Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sex and Agriculture

The old man and I were walking along Mayoral Drive in the Auckland CBD one afternoon back in the '90s. Another even older man had just walked out of the Pan Pacific Hotel and headed towards us. My father, aged sixty-mumble, did something I'd never see him do before.

He lost the expression of a man wearied by sixty-odd years on the clock, and reverted to a mumbling child as he praised former child actor Mickey Rooney in person. This crinkly polite Yank - accosted on the streets in a strange land by some quixotic stranger in the three piece armour of an attorney - had brightened my Dad's day considerably.

Needless to say, Mickey Rooney's golden days of Hollywood were a bit before my time. Growing up two generations prior to my existence, the old man grew up on tales of conquest by proxies of the British Empire in books, as well as the pulp fiction churned out by Hollywood, leeched as it was of reality by the censors and purveyors of moral rectitude.

The Ten Commandments of Hollywood back then, summed up in one picture, were:

An artifact of this celluloid puritanism popped up last week, nicely raising the profile of Eva Green and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For in the process. In America at least, nipples are still considered Satan's cherries.

In contrast to the old man, all my heroes were outlaws. I grew up with '70s cinema and early '80s auteurs, the golden era of the film director. Years before the blockbuster killed the independent studios' diversity with superheroes and cloned plots, it was all Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Bugsy Malone, the Blondini gang from Goodbye Pork Pie, Bruno Lawrence, Sam Lowry in Brazil, Buckaroo Banzai, David Lynch, etc.

Moral ambiguity, anti-heroes, irony and pathos were main ingredients. Ultra-violence was used as allegory or hyperbole (A Clockwork Orange, The Evil Dead), as opposed to today's serious yet CGI carnage purely for the sake of it.

But I digress. The Mickey Rooney intersection came into mind on Thursday, as John Banks walked out of court a guilty man. My old man shared airtime with Banks on Radio Pacific. Of all the things Banks could have said as Michelle Boag quietly photobombed away in the background, Banks had to come out with an esoteric 1930's song about standing in puddles. A man so pole-axed, the child came out.

Three days later, John Banks announces he is exiting the political stage once more. Up until this afternoon, it looked like he was blithely looking at hanging around in Parliament, upstaging the election theatre cast from Jamie Whyte to John Key, before crashing through the footlights head first into the orchestra pit.

Farewell then, John Banks. You will be forgotten. Cannabis will be legalised. Look who's stupid then. Auckland will one day reverse your rates poll tax (aka the Uniform Annual General Charge), as well as your puritanical Brothel and Commercial Sex Premises bylaw. Charter schools will be folded back into the integrated schools system, where state accountability sits in judgement over religious schools.

Everything John Banks did will be dirt.