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October 16, 2006 | by  | in Features |
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The First Annual Salient Awards, For Questionable Contributions to Humanity

SALIENT gets misty with the end of the year in sight and hands out certificates to those who we feel have made a real difference in 2006.

Blanket-man

2006 will always be known as the year that Blanket-man changed. Got a little cooler, a bit more risqué, and let’s not forget edgy.

Wellington has always liked shit things. Hell, we idolise the Aro-grade zombies who do nothing but dress in recycled clothing and reject shoes. And that’s why Blanket-man goes down so well. He’s the ultimate in DIY indiecool, he showed an already hip-city that you don’t even need a home to be cool. 2006 has seen the advent of Blanket-man masturbating publicly, performing roadside cunnilingus (and I don’t kid you here) and getting arrested for driving a car. 2005 saw Brother looking for commercial real estate, but this was the year that saw Blanket-man make the papers for his vehicular antics, the year he got an Ipod, and the year he was spotted with a roll of $50s and a slightly fancier pipe to smoke his stickyicky from.

Wellington will soon face the chilling reality that the rest of the world has moved past our dub-numbed minds, but has Blanketman moved on? Is he tired of the sickening sounds of the Wellington street? Is he slowly developing a secret life that will take him off the streets? Where was he going in that car? God knows what Blanket-man’s secret life would entail when his not-so-secret one involves public nudity and incoherent grunting at passers by while drugged out of his mind. Wellington is a city that has pioneered insular and pointless celebrity and Blanket-man is too good an example of this.

And if he is making the step-up (three picture deal with Paramount? His own TV show at Avalon studios, Brother Time?) then who will take his place as the street celebrity du jour? Will it be the crazy bearded lady who hangs out in and around the New World Metro? Up-right smoking guy? Manners Mall’sslightly sullen News Boy look alike, who somehow always has a can of Ranfurly at hand despite having no discernable job? Oh, the homeless. All of these are questions we can only wait to be addressed in 2007.

James Robinson

Don Brash

Honest Don, while remaining gentlemanly enough not to talk over a woman, doesn’t mind cheating on one. We’ve always been a wannabe mini-version of United States and England politics. Our leaders aren’t cool enough to use cigars, jockey-whips or tampons. Instead they do business while doing business, and then tell you to mind your own business. But that doesn’t answer the question as to how he does it?

How does Don – a boring, conservative, Grim-Reaper look alike, manage to pull a lot of women? It’s a question that will baffle generations to come. At least Clinton is an attractive hunk of a man. John Profumo scored an absolute hottie. Prince Charles, well, he’s the product of in-breeding. But Brash, he’s got some brains, and was a Guv’nor of a bank that plays with imaginary money, but honestly. In the crucial sofa-versus-wildcat debate (as in what would they be like in the sack), Brash would clearly come out as an antique couch which you can’t lie on because the cushion has been worn out. Again, I wonder, how does he do it?

How could Brash cheat on Je Lan? Did he do a quantum blood test and find out that she wasn’t Chinese enough to play the ‘I love minorities’ card in the next election campaign? What about the saying “once you’ve gone Asian, you can’t go Caucasian?” I know, Caucasian and Asian “rhyme” with the same word, but his wife is a demure suck-up while Diane Foreman looks like the complete opposite. Does Don just like leather and chains? It’s always the people you least suspect. Would Brash have taken time off to sort out his marriage if it wasn’t going to suddenly blow up in the media? But all this doesn’t answer the question, how on earth does he do it?

This all led to people who hate Don Brash hypocritically wringing their hands in glee while highlighting Brash’s own hypocrisy. The people who loved Don Brash came out of the wood-work to accuse Helen Clark’s husband of coming out of the closet. Judith Collins just cried because no-one was listening to her personal attacks anymore. And Clark continued to get judged on her appearance simply because she is a woman, while the media became even more superficial in its analysis of politics. Our national politics descended into the farcical proportions of student politics, or was it vice versa? All this still doesn’t answer, how-oh-how does Brash do it? But to be honest, all this really shows is that people who are moralistic are fuck-ups like the rest of us.

