The Metro Dubious Achievements Awards 2016

by Metro society writers / 02 December, 2016
Toby Morris Illustrations.

Accentuate the positive? Fuggeddaboudit! Not with this year’s bumper crop of knuckleheads, dipsticks and unintentional comedians. Our annual celebration salutes the loftiest heights of dubiosity.

The Shane Jones Sticky Remote for Getting a Grip goes to Olympic star Nick Willis for opening up about his porn addiction.
We always thought looking so skinny and washed out was an occupational hazard for a middle-distance runner, but it turns out something else may have been contributing to Nick’s wan appearance over the years. Five months before winning a bronze medal in the Rio 1500m, he took to Facebook and revealed his battle with a porn addiction that began in his teens. Declaring himself two-and-a-half years porn-free, he described the “rollercoaster ride of shame and justification” porn had taken him on. He deserves our congratulations for being so candid and setting an example to those of us who perhaps do a little too much one-handed typing ourselves. But we can’t help noticing that in Beijing in 2008 he won silver, one step up the podium from his porn-free medal in Rio. On that evidence, we’re resisting abstention for now. By the by, as noted by a wag on Twitter, Nick’s personal best is 3:29.66.

The Fox News Golden Bronzer Award for Dumb Punditry by Beautiful People goes to Kiwi supermodel Kylie Bax.
Bax reckoned her old pal Donald Trump would “do an outstanding job” if elected president, which is a pretty solid example of why we don’t usually go to former supermodels for political advice. Bax told the Herald that Trump’s appeal was similar to our very own John Key’s. “People will respect he can put great deals together and the way he can sell an idea to almost anyone — he is a very smooth negotiator.” Sorry, we’re not buying it, Kylie. Compared to Trump, our Prime Minister is a ponytail-pulling paragon of virtue. What the hell is the attraction rich old guys like Trump seem to have for beautiful young women, anyway? Just kidding.

The Arthur Fonzarelli Lothario Award for Being Really Cool Around Women goes to former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.
Trigger warning! The defamation case Taxpayers Union founder Jordan Williams took against Craig provided a deluge of dubiosity. But amid all the revelations about klutzy Colin’s antics, the one that stood out for us was when his former press secretary Rachel MacGregor told the court that he had told her he slept well because he dreamed he was lying on her legs. Now, we’ve heard some lame lines before: “Heaven’s missing an angel”; “Have you got a map, because I’m lost in your eyes?”; “Could I please put my #@!% in your %&*^$?”. But “I dreamed I was lying on your legs”? That doesn’t even sound comfortable.

The Furry Freak Brothers Cup for Being Wild and Crazy Guys goes to Wicked Campers.
Everyone knows that the harder you try, the cooler you get. We think we’ve got that right. So that means Wicked Campers and its spotlight-averse boss, John Webb, must be running the coolest damn mid-sized rental-fleet business in the universe! The company’s supercharged efforts to be out there, edgy, envelope-pushing and generally down with the kids have led to them emblazoning their vans with such pop-art classics as Snow White using what appeared to be a crack pipe and hilarious lines like, “In every princess there is a little slut who wants to try it just once” and “Fat chicks are harder to kidnap”. Wow. Our cool-o-meter has them right up there with Hell Pizza and the geniuses who write the ironic stories on craft-beer labels.

The Big Pharma Award for Feeling No Pain goes to the five Warriors players who went partying on a prescription medicine.
We can understand it’s painful being a Warrior — being built up every year by the damn news media (“Could go all the way!”) only to collapse in a pitiful heap of shame and humiliation well before the business end of the season. But that can’t excuse the players who decided, after getting thumped 42-0 by the Storm, to enhance their big night out with a cocktail of the painkiller Tramadol and energy drinks. Why couldn’t they just stick to the usual NRL hijinks involving domestic pets and trying to wee into their own mouth? Kids? Stay in school, don’t do rugby league.

The John Maynard Keynes Stimulus Package for an Artificially Inflated Profile goes to Steven Joyce and the flying Waitangi sex toy.
Yes, Joyce is the “Minister of Everything”, the force behind the throne, the backroom operator and all that, but his image has always been just plain boring. He’s the big bald guy with the big round face and the big gormless smile, droning on and on about enterprise and “the regions”. Until this year, that is, when a flying pink dildo (or “fake penis”, as one excited reporter described it) hit him on the head at Waitangi. Cue the attentions of comedian John Oliver and another bout of Kiwi-based hilarity on US television. World fame for Joyce at last! How much attention would he get if he took a blow-up doll as his partner in 2017? Don’t tell us it hasn’t crossed his mind.

