The 2013 Dubious Achievement Awards
Our annual salute to the wingnuts, dropkicks and dipsticks whose services to dubiousity demand formal recognition. Illustration by Daron Parton.
First published in Metro, December 2013. The 2014 Dubious Achievements, featuring Judith Collins, Rachel Smalley, Benji Marshall and many more, are in the December 2014 Metro, on sale now.
The Power of One Award for Putting the “I” in Team goes to Sonny Bill Williams
The guy’s a “consummate professional”. Respectful, dedicated and a “fine young man”. Well, so say the blokes who would cut off their own knobs to get his signature on a contract.
The shenanigans over Super Sonny’s availability for the Kiwis heading to the Rugby League World Cup actually seemed purpose built to show as little respect as possible. His breathtaking “Yeah… nah” move, saying he was unavailable, then changing his mind after the team was announced, meant young backrower Tohu Harris was shamefully cut from the squad.
In the harshest criticisms of the rugby league lexicon, Williams’ behaviour was definitely “average” and may even have verged on “ordinary”. He’ll probably win another Rugby World Cup and get that Olympic gold medal, but we can’t help wondering if this controversy has affected his chances of a Nobel Prize.
The David Garrett Platinum-coated Dodgy ID goes to former National MP Aaron Gilmore
When Gilmore made a stink in a restaurant during a party conference, he got the whole country rushing to open a window.
Do you know who he was? Hanmer Springs is a sulphurous spa town where no one can tell when you fart, but when Gilmore made a stink in a restaurant there during a party conference, he got the whole country rushing to open a window.The backbench non-entity was accused of threatening to have a waiter sacked by the Prime Minister after his table was refused more wine. Classy.
Among other unflattering details to emerge before the bottom-ranked MP resigned was his use of the term “fucktard” — we hear it’s now his job title.
The Karen Soich Award for Close Client Relations goes to lawyer Davina Murray
They say true love is blind and in the case of Murray’s infatuation with murderer and rapist Liam Reid it had to be. The tattoos on his neck and hands might have been a bit of a hint to most people that Reid was not exactly Bachelor of the Year material, and the merest glance at his horrific criminal record would have quickly confirmed it. Yet in text messages read in court, she declared, “He makes me laugh. He makes me cry. He makes me feel beautiful. I love him like I have never loved anyone before.”
The former Maori Party candidate had it so bad, she smuggled a phone, cigarettes and a lighter to Reid in prison. Police told the court Murray visited him 61 times over eight months at Paremoremo prison and 19 times over six weeks at Mt Eden. Most lawyers don’t see their loved ones that much when they’re living with them!
The Lehman Brothers Golden Incinerator for Reckless Value Destruction goes to Fonterra
Turns out the brilliant lactocrats to whom we’ve entrusted our economic future couldn’t organise a thickshake in a Mr Whippy van.
The strategy was faultless: turn the entire country into a dairy farm and hook the Chinese on milk. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out the brilliant lactocrats to whom we’ve entrusted our economic future couldn’t organise a thickshake in a Mr Whippy van. Fonterra’s botulism scare was a false alarm, but the outcome was a disaster anyway. So chief executive Theo Spierings announced that they had learned a “she’ll be right” attitude is not acceptable.
That must be why they pay him the big bucks — he can keep a straight face while spouting dead-eyed executroid bleeding-obvious claptrap. Meanwhile, another note might be worth scrawling in the big dog-eared exercise book by the phone where Fonterra seems to keep its protocols and disaster plans: could someone make up a roster to keep the pipes clean?
The Clinton-Lewinsky “Close, But No Cigar” Award for Services to Salaciousness goes to Len Brown and Bevan Chuang
Ew! We imagine this pair’s antics in the Ngati Whatua Suite must have breached tikanga big-time but, whatever the location, the whole saga left everyone feeling queasy. He was exposed as a silly old fool who risked everything for rumpy-pumpy; she came across as a needy, naive, one-woman disaster zone. He deserves no sympathy for failing to keep it in his pants, and she has to take the blame for exposing us to all the tawdry details.