Brannavan Gnanalingam

Hugo Chavez

Everyone’s favourite South American revolutionary autocrat, Hugo Chavez (sorry Evo Morales) had a blinder of a year in 2006, making steady progress in all his stated intentions, including buying the love of other nations with oil money, dissing George Bush and promoting the works of Noam Chomsky.

Never one to miss a chance to rattle a few Western cages, this people’s champion of Venezuela has spent the last ten months jet-setting around the world with an almost impossible task in mind, convincing the developing and impoverished nations of the world to hate George Bush. To this end he’s visited Portugal, Belarus, Russia, Qatar, Syria, Iran, Vietnam, Mali, Benin, China, Malaysia and the summit of the African Union, but despite Chavez’s intense campaigning style and obvious commitment to anti-America rabble-rousing, Bush still refuses to guarantee Venezuela Iraq’s coveted old spot in the Axis of Evil. Perhaps it is in reaction to this spurning that Chavez has increased his efforts to claim Latin America’s revolving seat on the UN Security Council.

These efforts don’t come cheap though, and are to a large extent bankrolled by Venezuela’s extensive petroleum deposits, the fifth largest in the world. Chavez has made good use of his relatively stable oil supply in 2006 to prop up his reputation among developed countries more prone to scepticism regarding populist demagogues. Highlights included a deal to provide subsidised oil to poor American families in the New York area.

On the home-front, Chavez has maintained a high profile with his daily appearances on his live chat show Alo Presidente!, where he fields questions from the callers at home like some perverse love child of Mary Lambie and Helen Clark. On a more sour note, el presidente has come under steady criticism by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who are no doubt pawns of the imperial oppressor Bush, though this has not damaged his standing with both the urban and rural poor. Perhaps his defining moment for 2006 however, was his speech to the United Nations where he pointedly referred to Bush as “the devil”: pointy ears, curly tail, hooves and all. All the smaller countries seemed to like it, and word on the street was that it met with sustained applause, but then the American ambassador yelled that, and I paraphrase, “if they didn’t stop clapping he’d take down names and bomb them all the way back to the fucking stone age.”

Nicholas Holm

Tom Cruise

With his charming smile and barely suppressed homosexuality, there appeared to be little standing in the way between Tom Cruise and complete mastery of the universe. That was, at least, until he leapt a couch on prime-time and his whole world began to collapse around him. Somewhere, swept out the back of Oprah’s studio is a still-steaming pile of Tom Cruise’s career, squeaking “help me…”

2006 was Cruise’s year for making things more difficult for himself, from his thetan-driven rampage that ended in a public relations war with South Park, his private spat with Paramount over “controversial public relations and views”, and then he topped it all off by having a CGI baby with Katie Holmes. Have you seen that thing? Suri Cruise looks like she escaped from an episode of The Twilight Zone. The boys at Weta really did themselves proud with that one.

On a positive note he did find some downtime from ruining his life to act in and produce Mission Impossible III, which managed to revive the flagging franchise and with it some chance of future work if The Last Samurai 2: Godzilla’s Revenge fails to find financial backing. Let’s face it. The man is tending towards chubby, the poor man’s fat, which is a good as a death sentence in this crazy mixed-up image conscious world we live in. Scientology played an increasingly large role in Cruise’s life in 2006 as he lashed out at the pseudo-science of psychiatry which he claimed was a Nazi science, which is pretty much common knowledge anyway. Cruise would know, he’s an ‘Operating Seven Thetan’. Maybe Paramount were jealous or something, which could be why they fired him this year, though they do apparently still like him as a person. Which was all, of course, little more than a brief diversion when compared with what will no-doubt go down as the most inspiring Cruise moment in human history, the inaugural ‘Tom Cruise Day’ in Japan last week. I shit you not, 10 October, look it up on your calendar and you’ll probably see Cruise’s grinning face gawking back at you encouraging you to combat the evil lord Zenu and submit your anal virginity to him. Those wacky Japanese.

