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Current as of 20/01/17 07:39PM NZST
James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: Flying high with a disco beat

Richard Simmons in the Air New Zealand advertisement. Photo / Supplied
Richard Simmons in the Air New Zealand advertisement. Photo / Supplied

There's no kind way of putting this, so I'm going to come right out and say it: clearly a number of people at Air New Zealand have gone insane.

I don't know why but Air New Zealand, undeniably, has gone completely bonkers. Maybe the ultra-competitive nature of the airline industry has led to a wave of stress-related psychological meltdowns among senior management. Or possibly when Snoop Dogg did his viral video with Rico, the official rodent of Air New Zealand. he left some potent pot behind and everyone at the company smoked up large until someone said, "Do you know who we should get to do out inflight safety message? Richard Simmons! You remember him right?" and then everyone laughed and clapped their hands, ate some more of Snoop's cookies, then got on the phone to Richard's agent and lo and behold ...

There is part of me that fervently wants to believe that the new Air New Zealand inflight safety video is an April Fool's Day joke that has gone too far.

I keep scanning the news for proof that our national carrier was carrying us all on a wave of mirth when they came up with the whole Sydney-Mardi-Gras-in-the-skies concept as a way of calming nervous fliers and fulfilling aviation regulations before their pilots kick the tyres and light the fires. But so far, nothing, and we're well past midday on April 1 now, so I have to presume the whole thing is real.

For those who haven't seen it, the "whole thing" I speak of is difficult to adequately describe without the aid of LSD. Suffice to say, if the desired end result is to leave their passengers speechless, then Air New Zealand is doing a fine job.

Imagine, if you will, travelling back in time to the worst 80s nightclub ever, one where the fitness-guru-who-time-forgot is shrieking at us, telling us to "do the pony" and that we are all giraffes, while all we're trying to do is stuff our newspapers and reading glasses into the back pocket of the seat in front, while also fighting for armrest space with the bloke next to us. Then, to a relentless disco beat, throw in some rather eccentric cameos by various celebrities, until the time Paul Henry pashes Richard Simmons you're ready to both activate the evacuation slides and evacuate your breakfast into the sick bag. Now you're starting to get the picture.

And the picture you're getting, quite frankly, is not reassuring. If, back in the couch, it is all flashing lights and fluoro headbands and really dodgy short-shorts, then what the hell is going on up in the VIP section of the club - commonly known as the cockpit? If we're having this much fun flying economy, what are the rockstars of the sky doing - daring each other to fly upside down under the harbour bridge? I mean, this is meant to be the bit where we're all paying attention to the serious message, right?

Then, quite apart from the tragic fashion, the dodgy subtext and the horror of Paul Henry snogging Richard Simmons, there is also the matter of the soundtrack to consider, because all of the video carryings-on outlined above are set to an amping version of a song most popularly performed by Yazz and the Plastic Population called The Only Way Is Up. Um, sorry for being picky, but isn't the whole point of air travel that "up" isn't actually the only way? That at the end of the "up" bit there is also a "down" bit, both of which are safely negotiated - the very cornerstone of successful travel.

Look, I have no problems with disco music, fluorescent lycra or Richard Simmons. Actually I do have problems with all three but that isn't the point.

The point is that there is a time and a place for everything. Okay maybe not for lycra and Simmons, but certainly there is a place for disco music.

That place is called a "discotheque" or "an early John Travolta film" not an aeroplane, when I'm trying to get my head around the idea I'm stuck in this flying submarine for the next 10 hours, jammed in like a sardine in a tin, next to this wheezing guy with body odour and no sense of personal space. Sorry Air New Zealand, but you had me back when you were all naked.

- NZ Herald

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James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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