Recognising some of the best and worst things that happened in New Zealand this year.
What began as a “Person of the Year 2015” post has mutated and bloated out into the spicy shambles you see below. It’s been a hectic year for our little island nation with plenty to laugh and cry about. So, without much further ado, I give you: The Inaugural Rumi Awards: For Outstanding Examples of Various Phenomena Within Arbitrarily Selected Categories.
Best Album Release From A Nielson Brother: Multi-Love
Back in 2012 the Kody-led Opossum released Electric Hawaii and eked out Ruben’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra as my favourite post-Mint Chicks project to date. This year we got another showdown of sorts between UMO’s Multi-Love and Kody’s new project, Silicon, with Personal Computer. Both albums were on heavy rotation on my Spotify account but ultimately Multi-Love won out thanks in large part to the killer opening track and unbelievably catchy Can’t Keep Checking My Phone. This might have been my favourite album of 2015 by anyone’s brother anywhere and that would top both Sufjan and Kendrick’s stellar contributions.
Best International Debut of a New Zealand Film: What We Do In The Shadows
Yes, it technically came out last year but the big US debut was in February of this year. I was worried this wouldn’t be a hit due to my typical and unfounded kiwi insecurity that Americans don’t “get” our humour and yet, like Flight of the Conchords before it, WWDitS released to overwhelming critical success. This might be cheating but it’s been a slow-ish year for NZ film, it was this or Ghost Shark 2, so I’m more than happy to just plug this movie again. Go watch it, it’s on Netflix now, though you will need a proxy to watch it in NZ – go figure.
Best Accidental Marketing Scheme: Into the River
We made the slightly embarrassing decision this year to ban a book for the first time in 22 years. In a magnificent example of the Streisand Effect, Family First made Ted Dawe’s three-year-old young-adult novel into the most talked-about book of the year. The ban has since been lifted so if you need a good last minute gift for your niece/nephew this year pick up a copy at your local book shop – obviously don’t buy your own kids this smut.
Most Consistently Cringe-Inducing Politician: John Key
It was a close race between Key and his fellow sexual miscreant, Colin Craig, for the dubious honour of Most Consistently Cringe-Inducing Politician of 2015. Our PM managed to clinch the deal at the last minute with his Mariah Carey Christmas cover followed by an incredibly tasteless prison rape joke on the radio last week. This combined with the revelation of JK’s troubling proclivity for pulling ponytails from earlier this year, Craig and his Mr. X pamphlet didn’t really stand a chance. Disgraced Auckland mayor Len Brown is probably thrilled to know he’s only the third creepiest political figure in the country now.
Most Insane Beehive Question Time Moment: Survivors Walkout
It started with John Key’s characteristically imprudent blustering about the opposition “supporting rapists” and was made worse by Speaker David Carter refusing to censure him. A handful of MPs attempted to request an apology and retraction during question time the next day, opening with what should have been dispute-ending revelations: “As the victim of a sexual assault…”. Instead they were ejected from parliament and NZ made international headlines once again for awful reasons. Wooh!
Best Write-up of the Flag Referendum Process: Radio NZ – Toby & Toby
I wrote about it a couple of times here on Ruminator but giving myself this award would be both self-indulgent and severely undeserving. Toby & Toby published a couple of pieces on this subject that, along with many of the other entries in their column, made for some of my favourite lunch time reads this year. Remember to vote to keep the old flag in the next referendum so that we can try again sooner rather than later and give Lazar Kiwi the victory she deserves.
Most Earnest Reporting of Absurd News Story: Stuff.co.nz – ‘Mystery Pooper’
Even manager Pete Thompson couldn’t help but crack a wry smile while informing viewers that the insider’s term for a pool dookie is a “code brown”. This was serious business for some and a bizarre scatological comedy for others. Good on Stuff for keeping it professional in any case; shame on Stuff for stealing other people’s content (again!).
Best Episodic Poll-Based Interactive Twitter Thread: Nic Sampson’s Choose Your Own Adventure
A throwback to the days of Alternamorphs and Give Yourself Goosebumps, Auckland-based humourist Nic Sampson created a spooktacular story over the course of a few weeks that enraptured his followers while simultaneously capturing the crushing frustration of a University group project. It’s too late to participate now but is well worth a read regardless. I still can’t believe we went with the left clown (This link is pretty big story spoiler just FYI), I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Democracy simply doesn’t work.
Most Exciting (and Terrifying) Witch Hunt: Natalia Kills & Willy Moon
From what I can tell it’s been roughly a week since someone last called Natalia Kills a cunt on Twitter:
I know she’s a complete and utter cunt, but Natalia Kills does make really good music
— Danny (@shckldg) December 12, 2015
Needless to say the former celebrity power couple probably still look back on that day with an ounce of regret. What began as some good old fashioned schadenfreude got a bit dicey once it caught the attention of some of the scarier corners of the internet. Thankfully nobody actually made good on their death threats so we don’t have to feel to bad about the whole thing. The big takeaway? When the showrunner asks you to try and be more edgy in order to stir up ratings, maybe get them to vet your script first.
Most Underrated Chocolate Milk: Puhoi Valley
At great personal risk to myself and those around me I recklessly consumed lactose just to see what all the Lewis Road Creamery fuss was about. The result was a churning gut and bitter disappointment. Puhoi Valley released a similar product with little to no fanfare this year that I thought much more deserving of the hype. Am I a company shill or just an insufferable hipster? You be the judge.
Hon. Mention: Little Island Coconut Creamery – a haven for the lacticly challenged.
Best ‘Best of 2015’ List: The Spinoff – ‘Who’s A Good Boy?’
I’ve never met a protagonist that I care about more than their dog. Every 90’s disaster movie ever exploited this widely-held value by continually putting dogs at risk – be it from lava, meteorites, or alien death rays. When humans die in action movies it’s usually a product of their own ignorance/hubris/disregard for nature but when you actually kill a dog it will be the only thing people remember about your film (this link is also a huge spoiler). For this reason I appreciate a list that pays homage to the media appearances of what is, objectively speaking, the best animal.
Best New Communications & Policy Director for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand: David Cormack
I assume you’re doing a stand-up job in your new role because if you’d messed it up yet we’d have probably all heard about it by now. Thanks for taking a series of increasingly ill-advised chances on me, looking forward to 2016 unless you were serious about that whole firing thing.
Aaaaand that’s probably the last thing we’ll be publishing for the year, thanks for reading. Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!