Nicholas Holm

Flight of the Conchords

There are some questions that are so pertinent they poke you in the face. Seriously. “Why can’t a heterosexual guy tell a heterosexual guy that his booty is fly?” must be one of them. Oh, the lyrical genius that is the Flight of the Conchords. Until recently most famous for being New Zealand’s fourth most popular digi-folk parodists, FOTC (as they will be referred to from now on. Not to be confused with LOTR, which coincidentally one Conchord, Brett McKenzie, had a brief but memorable role in as Figwit. Which is actually also an acronym for Frodo is gorgeous… who is that?! As all capewearing Aragorn-quoting geeks will know. I’m not one of them. No, seriously…) have reached all new levels of celebritydom since HBO comissioned them to create a 12 part series called, funnily enough, Flight of The Conchords. Love that American subtlety.

They’ve actually been around for quite some time, entertaining kiwis with such comic gems as ‘Albi the Racist Dragon’ and ‘Think About it (Think, think about it)’, not that anyone who missed their live shows would know, considering how they’ve been systematically ignored by those guardians of our cultural heritage i.e TVNZ. As FOTC explained, “We don’t blame TVNZ for turning down our idea. In all honesty, it didn’t fit with their high quality, intriguing television programming such as Top of the Class.” Not to mention Dancing with the Stars.

Also known as the Hiphopopotamus and The Rhymenocerouz, these guys rock my fucking world. I would gladly be a playmate to their Hefner(s), and perform all sorts of degrading acts in order to gaze and listen. And not just because they have such wonderful views of female beauty, exemplified in ‘The Most Beautiful Girl In The Room’: “You’re so beautiful/ You could be a part-time model/ You’re like one of those girls I’ve been chatting to in the chatrooms/ Mmm/ Slut angel 22 @ yahoo.” Like I said, genius.

Who else could pull off pretending to be a girl who mistakes a man sitting in a park for a man that she once had a picnic with then adopted a child with who then realises she’s got the wrong guy? Only Brett. And only Jemaine Clement (of Untold Tales of Maui fame) could sing “No doubt about it/ We’d be getting crazy/ If one of us was lucky enough to be born a lady” and still be hot. Wonderfully hot. Hot like a curry. Mmmhmm yeah, it’s Business Time.

Tiana Mead

Joseph Kony

African Conflicts don’t really get much press round these parts. It could be because white people sorted out civilisation by 1900 (let’s not think about World War One, World War Two, the Holocaust or the Cold War) while black people haven’t sorted their acts out yet – so no-one really cares. Jeff Wilson’s bombed try in the Bledisloe Cup test in 1994 got more coverage than the Rwandan massacre. Maybe it’s because those Africans don’t stick to the countries Europe put them in.

But how about Joseph Kony? This guy would be the Ugandan equivalent of Blanket-Man, but he’s actually got an army behind him to lead an insurrection. He claims to be a spirit medium, channeling the spirit of a former Idi Amin minister and calls his movement the Lord’s Resistance Army. He’s a Christian polygamist, which means he could be mistaken for a black Bill Paxton, but then he also claims to be a Muslim. They need people like him in the White House. But then he also wants to institute the Ten Commandments as supreme law, but I’m unsure about how he gets around the adultery part of that.

