Well(y) why not?

I just had an epiphany, and I realised that I’m totally on the wrong side of the Wellywood sign issue. It should definitely be built.

Remember that bank commercial a few years back, where the older gentleman talks about checking his bank balance on “The Interwebs”? Remember how, thanks to that commercial, calling the Internet the Interwebs suddenly became a meme, and spread around the whole world to the point that even XKCD was making fun of it?

If the Wellywood sign gets built, we all know that that’s exactly what’s going to happen to Wellington. Everyone in the world will start referring to Wellington as “Wellywood”. Purely ironically at first, but in the space of a few months, or a year at the most, it’ll become mainstream and a real fraction of people will use Wellywood in place of Wellington in day to day conversation.

If you don’t believe me, just look and see that it’s already happening on Twitter.

But that’s not my point. My point is that Wellington totally deserves this. Because, let’s face it: New Zealand is really, really shit at names.

New Zealand is full of lame, derivative names for things in the hope of absorbing some of their glory.

Let’s start with sports teams. There’s nothing wrong with the name ‘All Blacks’ after all, that’s just naming your team after the clothes you wear, it has a long and glorious tradition. But because they got famous, every other NZ sports team has to have a riff on the name. So our soccer team is the ‘All Whites‘.  Then we have the Black Caps, the Black Sox, the Ice Blacks, Black Magic, it goes on. Our basketball team is the ‘Tall Blacks’, because puns are great.

Breaking from that tradition, at least we have the Silver Ferns, but they got famous and successful too, so of course that means we now have to have the ‘Tall Ferns’, the ‘White Ferns’ and naturally, the ‘Black Ferns’. The women’s soccer team is even called the ‘Football Ferns’. I guess the fact that we have to include the name of the sport in the team name means we finally just completely lost track.

Although, to give credit where it’s due, the of name of our official Badminton team, the “Black Cocks”, is awesome.

We’re no better with place names, really. We have one of the most beautiful, unique mountain ranges in the world, so we called it the Alps. At least we stuck ‘Southern’ on it to stop the Swiss from suing (can a mountain sue?).

Hell, I live in Dunedin. That literally means the Edinburgh of the South! All our street names are taken directly from the Edinburgh A-Z.

So why are we this way? When we are required to come up with original names, we seem to come a bit unstuck, and we come up with names like “North Island”, and “South Island”. Which, to be fair, is actually pretty unique in the world, if not exactly original.

It would seem that places like Wellington, Nelson and Collingwood, all named for English military heroes, definitely aren’t in keeping with the grand tradition of New Zealand place names.

And so: Wellington shall become Wellywood and Nelson can become South Wellywood*.

Finally, I propose that Collingwood gets together and renames itself Collington, just to fuck with the Wellingtonites. That’d be sweet.

Because copying the names of famous places is the New Zealand way. And if you don’t believe me, ask these guys.

Wellywood

I’m going to make a few predictions, I need to hurry up and write this piece or my predictions will come true and it won’t be nearly so impressive.

  1. The ‘Wellywood’ sign will not be built.
  2. If construction of it actually goes ahead, which I find highly unlikely, it will be beset by vandalism and sabatage.
  3. If they actually complete the sign, they’ll have to spend so much money on, first, fences; second, cameras; and third, maybe even security guards to protect it from further vandalism that eventually they’ll decide the cost is prohibitive and give up on it.
  4. They’ll blame Wellingtonians as a group of philistines and savages lacking vision for this horrible display of bad behaviour. They’ll adopt a whole ‘this is why you can’t have nice things’ attitude to the whole episode.

In the few days since the news broke that they were going ahead with their scheme to build a huge sign saying ‘Wellywood’ on the side of the hill, there’s been, again, a huge outcry opposing it. But the reaction of the Wellington Airport guys planning the sign has caused me to reconsider what I think is going on.

What this is, is a fabulous display of narcisissm at work.

What seems to have happened here is that the CEO of Wellington Airport has had an idea. He is as convinced of his genius as Harold Camping. Indeed, like the hapless doomsayer,  he is even more convinced of his righteousness in the face of near-universal condemnation.

The only way you could top that level of narcissism is if “The Idea” is to slavishly copy a world-famous icon of narcissism built to celebrate the most narcissistic place on the entire planet. And then finally, to be complete confounded as to why people could possibly think this was an embarrassing idea?

Just how deep can this rabbit hole possibly go?

What kind of a person looks at the kind of response he’s getting for this, and says “The small learn to shout the loudest because they have to,” or that having a ridiculous homage to another city’s icon will put Wellington on ”everyone’s bucket list”.

Especially when people like Geoff Murphy, the people you claim to be wanting to celebrate, are saying things like ”I think it’s f …ing stupid. It is copying a foreign, bullshit glamour idea and it’s the pits of what people can aspire to.”

This is the capital of our country. If the sign is actually built, you’ll always know exactly who’s who when you’re landing in Wellington. The people with red faces, refusing to look out the window, will be the Kiwis, the ones pointing and laughing will be everybody else.

Frankly, that’s almost definitely not going to happen. So many people hate the idea so much that the chances of the sign not being interfered with are slim to none. It’s going to be like mob rule.

A monument or a sign is a perfectly good idea, but what you’re planning to put there is just tragic, and embarrassing. The funny thing is, the people it embarrasses most are the ones who don’t realise how embarrassing it is.

Celebrating Wellington’s film industry is easy, you only have to do two things:

  1. Celebrate Wellington.
  2. Make good movies in Wellington.

The rest will come naturally.