Visual Basics

So here we are: four flag designs and a collective, palpable, rising fear of any of them actually becoming our national flag.

Were I still in New Zealand, I would have been more involved on twitter and such, sniping from the sidelines, safely in the echo chamber. I live in London now, however, the exact worst time zone for engaging with NZ in real-time. Given this, resigned bemusement and the occasional cynical facebook post have had to make do, particularly informed by Elle Hunt's brilliant, damning-with-faint-praise coverage from The Guardian’s Sydney office.

Seeing the coverage spread across various, respected international media outlets has been disturbing — whether from John Oliver, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, or any of the other numerous, internationally influential people who have sought to weigh in with bemused mocking at our lame attempt at self-discovery. It’s easy for these people, though, we’re mostly just a curiosity to them. Seen from a distance as a citizen the sheer, reeking, terribleness of the exercise is much more painful.

As such, I feel it is appropriate to classify this whole exercise. Something like “Most Basic as Fuck Thing Done By A Nation State” seems fitting.

John Key, his Government, the flag selection panel and everyone who seriously believes that one of these 4, final designs is a suitable moniker for a proud, independent nation have conclusively demonstrated that New Zealand is proudly aspiring to a level of basicness heretofore thought impossible. We’re talking aspirational, purely concentrated levels of basicness that not even a Block contestants reunion party could hope to achieve.

In what world do these vacuous beings such as our Prime Minister exist where the flag selection panel made sense? This is meant to be his legacy, to define his time as New Zealand’s most important man. He has entrusted it to a few ex-athletes and business people. He has either completely ignored New Zealand’s cultural and artistic legacy, or purposefully demonstrated his government's profound ignorance of it.

We need to fight this creeping tide of basicness. We must say no to the people who are trying to claim that we are all unified by a symbol as bland and nondescript as a white fern on a black background. Other countries have ferns too, FFS.

If we had embraced the rich catalog of material that is right at our fingertips this could have been wonderful. We have a proud artistic history, and in ignoring it the government and their flag panel have pissed all over it. Told all those people, both those who have created it and those who hold it dear, that they don’t matter.

This whole process has turned us into an international laughing stock. If our fellow countrymen vote for one of these flags in the final binding referendum then we will deservedly have earned and confirmed our reputation as a tasteless, basic little nation at the bottom of the world.

Because of the above, I’m now in the position of passionately advocating for people to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote to preserve our crusty, colonial relic.

The basics have ruined our opportunity to come up with a great symbol for ourselves as a smart, interesting nation. Fuck them.