He’s so bad ass, the International Criminal Court have a warrant for his arrest, but since no-one gives a toss about international law, he’s pretty safe hiding out in the jungle. He’d be notorious for using child slaves and raping women, but then Paris Hilton just released an album. But people will think, “oh what a bad guy getting boy soldiers to fight his wars”. They don’t realise that he’s able to cast spells over them so that any bullet that hits them turns to water. He forces his children to kill family and friends to test their allegiance, and drink their blood, which sounds like a great night out in Vegas. His twentyyear revolutionary movement has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced two million. But more importantly did you know that the Richie McCaw received a knock to the head the other week against Wellington? The doctors said he’s fine, but I wonder if this is a re-ocurrence of his head injuries. I hope this doesn’t damage his World Cup chances because he is clearly the best open-side flanker in the world. His inspirational defence and captaincy won the Bledisloe Cup game in Brisbane, and our World Cup chances will be severely ruined if his head knocks continue. Oh god, I hope that he’s okay.

Brannavan Gnanalingam

Lindsay Lohan

In these crazy as hell, devil may care, hip-hop-till-youjust- can’t-fucking-stop times, it seems like fame is no longer something that comes about as a result of a slight dollop of talent. No, we have the sons of shipping magnates, hotel heirs, 80s pop-has-beens offspring and just generally rich spoilt Hollywood kids acting out their OC fantasies and being photographed for us to masturbate over. They don’t do anything, and that’s a pain that needs drug addiction and binge-drinking to dull.

And I suppose you think Lohan is just some talentless fuck alongside the Ritchies, Hiltons, Stavros Niarchos, the other Paris who got engaged to the Paris who got nailed in that video, and some guy named Brandon Davis who paid Lindsay out for having ginger pubes. But they’ve got nothing on Lindsay. Lindsay rules.

She’s photographed getting out of a car with no undies on and flashes a vagina that one journalist described as a “smashed kangaroo” (please, read The Superficial, it’s delightful) but she keeps going. William H. Macy tells her off, but she don’t care. She’s photographed drunk and dancing around on her own in some seedy London alley, and she don’t care. She smokes too much, and she don’t care. She goes to strip clubs and makes out with Kate Moss. She dated Ryan Adams.

She’s just a twenty year old who likes to get boozed, fuck around, smoke heaps of durries and get her mits on cool-asshit rock stars. And who can hold that against her? She has something to get out of bed for. And like it or not, she earned her money. Mean Girls is classic. And she lives in a goddamn hotel. We stay in backpackers, she lives in a hotel. She’s young and likes doing cool shit with her wealth. She’s just like us, but really rich. Who of us hasn’t got pissed, showed our genitals, smoked too many cigarettes and had sex with someone who made fun of us later?

And Fez says that he thinks she’s a diamond in the sack. And if Fez said it, than dear God it must be true. The man was on That 70s Show! Not only did he act alongside Ashton Kutcher, they probably hung out after shooting finished for the day. Let Lindsay be alright?

James Robinson

Catriona McBean

Rainsforth Dix softened her image, but Catriona McBean became the Union villain of the year, driving the University bar into the ground, with the only obvious reason being “for the sheer fucking fun of it all”.

And who can forget the mess the bar is in. The way that no-one now stays at this University past six, the way that the heart of whatever social scene this University had was ripped out in one crazy and foul swoop.

They gave it soulless concrete floors, chairs that are so high you fear for your life. They even banned smoking on a deck that was actually solely built for the bar to accommodate smokers (the 90s, a golden age for lung cancer lovers everywhere) and pointed at some garbled legislation that didn’t exist. And then, when questioned further blamed it on VUWSA. And blamed the beer hikes on imaginary government tax increases that affected only them. Catriona even got mild schizophrenia. She began to talk to herself. With a Salient reporter present. Yeah…

All of which adds up to the unsinkable feeling that they don’t want the bar to make any money. The Union doesn’t actually like students. They hate you so much that they made peace with your students’ association so they would buy back into a 350,000 thousand dollar loss. The saddest thing is that it wasn’t actually like this. Ask a third or fourth year student and they actually used to drink at the bar. They used to have fun at University! Actually! Far out!

Except, all the Union really know how to do now is lose money and play pool. Catriona McBean is the epitome of every puppy-killing, kiddy-fiddling force of evil out to get the students of this University. You ever get the feeling at this University that you’re being screwed? Well you are.

