First let's get some substance into this column. With the farewell set of magic wishes that Obama has, he should pardon Edward Snowden, and anoint him immune from any legal harms, forever and ever. (This is the legal kevlar that shields people like George W Bush, Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, and all the bankers who committed and profited from the GFC.)
A shortcut would be for Snowden to be adopted, literally adopted like a step-son, by an Illuminati-esque family, the kind of family where sons get named after their fathers, and numbered like kings, with Roman numerals, because generations of the loaded know when they're onto a good thing, so why mess with a first name that's obviously charmed?
Okay, enough substance. Now, onto the headlines.
Real Housewives. It seems to me maybe they should have called Real Housewives 'The Amazing Racist.' The Blockhead?
Without having to watch the show, the matrix has made me aware that one character called another character a racist word. The worst racist word. Later, when called on it, she thought it might be helpful to correct the context.
She denied she'd said "house-(terrible word)"; rather she'd said "boat-(terrible word.)" The correction did not help.
Like Marie Antoinette helpfully volunteering that cake might help those without bread, this went down like, well, a sinking boat.
It turns out that the class of asset (house, versus boat) used in front of the terrible racist word, wasn't the bone of contention.
We all know there's a big difference between a house and a boat. Especially at Auckland prices.
A house will go up in value. A boat, meanwhile, is a used car which has been driven off a pier, into salt water. One is an investment. The other, if you're lucky, is an insurance claim.
But even though we've been told about sticks and stones, the truth is that insults can be gut-punches.
All of us ethnics are one word away from feeling terrible, diminished, banished, our faces and skin tone the yellow star that sends us off on the wrong train.
I know how all the Asian insults feel, and each one hurts so much, it's way easier for me to discuss this fracas over the N-word.
One Asian insult, which is also a legit word, often associated with armour, always makes me cringe, like nails on a chalkboard.
(At a comicbook convention, I once met a guy who made chain-mail vests for movies. I didn't put one on - because I didn't want to be the ch*** in the armour. True story.)
So I have a feel for the blunt trauma of the N-word.
For the Real Housewife who said the N-word, her defence was that she wasn't a racist, but rather, an idiot.
This seems an unusual plea bargain, but on the bright side, it demonstrates that being branded racist, in NZ, still bears a stigma. (In Trump's America, Brexit-UK, and turn-back-the-boats Australia, racism has become a valid consumer choice, a taste to be marketed to.)
Racism is chic. Just this week, here in Sydney, in daylight, a couple of kids (16? 13?) pranked me. Without me noticing, they got really close, then made me jump by making a sudden and loud vomiting-noise right in my ear. Oh ha ha.
I couldn't help but wonder: why me? Would they have picked on someone of a different shade?
Obviously, it's a minor incident - nobody got hurt - but take my word, it's enough to ruin your day.
(I hesitate to even mention it, partly because I don't wish to typecast myself, but also partly because the incident makes me feel ashamed. Weird, right? How do I win this? Damn right I'm Asian! So what?)
But insults are only the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to race nowadays.
Casting (and think about how that relates to the word 'caste') is the rest of the iceberg.
Walk around Auckland, and compare the faces you see in the street, to the faces you see on the screen.
With the racial make-up of NZ, the fact that six Real Housewives didn't include anyone Polynesian, Asian, or Indian, says something about who's welcome on screen: who belongs. (OK, maybe it tells us about trophy brides, old money, or the type of people smart enough not to be involved.)
Think back: how many Bachelorettes weren't white?
And while we buy the formats from America, and become a branch office, or a colony of what America takes for granted, let's think about reflecting the real reality.