comments need more thought from this disgruntled person (but I agree..)

    And Joe Wylie - I had totally missed the fact your mother had died recently - aue aue taukiri e! My condolences...

    And re being a pallbearer: the only times I have done it, I was proud to be called upon for that last service. My sisters have washed dead family members: all I can do in some instances is, carry them out to the hearse.

    A fraught thread - and one I am loathe to carry on. So - future silence is not deep disagreement nor is it dismissive: it's just that I have only so much mental strength and do not wish to disperse it. No reira, may all be well - somehow - with us all.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Ben Wilson & andin – your comments need more thought from this disgruntled person (but I agree..)

    We havent even scratched the surface of what went wrong.

    And Joe Wylie – I had totally missed the fact your mother had died recently – aue aue taukiri e! My condolences…

    Same from me Joe.

    Muldoon had a significant social contract with the older generation, one that served him well electorally.

    Talk about skipping lightly by!

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1212 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to andin,

    Muldoon had a significant social contract with the older generation, one that served him well electorally.

    Talk about skipping lightly by!

    Nobody played to intergenerational issues like Muldoon. Late 70s TV advertising featured Fiji cruises and La-Z-Boys, pitched to the presumably happily superannuated Rob’s Mob, who were encouraged to dob in solo mums and overstayers.

    No wonder the class of ’22, as a mid-80s Listener editorial described those who’d experienced WW2 as young adults, felt somewhat aggrieved when the privileges their immediate elders had enjoyed were wound back under Labour. In the 90s they really copped it, before superannuation levels were somewhat restored by the Clark Government.

    In an early 80s TV interview Colin Scrimgeour predicted – with heavy irony – that Muldoon could be remembered as NZ’s last real socialist Prime Minister. Like the then rural rump of the National Party his socialism was highly selective, but even the unemployed on PEP schemes received award wages during the reign of the self-knighted gang of one.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Rob’s Mob

    Eek! Flashback!

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    We havent even scratched the surface of what went wrong.

    Heh, I'm not actually that bitter. I think we still live in a paradise. Technology and the steady improvement of things generally has counteracted the decline of Western capitalism. Perhaps that's all tied into the decline - when life gets basically reasonably comfortable for even the poorest members of a society, it's hard to keep driving it so hard.

    To that end, I'm reasonably optimistic about the future of the world. It will continue to improve technologically, and rich socialist countries will not grow at the same pace as poor capitalist countries. This will lead to wealth slowly balancing out, which is actually a better thing from a global perspective. It does involve a change in perspective, though - we have so much public rhetoric about some sort of international rat-race, how shameful it is to slip behind the wealth levels of other nations. I don't see it as simply a matter of that. As in our private lives, most people don't strive to be the richest, they're happy enough with comfortable remuneration, and fulfilling lives.

    The whole thing about catching up with Ozzie gives me the shits. It's like trying to keep up with the wealthy neighbor on your street, who has already paid off their house. Unless they fuck up badly, or you have sudden wealth, it's not going to happen. Nor is it any reflection on the paucity of your decisions - so long as you are improving your lot day by day, you're going in the right direction. It's a stupid thing to put in your head, and will most likely lead to misery, even when you really don't have anything to be so miserable about.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    The whole thing about catching up with Ozzie gives me the shits. It's like trying to keep up with the wealthy neighbor on your street, who has already paid off their house. Unless they fuck up badly, or you have sudden wealth, it's not going to happen.

    Great analogy, Ben.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16614 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    Unless they fuck up badly . . .

    No doubt this kind of cautious fumbling would be seen as a dangerous lurch towards fucking up badly by the Catch Up With Australia cultists,

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Sacha,

    Great analogy, Ben.

    Ditto. Spot on.
    And there's an element of our worst side in secretly hoping the Aussies do "fuck up badly." Who would that be good for, really?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1551 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    It's not like there's no room in the Australian constitution - the fucking thing is a book.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to BenWilson,

    Heh, I’m not actually that bitter.

