The Civilian: a new NZ satire site

by Toby Manhire / 25 March, 2013
All the big issues are explored, from Shearer’s memory to Marmite.


A new addition to the small but mostly smart circle of New Zealand satire websites: The Civilian.

The latest report effortlessly combines the nation’s two most pressing issues: “Return of Marmite eases drought”.

And there’s something on the subject of David Shearer’s little pickle, headlined “David Shearer suddenly remembers affair”.

 “So I was sitting at home with Anuschka last night” said Shearer, referring to his wife of more than two decades. “We were watching old DVDs of Desperate Housewives, and there was some sort of dirty hanky panky going on between one of the wives and this younger man who wasn’t her husband. And I turned to Anuschka and I said ‘Oh yeah, I did that once.’”


“She was pretty upset” said Shearer. “But look, as I’ve told you, I’d completely forgotten. I meant to tell her earlier, but it must’ve just slipped my mind.”


The revelation is the latest in a string of surprising admissions from David Shearer that began yesterday after he was suddenly reminded of an overseas bank account he’d forgotten to disclose on the Parliamentary Register of Pecuniary Interests. Since then, Shearer has also remembered that he hasn’t paid taxes in four years, and last week burgled a small dairy in central Wellington.


When asked what he stole, Mr Shearer replied “Snickers.”


The work of Christchurch writer Ben Uffindell, The Civilian was born less than a month ago with a report headlined “The Prime Minister is confident that the mood of the nation favours pizza”.

It begins:

Prime Minister John Key believes that the majority of New Zealanders like pizza. He made the claim today at a scheduled press conference in response to a question about school closures in Christchurch.


And then there’s “National proposes legislation to Saturdayise Mondays”.

The government bill, which contains a clause explicitly forbidding Peter Dunne from voting against it, is titled the Saturdayise All Mondays Now Act Bill 2013 and would mandate that all Mondays take place on the nearest Saturday. This would effectively replace all Saturdays with Mondays.


John Key spoke to reporters about the bill early this afternoon. “Yeah, well, look, I think most New Zealanders would agree that this is a fairly common sense piece of legislation” said the Prime Minister. “It can sometimes be quite frustrating for businesses when their Monday work days don’t fall on a Saturday, so we’re just making sure that happens a bit more often.”


And, “Peter Jackson planning novelisation of The Hobbit”. Which reads, in part:

“Fran and I were talking about it when we were writing the screenplay together” said Jackson, referring to co-producer Fran Walsh. “And there were several points where we just thought to ourselves ‘Wow, I really feel like this could be a book.’”


Jackson says he’s taking the project very seriously, and revealed that he’d already been in talks with several popular authors, including JK Rowling, Lee Child, Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer.


“All of those people are very well known for writing books” said Jackson. “So I figured if we put them together, and asked them all to write for it, we’d have a really good book on our hands.”


From “Tui billboards all a big misunderstanding”:

In a media release yesterday, DB Breweries wrote: “It has come to our attention that many in New Zealand believe that our iconic billboards were not meant sincerely, and were in fact snide comments aimed at disparaging those who might agree with the statements printed on them. We are extremely embarrassed to learn this, and deeply troubled to know that our advertisements were taken in this way. We would like to clarify that our famous ‘Yeah right’ slogan was never supposed to be sarcastic.”


“We meant it more like ‘yeah, that’s right!’” said DB’s General Manager of Marketing Clare Morgan. “I guess it can be kind of hard to gather tone from plain text, but we never imagined that people would think we weren’t serious.”


Other headlines from the first three weeks of The Civilian include: “Viewers describe TV3′s 3rd Degree as weird sexual experience”, “Teen critically injured after failing to blow on a pie” and Solid Energy blames financial trouble on intern”.

Uffindell explains the genesis of his site like this:

Several months ago ... I came upon a small, promising but possibly illegal business venture that allowed me to accrue enough funds to return to life in a moderately well equipped apartment building in the heart of our nation’s cultural capital, Greymouth. It was from here that I decided to spite my wife by doing the one thing she told me that I could never do: start a newspaper.


The inspiration for said newspaper came one afternoon as I was sitting in my apartment watching popular television show The News. Did you know the news is watched by more than one million people every week? That makes it one of the most watched television programmes in all of New Zealand, only slightly behind such favourites as Border Security and that one with Alison Mau. And I was thinking on this as I watched it, and I suddenly realised “Wait, why doesn’t anyone put the news on the internet?”


It was that idea that gave birth to The Civilian, and it is that idea that is at the very heart of it today.


The Civilian is not just a newspaper. It is a newspaper on the internet.


It is here that you will find the news in a format that you are unlikely to have ever seen it before: online.


The Civilian is already gaining traction on Facebook, where it has attracted, crucially, dozens of comments from people who have failed to grasp that It’s Not Real.

 

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