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My eyes are bleeding: A terrible week to be a Dominion Post reader

Zuke Casablo



The Monday Dominion is almost spiritual. Faced with the backbreaking demands of a forty-hour week, family and all that true blue slice of pie bullshit that comes free with scene setting sentences like these, Wellington get relieved from the pressures of their humdrum existence by the first issue of the Dominion Post since Saturday.
It was a shit week to be a Dom reader this week. Faced with all this actual drama in the World section, with real countries having real problems to report on, that seething gang of angry foot soldiers at the Dom fell all over themselves with Monday’s headline ‘Just how safe is your city?’, throwing statistics in confusing contexts to try and show what a goddamn P-laden criminal underworld head-fuck our country is. Wanganui, with about two murders, suddenly became elevated to murder capital of New Zealand (and let’s face it, it’s a title that can sadly only increase tourism to the area). Gisborne was shockingly declared the marijuana capital of New Zealand and several other dastardly towns and cities were lowered to Tokeroan levels of nastiness. One unsuspecting mayor commented that it was “news” to them, yeah, news… or “crock of shit”. See you can put statistics into instances every 10,000 people and then rank cities in a list, (does anybody really need to be reminded again that Rotorua has a high crime rate?) and it’s actually meaningless. Throw in a ‘shock the reader’ headline and some first person crime stories and it all appears very shocking. But it’s meaningless. And what’s even sadder is that this you ‘heard it here first’ piece of tabloid goop could have been something different. This story was tied into no real breaking event. It was not event specific. The editorial staff made a decision, all on their big boy selves, to manipulate and scare. They blew a fake problem up into a huge one, and in the process neglected a myriad of issues that would have been crying out for some headline time.
But then on Tuesday it got worse. The Dom ran with the lawyer wearing a dress story, front page. How dare he? A man in a dress! Shit no! Pa, go get me my fuckin’ rifle, I got some hunting to do! But the sad thing here is again, why? Why does this deserve anything more than a passing mention from maybe some dudes that walked past him on the street? (“Do you remember that time we saw that guy with the moustache wearing a dress?”) But y’know, same old story, its front page news, again. But aren’t these people paid journalists? I heard that there were heaps of them and they formed some sort of team and had a lair called a ‘newsroom’ where they found out stuff that people agreed mattered. I was wrong, I know. And I can admit that. But you can forgive the mistake.
Wednesday, if we weren’t feeling glum enough already after a two-day mind raping, we get more Tony Stanlake – that offed martyr of the criminal underworld. The article focused in on his hands being in a rubbish dump. People have a short attention span for headline crime. Give it another week and it’ll all blur in to most people’s recollection of last Sunday’s slickly homogenized CSI crime night triple-header.
I just got thinking about how I had seen ‘Hunger strike Saddam’ written in a headline and it made me think of this rad idea for a new Saddam Hussein doll line. They’d be ‘Hunger Strike’ Saddam, ’Genocidal’ Saddam, ‘Outlaw’ Saddam, ‘Saddam at home’, ‘Warrior’ Saddam and maybe ‘Saddam in the Meadow’. It’d be awesome! But then I also thought, why is he hungerstriking? Wouldn’t a war crimes tribunal be fun for a man of Saddams murderous caliber? Wouldn’t it be a sort of Saddam Hussein: This is Your Life? And why hunger strike? Why die slowly and painfully? When he can just probably sit around, read books and doze off in court, and get sent to some quick and painless execution somewhere? And it’s not like he has to die to protect his reputation. I don’t think anything that could come out of that court could surprise anyone about Saddam. Unless it was that he actually did have weapons of mass destruction after all. (Oh yeah! Over the top political comedy circa-2004! Somebody get Sean Penn on the phone!) Saddam Hussein does look like a relatively friendly old granddad, but I already had a feeling about the whole genocide thing.
He’s having a musical made of his own life. And I’m all for it. I can’t remember the last time I engaged with popular culture on the same level as I engaged with Baywatch. And if it takes producing his own life story to get the great man working again, then so be it.
On a side note, David Hasselhoff was recently arrested in London for beating up a guy at Wimbledon and yelling at him, “Do you know who the fuck I am?”
Ok. They actually had a story in the Science section that solely involved talking to a pregnant woman about the different food cravings that she had while pregnant. She ate cheese! For breakfast! Oh! My! God! Olives! Freaky! If I use enough exclamation marks will someone mistake me as a character from Sex and the City?
Man, I’m fucking glad I’m moving away from the Dominion Post for a couple of weeks to look at TV and internet news. I need some time away. “The Dominion Post gave me a tumour”, is a headline destined to be on the front page of the Dom itself sometime soon.
Game over. No fake man, game over.