Monday, October 25, 2010

Scapegoating and celebrity campaigns

It was interesting to read this morning that Robyn Malcolm, the actress from Outrageous Fortune, is becoming a scapegoat for the unions abysmal handling of the Hobbit location issue.

Malcolm has been one of the main identities associated with attempts to extract greater union concessions from Warner Bros and Sir Peter Jackson, and therefore, one of the main identities for the backlash that has followed the panic over whether NZ will lose the filming.

There are two thoughts I've had on this.

Firstly, it serves Robyn Malcolm and Jennifer Ward-Lealand right. If they want to wade into politics, using their celebrity status to advocate on issues like climate change and other left-wing issues du jour, then they need to face the consequences of their advocacy which is a political reaction. They can't, nor should they expect that life would be like a movie script with a pre-determined happy and simplistic ending where they, the good guys (them and the Green Party) win, and the bad guys (centre-right authority and faceless corporations) lose.

If they really care about politics, they should stop the acting lark and become politicians. Malcolm in particular has been exercising her freedom of speech for some time in the political arena, and as we know, this freedom goes both ways, with listeners now reacting against her comments in a determinedly hostile way.

But this brings me to my second thought on the matter. I'm tempering my schadenfreude because it's all too easy to believe that Malcolm and Ward-Lealand are the nice pliant saps that the unions and political left wheel out for celebrity campaigns. It may well be that these and other celebrities now realise they are marketing pawns in the wider political and economic games of our nation. It's all very easy to mock Gerry Brownlee over "sexy coal", but intervening on behalf of a union has yielded disastrously bad results.

The unions are not political fools. They're happy to spread the blame around if the Hobbit goes offshore. They NEED to spread the blame around, and who better than the telegenic fools they roped in for their issue du jour. With the possibility of two thousand New Zealanders being deprived of work, it's a lot easier to blame "that loudmouth b*tch from West Auckland" than the odious Mr Whipp and Ms Kelly.

A warning to all celebrities - freedom of speech is its own b*tch. Feel free to get involved in any campaign you like, but don't be surprised if you get treated like a politician when you act political.


WAKE UP said...

RULE 1: just because someone is a well known actor, it does not mean that person's opinion is worth any more than that of any person on the street - on ANY topic.

WAKE UP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heine said...

They are only backtracking now because of the backlash. If they managed to push this through and control the sector under the radar of Warners, then they would be crowing their successes from the rooftops.

I reckon the Green Party should start using Robyn in more public campaigning roles, just so Kiwis finally get over the idea that the Greens are somewhat a credible political power.