February 10th, 2011

happy

In which cruelty becomes amusement

It seems that commercial radio in New Zealand just plunged to new depths. For those that can't be bothered clicking, Kiwi men who listen to this station are being offered the opportunity to compete for a 12-day trip to the Ukraine, the purpose of which is to choose a Ukrainian bride from an agency called 'Endless Love'. Apparently the radio station's responsibility ends there, so even if the winner does find endless love, he has to pay to bring his bride home.

"If you're interested in holy matrimony with a potentially hot foreign chick.." it says.

*headdeskheaddeskheaddesk*

I'm sure I don't have to spell out what's wrong with this idea. In fact, I'm kind of lost for words. But what really bothers me is that this radio station has the highest number of male listeners in the country. It plays a fairly generic selection of mainstream rock music, the kind of music that's good to listen to while doing physical work. A lot of people like this sort of music (hell, I do in that context). But along with the music, people are getting fed a shock jock type of presentation that feeds into the really icky underbelly of New Zealand culture. Seriously, Paul Henry would not look out of place working for these guys. They think they are being edgy, and it disturbs me that so many people find their kind of thing funny.

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So underneath our facade of social democracy, our pretense of inclusion, our 'mates stick together' ethic, we're actually a nation of people who find it amusing to be mean to other people and to mess with their heads, and this radio station has picked up on that and is exploiting it, creating a vicious cycle where people are encouraged to be like that even more.

Weirdly, most people who listen to that station, if you ask them, say they listen for the music. So they could ostensibly get just as large a listenership through scrapping the nasty stuff and just playing good music. Some of the most popular radio stations (for example Pirate and Hauraki back in the day) have become popular through playing more, and more varied, music - along with less 'other crap'.

I've heard people say that that kind of show is 'groundbreaking'. I don't think it's breaking new ground - being a bully isn't a new activity. Breaking new ground would be being genuinely funny and not resorting to below-the-belt mindgames in the name of entertainment. Maybe this station should try it.

Oh, and just so this isn't all SRS BSNS, have a link: sci-fi and fantasy book covers with commentary suggesting what the art directors might have been thinking. ;-)