Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: Bravo TV - numbing us all to the world's problems

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Weldon's last act delivers mainline of bottled overseas reality.
Mark Weldon. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Mark Weldon. Photo / Mark Mitchell

When MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon resigned, the tribute flowed in. That's not a typo. There was only one tribute. It came from Rachel Glucina, the editor of Scout, a MediaWorks web page devoted to celebrity gossip the way Isis is devoted to machetes.

"The most visionary & inspiring leader I've ever had the pleasure to work with has resigned," tweeted Glucina, like an Apple employee mourning Steve Jobs.

The departure of jobs does sum up Weldon's time at MediaWorks - like all media right now - but that's arguably the exact brief he was given. Like a person standing at a packed concert, blocked by people in front of him, he inspired heads to roll until his vision became clear.

Revealed before him was Bravo. Yes! The channel formerly known as Four, aimed at youth, would transubstantiate into Bravo, aimed at women. Bravo would be all-reality, all the time, and would debut with a new show, The Real Housewives of Auckland.

This was his vision.

The right people would watch, the right advertisers would pay, and the balance sheet would be a work of art. There'd be parties just outside the territorial waters of Panama.

His vision is not my cup of tea, but my opinion is irrelevant. I can see what I want elsewhere. Beauty is in the eye of the demographic, and I couldn't be less targeted by Bravo. Even with a cast of neighbourhood MILFs, Real Housewives of Auckland could be a drone strike on my house and it wouldn't even claim me as collateral damage. I'd take fewer precautions to accidentally see Medusa.

So who am I to even judge?

I'm not a MediaWorks shareholder.

MediaWorks is a private company, in business to do business.

Let the American hosepipe deliver bottled reality from overseas and let the dopamine cartels keep us quiet, leading us away from the protest march and towards the water cooler, where we can vent delicious TV anger at the fictitious characters of reality.

Meanwhile, the stories we're not clicking on are about the Overseas Investment Office - whose one job is to ask if a big-ticket land purchaser from overseas is a criminal - rubber-stamping land purchases in New Zealand by overseas buyers so flamboyantly criminal, so moustache-twirlingly, Bond-villainly responsible for spreading toxic waste in their own country, that Google knows about it.

Not to mention the Prime Minister's personal lawyer muscling a minister not to touch our laws on foreign trusts, and our Prime Minister stepping in, with his renowned super-memory, to "clarify" what his lawyer said.

The only thing stopping us being a banana republic is that we're not a republic.

Not to mention New Zealand water exports, sourced basically free.

These stories are kale - we want dessert. These stories are hard subjects. They require reading. Our brows would furrow, and that would not be flattering for us, long-term.

Better to watch Bravo and get the brain equivalent of Botox, numbing everything 'til it seizes so we can look upon all our world's problems with the Buddha-like equanimity of frozen features.

How you spend your disposable time is your business, you're right. Veg how you like. But I do despair. At least when I watch Game of Thrones, I feel like they're striving for quality.

The only glimmer of hope is that nobody ever clicked on Scout, except by accident.

Or perhaps yesterday, to see what a hagiography they could polish up about Mark Weldon. The shunning of Scout is one sign that our appetites can't be totally manipulated, and there is a basement level we won't descend beneath.

Gossip and news are different wavelengths on the same spectrum. Every news story, in a way, is dirt. But news has a noble aspect, speaking truth to power, blowing the whistle on abuse of power, and generally throwing investigative tomatoes with righteous indignation. Maybe to make a difference. But journalists who should be our surrogates, doing the hard reading, are too busy trawling Twitter, looking for nuggets that spike instant anger. Until they can turn these stories into slideshows, we won't click on them. And when we don't click, the market has spoken.

In his resignation statement, Weldon said his job's personal cost was too high. Did the personal cost surprise him?

Surely when he took the job, Weldon knew the business he was getting into was politics.

- NZ Herald

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Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan's books of humour include ‘America on 5 Bullets a Day’ and ‘An Asian at my Table’. Before comedy, he graduated with honours in law and his legal research was published in the New Zealand Law Journal. His TV work includes a documentary in which he trained to be a casino croupier. He once held his breath for 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Visit RaybonKan.com

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