The decline of NZ civilisation, part 34.

For all the talk about bias and dumbassery in NZ’s media, no one seems to be doing anything about it. In fact, some of those who should know better seem hell bent on aggravating the problem.  Proof of this is the announcement that the new Backbencher’s temporary replacement co-host will be a blond snow bunny and rugby WAG turned dancer and sports show hostess. Apparently she is doing an undergrad degree in Politics, which therefore qualifies her for the job.

There are many politically astute thinking women in NZ. Heck, there are former politicians, sharp media commentators, activists, diplomats and even a few politics lecturers that are female, all of whom could have handled the job with credibility and insight. But noooooooo. The blond bubbly lass got the nod.  Judging from his comments on FB Wallace Chapman is chuffed with the selection.

I realise that Backbenchers is not exactly a serious political show. Adding this particular female may just be in line with its off-kilter approach, or perhaps the decision was dictated by the network that she is contracted with and which airs the show. But I doubt very much that Mr. Chapman or Damien Christie, the co-host being replaced in this instance, consider themselves to be jokesters or eye candy. So why introduce one now when there are plenty of better options available?

Perhaps it is a ratings grab of some sort, aimed at a particular demographic. Hopefully it will be nothing but a silly one-off, never to be repeated or remembered again. But as it stands, and at the risk of being called a party pooper, it strikes me that not only is this appointment an insult to every serious and informed woman in the country. It is also irrefutable evidence that the NZ media is in a state of terminal decay, no matter how pretty it is dressed up. And if the episode with the blonde turns out to be a success, it is further proof that NZ civilisation has gone terminal late Roman in nature.

11 thoughts on “The decline of NZ civilisation, part 34.

  1. Haley Holt – we all know who you are talking about – has also indicated a desire to enter politics in the Greens. I think she might be made of sterner stuff than you think. In any event, NZ is a small country and we take our talent where we can find it. At least give it a whirl and see what happens. Who knows, she might just rock it.

  2. Sanc:

    Perhaps so by why her instead of the dozens of eminently more qualified women who could fit the bill? What does she have that so many others do not? Is it because she is supposedly witty or is there something else going on? Are they going for the 18-40 male demographic and nothing else?

    Just because she takes politics courses as a means towards the end goal of entering politics (should that be the case) does not mean that today she is qualified to offer public political commentary, even on a semi-serious show such as this. That is like having an undergraduate physics major offer televised public commentary on the relative viscosity of anti-matter as found in galactic black holes (well, perhaps not quite that).

    Anyway, if I were the Greens I would run from her because, as the Internet Party found out, adding celebrities to the list is not always a sure bet for electoral success. Plus, she strikes me as a closet Nat, TBH.

    Your remark about NZ being a small country hits the nub. Just like the down side of the N. 8 wire mentality (a complete lack of planning, both forward and contingency), NZ is a place where nepotism, sinecures and shoulder tapping are the norm so long as you are in the “right” crowd or travel in the “right” circles. Objective merit is not a factor–heck, look at the PM’s son and how he is advancing his “career!”

    Apparently being an ex-WAG, ballroom dancer and jockette sports announcer qualifies this person as “right” for the job of providing political commentary in a televised public forum. Heaven help us. They might as well have appointed Millie Elder.

  3. A couple of observation Pablo: On TV, looks count. Second, in celebrity politics, looks and celebrity count. The Internet party failed for many reasons, not the least being the insane decision to let Martyn Bradbury anywhere near it’s decision making and allowing it to become a straight Dotcom vs. Key credibility contest, which Key won going away at a canter. Haley Holt has been around for while in the public eye and if she is prepared tp take her time, she’d bee a real catch for the Greens.

  4. Pablo as a proud father revelling in in-depth political discussions with my daughter,Hayley Holt, and marvelling at her informed knowledge and ideas that are challenging my own long help beliefs I read with concern your comments about her participation in The Back Benches show last week.

    I often listen to your commentary on geo-politics with respect however your implication that Hayley as a ‘blonde bubbly lass’, is unqualified to have an opinion on the politics of the day and therefore should not be commenting publicly is disturbing.

    Hayley was asked to co-host the show because of her experience in broadcasting and because she is showing a deep intelligent concern for the state of the world today. Maybe Wallace Chapman being ‘chuffed’ is coming from a more informed position than your own and that he sees more that just ‘eye candy’. Maybe the selectors should be congratulated for trying to buck the stereotype you yourself are fostering, that attractive female blondes, even ones interested in sport, have no place in the political forum. Maybe it is not showing ‘bias and dumbassery’ to give someone fresh, enthusiastic and concerned a chance, and maybe just maybe they could actually encourage others to challenge their thinking also.