The Rumpelstiltskin Straw-Into-Gold Award for Turning a Racist Utterance to Commercial Benefit goes to The Real Housewives of Auckland.
We have entertainment options. For us, that tends to mean binge-watching bloopers on YouTube until our eyes gum up, but you know, tomorrow it might be a 60s noir drama or an inspirational Ted Talk, or something. Okay, probably not the Ted Talk, but there is certainly no need to be watching a dire reality-television show like Real Housewives. Yet somehow, the show’s publicists and their dupes in the media managed to mainline the whole tawdry package into the national consciousness, artfully milking a racist remark for maximum publicity. That’s their job — the whole kerfuffle was straight from a well-thumbed promotional play book — but please don’t put your serious voice on to talk to us about it. We’re actually over TV. Tonight, we’re going to play Pictionary with some other kids from the youth group.

The Donald Trump Wig for Insane Pronouncements About Women by an Old White Guy goes to Kevin Roberts.
After all the nonsense he’s talked over the years, all the times we’ve wondered how the hell he gets away with this bullshit, all the Lovemarks and Peak Performing and general adman’s hot air, “KR” was finally brought down by his brainfarts on gender discrimination. Quitting as Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman, he apologised for the upset and offence caused. “Fail fast, fix fast, learn fast is a leadership maxim I advocate,” he declared, going on to claim that in the offending interview, “I failed exceptionally fast”. That’s our boy, still spinning like a champ. But can he please go away now?

The Auckland Star Vintage Imperial 666 for Having Wonderful Futures Behind Them goes to Fairfax and NZME.
Both our major newspaper chains have been fond of telling us how well they’re doing, how they’re looking after their traditional products while simultaneously mastering the brave new online world, etc. And then their actual, awful parlous predicament is revealed in a plan to join forces in a merger. Worst of all, while the Commerce Commission ponders this loveless congress, the Stuff and nzherald websites continue their race to the bottom, sliming their audiences with ever-worsening prurience, trivia and clickbait. It’s almost enough to drive us over to The Spinoff for another lecture about mansplaining.

The Real Housewives Silver Carving Knife for a Little Too Much Bloody Reality goes to St Kentigern College.
A school production of Sweeney Todd. A real razor among the props. What could possibly go wrong? You guessed it: two students were hurt, one seriously, in a throat-slitting scene. Sadly, the show was cancelled, when surely with that kind of publicity they could have extended the season. You’d never get that level of convincing detail in a crappy old state-school production, though something tells us St Kent’s won’t be featuring it in their prospectus.

The Justice Is Blind But Money Talks Award goes to William Yan, aka Yong Ming Yan, aka Bill Liu, aka Yang Liu.
We’ve had trouble keeping up with all those names, to be honest, not to mention all the details of allegations against Yan and the help he has received from various New Zealand politicians. But the $43 million he paid this year to settle allegations of money laundering without accepting any guilt is something likely to stick in the memory, as will the SkyCity records that reportedly show he gambled $293 million over 12 years. We’re surprised a man who seems to like a flutter wasn’t ready to take his chances in court, but John Key called it “a good outcome”, so that’s all right then. Can we just check that Bill’s many names haven’t skewed our immigration figures?

The Helen Clark Memorial Taiaha for Botched Race Relations goes to Environment Minister Nick Smith.
Somehow, the Government announced a new marine sanctuary around the Kermadec Islands without consulting Maori, thereby provoking race relations unrest reminiscent of the foreshore-and-seabed row. Who the hell did they have in charge of it? Not that swivel-eyed loon overseeing the housing crisis? Oh.

The Arrow-Patterned Onesie for Services to Wrongful Incarceration goes to the Corrections Department.
“Lock ’em up! Throw away the key!” Popular as that sentiment may be, we actually rely on Corrections to not only keep “the key” but use it to let people out when they have served their time. That’s something the department has been failing to do, according to a Supreme Court decision that led to the distribution of Get Out of Jail Free cards to more than 20 prisoners who had already spent too long inside, and affected the release dates of hundreds more. One claim had been filed for compensation at press time and many more were expected, as is a public outcry should compensation be awarded. The bureaucrats responsible should definitely miss a turn and not pass Go.

