I had an interesting debate this morning on Facebook, about politics. Phil Goff was on NewstalkZB this morning, having an ‘election breakfast’ with the breakfast announcer, Mike Hosking. I enjoy listening to Hosking, he is very quick-witted and intelligent and a good interviewer. There is always humour and I can gather what I need for the day as far as information/news quickly. The station is networked so the commercials are local to Hamilton/Waikato and it doesn’t feel as if it has too much of an Auckland slant.
But I didn’t listen to Goff. Not because I don’t like him, don’t know him but I suspect he is a very nice guy who was given a hospital pass. Not because I’m going to vote for National, although that is true, some of Labour’s policies are O.K. But because I listen to morning radio to be entertained and Goff does not entertain me. He tells me his policy in a way that makes me feel he is preaching, he is reading his manifesto at me. He is incredibly negative and takes pot shots at people, rather than policy. Mind you, to some extent that is the lot of the opposition leader, you have to plug away at the PM.
Anyway, these two guys took rather strong exception to the fact that I didn’t listen. One said he thought I coped with differing opinions by putting my fingers in my ears and singing ‘blah blah blah blah’. I nearly asked him if he’d left a recording device on my coffee table. But I’ve discovered that not everyone understands my sense of humour. I gently explained that I have investigated all the policies and been to meetings and watched TV ads and I am not uninformed.
It got me thinking about the state of current affairs in this country as one of them subsequently said there was no one here to keep politicians honest and to do effective satire. My answer to that was an explanation of the cult of personality in the media. It has become a worldwide trend. The people who read the news and give us our entertainment have BECOME the news and the entertainment. Announcers in talk back radio are encouraged to nail their political colours to the mast, then people will ring up and agree or threaten murder. But what we lack is the ‘old fashioned’ interviewers who could, and did, skewer politicians with searching questions. Lindsay Perigo, Ian Fraser, Brian Edwards…they didn’t let their guests get away with generalisations and deflections.
Sometimes I watch items on New Zealand current affairs programmes and I wonder if there’s anything happening in the world. Why can’t I see a report from inside Syria or a backgrounder, in layman’s terms, on the Euro crisis and the astronomical overspending by some European governments? Why do I have to watch a segment on an English woman and her many multiple personalities? So I turn to BBC World and CNN and the Knowledge and Discovery and National Geographic channels of Sky for news and historical programmes that broaden my general knowledge. Which reminds me, last night we watched a fascinating episode in a series called “Narrow Escapes in WWII’ on the History channel. It was about a US regiment, the 333rd, made up entirely of Afro-Americans and the role they played in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944. Desperately sad.
I finished the first draft of the next novel last night. It came from a film script so the bones are there and now I have to go back and put the ‘flesh’ on. At the moment there is no interior life at all so they’re rather flat, but they are lovely characters and the plot is good and strong. It took around a month but the next draft will take longer. Happy times!