Friday, May 14, 2010

Pigs might fly

We have selected a “Top 10” of ideas for a sign celebrating the global success of Wellington’s film industry and want to hear how these ideas can be developed into a sign which will gain global recognition. When people arrive in Wellington, they will see a sign that conveys the messages of film, global and Wellington. The top 10 ideas are:

  • Lord of the Rings sculptures
  • Middle-earth or Frodo’s Land
  • Absolutely Positively Wellington
  • A film sculpture
  • Wetawood
  • A wind sculpture
  • A weta sculpture
  • Film. Global. Wellington. They are at it again: The People at Wild at Heart, the little airport that never grew up, have come up with a list of ideas to celebrate the global success of Wellington's film industry. Readers will recall that they wanted to have a big sign like Hollywood but saying Wellywood, because that would be ace cool and really funny. Then someone pointed out that it would be a breach of copyright, that someone being a lawyer for the copyright owners. Then someone else, well many people in fact, pointed out that it was a really crap idea.

    But that sort of thing doesn't stop Wild at Heart, where there are no setbacks, only opportunities. So they created one of those corporate Facebook groups, the sort that make you think less of your friends when they become fans (speaking of which: Infratril? You became fans of a corporation, just because it bought Shell's petrol stations. You know who you are). And - voila! They have come up with a new list, one which only goes to show what sort of person joins a corporate Facebook group. Let's take a closer look at some of the ideas that fans thought up.
    • Lord of the Rings sculptures; Hell, yeah - let's have Godzilla fighting King Kong as well.
    • MIRAMAR; it's not just a suburb, it's a way of life.
    • WELLYWOOD; I hear writs flying in.
    • Middle-earth or Frodo’s Land; look at us - we are so cute.
    • Absolutely Positively Wellington; heard it before - not clever and not funny;
    • A film sculpture; not really thinking that hard, are we?
    • Wetawood: mmm, yes, advertising.
    • A wind sculpture; at an airport - you must like disaster movies.
    • A weta sculpture; a giant insect to scare the tourists - excellent, dude.

    • That's what you get when you do the corporate social networking: idiots. Then you make things worse for yourselves by advertising that you have a bunch of idiots for fans and, worser still, you can't tell the difference. So you make a press release telling everyone you heard the voice of the people and you listened. Idiots.

      Listen. The Lord of the Rings was a film trilogy. A lot of people liked it; a lot of others thought, "so what?" Its says nothing about New Zealand in general or Wellington in particular, other than that we love it when people like what we do. In a few years, it will be largely forgotten, other than by the sort of people who collect action figures, the sort of people with whom you would not want to be trapped in a lift. By then, your sign will look even more silly in all its styrofoam glory than it does on paper now.

      Wait, there's more. Weta Digital - which is what you mean when you say "Wellington's film industry" - is a business; it can do its own advertising. It is also not that interesting, at least for people above the age of 12. It makes special effects. Ho; hum. Making such a big noise about this one company suggests that Wellington has little else to offer which is absolutely, positively not the case. Making this one company the centre of your little corner of the world suggests that you are rather dim and trying a little too hard. It is like a giant carrot, really. You could do a lot better.

      No? Let me try again. Have you ever visited an acquaintance's flat for the first time, and found that she has a huge collection of toy pigs, arranged on every surface and accompanied by many cartoon drawings of pigs on the walls? It is mildly amusing for the first few minutes, and then slightly disturbing. The next time you visit, it is not even funny. The pigs stare at you with their little piggy eyes and scream "I'M SO LONELY." It is a bit like that. Needy: a big sign that shows you are so much fun and which celebrates your global film success. Nobody is laughing or celebrating. They feel pity, and pity's travelling companion: contempt.

      Being the first city in the world to self-consciously make a fool of yourself is not much of a first. Real global cities do not have to make such a fuss about being global and to celebrate their achievements. They just are. And capital cities are not theme parks littered with visual jokes and bad sculpture. They have gravitas. It is bad enough that we have a stand-up Prime Minister and an evil clown in charge of local government. We don't need a comedy capital.

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