It isn’t just the weary and cynical joykillers in New Zealand that are cringing at all the Hobbitty excesses.
Vince Mancini, writer/editor of the US film blog FilmDrunk, has been scraping his jaw off the floor at news of the Middle-earth stamp at New Zealand immigration.
If you had any doubt that the real New Zealand is exactly how it was portrayed on Flight of the Conchords, let this actual passport stamp (via @MichaelTritter) reading “Welcome to Middle-Earth” forever banish that doubt. This in addition to the Hobbit-themed “Air Middle Earth” safety video from Air New Zealand, the Wellington airport’s giant Gollum sculpture, the Hobbit-themed currency, etc. etc. etc. Might as well change the Prime Minister’s name to Bilbo Baggins, to commemorate New Zealand’s status as the world’s most far-flung Lord of the Rings gift shop. And it’s all heating up heading into tomorrow’s premiere of The Hobbit: Part One of Three, Where People Just Sort of Walk Around for a While. (AKA “An Unexpected Journey”).
In the spirit of that Reddit advisory group the other day, meanwhile, Mancini has also drafted some addenda to the CIA Factbook entry for New Zealand. They include:
- The Prime Minister of New Zealand is chosen once a year at the country’s fall hayride, traditionally held behind Toby Smith-Goodwin’s pumpkin patch, and decided by a sack race.
- New Zealand’s largest export, behind wool and Lord of the Rings memorabilia, is garden gnomes, the manufacture of which is tightly controlled by the country’s most powerful union, the Gnome Painters Local 427. The GPL is controlled by its charismatic leader, Jim “One-Ear” Nelson (lost it in a shearing accident), who’s so influential in Kiwi politics that he’s often referred to as “The Ewe-maker.”
- Television came to New Zealand in 1987, but there’s only one public access channel that mostly shows arts and crafts shows during the three hours a day most people have electricity.
- Popular forms of entertainment include cup-stacking, origami, and cricket.
- New Zealand has one bus traversing the length of the two major islands, which is famously driven by Blanche Peterson, who loves to discuss the weather and has been known to sing Christmas carols at any time of year.