That poor security guard should lawyer up and take an OSH claim.
And how tawdry they were: Brown’s creepy race-flavoured endearments; his cheapo gift-giving; the indelible image of him with his trousers round his ankles. It’s a picture that must be seared onto the retinas of that poor security guard, who has so far shown much more discretion than either of the protagonists. That guy should lawyer up and take an OSH claim.
The Fonterra Chrome-plated Dirty Pipe for Shit Dispersal goes to blogger Cameron Slater
Not one of the supporting cast in the mayoral sex scandal attached to himself even a shred of glory. Not sometime journalist Stephen Cook, who apparently wanted to turn Bevan Chuang into a porn star; not Luigi Wewege from the John Palino campaign, who made those gruesome attempts to cajole her into revealing all; not Palino himself, who wants us to believe he had no idea what was going on under his nose.
How soon before his mainstream political friends like Judith Collins and Cameron Brewer have to quarantine themselves entirely from their old mate?
But none of their failings overshadows the loathsomeness of blogger Cameron Slater, who revealed on television his dystopic view of public life with the claim: “Politics is a dirty, disgusting, despicable game and it involves dirty, disgusting, despicable people.”
Sure does. Given the public’s distaste for political muck-raking, how soon before his mainstream political friends like Judith Collins and Cameron Brewer have to quarantine themselves entirely from their old mate? For ambitious right-wingers, could the Whale jump the shark?
The Ceremonial Embroidered Yarmulke for Contributions to Middle Eastern Misunderstandings goes to TV One’s Martin Tasker
Chatting when he thought his America’s Cup microphone was off, the gent with the ginger ’tache declared his desire for a pint of Guinness then mentioned, “I’ve got to do that Jewish woman at some stage.” Ooh-er, phnarr-phnarr, etcetera.
Briefly, we conjured an image of “Tusker” Tasker the ladies’ man, roving the San Francisco foreshore looking for single lovelies of various ethnicities to add to his personal United Nations of getting-it-on. We imagined that — like the guy in the Commodores — he must just love all the women of the world.
Tasker later explained that he was referring to an arrangement for an interview with an Israeli journalist, but his campaign was never the same. His partisan huffing, puffing, gnashing and wailing through one of the greatest comebacks in sport had us thinking he might jump off Golden Gate Bridge and put all of us out of his misery. We can only hope that when he interviewed that Israeli scribe, he was having one of his good days — or at least looking at life through the Guinness goggles.
The Symbolic Box of Dog Tucker for Underperforming Political Poodles goes to John Banks and Peter Dunne
Could someone please check their undersides for a use-by date?
It’s hard being a one-man band in Parliament. Sometimes you have to wear Harry Potter specs or a silly bow-tie just to stand out. Sometimes reporters won’t listen to you at all, and just keep staring at your amazing hair. But having been allowed to join the government, you really have to help give the impression that everything is under control.
Neither Banks nor Dunne was up to that this year, both having had to resign their ministerial responsibilities in embarrassing circumstances. Which reminds us: Banks first entered Parliament in 1981, Dunne three years later. Could someone please check their undersides for a use-by date?
The John Key-Wannabe Award for Unfunny Clowning While Representing His Country goes to Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman
Presenting an All Blacks jersey to US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel at a Pentagon press conference was good ol’ Kiwi clunky, but Coleman really excelled himself in joking about whether the Americans might be eavesdropping on our Prime Minister. We weren’t worried, he brayed, because we’re too boring for them to want to listen in.
We know, poor thing, it’s hard to think straight when you’ve got your head stuck up your own hilarious backside while simultaneously trying to blow smoke up the other guy’s.
Perhaps Coleman simply forgot that the leaders of many other countries friendly to America are outraged at being spied on; or that it’s not really good for New Zealand to revel in being a US lapdog; or even that the US is known to be extremely interested in some of the things our leaders talk about. Remember Kim Dotcom, minister?
