Friday, September 25, 2009

For those about to cringe, we salute you...

I remember day when I hit the low point of my pride in being a New Zealander. John travolta, no less, was in New Zealand and a lead story on the news was that he had been spotted eating dinner at a restaurant in a major city - let's say it was Christchurch.

A camera crew had been despatched, and was filming the star of the Look Who's Talking series at his table from across the road. That was bad enough; the worst part was the group of gawping mouth-breathers standing on the footpath watching him, like goldfish staring out of their bowl. On that day, cultural cringe took on a new meaning for me.

A decade or so later, this happened:

Twice! Say what you like about Helen Clark, but at least she carried herself in a dignified way internationally. She looked like she belonged among world leaders and, as such, New Zealand seemed like it belonged too. I have a good deal of respect for John Key - most of the time, anyway - but, as someone he represents at international events, I do wish he didn't visibly get a boner any time he met Obama - in fact, it's lucky for the photographer that the man in the funny hat was sitting just there. The giggly schoolgirl routine Key did on the TV news when, after the election, Obama rang to congratulate him was seemingly only a prelude to this meeting. (On the other hand: poor old Gordon Brown.)

Of course, Key's man-crush is no fun if the media doesn't lap it up. Here, then, are a few choice quotes from the front page article. (You may want to sit down.)
  • "United States President Barack Obama spoke glowingly of New Zealand during two brief meetings with Prime Minister John Key in New York today."
  • "As the 160-plus world leaders attending the United Nations this week jostled for a moment with the new president at his first General Assembly, Mr Key was singled out for two meet and greets."
  • "Sources tell NZPA that the New Zealand leader got more attention than many others Mr Obama met."
  • ""He's gone out of his way to make me feel welcome," Mr Key said this evening."
Hmm, I seem to just have copied out the first four sentences of the article.
  • '"Well it was great, he came up, I was sitting at my table and he came over and said `look it was great to see you, fantastic to have a chat on the phone, (I) look forward to seeing a lot more of you."'
  • '"It was good to meet him twice, as it turned out today, and he's obviously very keen on New Zealand. He was speaking very eloquently but also effusively of New Zealand so that was great."'
  • "Mr Obama had a friend living in New Zealand who had raved about the country praising its golf courses, skiing and lifestyle for families."
Oh Jesus, "a friend", I don't know if I can take it anymore...
  • '"I've love him to come down but obviously he's got a schedule that's unbelievable, now, you never say never but you got to imagine he's got a lot on his plate at the moment."'
  • "Mr Obama and his wife Michelle stopped and chatted to the New Zealander and his wife Bronagh rather than a quick handshake which many other leaders received."
  • "The president was warm and engaging, and brought up their phone call earlier in the year."
Warm, engaging, and well-briefed.

I think I need a cold shower.


  1. I think the guy with the hat was photoshopped on for taste purposes.

    But I can't be sure. Top post.

  2. You do realise that's an NZPA article, not Herald?

  3. Someone needs to replace that guy at the front with a Squirrel.

  4. If you're used to reading the Guardian, no wonder the NZH drives you nuts...

  5. "Anonymous said...

    You do realise that's an NZPA article, not Herald?"

    I do indeed... but it's on the front page of the print edition of the Herald, which I feel makes it a legitimate target.

  6. Yeah, it may be a NZPA article, but the Herald chose to run it as front page news. Luckily, nothing else of note happened yesterday... like a much-loved NZ entertainer dying, or anything.

  7. Hmm yes you know you're in a small country when five minutes with the US president merits a blow out front page lead.

  8. You should probably skip watching JK on Letterman then

  9. If I didn't know better, I would assume that the person appearing on Letterman was an actor, rather than the most powerful politician in NZ.

    Actually, no, strike that. Even the worst actor would have delivered those lines in a much smoother fashion.

    I am about as apathetic an observer as they come, but I was just embarassed. Say what you like about the dog faced woman, but there is no way she would have let Dave dominate her like that. Even the fake Helen Clark that appeared on the show a while ago left with more decorum and grace than JK did, and she was wearing a bikini...

  10. Christ on a bike.

    Being an ex-pat for 7 years I've never seen John Key in live action footage.

    He is exactly like the NZ PM from Flight of the Conchords.

  11. OMG I just saw the Letterman video.

    Why is he talking like that! And doing that with his arms! And why is he our prime minister?

  12. Cringe just doesn't begin to cover it!

  13. I watched it on mute, and im grateful.

  14. And even worse than the Key-Obama issue is how the media has dealt with the washed-up bimbo that is Pamela Anderson at Fashion Week. Why must we all fawn and gasp at someone from another country who has achieved little more of value than having a surgeon pump their tits up? And why must we always ask the leading question of whether they are liking NZ or not? Are we still that insecure and immature a nation? Barrack-in-our-eyes is the least of our worries.

  15. You don't need to look overseas to find washed up bimbos to fawn and gasp at. Anyone for another helping of Rachel Hunter? Or have we all had so much that we're starting to feel a bit nauseous and queasy?

  16. The Anderson 'press conference' was perhaps more embarrassing than John Key on US TV, the the sort of thing that should be ignored by the NZ Herald.

  17. Ugh. Ugh! UGH!

    Why IS he talking like that? He sounds like a ten-year-old on a sugar high.

  18. The *real* skinny on the NY visit:

  19. Did anyone see that photo of John Key and his wife looking like a pair of hobbits next to the Obama & Michelle? I think it was in one of the weekend papers, can't find it online unfortunately! Cringe!!

  20. Cringe!! Just cringe, it was "cringe" when he decided to go on the show, and he didn't dissappoint.

    I can only hope Americans, being used to Letterman, take it the right way and it gives us some profile...yikes