Under-fire GC star: Critics are uptight

By Jarrod Booker

Cast of  the 'factual reality' TV show The GC which debuted on TV3 on Wednesday this week. Photo / Supplied
Cast of the 'factual reality' TV show The GC which debuted on TV3 on Wednesday this week. Photo / Supplied

A star of the country's most talked-about television show says those criticising the programme may be too uptight or suffering from tall poppy syndrome.

"The more they get to know us, I feel the more they will become more comfortable with us ... and see us as a cousin or relative more than someone that's just a waste of time on television," said one of the cast of The GC, Arapita 'Alby' Waititi.

The "factual reality" show following a group of young Maori on the Gold Coast outrated 3News and Campbell Live and became a trending topic worldwide on Twitter when it debuted on TV3 on Wednesday night.

It also drew scathing remarks online and spawned a Facebook page called "Cancel The GC TV Show", which by yesterday had been 'liked' by more than 8500 users.

Some broadcasters argue the $420,000 of taxpayer money put into the show through NZ On Air could be used to tell "real" Maori stories, and even Gold Coast tourist operators are concerned about the show's impact.

Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter believes The GC is sending the wrong message to a market suffering from the effects of the high Australian dollar and Christchurch earthquake.

"We don't want to stereotype drugs, sex and booze - what we want to do is promote the image of the Gold Coast as being a healthy family fun destination," he told Brisbane's Courier Mail.

"For The GC series to have a broader positive effect on the city it needs to successfully show the larger qualities of life in the region and avoid the cliched Jersey Shore format."

Mr Waititi, 28, a second cousin of film-maker Taika Waititi, suspected some people were taking the show too seriously.

"There's the hikoi with New Zealand 'not for sale' that's happening at the moment, and that to me is more of an issue than the show itself."

While some of the criticism was "a little bit disappointing", the former model turned personal trainer and youth mentor sees it as the viewers' prerogative.

"People need to just embrace (the show). Just the fact that there's Maori on television - it's all positive. We have a lot of talent and we're just not getting out there enough. There's that saying, the tall poppy syndrome."

Asked if that might be behind some of the criticism, Mr Waititi said: "To some degree, yes. Definitely".

Tapaeru Houia, whose son Zane also stars, said her son did not go seeking to "make a name for himself" - the show came to him.

"I guess as a mother, or any parent, you don't like to hear anything negative about your own children, do you? But in saying that, that's life. People are entitled to have their say."

"I'm proud of my son - my husband and myself - but we were proud of him before this (show). The show itself, I watched it. All I can say is I just think they are awesome. They are young, they are Maori, and they are out there and they are living a good life."

Mrs Houia struggles to see why some people have been so severe in their criticism.

"Is it because they are young, and they're Maori, and they're tattooed up, and they're sitting over there in Australia, not here in New Zealand? I don't know."

TV3 says 413,400 viewers aged five or older watched the first episode of The GC, including 42 per cent of Maori watching television.

TVNZ says the programmes on its channels at the same time, Animal Rescue and 2 Broke Girls, both grabbed larger shares of the overall audience of viewers aged five and older.

A Maori broadcaster, who asked not to be named out of fear of how it would affect her career, told the Weekend Herald that some who fought to get more Maori content on television would be "rolling over in their graves" to see such a programme using public money.

Maori broadcasters were trying to get funding to tell the "real" Maori stories rather than The GC's "smiling brown faces".

- NZ Herald

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