Watch Out for Ordinary Blokes and Giggling Blondes
Last Sunday I flicked through the paper and gasped: there was quintessential ordinary bloke and shock jock Paul Henry coming to grace our television screens with a blonde in tow. So 1950s, Mad Men. I couldn’t watch that series. I had endured a slightly addled adolescence thanks to the culture of the time. But it was a breeze compared with the terrible damage to women friends and co-workers grappling with their sexuality, enforced ignorance thereof, stereotyped roles and male privilege. I foolishly hoped the women’s liberation movement had tsunamied that culture out of existence but reckoned without the media.
My daughter in law also flicked through the paper and cried out in anguish: ‘Paul Henry’. We agreed about the blonde’s ‘role’. I thought she wasn’t named. Doubly insulting? Decided to harangue TV3, remembered there was a website in the small print and found blonde’s name on same line. But I won’t name her for conflicting reasons. Was she spoofing her role? Would that make her complicit in sexism? Is being a blonde a prerequisite for tv work? Or did she just need food on her plate?
The political implications of Henry’s reappearance also gnawed. Another horrible memory flashed back. In 2008 (an election year) I was subjected to Henry’s TV1 breakfast show while waiting for radiation treatment. Oh the joy when my name was called. Henry’s overt partisanship shocked and the giggling blonde (not the same one) was downright offensive.
So I girded my loins and watched tape of Henry’s opening show. He was fairly lowkey. The blonde giggled, some technical hitch? Then she giggled again, Henry did something offscreen? Words fail me.
Does Henry remind you of anyone? Mike Hoskins? Tom Scott’s cartoon on Thursday morning says it all. Question: Mike, do you think the rise in 7-Sharp’s viewer numbers is because the common man, the ordinary bloke, can relate to you? Mike, bubbly in hand: What a ghastly thought. I sincerely hope not …..
Funny how the dog-whistle politics of National persuasion have surfaced on both channels in an election year. The juxtaposition of the ordinary bloke and women voters (the latter now attracting considerable attention from both the main parties) poses challenges for Labour’s spin doctors. If it promotes Shane Jones as their ordinary bloke I believe Key will probably be a shoo in. In a family interrogation close to torture I was asked who I would vote for if I had to choose between John Key or Shane Jones. I finally crumpled and whimpered ‘John Key’. Thank heavens real life is not quite so cruel.