Of racists and mar­i­onettes

Your Week­end TV re­viewer Jane Bowron shares her small-screen highs and lows.

The Dominion Post - Your Weekend (Dominion Post) - - Tv Review -

Putting your racism on the line is the name of the game in the three-part doc­u­men­tary se­ries First Con­tact (Maori Tele­vi­sion, 8.30pm, Mon­day).

Start­ing from the premise that six out of 10 peo­ple in Aus­tralia have had lit­tle or no con­tact with in­dige­nous peo­ple, First Con­tact takes six celebri­ties on a jour­ney to dis­cover their at­ti­tudes to­ward First Aus­tralians.

Sup­pos­edly park­ing their prej­u­dices at the start, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see how singer Natalie Im­bruglia, former Miss Uni­verse Aus­tralia Re­nae Ayris, co­me­dian Tom Bal­lard, music pro­ducer Ian “Dicko” Dick­son, ac­tress Nicki Wendt, and politi­cian David Old­field fare as the weeks pass.

Even be­fore the jour­ney starts, former beauty queen Re­nae Ayris is recorded on a pro­mo­tional video say­ing that Abo­rig­ines needed to for­give what­ever they think hap­pened to them, and just try to be equal with ev­ery­one else. She is called a racist and at­tacked on so­cial me­dia.

Dicko fears he might be a “big racist” with dis­mis­sive at­ti­tudes. Ac­tress Nicki Wendt says she fears Abo­rig­ines and thinks she’s dif­fer­ent from them be­cause she smells dif­fer­ent and brushes and flosses – twice daily.

But all eyes are on David Old­field, who co-founded the One Na­tion party that helped get Pauline Han­son elected to the Australian Fed­eral Par­lia­ment in 1996.

The out­spo­ken politi­cian is no team player and hangs back when the group is in­vited to in­ter­act with in­dige­nous Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties through­out Aus­tralia. He is ret­i­cent to the point of rude­ness in join­ing in with cul­tural tribal ac­tiv­i­ties.

In a cer­e­mony where the par­tic­i­pants have parts of their body painted with red ochre, Old­field cites sen­si­tive skin. Blink­ing from be­hind masks of thickly ap­plied ochre, the rest of the group fix Old­field with the with­er­ing looks of team play­ers who’ve had the de­cency to dip their toes in the wa­ter.

Old­field’s un­will­ing­ness to ac­cept and learn from the ex­pe­ri­ences of First Aus­tralians con­trasts with most of the group, who seem shaken by the back sto­ries to lives lived in a fog of al­co­holism, vi­o­lence and en­trenched fam­ily sui­cide.

Af­ter the se­ries went to air in Aus­tralia, Old­field com­plained that the edit job left out footage of his dis­tress over the treat­ment of Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren.

In an­other jour­ney, back to the cut­ting edge of “su­per­mar­i­on­a­tion” and the ad­ven­tures of re­tired as­tro­naut Jeff Tracy and his five sons, reac­quaint your­self with the in­ter­na­tional res­cue fleet in All About Thun­der­birds (Jones, Thurs­day, 10.30pm).

Cre­ator and pro­ducer the late Gerry An­der­son ex­plains how the sig­na­ture palm trees that stood ei­ther side of the launch pad were hur­riedly im­pro­vised at the last minute to ac­com­mo­date Thun­der­bird 2. The palm trees were made from broom sticks with fronds at­tached to their ends that had to bend back as the ship passed through.

Pup­pet de­sign­ers were al­ways dash­ing down to the chemist to buy con­doms to use to ma­nip­u­late the state-of-the-art mouth work­ings of the pup­pets. And the show’s bit of posh totty, Lady Pene­lope, was a rogue com­pos­ite of London It girls whose mod clothes were slav­ishly copied for her la­dy­ship’s tiny wardrobe.

Thun­der­bird craft and crew ex­pe­ri­enced the first real lift-off in big toy mer­chan­dis­ing, and the show has en­joyed sev­eral come­backs with fa­thers spread­ing the Thun­der­bird dis­ease down to their sons.

Fizzy news cov­er­age of Pippa Mid­dle­ton’s wed­ding last week­end – the frock! the guests! Harry’s girl­friend! – didn’t ex­tend to de­tailed re­portage of any stag or hen par­ties, but I’m qui­etly hop­ing James Matthews (I think of him as “Mr Pippa” if I think of him at all) got him­self a nice shave and a nose-hair trim.

Be­cause while I have pretty much no tosses to give about the Bri­tish Royal Fam­ily or their wider whanau, I un­der­stand that for other peo­ple they of­fer a gold stan­dard in How Things Should Be Done, and I want men’s Groom Par­ties to catch on.

The groom party is a new al­ter­na­tive to old-school stag dos. Stag nights tra­di­tion­ally fo­cus on the con­sump­tion of vast quan­ti­ties of booze, the oc­ca­sional re­moval of the groom’s eye­brows – hi­lar­i­ous! – and a visit to a strip club. And while we’re here, let me say I’ve never un­der­stood that whole “get­ting sex­u­ally aroused in groups” thing but maybe it’s an un­spo­ken way of say­ing, “This is my horny face, Nigel – am I do­ing it right?” in which case, it’s kind of sweet and en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate on the eve of pledg­ing your life to Your One In Par­tic­u­lar.

Nev­er­the­less, the groom party is an even more ap­pro­pri­ate com­pan­ion ac­tiv­ity to the bridal party’s spa day and pos­si­bly sets things up bet­ter for a lit­tle more gen­der-em­pa­thy in mar­ried life.

Be­cause once you’ve had a taste of groom­ing and pam­per­ing – a per­fect shave, clean nails, hair­less ears – you’re go­ing to want to con­tinue with the up­keep. Ask any­one who has stood­tood back and ad­mired a well-trimmed hedge or a neatly mown wn lawn – that kind of sat­is­fac­tion is ad­dic­tive. Change one washer suc­cess­fully and you’ll spend the rest of your life look­ing for leakyky taps to mend just for the joy of it.

Tra­di­tion­al­ists may baulk at what they view as the “fem­i­ni­sa­tion” of men – but stand down, brother. Oilingiling your beard won’t ac­tu­ally turn you into a lady – gen­der is some­what more com­plex than that. Plus, a lit­tle more self-fo­cuss might make you less im­pa­tient with your other half.

In­stead of jan­gling your keys in ir­ri­ta­tion while she fin­ishes her makeup and finds the right shoes, why not take that mo­ment for your­self to pat a lit­tle serum round less angry eyes.

A touch more male groom­ing may also have ben­e­fits efits in the work­place. Pay equity, for in­stance.

One of the rea­sons women don’t “lean in” round the board ta­ble – and we don’t talk about this enough – is be­cause­ause we’re of­ten trans­fixed by the wild­ness of your eye­brows.

Listen care­fully at your next team meet­ing and youu may be able to hear her think­ing, “Bloody hell, An­drew, you re­ally need to get plucked.”

Trou­ble in the Out­back: a group of fa­mous Aus­tralians try to get to grips with their feel­ings about Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple, with squea­mish re­sults.

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