Lord of the Rings

Philip Ferguson plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz
Wed Dec 19 19:42:36 MST 2001

Thanks Louis for the post on Lord of the Rings.

Rings mania is big in NZ right now.

The whole trilogy was filmed here, used quite a few NZ actors and all the
techno stuff was done here, and the whole thing was conceived by NZ film
director Peter Jackson.  Rings will be the biggest NZ film ever, although
of course the several hundred million dollars that went into it came from

But it is being used to promotoe a real 'feelgood' factor in NZ right now,
and how great this country is and how our film-makers and techno-wizards
etc are as good as the best in the world.

Tourists arriving in NZ this past week have been greeted at airports by
staff dressed in hobbit and other such gear.  Wellington itself has been
referred to as 'Middle Earth' over the past week - eg the weather reports
don't refer to Wellington, but call it 'Middle Earth'.  And Peter Jackson
is being sainted.

Personally, I quite like Jackson - he's a very down-to-earth person, not in
the slightest interested in phoney trappings of Hollywood and so on.  But
the rest of the Rings promo stuff is kind of odious - especially when NZ
troops have just been dispatched to Afghanistan and all MPs, bar the 7
Greens, voted "full support" for the US-led war.  It just promotoes the
whole NZ nationalist ethos.  At the same time some fariyl odious things are
happening - like getting rid of people working for the Alliance at
parliament who oppose the war.

Today I had lunch with a couple of friends of mine who have just lost their
jobs at parliament for their opposition to the war.  One isn't a member of
the Alliance, just worked for them and the other is the general-secretary
of the Alliance.  They and others, including another friend of mine who has
lost his job,had their emails and so on gone through by Parliamentary
Services, after PS were brought in by Alliance leader and deputy-PM Jim
Anderton.  There was a big witch-hunt by Anderton against antiwar members
of the Alliance and antiwar people who worked for the Alliance.

There were a few amusing incidents in this, however.  One of my friends had
emailed me to ask for some suggestions for chants on antiwar marches in
Wellington and I emailed her back with a list of antiwar chants we
('revolution' and MidEast Collective) were using in Christchurch.  One of
these was '1,2,3,4 - Labour/Alliance bomb the poor'.  This chant ended up
being circulated around various antiwar Alliance members and Anderton's
minions got hold of it and it appeared in the Wellington press.

On this list of chants I had also jokingly added one of John Edmundson's
favourite chants (which we don't actually chant, but it's kind of funny),
'2,4,6,8 - grab a gun and smash the state'.  Anderton's chief lackey came
across it when they had Alliance workers' computers gone through and, being
a pompous git without a sense of humour, took it rather seriously and
kicked up a fuss about it.  Given that when Helen Clark was out of the
country, Anderton was acting PM and thus head of the Security Intelligence
Service, this was all a bit spooky.

It is quite a strange situation in NZ.  There is no enthusiasm here for the
war and public opinion polls show a large anti-intervention bloc of
opinion.  But few people regard it as an issue which affects them, so
antiwar marches and so on tend to be very small.

Philip Ferguson

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