Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Monster Weekend

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  • Rob Hosking,

    I used to know someone who once addressed some visiting US businessmen more or less thusly:
    "Welcome to New Zealand. We say what we think in meetings, we swear a lot, and you can't sue us. Understand that and we'll get along fine."

    About eight years ago there was a feature in the Australian Financial Review about US owned companies dealing with their Australian staff.

    One IT firm had sent out its product people to talk about some new gizmo they were working on: they did their rave up to the staff and then asked for questions....the first question began 'you guys are full of shit....' and went downhill from there.

    That was an extreme case, but the issue of a big cultural difference was quite a significant one, apparently. NZers aren't that rude, by and large, but we're fairly used to the Aussies being like that, I think.

    Much further back: I remember reading about some All Black game against a Welsh club side in the 1930s (the game was in the 30s, I was reading about it much later...) The Welsh had decided firmly before the game to keep any off the ball fisticuffs to a minimum. But at some point one of the ABs called a Welsh player - a devout chapel goer - an extremely rude thing: the Welsh bloke looking pleadingly at his captain, who gave him a nod, and the guy let fly. The write up said something about the term - which was apparently unprintable - being "almost a term of endearment" in NZ but being a deadly insult in Wales.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Pity about Marlene exploding - she was about the only interesting character.

    Yup - and that was the point when my willing suspension of disbelief faltered. The only reason I can see why she was hustled behind the screen was to avoid the film getting slapped with an R or (even worse) NC-17.

    I've got my bones to pick with New Zealand's censorship framework, but the MPAA's Classification and Rating Administration is hardly a great argument for industry self-regulation. The process is secretive, and I've got to wonder what objective criteria ends up with __A Dirty Shame__ being rated NC-17 (not exactly in the best of taste - but what the heck do you expect from John Waters?), while Mel Gibson's horrendous piece of Jesus snuff gets an R? Don't know about you, but anyone who'd take their children to see The Passion of the Christ makes me nervous.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Try having a fiery, but literal-minded, AS teenager, who has perfected the vowel-less "fuck". As far as he's concerned, he's saying "f-ck!", so he's in the clear.

    There is a Terry Pratchett novel - The Truth, I think - where a villainous heavy frequently says "-ing!"

    As in "It's a -ing mess!"

    It becomes apparent as you read that this is not authorial squeamishness, but that Mr Tulip literally says "-ing" a lot. Maybe the boy would like to try a little variation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    To understand the mysteries of the MPAA process, get out the doco 'This Movie Is Not Yet Rated', which you should find in any better class of video store.. A greater mystery is how voting for the Academy Awards happens..I remember once reading that the average age of the Academy voter was 70+. This may be one explanation why such dogs of movies get Oscars. Apparently, any movie featuring any kind of human disability/frailty (My Left Foot; My Three Arms, My Left Testicle) is a shoe-in...

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    A greater mystery is how voting for the Academy Awards happens.

    How about network standards and practices? Battlestar Galactica exec. producer/head writer Ron Moore has noted the irony that while the network has been (often surprisingly) supportive of a show that is premised on the near-total genocide of the human race and get darker from there on in (from infanticide, through torture and rape of prisoners to suicide bombings and extra-judicial executions of collaborators) the one line the suits would budge on was two words. In BSG, you can poison your wife or throw someone out an airlock but never, ever call 'em a 'prick' or a 'pussy'.

    And Tad Friend wrote a really interesting profile of David Lynch for The New Yorker back in 1999. The point where he realised Mulholland Drive wasn't going to be another Twin Peaks was when co-producers ABC and Disney insisted that characters who smoked should have 'a hacking cough'. Put a gun to a woman's head, David, but she better not be sucking a butt at the time - 'cause that would be wrong.

    Feh, at least BSG is still a damn good show, and David Lynch got arguably the best film of his career out of the whole debacle. But I've got to wonder how many other people just give up.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But at some point one of the ABs called a Welsh player - a devout chapel goer - an extremely rude thing: the Welsh bloke looking pleadingly at his captain, who gave him a nod, and the guy let fly. The write up said something about the term - which was apparently unprintable - being "almost a term of endearment" in NZ but being a deadly insult in Wales.

