At last. Freed from the blinding radiance of the film industry, local television had its moment to shine at its own Television Awards. Though nothing could live up to the notorious Goftas of the 80s, when they dressed Leeza Gibbons and poor John Inman from Are You Being Served? in silver space suits, fed the audience bulk alcohol, lit the fuse and stood back. If you can remember the ensuing anarchy, you weren’t there.
For those of us not at the 2012 awards, TV1 screened the highlights, a programme that bravely packaged our television industry as a misogynistic, uncouth, endless episode of Auckland Daze. If you haven’t seen that disturbing comedy online or on TV1, it’s like The Ridges as performed by the evolutionary cul de sacs from Back of the Y. The boys from Auckland Daze – Millen Baird, Jimmy, Fasi, Glen – passed the time between awards by harassing the stars and demonstrating that we don’t need Paul Henry to make Aotearoa a haven for toe-curling insensitivity and borderline sociopathy.
In other words, it may have been the most honest media awards ceremony ever. As Glen said when asked if Auckland Daze was nominated, “No, we’re like the rest of New Zealand. We’re just here to celebrate mediocrity.” The boys spent the night trying to score Wendy Petrie, Carol Hirschfeld, Sara Wiseman and tickets to the after party. Many of the gags are not fit for a family publication but there were a satisfying number of Mark Sainsbury jokes, and this: “Michael Jackson, now Neil Armstrong – I guess God hates anyone who moon walks.”
As for the real business of the evening, something the Herald’s Live Blog referred to as “alcohol murmur” made hearing the proceedings a challenge. Several winners cajoled, yelled and threatened their way through their acceptance speeches. Still, it was a heartening event in many ways. The nominations were solid – Campbell Live, Bryan Bruce’s Inside Child Poverty. You couldn’t argue with many of the calls. It was a haka-heavy night for Maori Television, including wins for Native Affairs presenter Julian Wilcox and Homai te Pakipaki’s Matai Smith, who brought his mum up on stage. A win for 60 Minutes’ Melanie Reid, for the show’s ACC exposé, affirmed the value of experience in a youth-obsessed industry. Mark Crysell collected the gong for Sunday’s devastating story on the Japanese students killed and maimed in the CTV building. And well done, 3 News. TV3’s departing political editor, Duncan Garner, went for longest speech – “I know I’m a prick to deal with sometimes” – and jokingly threatened the Minister of Broadcasting with his award. At least I think he was joking. Back with the Auckland Daze boys, TV1’s Greg Boyed helped out with a pick-up line that rather summed up the unsophisticated way in which we celebrate success in this country: “Grab your coat, bitch, you’ve scored.”
Thank goodness we have the Prime Minister to raise the tone. John Key characteristically refuses to “characterise” the report that he described David Beckham as “thick as bat shit”. A simple yes or no would suffice. As for Beckham, it seems he doesn’t give a shit, bat or otherwise. But the alleged slight has set off an esoteric semantic debate. An expert declared that bat droppings are complex. “They are anything but thick,” he told the Herald. Max Cryer mused that the more usual saying is “boring as batshit”. Cryer wondered if Key meant “thick as pig shit”, hardly an improvement. Oddly, Key didn’t go for “thick as a plank”. There’s that famous photo where he’s looking on as his son impersonates one during the planking fad Key probably helped kill off. Still, this confirms Key’s status as our answer to Kath and Kim when it comes to mangling blameless figures of speech; not to mention our reputation as a peculiar little nation. Suggested new national motto: New Zealand – 100% bats.