Hard News by Russell Brown

Good Stupid

My partner Fiona Rae interviewed Matt Heath from Back of the Y this week.

Heath and his collaborator Chris Stapp came out of Dunedin and achieved cult status in New Zealand with home-made videos, then series on Triangle TV and TV2. They're now in London , making their programmes for MTV Europe and interviewing Geri Halliwell and Neil from The Yong Ones, among others.

Their Back of the Y Hollywood Special screened here on Tuesday night. It was robust, tasteless, cheap, unnerving and bloody funny. Especially the Russell Crowe stuff.

There was far too much interview to get into the New Zealand Herald story she was writing, so I've edited it and posted the whole 4500 words here.

Ever noticed that the people who bitch about "political correctness" are the same people who howl down anyone who offends their own sense of order?

We're seeing it again, with the National and New Zealand First leaders baying for the resignation of the Race Relations Conciliator because of a speech he made marking the United Nations Day for Cultural Heritage.

Joris de Bres compared the "cultural vandalism" of early colonial authorities in New Zealand with the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, "an appalling example of people of one culture wielding their power to destroy a site that was special to people of another".

For any number of reasons, this was an inappropriate metaphor. But if you read the speech (in PDF form here) the context is revealing. De Bres mentioned the Taleban because it was their destruction of the Bhuddas that prompted the declaration of the UN Day for Cultural Heritage in the first place.

His jump from Afghanistan to colonial Aotearoa was clumsy and contrived, and some of his history very rosily recalled - Maori did a reasonably good job of "unnecessarily destroying" some of their own "indigenous ecosystems" and were quite happy to forcibly sever each others' "cultural relationships" with their lands.

But colonising governments of New Zealand really were "egged on by land-hungry settlers" into actions that are now a matter of shame. The Maori language was deliberately suppressed - more because it was thought to be irrelevant than to be evil.

De Bres' speech was shaped as a challenging point of view, and to respond to a challenge of ideas by doing away with the man who brings it doesn't say much for our own maturity as a society.

Peters appeared to imply in Parliament that de Bres who had come over to tell us what to think about race relations. The irony is, of course, that Peter's deputy leader is an Englishman who has given us a steady stream of advice about race relations and immigration, most of it much more fanciful than anything uttered by the Race Relations Conciliator.