2012 - a year of departures, arrivals and Dotcom comedy
When considering the noted persons who met their maker in the calendar year 2012, two stand out for me. Neil Armstrong is an obvious choice. The demise of the first Moon walker, a man whose abilities and quiet courage were matched by a humility all too uncommon in this century, was the source of some melancholy.
If Armstrong's name was synonymous with calmness and grace under pressure another who also made his cultural mark in or about 1969 was known for making panicking an art form.
The loss of Clive Dunn aka Lance-Corporal Jack Jones, butcher, veteran of the Sudan and the Somme and sometime ladies man, was equally sad. Dad's Army might not have the historical significance of the Moon landings, but I find it just as emotionally affecting. That the voice that uttered the immortal phrase "they don't like it up 'em" and talked of "cold steel" and "fuzzy wuzzies" and the bounteous bosom of Mrs Fox was stilled at age 92, brings a tear to the eye.
At least in the 1960s celebrities had some substance to them. Some of them are still around to remind us of the fact. With new, respectable albums released by the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys in 2012 and The Rolling Stones possibly winding up for a 50th anniversary world tour, the year was one in which iconic veterans held their own. Will Kimbra be filling stadiums five decades hence? There is a certainly a greater chance of that, than of her returning to the Riverlea Xmas show.
The inanity of 2012 popular culture was best symbolised by the Gangnam Style phenomenon. That a squat Korean with a bouncy little dance and nonsensical lyrics became the toast of the internet says something about the paucity of our intellectual life. One billion people - a seventh of the world's population - have been entranced by such lines as "On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby" and "Eh-Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style". I suppose many would have said that half century back about The Beatles.
Is there any difference between Psy's drivel and throw away lyrics like "she loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah"?
On the other hand when Paul McCartney kicked off the first album in 1963 with the immortal lines "She was just 17, you know what I mean" the idea was crystal clear.
Maybe Psy's "camp as a row of tents" image is part of the point. He's the pop music expression of Korea's cult of personality, a Kim Jong Il of metasexual joviality, more popular than Ban Ki Moon and just as ineffectual.
New Zealand had a domestic equivalent of Psy, an eccentric import whose dabblings on the edge of the music business were just as idiosyncratically his own. Kim Dotcom's rhythmical postings had a far more obvious thematic point though, lambasting our hypocritical, lying politicians. John Key and John Banks were his musical stooges - one a toadying friend of corporate America, the other an amoral blaggard willing to say or swear to anything to stay in power.
The Dotcom farce was another expression of where we were at in 2012. Our government and police force emerged as provincial yokels, unquestioning puppets of that most venerable and unsullied of law enforcement organisations, the FBI.
The way legal process was shoddily flouted in the pursuit of the obese German you would have thought that Dotcom was Hermann Goring reincarnated rather than the Augustus Gloop of alleged internet piracy.
What was sometimes lost in all the low comedy of beating up a defenseless fat man and denying his pregnant wife medical attention, was that Dotcom is the face of the future.
Those who oppose his digital entrepreneurship are luddites from another age, clinging desperately to outmoded paradigms of intellectual property while their children and grand-children merrily download all the music and films they desire from Megaupload or like sites.
As the year wound to its close it was another injustice that grabbed headlines. The spectacle of Judith Collins ticking off a Canadian jurist for doing the job the taxpayers had paid him $400,000 for had all the class of a Roman Emperor cutting off a messenger's head.
Why settle for impartial advice when you have already made up your mind? Whether their names be Dotcom or Bain, let us hope in 2013 that any whom the courts cannot convict receive their due.
- © Fairfax NZ News