The producers of X Factor NZ must have thought they'd struck gold when 29-year-old Shae Brider turned up to audition. Not because he's a musical genius. As we should realise by now, reality shows are about drama and sensationalism, not about the best, brightest or the most talented. So, no, it wasn't Brider's reggae version of a Slim Shady number that had them pluck him from the legions of hopefuls. It was the fact that Brider is a genuine, bad ass ex-con.
Having their very own tame jailbird would surely set the X Factor apart from its competition on the other channels.
So Brider appeared on X Factor this week, explaining why it was so important to share his talent with a wider audience.
Growing up was tough, he said in a soft-focus, prerecorded clip. His mother and father were violent to each other and to him, and he grew up in a gang environment in his late teens.
He spent six years in prison, he said, because one day he met some dudes and went to a bonfire. There was a commotion and one of them stabbed the other and he passed away. Brider said they were jointly charged with it and he ended up going to prison for six years. That's it. That's Brider's explanation for how a 16-year-old boy died a violent death and how he ended up inside for six years.
Nobody is convicted of manslaughter because there's a "commotion" and somebody "passes away".
Passing away is what people do peacefully in their own beds, surrounded by their loved ones, after living long and happy lives.
A 16-year-old boy who has been knifed by a wannabe gangsta doesn't "pass away". He dies a miserable death. Although Brider didn't put the knife into Jeremy Frew, he was one of a gang of thugs who attacked and assaulted Frew and three others that night in what the judge called "a rampage of violence".
Brider appealed his sentence, was retried and convicted again of manslaughter.
This time, the judge decided the evidence increased Brider's share of the blame.
His sentence was increased by 12 months to 8 years. So we're not talking a reluctant youth, somebody who was too cowed to stand up to the rest of the group and who was bullied into participating. This was a 19-year-old who knew exactly what he was doing - and he was judged to be culpable for Frew's death.
Mediaworks' mealy-mouthed response was that Brider has paid his debt to society - and he has. He has spent a significant time in prison and since he's come out, he's kept his nose clean, apart from a driving offence.
But he clearly has absolutely no insight into what he has done and his deliberate attempt to sanitise and minimise his role in the killing of a teenager is appalling.
Perhaps Brider lacks the intelligence and empathy to understand what he has done, but the X Factor producers must be held accountable for allowing his whitewashed version of events to go to air. They have since announced they will screen an apology to Frew's family but it's far too little, far too late. Yes, everyone is entitled to a second chance.
But only after you've acknowledged to yourself and others the full implications of what you have done. It was an opportunity lost. Brider could have made a powerful case against violence to his young audience based on his life experiences.
But it's the producers of X Factor who are most at fault. In their desperate attempt to ramp up ratings, they chose to exploit a young man's death and a family's grief.
The Remuneration Authority, the body that sets MPs' wages, says it is duty bound to bestow whopping pay increases on MPs, especially cabinet ministers, because "based on current movements in remuneration for top-level executive positions, the gap between market remuneration and the remuneration of senior members of the Executive and Parliament is increasing ... "
Excuse me? How many cabinet ministers, how many MPs from previous governments have been snapped up by the private sector into top-level jobs?
How many of them have uniquely individual skills and talents that will be appreciated by the sector? This is not a rhetorical question - I don't know the answer - but I'd venture to suggest bugger all.
Most of the people who make it into Parliament will never be able to demand the salaries and perks that they receive during their time in Wellington and to compare them to high-level private sector executives is insulting to the executives.
I'm not talking about grey washing - when former MPs are recycled back into publicly-funded jobs by their mates.
I want to know how many former ministers and MPs have been snapped up by privately-owned companies and offered the same salaries the Remuneration Authority says they need to be paid in recompense for their extraordinary talents.
Show me the backbenchers who can leave Parliament and walk into a job where they can demand nearly $150,000 a year, plus perks, and I'll accept the Remuneration Authority's reasoning.
And though there are some cabinet ministers from former governments who can demand their same $270,000-odd salaries in the private sector - Tony Ryall, Simon Power and Steve Maharey spring to mind - where are the others?
As for the responses to the pay rise - oh, we don't want it, we're so embarrassed, it's not us, it's the authority - spare me.
As one of my texters put it so succinctly: "The government can send troops to Iraq but they can't refuse a pay rise?" These unjustified pay rises have to stop. Because the vast majority of our MPs simply are not worth it.
• Kerre McIvor is on NewstalkZB Monday-Thursday, 8pm-midnight.