    Didnt mean to infer you might be even the slightest bit that way Sir.
    Perhaps I should have worded it 'what went on'... or something.

    To that end, I’m reasonably optimistic about the future of the world

    Fantastic, I wish the feeling was infectious. How about you as a virus bot?

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1212 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ideas can move virally. But I think a lot of people are inoculated against optimism. I need to come up with a new strain.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    testing positive...
    ....for ideation flu

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4874 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Coda on the Hobbit Saga (so mush more interesting and revealing about modern NZ than the films!) as documents released ...

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1551 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    But where are the emails between govt and Warners and the discussions they had when they jetted in??

    Did anyone OIA those meeting notes????

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1495 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Coda on the Hobbit Saga (so mush more interesting and revealing about modern NZ than the films!) as documents released …

    Those documents are fascinating, and I don't think they support a black-and-white analysis of the dispute on either side. There were plenty of players and it got nasty.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    A release to coincide with the Oscars - how quaint.

    The Hobbit Saga was underpinned by the CTU and Actors Equity, or whatever it was, they were calling themselves over playing a hand they did not have a right to hold as at the time of the blacklisting the actual "union" had not even been registered - truly amazing – the phrase "dip shit and hopeless" comes to mind

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1190 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Yeah, generally, I'm far more sympathetic to the workers and their demands from the boss classes than the other way around....

    But when the organisation claiming to represent the workers isn't properly instituted, claims not to have actually called for a black-list... but then a day or two later, publicly lifts the black-list they claimed they handnt placed the day before... and also claims one of the main planks of their grievance is nudity clauses when theres no nudity in the particular movie they are using to leverage their (otherwise probably valid) claim...

    It seems the actors , the hollywood movie houses, Peter Jackson and the Govt were all spinning or telling porkies to the public in one way or another... None of them smell of roses here...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Stumbled across some surprisingly nuanced commentary on the Hobbit Wars, from a Rings fan site:

    Warner Brothers, Newline Cinema and Wingnut Films issue a warning… to no avail!

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4258 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to FletcherB,

    It seems the actors , the hollywood movie houses, Peter Jackson and the Govt were all spinning or telling porkies to the public in one way or another… None of them smell of roses here…

    My view exactly.

    Although it's striking how many people can't bring themselves to acknowledge that Equity was the author of at least some of its own misfortune.

    As Lew Stoddart put it at the time, they brought a knife to a gunfight.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Russell Brown,

    None of them smell of roses here…
    My view exactly.

    Equity definitely slipped on a few banana-skins- some of which it may have carelessly left in its own path...
    But I reckon Helen Kelly (who only took a public role after things got custardy) comes out looking pretty good.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1551 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    I think the issue of right and wrong was made irrelevant by the Government's amazingly wrong decision to change employment law unilaterally and undemocratically - and to cover up Equity's withdrawal of their black ban which happened before the march against Equity and before the law change. See CTU Press release.

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    As Lew Stoddart put it at the time, they brought a knife to a gunfight.

    Instead they’re now bringing a knife for a shanking.

    Particularly disappointing – and bitterly ironic:

    "When an actor performs in a screen production, quite often that will be a very short period of filming. There might be a lot of preparation required beforehand, but the filming itself will take a very short period of time.

    “So now what the Government has done is they’ve changed the immigration law so that any actor from anywhere in the world can come to New Zealand as long as they’re not here for longer than 14 days. To give you an example, Dame Judi Dench won an Oscar on a performance that took a day-and-a-half to shoot. There’s an example of what it means to work in the film industry.

    “So allowing actors to come into New Zealand for no more than 14 days is taking jobs. It’s taking many jobs off New Zealand performers. It is taking Kiwi jobs."

    Judi Dench did that 8 minute cameo in Shakespeare in Love because the set was a half hour commute from her home, she was between theater engagements and the director and writer were friends. Anyone who thinks she’d have come 12,000 miles to steal a day and a half’s work off (say) Elizabeth Hawthorne is tripping balls.

