I’m not a fan of the news.
I make myself check the Radio New Zealand website in the morning to make sure the world has not entered the apocalypse, and then I head to work. No point in going to work if the last days are upon us. Later in the day I give a cursory scroll through the Guardian website to see if they think we have entered the time of judgement (they usually do). Radio New Zealand’s website has recently taken a real hit in its proof-reading which is a nagging concern. A story about a new Māori star viewing facility in Tekapō which consistently spelled Tekapō as Takapo, and turned Māori words into gobbledygook made me feel that they really just couldn’t be bothered anymore.
When I read their news site I tend to notice anything to do with Te Ao Māori. There has been a non-stop stream of terrible news for Māori over the last month. It’s not “news” in the sense that it is surprising, but it is surprising both how bad it is and how it just becomes a soundbite in the noise about sport, weather and the antics of white men in politics overseas.
Here they are, the things I think of as actually worth noticing:
- In 2018, of the more than 11,000 young people arrested, more than 66 percent were Māori. (RNZ)
- The suicide rate among Māori men rose to almost 32 per 100,000 in 2016 – more than double the non-Māori male rate. (RNZ)
- The multiple stories about Oranga Tamariki and the stripping of Māori families of their children.
- The multiple stories about tabacco companies targeting Māori with e-cigarettes.
Yesterday Eleanor and I watched the Sliver Ferns play the Malawi Queens on TV and Eleanor said: “Pākehā means white pig”. One of her friends had told her that. FFS. There are actual problems in our society and fragile Pākehā are still saying the same old b/s?
Yes they are, because it’s much easier to get stuck on something like that than sit down and think: colonisation is not just and our society needs to develop a model of partnership that allows Māori tino rangatiratanga. Democracy is not too bad, but it doesn’t work for minorities. In fact for minorities it is not really democracy but more like a dictatorship of the largest racial group.
Back to that game between the Ferns and the Queens, because the other thing you can notice in the news is the way gender plays out. For example, how the cricket coverage has been dominating, and how rugby news – even when no one is playing rugby at the moment – is still leading. Meanwhile the Ferns played the opening match of the Netball World Cup. Not that you could really read about it the next day. Plenty to read in terms of opinion pieces on the cricket though.
Again, it could be a matter of someone at the top just saying: “You know what? You need to start covering sport on a 50-50 basis.” To which a lot of white men in charge would say a lot of things that I can’t even be bothered writing down and amount to either sexism or profit margins. If there’s one force we want to control social norms and well-being it would definitely be the profit margins of corporations.
Which leads me, curiously, to Toy Story 4. It’s fine. A really solid four out of five stars. Yet I ended up cross with it. As I am the Grinch I end up thinking: what is the actual point of this thing that is now just a franchise? Is it a bit of fluff to keep our brains off all the news that trickles into our consciousness everyday? Not that I expect Toy Story 4 to be making a hard-hitting commentary on the major social issues of the day, but how about they show some imagination?
Isn’t the major thing to do with children and toys nowadays that no one plays with toys? That they are all glued to devices? Wouldn’t that actually be a thing? Not that children grow up and inevitably move on allowing lots of ennui and emotional manipulation of the audience, but that brand new toys are abandoned more or less instantly because they aren’t as addictive as a device and YouTube? Toy Story 4 is a fantasy of idealised play from the creators’ childhoods that I doubt even reflects the experiences of their own kids.
Toy Story 4 almost manages to make a point about kids creating their own toys and not buying stupid merchandised crap. Except it doesn’t and – as I suspected – you can buy the crappy handmade toy that Bonnie makes from the Disney store.
See what they did there? The assholes. They commodified imagination.