Fuck you Catriona, you killed it. And it didn’t have to be this way. People don’t question anymore. You took away their fun and Pat Walsh gave them a lobotomy. This University is dead from the waste down. There’s no fucking balls anymore. Remember when people smoked dope in the play-ground? Went to lectures drunk? It’s not just a tale from the 80s.

James Robinson

Louise Nicholas

Filthy Ho, or champion of women’s rights? New Zealand has borne witness to many media show-trials but few have been as bitter as that waged over the proclaimed innocence of Louise Nicholas, who accused three senior police officers of raping her over twenty years ago. While the jury may have deliberated over the guilt of the accused, the rest of the country was more interested in whether Nicholas had enjoyed it or not.

It quickly became clear that little good was to be had from the debate, which was one of the most overblown cases of ‘he said/she said’ in recent history, with a good smattering of feminist rhetoric to make sure everyone felt sufficiently guilty. Even the normally peaceful Salient office wasn’t immune to the sound of the furious speculation and angry assertion that blanketed the country as polite dinner table conversations degraded into fist-fights, normally law-abiding citizens breached the court suppression order via email and dogs made love to cats on the front-lawns of the nation.

Women’s Rights Groups took to the streets in protest and stirred up even more public furore by openly distributing pamphlets containing suppressed information regarding the case. Nicholas was an odd choice as a feminist icon, which is probably why she rapidly ceased to be a person and became, instead, a symbol or shortcut. More so than the police officers, it was Nicholas who was on trial. Was she crazy? Had she made it up? Had she asked for it? For those who considered her innocent, the case was evidence of the male bias of the New Zealand justice system, and anyone who defended the police officers was in cahoots with the oppressive forces and most likely a rapist themselves, as well as a Nazi Satanist pedophile. For those who considered her guilty, the whole debacle was a case of public hysteria and a lesson for young women that if they didn’t act with the proper decorum then they were pretty much asking for it. In the end no one actually seemed to learn anything and no one came anywhere close to winning. They just yelled at each other till they were hoarse and ruined several peoples lives. Who says the justice system doesn’t work?

Nicholas Holm

Pussycat Dolls

I love them. All of them. Even the ginger one. I love everything about that gloriously trash, ex-dance troupe LA posse who have ridden the airwaves of glory ever since ‘Don’tcha’ introduced American tweens to modern day female empowerment. Who could resist such blatantly commercial, hyper-sexualised lyrics and muzak chord sequences that put Girls Aloud to shame? Funny how they both have a token ginger, though. An exotic mixture, for sure.

And my love for the Pussycat Dolls (in no way ironic or sarcastic, I might add. Perish the thought!) is all the more intense in the knowledge that this is their era. The post-MTV revolution phase when one’s ability to hold a tune is completely irrelevant in every way.

Nowadays you don’t just have hot dancers to back up your band, the hot dancers are your band. Never mind that there is no proof whatsoever that they sing at all, not even the la-la-la bits or the melody line in the chorus.

I love that, I really do. Anyone that starts a dance troupe and ends up making videos with Snoop (that’s the soft porn ones, mind you, not the real hard stuff he won awards for. That takes wayyyy more talent) gets my vote of confidence. In fact, not just confidence, I would vote for them properly. Like, in an election. The Pussycat Dolls Progressive Party.

They could have dance-offs at their rallies, and offer tax cuts for makeup artists, pop-lyric writers and bling manufacturers. All the disillusioned Democrats and ex-Republicans looking for some ghetto credit would be proud to vote for them. They could win a majority in the Senate and make ‘Buttonz’ sing-alongs a mandatory requirement for every public school occasion. Like the Spice Girls and other forces for social change before them, they’ll offer empowering rhetoric that actually means nothing whatsoever, pretty much a politician’s role as is.