    So, bullshit example bolstering a crappy argument designed to fig-leaf a disturbing “eeek! dirty foreigners stealing our jobs” spin. I'd love John Campbell or Alison Mau to ask Actor's Equity how many of their members have "stolen" jobs off Australian, British and American actors over the last ten years.

    Is everyone determined to learn abso-fucking-loutely nothing from this mess?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11931 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Is everyone determined to learn abso-fucking-loutely nothing from this mess?

    Not wishing to stir but whateva. I learnt that National are still the Party that I still can't stand. With Joyce and Brownlee being the same person acting as two. The performance by them in the house today confirms that. With the lead role of course being the "Key" who cant recall abso-fucking-lutely any thing.
    That's a good title for the next froggit, "The Nothing"

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6120 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    But I reckon Helen Kelly (who only took a public role after things got custardy) comes out looking pretty good.

    She brought the skills that had been woefully missing from the union side, and did well with the shambles she found. (It’s incredible that Simon Whipp of MEAA went on holiday when it all broke loose.) Robyn Malcolm had been drafted in to speak to media in search of PR value, but she didn’t have those skills and wasn’t given any coherent message to deliver – she’s a good person and a fine actor and I felt sorry for her being exposed like that.

    Before it was taken over by the MEAA, Equity had played a cooperative role in the local screen industry and negotiated directly with Spada on industry guidelines. Afterwards, it began to engage in acts of brinksmanship that it inevitably lost on. I know people on the production side who were flat-out lied to by MEAA.

    The actors, I think, had some legitimate grievances. I think it was time to talk about residuals for, say, the leads in Outrageous Fortune and NZ actors in foreign film productions. (It's ironic that the Hobbit, the first production to offer modest residuals, was the one targeted.) Some Spada members could have been more responsive. But pursuing employee status for actors as a means to collective bargaining was a really dumb move for Equity. It wasn’t going to happen.

    The relevant contrast is with Irish Equity, which lobbied patiently and successfully for a law change which allowed screen industry contractors to bargain collectively on industry conditions.

    The MEAA style didn’t work in New Zealand (you could argue it didn’t work too well in Australia either) and the tactic of trying to dictate casting decisions by withholding letters of non-objection was disastrous, because it led to genuine uncertainty at Disney and others about the safety of the New Zealand industry.

    MEAA is a Screen Actors Guild affiliate, and both those organisations had interests that were not the same as those of New Zealand actors.

    I think it’s unequivocally clear now that Jackson and the government, to put it politely, misrepresented the situation with the SAG don’t-work order on The Hobbit. It had been essentially resolved by the time of the techies’ march, but Warners exploited it to get what they really wanted.

    I think they genuinely were concerned by the Bryson case – one techie’s long, expensive legal battle over employment status – and that there was an actual risk of producer flight. (Disney was clearly pretty alarmed by Equity’s bid to get its private casting notes to try and contest the cast of non-New Zealand actors.) But also that Bryson maybe wouldn’t have happened had Weta’s HR practices been less shoddy.

    Oddly, the law change, as odious as its passage was, has probably had very little impact on the industry. What it says is that if you’re hired as a contractor, you’re a contractor, and you don’t get to argue the toss later. Most people in the project-based screen industry are quite content to be contractors, and HR ineptitude excepted, it should hardly ever be an issue.

    But who gave Warners the ban – that great big stick to beat everyone with? MEAA/Equity, which embarked on this course without even having a clear set of demands or negotiating conditions. It’s astounding that it’s still not clear what the fuck the ban was ever about. And to consider that Equity requested this ban while it was not even a legally-constituted trade union in New Zealand.

    As Lew Stoddart said at the time, Equity “brought a knife to a gunfight”. And they got shot to bits.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Dylan Reeve,

    As Lew Stoddart said at the time, Equity “brought a knife to a gunfight”. And they got shot to bits.

    I’m not even sure it was a gun fight before Equity arrived – just a couple of guys hanging around with guns tucked in their belts.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 219 posts Report Reply

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