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Stateside: Pass The Perspective Please

Stateside with Rosalea

Pass The Perspective Please

Saturday evening, New Zealand was a laughing stock Stateside. When movie buff Joel Siegel asked Elijah Wood what he missed most about his native LA in the 18 months he spent away from it filming the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, Wood replied: "I missed traffic" and fell about the place recounting how "the worst traffic in New Zealand takes you 5 minutes out of your way."

'Joel Siegel's Holiday Film Preview' on ABC covered 25 films, some of which have already been released - like 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone', as it is known here. (A title change that begs a philosophical question if ever anything did.) I've seen television ads for most of the movies that were featured in the programme, but none for 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. Perhaps I'm in the wrong demographic - a friend has seen one on cable TV, and has seen the trailer at a movie theatre, where it was cheered by the audience.

Which isn't to say 'Fellowship' is not being plugged. A couple of weeks back the local Fox TV station had a week-long competition in its news show, linked to the filming of the trilogy in New Zealand and offering a prize of trips to a land of - it would seem - unmitigated natural beauty without a road in sight. A half-hour special on the making of LOTR also aired on Fox. And then there's the Burger King ads for the goblets bearing the faces of the fellows four - goblets that light up magically when you hold them.

My chest expanded with the best of them to hear in the TV special that 'Fellowship' will open on December 19 "on 10,000 screens across the globe". The chest expansion was mainly because rugby games and cricket games don't open on 10,000 screens across the globe, and when I was growing up the only thing schools spent their extra-curricular money on was sending sports teams on trips to Australia, anything to do with the arts being considered the province of losers.

Of course rugby and cricket games open on a lot more screens across the globe - they're just smaller screens. And if you're a marketing whiz and can assemble enough moola around some soft-jingo project like going after the America's Cup then you can count on being seen on a lot more than 10,000 screens across the country as well. Which is how even a rich kids' sport, backed initially by financiers allegedly a little too au fait with shonky deals, became such a big deal in supposedly egalitarian countries like Australia or New Zealand. The real sport wasn't yachting; it was "let's whup the Yanks". As if the Cup races even registered on the average person's radar Stateside.

Still, it's as a sailor that Peter Blake is remembered. "Pirates kill sailing champion" said the headline of a page 11 story in Friday's 'San Francisco Examiner'. The story by Sam Lehman of the Associated Press also quoted a blakexpeditions spokesman saying Blake was on a worldwide expedition to monitor global warming and pollution. The final paragraph alludes to Helen Clark calling him a national hero, flags flying at half-mast, and Parliament's moment of silence and "native Maori hymn." Well folks, good luck deciding what his memorial should be. I can just see the nation's yachties racing to make yet more coastline a marine reserve. Heck, you can't even convince them not to throw those plastic 6-pack things overboard where they get caught around fish and seabirds' necks.

And as for the most daftest damned thing I ever did see, how about the SegWay? Its inventor Dean Kamen, who has his own island which seceded from the United States when he was told he couldn't have a wind generator on it, might be a boy genius when it comes to things medi-mechanical but he's got to be one gyroscope short if he thinks that contraption is going to do anything about traffic congestion. If anyone actually buys them for commuting they'll end up riding them on the footpath not the road, at which point I'll bring out my own invention - the NoWay - modeled on an ancient tool of the Amazon Indians. Yes, you guessed it - a blow dart to pierce their tyres as they try to force me aside. Kamen is naive in the extreme to think that governments are going to ban cars from cities so that people can ride SegWays around the streets.

Least of all the governments of nations so hell-bent on creating Pipeline-istan for their driving pleasure.
Lea Barker
Sunday, 10 December 2001

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