Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: Politics on the pages

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  • daleaway,

    "The wrong sort of people are always in power because they would not be in power if they were the not the wrong sort of people."
    Jon Wynne-Tyson

    Since Jul 2007 • 198 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    This page ripping is only the latest in a long line of defacement, burning, removing pages, lawsuits, censors injunctions, and other forms of abuse sent in the direction of the illustrious magazine.

    Surely, this incident is something to celebrate and not condemn?

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Leigh Kennaway,

    As a politician who spends an inordinate amount of time with other pollies, I'd have to agree with a lot of the comments above..... although there are also some astonishingly brilliant minds in the corridors of power too... hopefully they balance one another out!!

    And as a very minor local body politician I'd like to express discomfort at the incredible amount of 'lobbying' I get from Falun Gong, inviting me to all their events and shows..... they claim to not be political, yet spend an incredible amount of time, energy and money lobbying politicians..... strange!!

    sunny Pt Chevalier • Since Mar 2008 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • GuannyL,

    Hmmm really? you went to the show and you still thought it was alright? Because (although I was born in China), I've always considered myself quite neutral about the issue. Like I remember years ago, when the Chinese consulate had some issue with a poster promoting FLG in Auckland airport, I was firmly on the airport's side. I thought FLG does have a right to promote itself in NZ, and China really doesn't have a right to interfere.

    However, I went to the show last year, and I walked out in protest because I was so annoyed at the political message behind it. And after they insisted on the Herald that there wouldn't be a political message.

    It's like, if I went to a show that was advertised to promote New Zealand culture, and the organisers insisted that although some performers were from the National party, but it was a show purely about New Zealand culture. And then I went in and the lyrics were like "vote national, labour stinks" and the dances were all about how the Labour party sucked, I'd be pretty pissed off.

    I talked to a promotor of the event just the other day, and told her I had seen the show last year.
    I asked her "Do you think FLG is an important element of the show?" and she said yes.
    and I asked her "so why is there no mention of FLG on the promotional material?" and she pointed to the bottom corner of the back of the pamphlet which named FLG as one of the organisers of the event.
    And so I asked her why there was nothing that suggested that the content of the show would involve lyrics criticising the Chinese government, and the lead dancer being beaten to the ground by other dancers dressed in Chinese military gear. (As I had witnessed last year)
    And she "This show is about Chinese culture, FLG is a part of chinese culture. So we can promote a show about Chinese culture, and it can include FLG, and we don't have to say it in the pamphlet or on the posters."

    Which, in my humble opinion, is just a BS excuse for an act of false advertising.

    So although I'm pretty neutral about the practice and promotion of FLG in New Zealand, I'm pretty annoyed about their promotional tactics.

    That being said, I'm kind of annoyed at the students who went and stole those magazines. that was such a stupid thing to do, which basically solved nothing. I was going to write a letter to the editor of Debate to talk about how I feel about those ads, but I don't think I will now, as I am quite embarassed by what's happened over at Auckland Uni, and don't really want to be associated with that.

    Since Apr 2008 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • GuannyL,

    ...Also, I probably would have been more forgiving if the show itself was actually as good as the pamphlets promise. Some of the dancers were much more amateur than highschool cultural groups. And then they have the nerve to charge like 70 bucks for tickets. Mama Mia only cost me $80, and that was a bloody good show.

    Since Apr 2008 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Kotare,

    Nice piece Graham. I haven't read Somerset Maugham in ages, but recently picked up a Wordsworth edition of some of Kipling's short stories for about $3. Having great fun reading 'The Man Who Would Be King', 'Only a Subaltern' and other stories of the Raj.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It's like, if I went to a show that was advertised to promote New Zealand culture, and the organisers insisted that although some performers were from the National party, but it was a show purely about New Zealand culture.And then I went in and the lyrics were like "vote national, labour stinks" and the dances were all about how the Labour party sucked, I'd be pretty pissed off

    Um, I'd respond -- and yes, I sometimes feel like a token Tory in these parts - that anyone who thinks New Zealand culture is now, ever has been or ever will be 'apolitical' (whatever the hell that means) needs their heads read.

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

  • Michael Stevens,

    I have Maugham's short stories and dip into them every few years. "The Three Fat Women of Antibes" is still one of my favourite short-stories ever. And Rain - well, what can I say but I wish I had that talent.

    He is very much of his era, but I don't have a problem with that.

    And as someone based at UoA I was very disturbed to hear about these amateur censors. It disturbs me that they think this is a fair way to operate. No matter how much one may dislike Falun Gong, they have a right to advertise, to speak, to perform. Trying to get the idea of free speech and open debate across to mainland Chinese students is often incredibly frustrating. Their line is typically "Free speech so long as no-one criticises China"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I would politely suggest you and your group might want to look a little more carefully at the cultural context in which you live -- a liberal democracy as it happens -- and consider that Falun Gong (whether you or I or anyone back home in China likes it or not) has a legitimate right to take out advertisements in Craccum. Just as you do.

    Quite.

