2010 saw an explosion in New Zealand internet memes – ideas that spread on the web. Here’s a list of Kiwi memes that were popular in twenty ten…
10. Justin Bieber’s ‘German’ confusion
When Justin Bieber came to New Zealand in May, Music channel C4 sat him down for a chat and asked if “Bieber is German for basketball”. “We don’t say that in America,” Bieber replied, mishearing ‘German’ as ‘Jewman’. Instantly, a meme was born.
What we learned: Bieber gaffs are internet gold.
Number of views: 357,000+
Number of Facebook groups: 100+
9. Lady Gaga Ballet
New Zealand Ballet dancer Jaered Glavin got his colleagues dancing to a remixed version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’. Helped by front page coverage on Stuff.co.nz, the video racked up over 80,000 views before falling victim to a copyright claim.
What we learned: New Zealand media are as keen to create internet memes as they are to cover them.
Number of views: 80,000+
8. “My argument is so powerful it's not necessary to talk about it”
Right-wing ACT party member Rick Giles went on TV3’s Sunrise breakfast programme to express his opposition to Earth Hour. When challenged about his views by host Oliver Driver, Rick uttered the immortal phrase. Cue derision from Oliver and Facebook users.
Alas, one YouTube hit was not enough to save Sunrise, which had suffered low ratings for a long time. Although, some observers cited the interview as the reason, suggesting that Rick’s argument was so powerful it ended a TV show.
What we learned: Any argument can be won by saying, “I think my argument is so powerful that it's not necessary to talk about it”. On second thoughts, maybe not.
Number of views: 43,000+
Facebook group members: 9,100+
7. Xena’s Sexy Coal
2010 was the year the National government considered mining in New Zealand’s National Parks. Robyn Malcolm and Lucy ‘Xena Warrior Princess’ Lawless teamed up with Greenpeace to film a humorous rebuttal using an already-established meme.
The girls – complete in swandries and gumboots – ring Energy and Resources Minister Minister Gerry Brownlee from a West Coast phone booth. “Say ‘coal’, Gerry. Say ‘coal’,” coos Lawless. “Sexy coal” replies Brownlee – a clip dropped in from a YouTube video he uploaded about the virtues of mining. The clip ends with Malcolm and Lawless draped on a coal heap: “There’s nothing quite as sexy as fossil fuels”. Point made.
What we learned: The hundreds of videos uploaded on YouTube by New Zealand’s political parties do have a use: satire.
Number of views: 24,000+
6. Save Radio New Zealand
When Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman threatened to cut the funding of state broadcaster Radio New Zealand, a Facebook page sprung up in response. Thousands clicked to ‘Save Radio New Zealand’. At one point it had more fans than Prime Minister John Key’s Facebook page. Save Radio New Zealand qualifies as a meme for its viral nature and unplanned organic attention it received.
What we learned: Facebook can be a powerful tool for grassroots activism.
Number of Facebook fans: 29,700+
Labour MP Shane Jones was implicated in the ministerial spending scandal after records revealed he’d used taxpayer-funded credit cards to pay to watch pornographic videos in hotel rooms. Twitter users invented a new hashtag and soon twits were posting potential titles of the videos Jones had watched.
What we learned: Improper spending can have hilarious consequences.
Number of tweets: 500+
4. Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe’s “bollocks”
When Listener magazine wrote an editorial suggesting Air New Zealand was becoming a budget carrier, CEO Rob Fyfe took to YouTube to issue a rebuke in sign-language.
Air New Zealand has successfully used viral video in the past to get attention. The 2009 ‘Bare Essentials’ campaign saw cabin crew - and Fyfe - dressed in nothing but body paint video, gaining the airline millions of views and international media attention.
Not featured in this list, however, is Rico the ‘furry pervert’ Air New Zealand YouTube campaign starring a puppet. It may have chalked up the views, but it was too forced to be a meme and most of the discussion around it was about the level of taste displayed (or lack thereof).
What we learned: Corporates are turning to YouTube to gain media coverage and to hit back at bad PR.
Number of views: 30,000+
3. Paul Henry’s Sheila Dikshit hysterics
Serial offender New Zealand Breakfast TV host Paul Henry put an another nail in the coffin of his career when he laughed at the name of Indian diplomat Shelia Dikshit. The comments were initially ignored, but a second incident on a similarly racial theme brought the comments back to the public’s attention and sealed Henry’s demise.
What we learned: Paul Henry repeatedly put New Zealand in the spotlight… for all the wrong reasons.
Number of views: 886,000+
2. JGeek’s ‘Maori Boy’
Former music TV host Jermaine Leef and his geeks brought their ‘Metro-Maori electro craze’ to the interwebs. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next.
What we learned: New Zealanders can produce internet-only videos of world-class standard.
Number of views: 228,000+
1. Paul Henry’s hate mail acceptance speech
Paul Henry was voted presenter of the year at the Qantas Film & Television Awards. His acceptance speech concluded with an expletive-ridden letter from a ‘fan’, which declared Mr Henry, ‘the most insulting, little self-conceited little mongrel p***k on TV’. The speech was YouTube’s most-watched video in New Zealand for 2010.
What we learned: Why write a speech when you can just read your mail?
Number of views: 349,000+
Bonus Meme: Always Blow On The Pie
It’s from October 2009, but it deserves acknowledgement as the forerunner for this year’s crop of kiwi internet memes. In this clip, a New Zealand police officer offers advice on the proper handling of meat pies. Safer communities together, y’all.What we learned: Pies are ‘thermo-nuclear’ at 3 am.
Number of views: 164,000+