Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Opening up the Vote

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Paul Casserly watched VOTE 2014, because he knew you didn’t.
Prime Minister John Key and Labour party leader, David Cunliffe. Photo / NZH; HOS
Prime Minister John Key and Labour party leader, David Cunliffe. Photo / NZH; HOS

In a programming fumble on par with TV3 putting the Great Food Race up against Master Chef, our political night of nights (apart from election night) was on at the same time as the bloody rugby!

Even worse, my MySky box is playing up and acting like a top loading VHS recorder on the fritz. This made this review a time consuming and anger filled ordeal. Still, I love elections, and the opening addresses are always a good watch, usually a laugh, and always a great basis for a drinking game. The big parties get more time with some of the minnows having to dispatch their message in just a couple of minutes.

"Business is great, business is booming!" The opening words to the National Party TV campaign set the stage for the simple message that has been pushed by those rowing Smurfs on TV. Tonight's effort is as carefully crafted as an MKR promo. Key and Joyce walk and talk at the same time, as if they have been doing it all their lives. Bill English listens as Key yaps. Young people smile and say that they "like John Key." Paula Bennett appears next to Key, walking somewhere in a new corporate/westie outfit.

Girls with black lipstick reckon that "John Key has made us a stronger economic country." That's not the sort of thing girls in black lipstick should be saying, surely? They should be flipping the bird, spitting on the man, telling the pigs to go f**K themselves before crashing the Corolla through the fence. Oh well. Then we see our glorious leader meeting other glorious leaders, in an order that would get Winston fuming. First up the President of China, then America and then the dear old Queen. All the way through we are propelled by the unrelenting progress of that Olympic rowing contraption powering on through calm waters to an Eminem sound-a-like backing, on the way to the Audi and the bach and the 17 million dollars, hang on, that's Big Wednesday. Still, it was a slickly delivered message, and without the toxic visage of Judith Collins anywhere in sight let alone a whiff of Cameron Slater.

In the patsy interview that followed, (sounded like Janet Wilson asking the 'questions') Key said things like "stay the course" "step change" "emerging Asia" and "opportunity and growth" and the Key message of "strong and stable government". He nearly had my vote, but the mood was spoiled by a One News Update which interrupted with the words "Judith Collins says she has no plans to resign over her dealings with blogger Cameron Slater." All that planning, all those carefully crafted words, all for naught, as we get jolted back into reality. Although it has to be said that in actual reality no one was watching Vote 2014, thanks to the Bledisloe Cup.

Labour's message was just as slick and convincing, though less colour coordinated. Inspired I think by The Block. The first people we see arrive in a blue SUV. Maybe that was a subtle finger to the Greens? The scenario is a clever one. A whole bunch of ordinary kiwis (as well as Jacinda Ardern and an arts student) are converging on community hall in Onehunga, with brooms and buckets, and D.I.Y stuff. They look like they are going to do something "positive".

Cunliffe arrives in an older Mazda 6 - I'm guessing it's not his own car - and then hangs around outside chatting to the camera using words like "putting people first" "positive actions" "rising cost of living" "gap between rich and poor". He projects warmness down the lens like a pro as he turns on previously unseen charm. He could sell me carpet I thought. He's going to do some stuff to fix the country and he has an extension cord and some power tools. He is Bob the fricking builder. Meanwhile, Jacinda is in the flowerbed. Chris Hipkins is sitting on his arse outside, talking up the education policy.

Phil Twyford is helping paint the hall, but downs tools after 2 strokes to blab with some people about the Labour housing plan. Look there's Nanaia Mahuta in the shrubbery, Annette King is polishing the family silver, hopefully not in preparation for sale.

The Greens are next, though with less time on their hands and certainly not enough to fix up a hall. Russell and Metiria make the most of it by walking as they talk. No sign of dreadlocks or wacky baccy. This is corporate environmental.
Russell reminds us that he is a man of the people. He worked in a factory making Mitsubishi Magnas. Aren't they the things that caused global warming in the first place? Metiria used to work in a dairy, no doubt selling sugary drinks and pies. It's like a confessional. We see solar panels and hear that "it's not economy or environment, we can have both" also there's some "our beaches, our dolphins our rivers". The Green's are no longer nutters, they are "experienced and united". There is a celebrity appearance by Xena.

Sadly there were no gags from New Zealand First. Winnie is in front of a New Zealand flag and he looks grumpy. He wants to "make New Zealand great again." We see shots of beaches, mountains and people playing rugby. "We could and should be at the top of the world, or is what we have now is as good as it gets?" Reminded me of that film with Jack Nicholson.

United Future. A simple set up. Peter Dunne appears. There is no bow tie. There is no tie, just an open necked shirt. Is he on drugs? He lashed out at the far left and hard right, which I guess puts him in smack the middle. Sensible. And there he stood in the middle of the screen in a checked shirt, nude necked, in front of flax and a rock, "moving in the right direction" while standing perfectly still.

The New Zealand Independent Coalition is next. It's Brendan Horan and some mates. Brendan had a coffee. Took a ball of a kid in a pool. Locals talked him up. "Yeah, he's a nice fella".

ACT. Their bald white leader, Jamie White and his wife Zainab (she's from Mali and has a nice head of hair) wander in Africa as giraffes stroll around. Hang on that's not Africa that's millionaire and Act funder Alan Gibb's farm, complete with zoo grade pets and stunning artworks, some of which make Jamie and Zainab look like they are on the set of the Teletubbies. They want to make NZ better. They want to lock people up. "When I taught philosophy at Cambridge University I told students that ideas were the most powerful things in the world." I have no idea what he was on about.

Internet Mana had some brilliant looking animation that invoked the Jetsons with cartoon versions of Laila and Hone and Kim who had a golf club. It was set in the future and a cat dad was telling his human kids how Internet Mana had "fixed the environment and gave us faster computer's." Then he said "Kai pai everyone."

The Conservative Party. Colin Craig appears on stage in a spooky conference centre. It feels like a Hammer Horror. "There have been five referendum but how many has the government actually gone along with?" I guessed none, and was correct. Preaching to a room of bored looking people, he bagged John Key and Helen Clark. "Who employs them? We employ them ..." He doesn't like foreign owners and Maori seats. Must be a breast man.

Then came Ken Ringtone - I think that was his name. He appeared to have shot his ad on his phone. He is from the Focus New Zealand Party, "The Common Sense party" Ken reckoned. He likes old people. No tax for pensioners. He had googled some photos: People walking. Old people. A fern frond. Some images were pretty low res, but he was having a go. I like Ken.

Social Credit is back, via the Democrats for Social Credit. We see old footage of Bruce Betham. A nice lady reckons it's worth a go again as "you or members of your family may have voted for Social Credit."

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party reckon that "Cannabis saves lives." It's good for medical stuff too, though sadly there was no mention of how good it is for getting you wasted. I suppose that's a given.

Sadly the Maori Party pulled their ad at the last minute.

Watch Vote 2014, Opening Address here.

Next stop the leaders debate, Vote 2014, TV1 Thursday at 7pm.

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

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