1960: Arise, Television
January 22, 2019
1 June 1960: New Zealand Broadcasting Service (NZ BS, lol!) broadcasts the country’s first regular (non-experimental) TV transmission in Auckland. Wellington and Christchurch would soon follow.
I think this is true, that the Lattice of entertainment has been gummed up and stuck together with the Lattice of the Sacred. As a society we require dignified institutions to admire and trustingly look up to….
“Politics has become a cruel business since the advent of television, at least for its principal actors. Politics now blurs with entertainment, and party leaders are assessed like entertainers in terms of performance, flair and style. There is no longer any sense of distance between politicians and public: the politician’s personality is on public view, to be taken apart and picked over.”
– Bruce Jesson, 1986
Suspend your disbelief for a fantasy: Imagine our Royals, our Priests, our Aristocrats, our Politicians were all noble and good. Yet how could they be holy and honourable (supposing they were) while simultaneously framed as figures of public entertainment? How could we take the Auckland War Memorial Museum seriously if a bouncy castle were put up on the lawn? Can a Prime Minister ever be great if they also need to cameo on TV3’s ‘Seven Days’? Can the integrity of a Priest’s cloisters or a private church funeral survive being made into Reality TV hosted by Dai Henwood?
To joke about greatness dissipates the sacred into mere entertainment. Yet, viewers in our prying media environment regard this very process as their prerogative. As a society we are eating and digesting up virtue and standards at an unsustainable rate with entertainment as the smelly bi-product.
Worthy leaders and institutions are (like Caesar’s wife) above suspicion or else in decline. I don’t just mean people or buildings either, but pillars of our civilisation such as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ or ‘free speech’. “Does the Queen fart?” or “A flea can bite the bottom of the pope in Rome!” are munitions in a culture war.
Ever since our politics, our society, became televised it has been increasingly used to erode the privacy and territory of the sacred. Some (all?) of our politicians and ‘leaders’ deserve to be treated this way and, after all, emerged to welcome such scrutiny and play up to it. Trouble is, there is now almost no space remaining for anybody or anything to be genuine.
Image ref. 7 Days; Newshub
Image ref. Cook defaces; Guardian