    Hayley’s background is proudly New Zealand, her ancestors have shown fortitude and courage. Her great great grandparents travelled to New Zealand in 1865 and farmed in Waimate North. Her great grandfather fought on the battlefields of Gallipoli, her grandfather piloted Lancaster bombers in WW11. She has huge pride in these strong ancestors and wants to be part of ensuring that the world they fought for has a brighter future.

    To say it means the end of NZ civilisation is surely a joke – otherwise it sadly means you have a very low opinion on the state of our civilisation and what it would take to topple it. Thankfully Hayley has a much more optimistic viewpoint.

    By the way Hayley’s dog is named Pablo!

  5. Good on ya Murray, for defending your daughter, but we shall have to agree to disagree on her talents and suitability for the job. Nor does her family history matter much for this particular position. Moreover, if she wants to demonstrate her “deep intelligent concern for the state of the world today,” there are many ways to do so that do not involve the path she has chosen to follow.

    The post was indeed a bit tongue in cheek, hence the title. The serious point that I was trying to make was that there are plenty of well-qualified women in NZ who are better suited to the role. Heck, imagine if they asked one of your daughter’s co-hosts on CGW to sit in for either co-host on Backbenchers. How do think that would be received? As bringing new and fresh thinking to the show? Maybe not.

    Perhaps, as you and Sanctuary say, the idea is in fact to bring in a fresh face to shake up the stodginess around political reporting. Perhaps she will emerge as a shining light of NZ politics and go on to have a stellar career with the Greens. And perhaps, thanks to genetic modification, pigs will fly someday. All are equally plausible IMO.

    I will say, however, that she must have an awesome dog.

  6. I was offended by one comment you made here Pablo, that I look like a closet Nat. You couldn’t be further from the truth but I guess that’s what you get when you judge someone you have never met. I do not doubt that there are many far more qualified women in NZ to talk on politics, luckily I was brought in to ask the guest THEIR opinion based on my broadcasting experience and my affinity with people. Don’t stress yourself out too much with the thought I might want to get heavily involved with the Greens, as you alluded to yourself, I have much yet to learn. I am quite happy walking the path I have chosen, I hope you are too!

  7. Hayley:

    I think that you are very well suited for the path you have chosen so far. Stick to it.

  8. Thank you for your encouragement. Maybe our paths will meet one day, that would be fun.

    Pablo is a great dog, one of the bests

  9. As a ‘serious and informed woman’ I’m taking exception to your comments, rather than to Ms Holt’s appearance on Backbenchers. She did well, and she’s got more to give than you give her credit for. Your dismissal of her on the grounds that she’s young and attractive is patronising and a bit creepy, and ignores her obvious intelligence.

    Would you subject a young man to the same scrutiny…or is it only ‘the blonde’ who deserves to be dismissed in this way?

  10. Sorry Helen, you missed the point of the post. The point was that she is unqualified when compared to numerous other women, for example, all of those on Radio NZ (including Noelle McCarthy in spite of her contretemps), Rachel Smalley, Ali Mau, Linda Clark, or, if the selection was indeed about young and female, up and coming political types like Miriam Pierard (to name just a select few).

    I also suggest you re-read my comments in the thread (if you have not done so already), where I make the explicit point that if her co-presenters on TCGW were not considered (both male), then why should she be? They have as much if not more broadcasting experience and plenty of political opinions, so why not them? Which is to say, I made a direct reference to similarly unqualified male candidates.

    It is a pity that you take offence at what is a defense of qualified women over unqualified dilettantes when it comes to political broadcasting. If that is “creepy,” then so be it.

  11. Hi Pablo, who decides? Who decides whether a woman who’s been on a sports show should be contained within that frame of reference? Can someone who’s done that work not do any other, and not have many strings to her bow? Would Mark Richardson choose to do this kind of show? Probably not, but should that disqualify Hayley Holt?

    Your distinction between ‘serious’ women and blonde bubbly WAGS is just wrong-headed. Would you be as comfortable confining those ‘serious’ women to a narrow range of roles? Your willingness to box women into categories of worthiness or dilettantism is exactly what feminists have resisted for so long. Intelligence and adaptability come in many packages for both men and women.

    I feel old writing this – that women are still having to make these arguments, to be considered on their own merits in a time when many young women consider that feminist ‘battles’ have all been won. Clearly not.

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