Written By: - Date published: 8:21 am, November 11th, 2012 - 53 comments
Categories: business, culture, democracy under attack, Environment, Minister for Overseas Holidays, tourism, workers' rights - Tags: film industry
In the latest installment of saga of John Key selling out NZ to Hollywood, we can see just how low our PM is prepared to go. He’s undermined New Zealand workers’ rights in order to sell NZ’s identity and tourist industry to Warners, the TPP and beyond. John Key has no shame: he is strongly aligning his role as NZ minister of tourism, with this ill-fated Hobbit saga. This seems to be promoting John Key’s reputation with the US corporates and government over the best interests of NZ.
Today, a Stuff article shows exactly how much John Key has sold NZ to Warners.
Tourism NZ sought approval from Warner Bros for every aspect of its $10 million “Middle-earth” marketing campaign – even checking with the film studio over issues that did not directly concern it, official papers show.
The documents, released under the Official Information Act, reveal the extent of the company’s sway over the government agency’s “100% Pure Middle-earth” marketing strategy, as well as the influence of Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films.
In an earlier post I showed how the Hobbit actors union dispute resulted in NZ workers’ rights being undermined. As I quoted in that post, Nigel Haworth (2011) made this excellent summing up the outcomes of the dispute.
Thus, analytically, the New Zealand state simultaneously conceded, financially and legislatively, to the global film sector whilst taking the opportunity to further its ER liberalisation and attack the domestic trade union movement.
In a later post, I argued that the massive promotion of the Hobbit involved piggy-backing the branding of New Zealand as 100% Middle-earth on the earlier branding as 100% Pure, all to please Hollywood. Statistical evidence shows this is not the best way to promote NZ as a tourist destination. The focus on attracting US tourists is misplaced, and only shows how much John Key is in awe of, and a lackey for US corporates, especially the razzle-dazzle of the Hollywood industry.
Others agree that this extensive selling out of NZ, is not likely to provide the benefits promised. In an op ed piece in Stuff today, Tony Wall asks, Isn’t it time we kicked the Hobbit?
Tourism NZ is relying on hobbits to boost a flagging industry, promising that the coming Peter Jackson films will be bigger than the Rugby World Cup. But some experts warn it’s a risky strategy and not a true reflection of who we are.
It’s not enough that Key’s government has turned NZ’s 100% Pure image into a farce with the withdrawal from Kyoto2, but this intensive selling of NZ to Hollywood is becoming cringe-worthy, as Wall reports:
Simon Milne, director of the New Zealand Tourism Research institute, says the approach could be counter-productive with the “high-yield, experienced, knowledgeable traveller”, who could see the Middle-earth comparison as “naff”. …
Milne believes the 100% Pure campaign has reached its use-by date, with international media already pointing out the hypocrisy.
“We have to be careful about branding ourselves Middle-earth. It’s not who we are, it’s a film set. We need to do more than that, we have to go deeper than that. If we look at global trends in tourism, there’s a real focus on authenticity.”
Milne says the films might provide a short-term benefit, but does not believe they will lead to a sustained increase in visitors.
In The Guardian in October, Toby Manhire was also not entirely convinced by the shift to 100% Middle-earth branding. And he makes a wry comment about how far this is from Tolkien’s vision of Middle-earth from 1930s Oxfordshire. He reports how the 100% Middle-earth branding has engulfed TVNZ, Air NZ, commemorative stamps and coins, and Wellington Council. This relies on NZ’s highly skilled crews and digital animators, but is now being undermined by the high NZ dollar.
It’s not enough that this government is destroying our economy and culture, increasing unemployment, and demonising those struggling most to survive on low incomes, but it is selling out our government and democracy to US corporates.