And also, like the original girl power guerrillas, they already have a strong sense of proportional representation. There’s a black/ Indian one, a redhead, a latino-ish one, two blondes and one that could have pretentions to Irish heritage. I’m counting down the days. As the dolls point out: “Every boy’s the same/Since up in the seventh grade/They been trying to get with me.” Who can argue with such potent truths? Don’t deny it, join the team, and the boys (and girls) will want to get witchu, too.

Tiana Mead

Stingray

So. I’m just swimming around one day, minding my own fucking business, when who do I see splashing about looking like a seal with a sun-bed problem but that bane to animal kind? Yeah, that’s right. The Crocodile Munter.

No idea why he wasn’t sticking to his natural habitat i.e. the swamp, but Christ, life would have been easier for me, and a possibility for him, if he’d just stayed there. No way was I going to suffer the same fate as my brothers on land and be squeezed between that mans sticky thighs. The whole degrading experience would probably have been broadcast on national television too, and my pride can only suffer so many blows. Nuh-uh. So, I gave to him what he had coming for a long time. To be fair to the Munter (not that he deserves it), he wasn’t actually touching me. But he would have tried. By God he would have. For Michael Jackson, it’s children. For him, it’s anything that can’t audibly vocalise “fuck off” in English.

We all have our weaknesses, but Irwin was just taking it way too far. Anyway, so I smacked him one right where it hurt – it was particularly fatal and that was that. No more adventures in safari fatigues. No more cries of that accursed C-word that I will not utter here. The world was finally free of the last man that could get away with manhandling every known creature to Australia and still be considered a hero. Although, if I’d known that there would be violent scenes of retribution against other stingrays roughing it out there, I would have tried to make it a bit less obvious though. That shit is sick. What’s next, people draining the sea because someone drowned? Banning bread because someone choked on their toast? My cousin has been missing for a couple of days and I’m beginning to wonder if he’s suffered the consequences of my noble act. In any case, not everyone has jumped on the Irwin-worship bandwagon. Jacques Cousteau took the side of the righteous, for one. And that crazy loon Germaine Greer may have some funny ideas when it comes to equality between the sexes, but she hit the nail on the head when she crowed that the animal kingdom had had it’s revenge. Damn straight lady!

Tiana Mead

Zinedine Zidane

I’m just going to say it, that headbutt was fantastic. Although football players are notorious Hollywoods, that headbutt would have floored a Tongan royal. Though Materazzi didn’t need to go down holding his face. That headbutt had drama written all over it – the man who basically carried his team to a World Cup final with masterly displays against Spain, Brazil and Portugal, and was ripping up the Italians – decided to throw it all away. Why? It guaranteed him immortality. Who will have remembered him in ten years outside of diehard football fans (though there are a few of them)? Now every Juan, Lee and Harry knows who he is. Everyone passed around the emails. For a moment, he was more famous than the Hoff and Chuck Norris combined.

You can only wonder at the amount of speculation over what was said to provoke Zidane. Was it to do with his ethnic background? Did it involve his MILF-y mother? His underage, but fresh sister? The fact he didn’t know who Dante was? Who really knows in this crazy multi-lingual world.

Maybe he was asking if he had some tape for his shoelaces? It must have been easy for Materazzi. It’s like at school when you’d pick on the guy who has the temper and would always react. You sometimes felt so sorry for the kid that you wished they wouldn’t say anything, but they always did. It also seemed to typify the appeal of sport.

While people decry the amount of violence on TV or if any darker skinned people do it, if it’s done on a sports field, it’s the greatest piece of entertainment in history since Billy Crystal last hosted the Oscars. Sport brings out the mongrel in us that we hide underneath carefully coiffed comb-overs and neck-tie nooses. It also brings out the suppressed idiot in us as we watch idiots act like idiots. It wakes our primordial beast as we transfer all our failings in life onto people who don’t do much beyond run around and kick some shit. Sport has this weird feeling of repressed failure. But then again, it’s a great excuse to get absolutely shitfaced.

Brannavan Gnanalingam

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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