Jackson's shameful performance

Last updated 12:18 26/10/2010

What a shabby performance.

I've previously only seen him as an actor in his 1980s splatter movie Bad Taste. He was fabulous as a psychopathic alien in that great Kiwi classic film. (If you haven't seen it yet make sure you do.)

But it's been all downhill these past few weeks as Peter Jackson has variously played the parts of union-basher, paternalistic employer and self-absorbed celebrity.

It started with New Zealand actors wanting to negotiate some basic conditions of employment through their union Actors Equity. Like many famous employers before him, Jackson not only refused to negotiate but refused to even meet to discuss the issues. He thinks he's above any of that nonsense. He claims he treats his employees and contractors well and that was that. So the union called on actors to refuse to sign up to the film till the issues were resolved - an entirely reasonable position.

Jackson reacted with an incendiary media release attacking the unions and painting himself and the New Zealand industry as innocent victims of union thugs. It was all a pile of hyped rubbish but it did the job for him. News reporting was initially reasonable but quickly deteriorated as the media sided with Jackson against the unions. When it comes to union-bashing, New Zealand does it particularly well, especially with a wealthy celebrity calling the shots.

But after discussion between the actors and film producers the industrial action was withdrawn. Despite emails confirming the issues were resolved and that the wording of a media release to that effect was being prepared this was not good enough for Jackson or special effects guru Richard Taylor. Taylor called a march to demand the end of industrial action and Jackson lobbed in another combustible media release claiming the unions were wrecking the New Zealand film industry.

Jackson is emotionally upset by the whole business but he scored an own goal at the outset when he refused to even discuss the issues with actors. Jackson is used to getting his own way and was affronted when our leading actors stood their ground. Good on them.

Politicians such as Gerry Brownlee predictably joined the chorus attacking the actors' efforts to organise to improve their basic work conditions and meetings of actors have been cancelled after threats from idiots in the film industry.

And so we reach Labour weekend and yesterday's rallies calling for the Hobbit movies to be made here.

I can't remember another time I've felt so embarrassed to be a New Zealander. Crowds of people fawning before Warner Brothers. Solidarity to these people means siding unreservedly with big business against workers. They seem to be unaware that Jackson and Taylor stand to make much more money from these movies than all the New Zealand actors and technicians put together.

If this dispute damages the New Zealand film industry or the careers of the actors who have been s*at on from a great height then Jackson and Taylor must carry the lion's share of the blame. If we could export these two across the ditch in exchange for just a bit of Australia's bolshy union attitude we could begin clawing back some of the 40 per cent wage advantage they have on us.

The actors who led the negotiations deserve to be applauded for their courage and tenacity in the face of bullying by Jackson, Taylor and other industry employers such as South Pacific Pictures chief executive John Barnett. Why is it such a crime to seek pay and conditions of employment similar to those enjoyed by actors elsewhere?

After some great performances early in his career it's been a shameful show from Jackson this time round.

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Peter S   #1   12:38 pm Oct 26 2010

Thanks J.M. it is so nice to be able to read an article and enjoy a good "belly laugh."

Of course, I guess the humour is lost on Mr. Minto, but that just makes it funnier.

Phrases like "inhabiting a parallel universe" do spring to mind, and "there's none so blind as those who will not see."

It is just delicious irony that this self appointed voice of the common man is hearing the common man speak, but he has no stomach for the message that is ringing in his ears.

It is moments like these that we really do need Minto.

Wayne Littlewood   #2   12:40 pm Oct 26 2010

Oh come off it. You probably wouldn't be in gainful employment if it wasn't for the success of this man and his films. The MEAA were completely out of order targeting this film and if you knew your countries own laws then it was illegal to negotiate for better pay. It's only a small number of Equity actors being bullish about this and the fact that they are prepared to destroy the NZ film industry and the livelihood of thousands of workers, not to mention the massive loss to the economy, then you should take a really hard look or yourself.

The Huttinator   #3   12:40 pm Oct 26 2010

How arrogant to say you are embarrassed to be a New Zealander at the sight of people fighting for their livelihoods and their long-term futures in New Zealand - describing their behaviour as "fawning"

I'd like to personally congratulate you John for your small part in what will no doubt be seen by history as one of the NZ Union movement's most embarassing defeats.

At every turn, the left have been out-thought and out-strategised.

Most embarrassingly, the union movement has also been out-mobilised by honest, hardworking people, many of whom are at the lower end of the income spectrum.

Surely that is the most shameful performance of all.

Don Franks   #4   12:43 pm Oct 26 2010

Good post John, except the bit about being embarrassed to be a New Zealander. The working class have no country. Leave patriotism to the scoundrels.

Noumead   #5   12:44 pm Oct 26 2010

I am giddy with excitment and anticipation for the reaction this will bring on... John you are a tease, otherwise you are very close to being dangerous.

Ivan   #6   12:45 pm Oct 26 2010

"IF" what you say is true, it makes Jackson out to be a bit of a rat. I don't know what to believe as you hear so many different stories.

Sofie   #7   12:56 pm Oct 26 2010

For once I actually agree with John. This whole situation was blown way out of proportion with the media putting Jackson on a pedestal and blaming the unions for something that could have been sorted over a meeting. The unions said last week that they had met with officials and decided to back down. Helen Kelly said they were waiting for the go ahead to made an official statement. This was absolutely true yet they were accused of lying. Even Gerry Brownlee denied what she said, yet it has been proved he was at the meeting!

jonesy   #8   12:56 pm Oct 26 2010

Ohhhhh I cant wait to read the comments!! Like a red rag to a bull...so to speak!

Alan Wilkinson   #9   12:59 pm Oct 26 2010

Poor old Minto. NZAE shot itself in both feet and then its head taking out the CTU at the same time.

Sack cloth and ashes time, John. Best pray the Hobbit stays here or the union movement can kiss goodbye to any public support for the next decade.

wazza   #10   01:00 pm Oct 26 2010

... except they weren't a legal union. 200 members who thought they could extort a rich prize, because they thought it would be too late for the Producers to pull the plug on them. And what about Robyn Malcolms comments about it being unfair for Kiwi actors to be working with a foreign actor on a different contract? So either she wants all actors to be on the same contract as Sir Ian McK, or else she only cares about the actors with speaking parts... 20 or so of them. Since they sure as hell aren't bringing actors over for minor non-speaking roles...

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