    I'm disturbed by what Falun Gong practitioners have suffered at the hands of the Chinese government, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for the group's supernatural claims, nor the leader's pronouncements on the "terribly degenerate" practice of homosexuality.

    Their evasiveness over the provenance of Epoch Times, determination to muscle in on Santa parades (and mislead local councils about what they're going to do), and the generally cultish air of some members' public statements don't impress me either.

    But for goodness, sake, they have the right to put on a musical and advertise the bloody thing.

    Tim Hume's recent story in the Star Times presents what seems to be a balanced view of the group.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh, and here's a religious cult you can really despise.

    The Scientology droids have come to visit The Fundy Post.

    I thought Mr Litterick had a funny look in his eye last night.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22763 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    but I don't have a lot of sympathy for the group's supernatural claims,

    Fair enough, but may I counter with a suspicion that most PA readers wouldn't be on board with the "supernatural claims" of the late Karol Józef Wojtyła -- or his views on homosexuality and abortion -- while seeing merit in his staunch opposition to the death penalty and the Iraq war.

    As for considering a 'cultural context', in the context of study towards a mediocre B.A. I had to read and (more or less) intelligently discuss all kinds of things I found profoundly objectionable -- the 'Communist Manifesto', lengthy extracts from 'Mein Kampf', Samuel Richardson's Clarissa (the most excruciatingly prolonged date rape in English literature), The Merchant of Venice and Oliver Twist (great works of literature that are also poisonously anti-Semitic), classical Greek and Roman authors whose attitudes towards women and mass democracy made even the black heart of a right-wing death beast seize up etc.

    My 'cultural context' is that no intellectual life worth having can exist without the bracing wind of the disagreeable.

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

  • Graham Reid,

    Just to keep this one boiling . . .

    Re "politics" in "art": seems to me every CD I get by an alt.country band/singer these days has some anti-Bush song. Should they come with a consumer warning?
    I have been surprised when people tell me they are badgered by Falun Gong. Just say "No", it works.
    Yes, FG does try to infiltrate itself into public events -- but they sur as hell aren't alone in that regard!

    Re Falun Gong background: Some of you may be interested in this story I wrote for the Listener two year ago (some of which that Sunday Star Times article relitigated more recently). Might be helpful (and yep I did mention the anti-gay position etc)

    http://nzlistener.co.nz/issue/3442/features/5972/nothing_left_to_lose.html

    I also wrote this for publicaddress.net last year about the show

    http://www.publicaddress.net/default,4084.sm#post4084

    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And while I'm not down with Falun Gong's attitude towards homosexuality,perhaps you can forgive me for not being particularly down with the PRC's view that homosexuality is a "moldering life style of capitalism" that is ""abnormal and unacceptable to the Chinese public."

    Though to be fair, sodomy is no longer a capital crime and homosexuality was removed from the official list of mental disorders seven years ago.

    Might also be interesting to note two items from Ang Lee's filmography: As I understand it, Brokeback Mountain (which contains no graphic gay sex) was effectively banned in China. Lust, Caution which contains a considerable amount of in your face (so to speak) heterosexual intercourse, was released after the director cut seven minutes.

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

  • underscore_b,

    So although I'm pretty neutral about the practice and promotion of FLG in New Zealand, I'm pretty annoyed about their promotional tactics.

    Well, yes and no, Guanny. I'd argue that FLG has more or less been forced to adopt a fly-by-night approach because otherwise they basically get stonewalled by the Chinese consulate. I've been involved with the Auckland Lantern Festival for a number of years and each time I've seen Falun Gong barred from the festivities because the consulate threatens to pull its support.

    While I find their beliefs quite, quite fruity, I'm also aware that they are a group which has been systematically persecuted and hunted down like criminals in their own country. For that reason, I feel it's perfectly understandable that they would want to politicise these kind of situations.

    Since Jun 2007 • 18 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    From the outside the Falun Gong AND the Chinese attitude to them seem fruity. I got offered a flyer on top of Mt Eden once, and it took me my usual 0.5 seconds to size up that I didn't want it and say 'no, thanks'. But the behaviour of the Chinese adults who had arrived in a tour bus seemed bizarrely over the top. They yelled loudly and steered their children away like someone was trying to offer them drugs. It was alarming to watch group hysteria in action.

    OTOH, I'd get pretty sensitive about someone offering my boy anything even the least bit religious or political, and if they persisted I'm sure I'd become alarming pretty fast too. Hence I say from the outside it seems fruity. From the inside, it's much the same as my FIL calling me from Australia begging me to talk some sense into a relative in Germany who had joined up with Scientology.

    As I understand it, Scientology is all but banned in Germany so the parallels are strong. And, as with the Falun Gong, the ban is not working, nor do I think it ever will. The war on cults is every bit as stupidly self destructive as the war on drugs. It makes enemies out of families, criminals out of the law abiding, costs a lot of money to enforce, actively promotes the problem to children. Maybe the Chinese aren't any fruitier than we are.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10647 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    by what right do you swipe copies of the magazine to "edit" out an advertisement you object to?

