Dr Heather Kavan
The election and ‘Dirty Politics’ dominated Massey University’s 2014 Quote of the Year competition – and a quote from the man at the centre of the storm was voted as ‘Most Memorable.’
Controversial blogger Cameron Slater garnered 21% of the 4197 votes cast to take out the competition with his quote, “I play politics like Fijians play rugby. My role is smashing your face into the ground.”
It was not surprising that Mr Slater has remained top of mind after last year’s bruising election campaign. We have seen in previous years that contentious quotes can be popular. But the 2014 results were more unpredictable than usual, with quotes emerging from the election in the top four, slugging it out for weeks.
In the last days before the poll closed, almost 40% of the votes were split between two quotes that referred to Cameron Slater: Pam Corkery’s one and Slater’s own. This was not altogether surprising. Slater is a colourful and controversial New Zealander who seems to like bold declarative sentences, and neither he nor Corkery are known for their reticence.
Unlike Maurice Williamson, winner in 2013 (for his famous gay rainbow speech), the 2014 list had less inspirational rhetoric. It was the political insults and gaffes that stuck in people’s minds.
Internet Party press secretary Pam Corkery’s emotional tirade (“You work in news you puffed up little shit!…When will you glove puppets of Cameron Slater just piss off?”) came in second place with nearly 17% of the vote.
I think the footage made the outburst memorable. Corkery later speculated that if she had been a male, the quote might not have received so much attention, and I think that is a good point.
A well-dressed female swearing like a trooper takes people by surprise. Also, the glove puppets part was witty, given its spontaneity.
Similarly, the power of (Economic Development Minister) Steven Joyce’s quote (“We think it is, um, pretty legal”), which came third, was magnified by television footage.
“Those two words ‘pretty legal’ might have been forgotten had they been printed in a newspaper. But we saw footage of Joyce smiling as he said the words, prefaced by US comedian John Oliver describing the utterance as a ‘brilliant legal defence.’
This provided a moment of humour during a steady diet of negative news items and dirty politics.
The first quote not related to the 2014 election came in sixth and was drawn from an anti-drink driving campaign.
I was pleasantly surprised that ‘No more beersies for you’ made it to the top six, and I imagine that the Health Promotion Agency would also be surprised.
Following are the finalists for the 2014 New Zealand Quote of the Year, in order of the number of votes polled:
“I play politics like Fijians play rugby. My role is smashing your face into the ground” (Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater after Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics was released).
“You work in news you puffed up little shit!…When will you glove puppets of Cameron Slater just piss off?” (Internet Party press secretary Pam Corkery at a campaign event, when the media kept asking for an interview with Kim Dotcom).
“We think it’s, um, pretty legal.” (Steven Joyce asked by reporters about the use of a song for the National election campaign that sounded very similar to one by Eminem).
“I am ashamed being a man” (David Cunliffe’s unusual apology at Labour’s domestic violence policy launch at a Women’s Refuge forum).
“It was all steam and no hangi” (Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis describing Internet-Mana after it failed to deliver on the hype on election day).
“No more beersies for you” (Tagline in Health Promotion Agency advertising campaign to reduce harmful alcohol consumption).
“I did not have textual relations with that blogger” (Spoof of John Key’s initial denial that he had received texts from Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater tweeted by Lloyd Burr of RadioLive).
“He could probably survive shooting little kittens in his garden with a shotgun” (Kim Dotcom on how little impact Dirty Politics had on Prime Minister John Key’s approval ratings).
“It terrifies me how much of our economy is stuck inside a dairy cow” (Comedian Te Radar talking to farmers at Fieldays).
“Get past the breath-taking PR snow job” (Former CERA communications adviser Tina Nixon describing the press conference to announce the resignation of chief executive Roger Sutton after a sexual harassment complaint).
Dr Heather Kavan is Speech Writing Specialist at Massey University. She runs the annual ‘Quote of the Year’ Compeition.