Big-brained or not, Paul Henry's not welcome in my house

04:44, Jul 20 2015

OPINION: It's not every day you get quoted by the NZHerald.co.nz without realising it.

In this case it doesn't even have anything to do with my ponytail, which, given that I haven't been to see my hairdresser in about 8 months (sorry, Jeff!), is at a length that would be considered "tantalising" by a certain head of state.

Nope, this time it was a remark I made on Twitter last week, namely this one.

Hey Mediaworks, I won't watch Paul Henry no matter how many promos you put him in but I might stop watching the news bulletin to avoid them.

It was just my way of expressing my annoyance that despite not having any interest in watching Paul Henry's breakfast show, there are an increasing numbers of promos that feature him during the 6pm news bulletin and it kind of ruins it for me to the degree that I'd considered the possibility of not watching it altogether JUST TO AVOID PAUL HENRY'S FACE.

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The Silver Fox took this as a definite statement of intent, wilfully ignoring my deep and abiding affection for Mike McRoberts whose voice does relaxing things to me. Mike McRoberts is like a really expensive, gorgeous silver velvet sofa like you might see in a really upmarket furniture store.

There's no way we would ever have that sofa. With a toddler in the house my lumpen, battered leather* one is only just surviving under the daily onslaught, but you can admire from a distance how lush and smooth it is and... oh God, where was I?

Um, never mind. 

Anyway, my point is that I'd really rather not have all these Henry-centric promos because of how I kind of hate that guy. No biggie. Had a bit of a complain about it (see above tweet) and moved on with my life. As of last night I was still watching 3 News, even on a Sunday when Mike "unattainable sofa" McRoberts isn't even working.

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That tweet did get a surprising number of favourites though, which suggested that I wasn't alone in feeling that way (not being alone in feeling a certain way doesn't necessarily make you right but it does make you feel less weird).

Still, it was something of a surprise to find this tweet featured in a piece written by The New Zealand Herald's Paul Little who thinks that Henry deserves a bigger audience than he's getting (partly because TVNZ viewers tend not to change channel ever), and characterised as being representative of well, I'm not really sure. But I certainly got the impression I was being accused of something dastardly:

"But a more significant and darker reason is liberal bigotry undermining Henry.

To a large sector of the audience — and, more dangerously, a large sector of those in a position to comment publicly and shape opinion — Henry is a racist and a buffoon."

Um. Whaaat?

So if I read this correctly, if you don't like Paul Henry and have no interest in watching his show you are indulging in "liberal bigotry". Which is kind of like other kinds of bigotry except you're only picking on just the one person, and you're presumably doing it because that specific person offended your liberal sensibilities.

So as far as bigotries go, it's kind of a light one, I guess? Like, it might not even qualify as bigotry? Like how new Milo is a bit like old Milo but actually, who are we kidding, it's not even real Milo.

And then if you should "be in a position to comment publicly", which I think is an Old Media way of saying "are able to operate a computer or mobile device for some purpose other than Candy Crush", and you, you know, express a negative opinion about Mr Henry somewhere on that terrifying Internet Thing, that this is "dangerous".

Presumably in the kind of way that doesn't involve any actual danger, peril or threat. I guess. I don't know, I only have an honours degree in Linguistics. This language stuff is pretty tricky.

Journalists are supposed to know what words mean though... right?

I honestly don't know if Paul Henry is racist or not. I have no window into the man's soul, presuming there is one in there, but I don't have to think he's racist to not want to watch his TV show.

But since you mention it, Mr Little, I have found some of the things he's said in the past pretty horrible. Calling them "historic" is a nice way of making them seem like they happened way back in ye olden times and so have no relevance to the modern world. Just get over it alreadly, lefties.

The problem is Henry has never demonstrated that he truly understands what was wrong about the things that he's said, so as far as I know on some level he still thinks it was OK to say them.

I don't care if he has a big brain or not. You may as well tell me has beautiful penmanship or propagates begonias in his spare time. Maybe the bits of his show during which he is not actually speaking are delightful. I do not like him. I would no more sit down to my breakfast with Paul Henry than I would a foetid turd on toast.

You don't have to agree with me. You like the show? That's great. Sing its praises, by all means, as someone "in a position to comment publicly and shape opinion". I've certainly done that in the past. And you're allowed to think my dislike of him is unfair or indicative of some lacking in the personality department, but bigotry? Really?

If Henry's show doesn't succeed because supposed liberal bigots don't like him, then maybe the solution is making a show with someone that liberal bigots worship like a god. Like John Campbell.

Oh wait, no apparently that's not the answer either.

It likely is just a case of People Who Will Never Change The Dial From Channel One, you know. So you can probably stand down on that whole "leave Paul Henry alone, LEAVE HIM ALONE" rhetoric. I for one would love to leave him alone, but there his smarmy mug is on my TV screen every night during the news.

But watching Henry's show or not is all a moot point in our house anyway as we don't usually watch breakfast television at all and if we did it would be Sesame Street and Peppa Pig. Bloody toddler liberals, ruining it for everyone.

*This is also how I describe my midriff which has been similarly destroyed by said toddler.

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