    Yes, that right is reserved by AUSA, who about 10 years ago glued shut the first two pages of Craccum to prevent students from seeing an ad by Lion Breweries for an event in competition with the DB sponsored Orientation festival ...

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Yes, that right is reserved by AUSA, who about 10 years ago glued shut the first two pages of Craccum to prevent students from seeing an ad by Lion Breweries for an event in competition with the DB sponsored Orientation festival ...

    Without saying that's a good thing, it's not anywhere near a similar situation.

    AUSA own Craccum, if they don't want to advertise things that compete with their own events, they can. If they want to do it so late in the stage that they have to glue pages together...

    No doubt Lion Breweries can find other ways to reach students.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Without saying that's a good thing, it's not anywhere near a similar situation.

    AUSA own Craccum, if they don't want to advertise things that compete with their own events, they can. If they want to do it so late in the stage that they have to glue pages together...

    Sure, that's a contractual and credibility issue. Might also be an industrial relations one if the person who sold the ad in the first place is done out of their commission. :)

    I think a better analogy would be DB hearing about said ad, then sending employees out to unilaterally prevent distribution of Craccum. Can we see what's wrong with that picture, ladies and gentlemen?

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

  • Paul Litterick,

    Russell, I think I had a Thetan in my eye.

    Graham, I am one of the few who does read W Somerset Maugham; top chap. I think his reputation has suffered because few read short stories these days, a form in which he excelled.

    The taking of Craccum issues is nothing more than an act of censorship by a small group of students against the majority. Most would not have cared less about the advertisement but they do want to read Craccum. As a student, a reader and occasional contributor to Craccum, I am mightily pissed off about this action.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I think a better analogy would be DB hearing about said ad, then sending employees out to unilaterally prevent distribution of Craccum.

    Heh heh.

    Why would they do that when all DB need to do (after hearing about the ad) is call AUSA and have them unilaterally prevent distribution of Craccum. (Distribution was delayed 2 days while the pages were being glued together).

    Heh heh. Maybe China learnt from DB?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    In... 1997 I think... a mad nutter wrote a letter to the editor to Critic down here. And then decided to change his mind and wanted it pulled.

    However Critic had already sent the publication away to the printers, and wasn't going to reprint because someone changed their mind on a letter.

    So come Monday morning, mad nutter turned up with a trolley, followed the distributer around campus, and took every copy of Critic he could. I think he had about 3000 out of a print run of 5000.

    The OUSA Media Officer finally got to use his half-a-law-degree to some use and went out and argued with the nutter for half an hour as to why he couldn't steal Critics. Eventually the manman conceded and turned over his trolley.

    It lead to an interesting discussion as to whether you can 'steal' something that is given away free. Apparently in a legal sense, you can if you take all of them, because you are depriving someone else of them, and because advertisers have paid money to have their adverts distributed, so free things have value.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Graham, I am one of the few who does read W Somerset Maugham; top chap. I think his reputation has suffered because few read short stories these days, a form in which he excelled.

    I was hoping Maugham would have a bit of a E.M Forster bounce following the release of __Being Julia__ (which is great fun) and __The Painted Veil__ (great reviews for all concerned, audience indifference). Even when WSM's books creak like an old spring bed, he was seldom anything less than a professional.

    Also interested to see my favourite arts blogger, Terry Teachout is writing the libretto to a chamber opera based on 'The Letter' -- a story that he adapted into a play, and which was fillmed in 1940 by William Wyler, with Bette Davis in the lead. Lust, betrayal, murder, foreign climes. What's not to love?

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

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'm fairly sure you could be convicted of stealing a free magazine if it was without the owners consent and you intended to permanently deprive the, etc. The owner is allowed to control the manner of its distribution.

    Anyways, even if the Falun Gong *were* a political organisation determined to bring down the Chinese government and impose some wierd quasi-religious state, unless they are stockpiling weapons to do so, then they're fully entitled to do so here in NZ. Because we're one of those funny democratic places.

    I wonder if Craccum have thought of calling the cops to bust the anti-FG kids. As above, they could. I bet it would really piss of Auckland Uni though - disturbing their revenu sources and so on. A good reason to do it, really.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • GuannyL,

    Firstly, I'm NOT saying what they're saying is right- because what they did was very wrong and very stupid.

    but come on, Auckland Uni being pissed off about the disturbance to their revenue?

    As soon as the incident occured, the editor of craccum contacted all the national media outlets. He then rushed online and announced to the world that he was a target of censorship, with tantalising hints of a chinese diplomat hidden in the shadows.*cue dramatic music*

    From an ethical and legal point of view, they're probably pretty pissed off. But in terms of advertising revenue, craccum probably benefited from this whole scandal.

    Since Apr 2008 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • GuannyL,

    hmmm.....
    I just reread your post, and I realise now that you probably meant arresting international students would piss off auckland uni...

    nvm me...

    I'm gonna go sleep now

    Since Apr 2008 • 6 posts Report Reply

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