I love when a news story pops up that suddenly forces people to use an otherwise rarely uttered word. I briefly felt that way about "liquefaction" before the novelty well and truly wore off but this week "effigy" is very much the word of the moment.
In case the electioneering, spin-doctoring, speechifying, and general mugging at every available photo op in the lead up to September's election has already become too much for you and you're hiding under a rock until the whole thing blows over this is the guts of it. Person's unknown stick John Key's head (as purloined from a election billboard) on top of straw man type figure. Set fire to it. Video of such gets posted on Facebook. Politicos and commentators (but not the NZ Fire Service as far as I know) point fingers and get in a big flap about it.
The admins of this Facebook page which posted the video but has been also falsely been attributed as the creator of the video are, if their recent posts are anything to go by, quite frankly, OVER IT.
Now, there are three things that we need to take from this story. First, the word "effigy" is awesome. It's got "eff" in it. It's got "fig" in it. It sounds like what you'd say if you were hankering for a bit of a swear but couldn't say so. Or how one should describe the bad language of someone else when interviewed for the television about being threatened by a knife-wielding robber. "I can't really say exactly the words he used, but it was very effigy".
Second, we should all understand the difference between posting a video (or image) on Facebook, and being the person who made that video or image and attribute appropriately whenever possible.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, we, as a nation, are clearly not burning stuff in effigy often enough if this is the drama that results.
Now, I know what you're thinking "perhaps someone who recently accidently set herself on fire shouldn't be encouraging people to burn stuff". To which I would say both, fair enough, but also, maybe that makes me the perfect person?
I guess what I'm trying to say is that burning things in effigy has a long and glorious tradition. It's a fairly strident, somewhat risky but essentially non-violent manner of protest. I'd wager there are fewer A&E trips that result from the immolation of poorly fashioned politician stand ins than from Guy Fawkes Day celebrations (which ironically enough used to involve burning an effigy of Mr Fawkes, who himself was a political protester/terrorist).
I've never done it myself, but I've been pondering it and if I absolutely had to choose someone to create a figure of and set fire to it, here's who I'd pick.
- Whoever made the call to cancel Firefly. You dick. Yes, I'm still pissed about this.
- Simon Cowell
- Jeremy Clarkson
- Just about every politician
- That crazy boss I had that one time. She was a nightmare.
- Barney the Dinosaur
- Joan Rivers (it wouldn't even have to be lifelike, in fact, it would be better if it weren't)
- Walder Frey
Now, I'm not saying that you definitely should set fire to an effigy but if you were going to, who would it represent?