The Richard Branson Award for Needless Air Miles goes to TV3’s Hilary Barry
Hilary was stuck in her own Groundhog Day of increasingly irrelevant pieces to camera, before they finally acknowledged defeat and quietly dragged her home.
When Nelson Mandela was feeling poorly this year, the cry went out at TV3: Get Hilary over there, now!
If it had been “bringing peace to the Middle East” or “wearing a safari suit somewhere dusty”, then obviously Mike McRoberts would have gone. But to report on the last days of the great South African hero would require skills only Hilary could supply: those shining eyes of barely suppressed emotion, the bottomless vats of high-octane empathy. With her on the ground emoting, when the great man breathed his last TV3 could simply patch in syndicated footage for, er, Africa.
Trouble was, Mandela clung on. And on. And started getting better. Hilary was stuck in her own Groundhog Day of increasingly irrelevant pieces to camera, before they finally acknowledged defeat and quietly dragged her home. Then, redemption! She was dispatched to San Francisco to sprinkle Hilary dust over the formality of Team New Zealand converting its 8-1 lead into America’s Cup victory…
The Shane Jones Sticky Remote for Making Us Think About Elderly Blokes Engaged in Solitary Pursuits goes to music reviewer Simon Sweetman
A wise-before-her-time North Shore teen taking the music world by storm… what’s not to like? Everything, of course! We get that. Her with her big hair and her knowing remarks and her wee-bit-mental on-stage persona and her number one here and her friggin’ number one there. It’s annoying.
We certainly have no philosophical objection to an independent-minded music critic getting out the loppers and taking a poppy off at ground level. That’s God’s work, that is.
Even those of us who put her on the cover of our magazine still occasionally wonder why fate chose to lavish quite so much success on one 17-year-old. And we certainly have no philosophical objection to an independent-minded music critic getting out the loppers and taking a poppy off at ground level. That’s God’s work, that is.
But seasoned critic Sweetman’s suggestion that Lorde was being “sexualised” in the promotion of her music “to dudes that wank over Farmers lingerie catalogues rather than being honest and hiring porn” was off-the-planet weird. It left us with knotted brows, screwed-up noses and wavy lines where our mouths used to be. Debate the “sexualisation” issue if you must, Si, but spare us the icky word-pictures.
In another forum, two questions might also be asked: Is it really “dishonest” to make your own fun with junk mail in the privacy of your own home or office cubicle? And, who the hell “hires” porn?
The Evel Knievel Flaming Hogshead for Allowing a Crazy Stunt to Proceed goes to David Shearer’s chief of staff Fran Mold
When Shearer produced two dead snapper in Parliament back in August, it was pretty much the last thing he did as Labour leader. The stunt laid the bumbling Shearer open to a succession of fish-themed jokes from the other side of the House, and was a low point in a leadership tenure already comprised almost entirely of low points.
We’re not sure exactly what role Mold played in this stinker of an idea, but Shearer made her his chief of staff so she could tighten up the political management, so we figure she has to take the hit.
How could she not have realised that in Shearer’s hands the idea was bound to backfire? Give a couple of fish to David Cunliffe, of course, and he’d back himself to feed the multitudes.
The Dr Who Prize for Risky Time Travel in a Silly Costume goes to Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
She has always inclined to the la-de-da, dontcha know, so we weren’t at all surprised when our greatest diva agreed to do a turn as Australian opera great Dame Nellie Melba on Downton Abbey. Rubbing shoulders with the nobs at between-the-wars Downton? Where’s the downside?
As it turned out, that arrived in a review by Telegraph opera critic Rupert Christiansen, who ignored La Te Kanawa’s near-perfect fit in the stately surrounds and instead upbraided her for — gasp! — her singing. “Sharp unsteady intonation, heavy vibrato and tastelessly swooping portamento,” he claimed.
Is this the thanks she gets for basing herself in Pomgolia all these years and practically turning into a Brit? We certainly hope that her occasional prickliness during interviews in New Zealand doesn’t mean any of her fellow Kiwis — interviewers on the receiving end, say — will feel even a scintilla of schadenfreude over such a carping review.