    The actual phrase was "Move over you Welsh bastard," which is almost affectionate here, but a terrible thing to call a decent churchgoing boy from the valleys.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The actual phrase was "Move over you Welsh bastard," which is almost affectionate here, but a terrible thing to call a decent churchgoing boy from the valleys.

    Heh... until you get 'em liquored up, and then you start hearing some words that aren't in The Bible or any hymnal I have any familiarity with. Perhaps I just keep low company.

    And completely apropos of nothing, Heath Ledger dead at 28. Bugger -- twenty eight is far too young to die, full stop, let alone of a suspected overdose of sleeping pills.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    -ing

    I think I just worked out how to spell and anecdote the Simon McKinney used to tell:

    Verbal picture of school principal's speech in assembly. Students nodding off, staff doing crossword etc. Principal commences (in slightly pompous'd accent):

    Now boys, there's one word which I have been hearing around the school that I do not wish to hear again under any circumstances. And that word is c*nt.

    Entire room suddenly comes to attention, crossword pencil clatters onto floor unheeded, etc ...

    ... "I c*n't do this", "I c*n't do that" - I won't have it!

    ... entire room exhales with relief.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And completely apropos of nothing, Heath Ledger dead at 28. Bugger -- twenty eight is far too young to die, full stop, let alone of a suspected overdose of sleeping pills.

    It is, nonetheless, a popular age to die famous: Hendrix, Janis, Jimbo ...

    But yeah. Bummer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    And completely apropos of nothing, Heath Ledger dead at 28. Bugger -- twenty eight is far too young to die, full stop, let alone of a suspected overdose of sleeping pills.

    It is, nonetheless, a popular age to die famous: Hendrix, Janis, Jimbo ...

    But yeah. Bummer.

    And in an unfortunate linker back to the rude t-shirt comment, someone else on the internet mentioned how they had seen a t-shirt recently that read:
    Jimi, died at 28
    Janis, died at 28
    Jim, died at 28
    Britney, 27 and the countdown's begun.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Jimi, died at 28
    Janis, died at 28
    Jim, died at 28
    Britney, 27 and the countdown's begun.

    The funniest thing about that shirt would be linking Britney's name to other 3. Bound to upset some serious old rockers, that would.

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 949 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Cruel.

    There is something about the age of 28. A very good friend of mine who is a professional psychologist in Auckland is a firm believer many people go through a huge crisis at that stage. There is a New Agey theory it is all to do with Saturn's cycle - "Saturn's Return" its known as. He isn't into astrology, or even particularly new agey, but he's found the age of 28 is when a lot of people go into a 'What the fuck" funk about their lives.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The funniest thing about that shirt would be linking Britney's name to other 3. Bound to upset some serious old rockers, that would.

    The really sick thing about it is that the infotainment-industrial complex wouldn't see the joke. Could you imagine what pictures of Suicide Barbie in a puddle of her own waste would fetch? And how many media outlets and websites would start wagging their fingers, as soon as they'd finished signing the cheque?

    Added bonus: Who the hell knows what Chris 'Leave Britney Alone' Crocker will do? Just make sure you get your tasteful 'Leave Britney Alone' Tee 'n' thong set first.

    Anyway, talking about early death as a great career move, has anyone ever read Idlewild by Mark Lawson? Rather nice piece of alternate history where Lee Harvery Oswald missed, Marilyn Munroe had a date with a stomach pump rather than immortality... and now its November 1993 and time hasn't been kind to either of them. He's reviled as the war-monger who escalated the war in Vietnam (Teddy died heroically trying to save a drowning woman after a car crash); and her latest comeback, at 67, might just work if she can keep the weight off and remember her lines.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Glyn,

    Russell I think you'll find that Jimi, Janis, Jim and Kurt all died at 27 actually.

