Watching Simon Barnett mouthing some cliched pap in front of photogenic rubble in an ad the other night, I got to thinking about how the earthquake has been treated as a stage by celebrities and the government to advance their own agendas.
The ad came on during the world cup final. One of my mates who was over to watch commented that the rubble behind Barnett looked like it had been arranged in neat piles. On closer inspection, there was also a fire engine conveniently parked in the background too. Barnett was speaking some cliched crap, asking for money for the Mayoral Relief Fund. The whole thing could have been produced on a Hollywood soundstage. The insult, though, was that he appeared to be filming within the red zone, which lesser mortals are still not allowed into.
As one of the guys commented, you would be far more likely to donate if it was an ordinary guy showing you his house and street ‘it’s pretty munted, eh? We’re surviving but it’s tough. With all the jobs disappearing, people are struggling to make ends meet. If you can donate a few bucks, we would all really appreciate it. Cheers.’
Instead, the people really in need are hidden away and some ‘celeb’ is appointed to speak for them.
It was the same at the memorial service. Did we hear the people who have been really affected? Nah. There may have been one or two ordinary people involved in the ceremony but I didn’t see them because it was hijacked by the elite. A prince, a governor-general, a prime minister, a mayor – all repeating the same pointless cliches. I couldn’t listen to more than a few seconds at the time before flicking over to something else. Dave Dobbyn performing the same song he used for the America’s Cup theme tune just topped it off. It proved this was a made for TV event – not about the affected people of Christchurch. No wonder they stayed away in droves; 70,000 fewer than expected showed up.
John Key’s decision to choose his mate Mark Weldon to had the Government Christchurch Appeal (which, bizarrely, is not a government body according to Weldon and not subject to the OIA) and Gerry Brownlee’s use of the PR company he hired just before the second quake to publish newspaper ads trying to convince us progress is happening when it isn’t make clear the government’s approach to the quake will be the same as everything else: elitism and staged-managed events designed to distract us from the lack of actual progress.
Speaking of lack of progress, has the government chosen a supplier for the temporary houses yet? The Japanese have been actually constructing temporary houses since 8 days after the Tohoku Earthquake and plan to build 60,000 units. Here we are 42 days after the quake and the government doesn’t even know who it wants to build them, let alone when it will have them up.
[update typical. No sooner had I written and scheduled this and the govt updates its temporary housing plans. We’re assured a Kiwi firm will get the job and next week, 50 days after the quake, we’ll be told who will be building and when they’ll start]