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Sir Robert Jones

Why ponytailgate is nonsense

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News broke that the Prime Minister, presumably exercising a perk of office, had seemingly hurled a coffee-shop waitress to the floor, then not once but twice, and regardless of his accompanying wife’s feelings let alone those of the other patrons, their children, two sensitive pet dogs and a wheel-chaired granny, violently had his way with her. Then emerging triumphantly from under the table wearing her knickers on his head, he’d searched around for fresh victims, before launching salivating and naked into the street in a quest for fresh flesh to commit his vile corruptions on. At that point I made two predictions.

First, that within the hour, that groaning giveaway of journalistic shoal fish mediocrity would emerge, namely the appendix “gate”. Sure enough, exactly 38 minutes later, the Stuff (Fairfax) website kicked off with the first “ponygate”, the others all duly lapdogging along thereafter. My second prediction was that the expected flow of contrived outrage from middle-age women (older ladies are more sensible), perpetual offence seekers, would bear a direct co-relationship in their venom with the authors’ ugliness.

By God I scored a bullseye with that one.

Ponytails, which I’m a fan of, have been tugged by males since they were invented by the third century BC Macedonian poet Samus, who wrote lyrically and at length on the desirability of pulling them. Doubtless you already know that. Come to think of it, having an interest in the classics, I dutifully give my 7-year-old daughter’s ponytail the occasional tug. That incestuous confession should excite diverse madwomen from the Human Rights mob, Children’s Commission and Women’s Affairs, all utterly unnecessary agencies which greatly irritate everyone at the long-suffering taxpayer’s expense.

By an extraordinary coincidence, when this preposterous and infantile beat-up began, I was halfway through reading, probably for the 30th time, Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, published over 80 years ago. This wonderful comic novel thereafter became known as the journalists’ bible, although nowadays few journalists under 35 would have heard of it, or for that matter know what it is if you waved it in front of them. “It’s called a book, Bill.” “Aw yeah, I’ve heard about them” would be a likely dialogue based on my experience.

Scoop, as many of you will know, sends up gloriously the news creation activities of journalists, and in particular their ability to actually make their fictitious accounts a reality through repetition. Politicians are particularly vulnerable. Nothing has changed since Waugh penned this classic, thus Scoop-wise, I followed events as they unravelled, regarding the John-Key-vicious-attack-on-an-innocent-virgin story.

To kick off my study, the following morning I tuned in to the TV shows, a torturous experience with TV One offering a giggly girl and a bland host. This proved too much to bear, waiting for them to get on with their PM’s-appalling-serial-sexual-activities discussion, so I switched to Paul Henry. Lo and behold, just in time, as he had Judith Collins and Annette King there to discuss Key’s sexual gluttony.

They’re politicians and understandably grab any television opportunity, but both women simply couldn’t deliver what was plainly wanted. Judith, possibly secretly gleeful at Key’s troubles, nevertheless had enough integrity to merely frown a bit. Annette, as a senior Opposition leader who’s been round the block a few million laps, tried and failed to express indignation, for she doubtless has suffered dozens of media beat-ups and knows them when she sees them. Meanwhile, Key, presumably unsated, had left for abroad, probably seeking more exotic victims to exercise his lust on.

More bandwagon predictability followed in the form of the poor man’s Gareth Morgan, the attention-seeking convicted fraudster, blackmailer, and bankrupt Graham McCready, who announced his intentions to file a criminal suit against Key. In justification, he declared he had years of being bullied at school and in the marketplace. My word, that’s a surprise. I wonder why.

In the interim, to keep this corpse of a story afloat, journalists scoured for comment. In due course we’ll hear opinions from the Pope, the Mayor of Stratford, the national under-21 women’s darts champion and God knows who else.

I ripped into a journo who called over another matter regarding this absurdity. “The world’s press has run it,” he bleated. Of course they have; they’re journalists, always happy to join in the fun.

I spoke to dozens of people about this matter and, confirming my suspicion, the response was uniform, namely contempt for the media for flogging this non-story. Newspapers and television, in the face of the technological assault, are fighting for survival. They did themselves no favours with this nonsense. Shame on them.

First published in the NZ Herald.