Hard News by Russell Brown


Postmodern Banks Anxiety

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that a few people have taken the fake John Banks Twitter account for the real thing. Not everyone enjoys the modern ability to parse irony that is the birthright of the digital native. And Banks himself makes for a tough read, given that he does sometimes say some truly unfathomable shit.

But yes, it's a satirical work – if not one of any surpassing merit.

It is not as good, for example, as Sir Robert Muldoon ("The greatest Prime Minister New Zealand has ever had"), who tweets irascibly from beyond the grave. Sir Rob has a heart of gold. Over the weekend, he auctioned off the opportunity to share a scotch with his spectral presence, proceeds to the Canterbury earthquake appeal. Bidding met the $20 reserve.

So Sir Rob's all right. But whoever writes the fake Paul Holmes Twitter account (stab in the dark: Paul Little) is possessed of a little genius. Paul's soul rages; he is funny and pithy; he spits and swears like you'd imagine a humorous character based on Paul Holmes might do.

But there's an unmistakeable affection there, and I think that's an important factor in successful satirical impersonations on Twitter. Take Corporal Willie Apiata, whose author (stab in the dark: Taika Waititi) has invested our ultimate soldier with the characteristics of the bro we'd like him to be. (Usefully, one must say, given that the real Apiata apparently does not exactly light up the room.)

And I suspect this is where fake John Banks will founder – it's hard to maintain a persona you don't like and stay engaging.

It's also difficult to maintain a good fake Twitter persona for an extended period. The events that made your jape relevant will pass, and unless you've really inhabited your character, the joke will run out. I feared Her Majesty the Queen was going that way after Britain finally got its government, but the Pope's visit has added a new contemporary relevance ("Text from the Pope: feels he's regained the moral upper hand from Bono.")

Perhaps the cleverest recent impersonator isn't an impressionist but a translator. Queen's English 50c provides prompt translations of the is-this-shit-for-real Twitterstream of the actual 50 Cent. So "Ok I'm back I just shaved the poodle so now every one knows I'm blow job ready," is rendered as "My penis no longer resembles a show-dog. Oral sex can commence." There was even a short spell of Latin translations which, I'm sure you will agree, is classy stuff.

But one thing that amuses me – and not in a nice way – about the Banks story is the bleating of Banks' "spokesman" (is that new?) Aaron Bhatnagar, explaining that this is "a genuine case of someone impersonating John Banks ... so we've put in a complaint to Twitter's management people." Also, that "Clearly this is someone who is up to unpleasant political mischief."

Yes, that is the same Aaron Bhatnagar who in a previous municipal election campaign created and maliciously edited Wikipedia articles on his political rivals, tried clumsily to cover his tracks and then whined loudly and disingenuously when one of his victims wondered if something could be done about it. I'm sorry, but what a dick.


Extra stupidity bonus content:

Andrew Geddis on Pundit exposes the National and Act Party members of the Law and Order select committee for the chumps they are, noting not only that their support for Paul Quinn's Electoral (Disqualification of Convicted Prisoners) Amendment Bill is unprincipled, but that their recommendations inadvertently extend the right to vote to the very worst criminals currently in our jails.

"They are not only moral pygmies, but they are really, really dumb," he writes.

At the Dim Post, Danyl examines the committee membership and concludes "Melissa Lee, Shane Ardern, David Garrett, Sandra Goudie – I’m amazed the bill wasn’t written in crayon with fairy dust and bits of macaroni glued to it."

On Red Alert, Labour's Carmel Sepuloni was onto a winner with her description of John Banks' bizarre behaviour at a public meeting in South Auckland – right up until she made a crack about Banks' son. Back the fuck off, Carmel. Whatever problems anyone has with Banks as a candidate do not provide licence to bring his children into it.

Steven Price captures nicely the spirit of the appalling Earthquake Response and Recovery Act when he says it "reads like a far-fetched doom-laden Public Law exam problem. And now it's law."

And David Farrar inadvertently sums up the blogging right's humour deficit by presenting a Len Brown campaign ad edited, as usual with clenched fists and dull malice, by the tragic Cameron Slater.

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