The Colin Craig Moonshot Award for Science Denial goes to mayoral wannabe Victoria Crone.
She was so new and vibrant and switched on and everything. Knew all about technology. Had “fresh ideas” and that, unlike fuddy-duddy Phil. Yet Crone couldn’t come up with a straightforward answer when asked in an interview if she believed in man-made climate change. “Oh gosh that’s a very contentious debate, so ... of course you’ve got erosion across Auckland. Whether you say that’s because of humans or it’s actually a cycle, I’m not going to get drawn into that debate.” Gosh is right. Golly-gosh. Betcha by golly wow, even. Though she later scrambled to say in a statement that she “actually does believe in climate change and that humans are contributing to it”, her initial response was revealing — not much point standing for office if you don’t want to get drawn into debates, Vic — and vastly more interesting than her usual jargon-infested corporate blather.

The Heckle and Jeckle Award for Spontaneous Feedback goes to dance veteran Douglas Wright for booing at an Auckland Arts Festival show.
Don’t tell the culturati, but we’d rather stick pins in our eyes than sit through most modern dance shows, so we had a smidgen of sympathy for Wright when he shouted “boring” in the middle of a piece in a co-production between Black Grace and Singapore’s T.H.E. Dance Company. He also booed during the curtain call and was asked to leave by festival organisers. Judging by the reviews, Wright’s contribution sounds easily the most entertaining part of the evening.

The Dirty Politics Rubber Gloves for Unseemly Behaviour on Behalf of the Government goes to Paula Bennett’s office.
No good deed goes unpunished, apparently, and it certainly didn’t for the chairman of Te Puea Marae, which had opened its doors to the victims of National’s homelessness crisis. His punishment for such unprovoked do-gooding came when one of Social Housing Minister Bennett’s press secretaries told a reporter that he was under police investigation. Isn’t Bennett meant to be the friendly, perky, upbeat face of the Government? We thought her office would be all flowers and pot plants, hot muffins and lace doilies, yet here they were dishing the manure like something out of House of Cards. Bennett denied being party to the leak and apologised, but the stench lingers over all involved. Maybe someone could bring in a nice bowl of potpourri or one of those clove-studded oranges?

The Wayne Barnes Whistle for Contribution to an All Blacks Catastrophe goes to Sir Gordon Tietjens.
We’re the best, right? Two World Cups. Kings of the Rugby Championship. Dominators of Super Rugby. So how come most of the world has been given the impression the All Blacks are also-rans? We’re going to heap the blame on legendary hard-arse All Blacks Sevens coach Tietjens, whose swansong tournament in Rio produced a loss to Japan and an eventual fifth-place finish. After a 22-year reign as coach and much success, his fabled fitness demands and tactical smarts failed to deliver when it counted most. Not good enough, Titch. Give us a thousand burpees!

The Nasa Distant Frontiers Award for Occupying Space goes to the Spencer family.
In the midst of a housing crisis and as Auckland prepares to cram in more dwellings under the Unitary Plan, it’s nice to be reminded that, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “the rich are different from you and me”. The Spencer dunny-paper dynasty, estimated by the NBR Rich List to be worth $720 million, has unveiled plans for a mansion on a 1.5-hectare waterfront Stanley Pt site that incorporates 16 separate street addresses. And if that still feels a little cramped from time to time, thank god they’ve still got the spread on Waiheke…

The GOP Trophy for Gobsmacking Political Mismanagement goes to Auckland’s centre-right.
They’re all business, aren’t they, the centre-right? They’re proven in business, got networks in business, take care of business. They do the friggin’ business! That’s why they all dress like real estate agents and car dealers, and why National has been in government for a kazillion years. So how come Auckland’s centre-right couldn’t come up with one election brand and one mayoral candidate? Sometimes we even wonder whether their rival factions might hate each other as much as the notoriously splintered left, but that’s impossible, right?

The Halberg Award for Highlight-ing Protocols Around Facilities for the Disabled goes to Aaron Smith.
Smith sounds like lots of little blokes we’ve known. Chirpy, cheeky, with the face and voice of a choirboy — and as randy as a sackful of stoats. We took no more delight than the next guffawing nincompoop when he got sprung in a consensual airport tryst, but can’t believe that the Human Rights Commission hasn’t grabbed the chance to give everyone a lecture about the use of disabled dunnies. Perhaps they need to get the TV3 publicists involved. Any claim that Smith really was disabled at the time — by a cumbersome erection — should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

This first article appeared in the November issue of Metro, follow Metro on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and sign up to the weekly e-mail

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