    There was a geezer in front of me at Shihad with the immortal T- shirt slogan, in large Gothic white letters on black:
    Everything Louder Than Everything Else.

    Briiliant! He looked totally munted too AND he had a mullet! God bless ya mate.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Craig,

    Is Idlewild the book that has protesters besieging the White House chanting 'Hey Hey JFK How many kids did you kill today?'

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Is Idlewild the book that has protesters besieging the White House chanting 'Hey Hey JFK How many kids did you kill today?'

    Indeed -- though I don't think that's a Lawson invention. Though the convention of conspiracy nuts convinced that Teddy's drowning wasn't an accident, and his brother must have been involved somewhere. Oliver Stone is also shooting a controversial biopic called LBJ. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    Too early. We didn't start using that chant till LBJ, not JFK, was involved in Vietnam.
    Or is there some other point that I am missing?

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Or is there some other point that I am missing?

    Yup, we're referring to a 1995 novel by Mark Lawson (__Idlewild, or, Everything is Subject to Change__) where John F. Kennedy survives the assassination attempt in Dallas, then wins a second term which ends with him (not Johnson) reviled for escalating the war in Vietnam. My point was that there's quite of fiction and non-fiction speculating on similar lines, so I don't think Lawson was the first one to modify that chant.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    I think the first one to suggest that chant was Garry Wills, in a polemic written in the early 1980s which got stuck in to the Kennedy myth.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • daleaway,

    I daresay the point I am missing is why people bother writing "alternative" versions of history.

    Things happened when they happened and the way they happened, nor all thy piety and wit... etc.

    Unless it's to prove that they are clever dickies.

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I daresay the point I am missing is why people bother writing "alternative" versions of history.

    Things happened when they happened and the way they happened, nor all thy piety and wit... etc.

    Unless it's to prove that they are clever dickies.

    Well, I think military historian Sir John Keegan might disagree with you there. I once read that while he was lecturing in military history at Sandhurst, he'd set his students the task of coming up with a counterfactual history of a significant battle. His argument (and a sound one to my mind) is that before you can intelligently speculate on how the Battle of Gettyburg, the Roman Civil War or Operation Barbarossa might have ended differently, you need a firm grasp on why it ended it way it did. And that kind of analytical and strategic thinking might be something useful to develop in an army officer who might one day have to make complex decisions very quickly on which lives depend, don't you think?

    Here's something else to consider, daleaway. I'm a huge admirer of Winston Churchill, but if you believe the more dense hagiographies out there you'd think that on May 10, 1940, the heavens opened over Westminster and in a blaze of celestial light, accompanied by choirs of angels, the Hand of God slapped Churchill on the arse as a voice intoned "Tag you're it! Go ye forth and righteously bitch-slap the Nazis back to Kraut-land." Not to put too fine a point on it, that's utter bullshit -- along with the notions that Britain would never, ever have bent its knee to the Third Reich.


    The idea of looking back on history as a chain of inevitable events has its charms, I admit, but it is bad (and intellectually lazy) history that leads to bad social science and even worse policy. Just ask those folks who took the title of Francis Fukuyama's The End of History rather too literally, and never quite got around to reading - let alone getting to grips with - his rather complex arguments.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Snowy,

    to prove that they are clever dickies

    Wellington • Since Jan 2008 • 62 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    <quote>I daresay the point I am missing is why people bother writing "alternative" versions of history.</quote

    It's considered to be largely worthless amongst the historical profession, though there are exceptions.

    Amongst writers of fiction... why not?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Rewrite history ... why not, when a good deal of history is speculation, after-thought, deconstruction, imagination? The paraphrase Vic Reeves, "65% of all history is made up on the spot".

    I think, for example, that David Irving is better described as 'fiction writer', rather than 'historian'.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I think, for example, that David Irving is better described as 'fiction writer', rather than 'historian'.

    I think a lot of historians would take offence at having David Irving called a historian.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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