Less is Mau and NZ Media Sexism


One of several promo pics. LAWRENCE SMITH/FAIRFAXNZ

This post is not about Alison (‘Ali’) Mau’s sexuality (pronounced More). That is her affair (literally) and is pruriently invaded elsewhere by other media (the ‘L’ word attracts coverage; and Mau is now an advocate for gay political initiatives, so is fashionably popular) but about WHY Alison Mau is a ‘celebrity’ in this country.

A long profile piece in Sunday Magazine by Adam Dudding on Alison Mau.  One has to ask why?

Well, she’s attractive; blond; had a spectacular breakup with husband and fellow-newsreader Simon Dallow; dissolved that family unit with two kids to eventually follow a lesbian relationship with a woman ten years her junior; has had her private life lived out through prurient media (you can bet the relationship will be profiled in detail if it ever hits speed wobbles); she’s a ‘celebrity;’ and new co-host of TVNZ’s revitalised 7pm news slot Seven Sharp after the much-covered departure of Mark Sainsbury and CloseUp.  This profile piece on Mau is rather close-up, too close up.

So I guess it’s because she is co-host of a new flagship TV show, right ? Nope, silly. Because co-host Greg Boyed (described as “Clark Kent-ish” in the Sunday piece) is not equally covered (perhaps he’s next week, no one ever said ever).  The piece is also 95% about her sexuality and personal relationships. It’s not about her job, which gets meagre reference.

Alison Mau is covered like this, because New Zealand is tiny. We don’t have lots of famous interesting people (viz the canonising of another news anchor this week). News anchors become celebrities because they are on television. We all watch TV and they are national wallpaper. I hate this. It’s not because they have anything to say, necessarily, beyond a script provided to them (they are automatons), are necessarily great people, it’s simply because they are there. And the attractive ones get focus, because everyone likes beautiful things, like flowers in a hall.

“…she routinely appears in those hottest-women lists…”

Ex-husband Simon Dallow has not had the same exposure. That’s because he’s not a hot blond in a relationship with another woman. Mau’s private life should be just that, private. I feel embarrassed at its public parade, for them too, and that this is the main hub to a cultivated media persona (reluctantly by Mau). Her sexuality should not be a basis for anything.

We can ask legitimately, is the absence of a similar examination of co-host Greg Boyed’s private life, sexist?  Of course it is.  This is all about sex appeal and other sexuality.

Like Lucy Lawless as Xena-Warrior Princess (rather than Dr Quinn-Medicine Woman, swords being more sexy [penile?] than apothecaries) appropriated by lesbians as a powerful woman to engender their cause, Mau fits comfortably as a pin-up girl for bisexual, gay or lesbian (whichever, it’s not clear) marketing.  And we have a very sensitive and controversial parliamentary law in the public arena right now.  So I guess another reason for the profile is perhaps Sunday Magazine is pushing a particular barrow. It feels like sexuality politics advocacy. The title is, ironically, “Straight Talking.

The Magazine piece by Adam Dudding is no dud, it’s actually quite fun, but it focusses almost exclusively on her sexuality with a bit of heterosexual back story before she ‘chose’ or ‘discovered’ she was bisexual (“after experimenting” post-Dallow).

Stuff promo

Stuff promo

“Ali Mau gets up close and personal with…”

Why do we need to be up close and personal with her?

“…the end of a  marriage; the romance with a woman 10 years  her junior; the doomed attempts to fend off the media’s fascination with that romance; the eventual emergence as celebrity flag-bearer for gay marriage and societal tolerance…”

The NZ media feeds off prurience and salaciousness.

The sycophancy is set to full flood-gate mode,

“Telly blonde, former member of  New Zealand’s leading (says who?) hetero TV power-couple… Her smiles were warm and authentic…TV execs hire people for their warmth and authenticity…She looks great.”

“Beauty matters on TV. For that pretty London-based 23-year-old, this was “fabulous”, but she later got sick of the way looks were equated with stupidity.”  

Oh really?  Later we’re told,

When I point out that she routinely appears in those hottest-women lists, she says, “Ooh, that’s good,” with something suspiciously close to enthusiasm.” 

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

I agree with Mau, this is an ugly aspect of TV media.  I do like the older-aged journalists and anchors that frequent overseas television news.  In New Zealand, they all seem so young (Lindsay Perigo had a go at this last month Perigo Lashes the TV Young Ones) making our TV thin on gravitas. When it comes to covering Christchurch earthquakes, or mine disasters, it shows. So, it is perhaps good to have Mau back, aged 47, except that it’s all about her private life and personal sexuality.  Enough already. I’m sure she doesn’t want to be defined solely in this way, but in a small country like ours, the media grab at this stuff.

The second main section of the Dudding piece is about her marriage breakup, titled, “BREAKDOWN OF A MARRIAGE.”

The second sub heading is‘THERE WILL BE PEOPLE WHO SAY I’M NOT A PROPER DYKE.’ “

We never actually get more than a short sentence or two about the 7pm flagship show, the whole point of having media coverage of Alison Mau I would have thought.  No, this is actually all about Alison’s changing sexuality, and other salacious details of her life behind closed doors and on Twitter.  It is so boring, and so indicative of the complete breakdown of any real serious journalism in this country, as bemoaned by several past worthies of the industry.

I wish Alison well, but she got scalped on this one, and so were any of us who got sucked into reading this entertaining gossip piece, as weighty as pavlova.  Less would have been Mau.

The full Sunday Magazine piece can be found online at Stuff.  Not gonna give ya the link.

About coNZervative

A blog about politics, life, culture, literature, music and thought from Christchurch, New Zealand [NZ] (the home of 10,000 earthquakes since 4 Sept. 2010) built because of the bullying and cajoling of Liberal opinion-makers (journalism and Hollywood) against conservative-minded people who are as entitled to opinion and a perspective as anyone; and because Conservativism has served the world well. John Stringer is a New Zealander (Christchurch) in his 50s married to an American from Taco Bell; they have 5 adult children in 3 diff. countries. John is an ex-Anglican pastor, a teacher, published author (NZ), novelist (USA) and cartoonist (Aust, NZ), and has spent the last 25 years in NZ politics with the National party (he was a parliamentary candidate in 1999). There was a stint in London working for the British Conservative party as well, where he did media minding and campaign work with several Brit cabinet ministers, including Baroness Thatcher, Baroness Blatch, Michael Howard, Tom King, among others. He has an MA (classical studies, Victoria); is a graduate of the New York Film Academy; and has various awards for writing. His passions include British bulldogs, fly fishing, and history (Ancient and WWII). Winston Churchill was mainly a “Conservative” but also a “Liberal” MP between 1900-1964. A Member of Parliament for 64 years, he contested 21 parliamentary elections (for Oldham, Manchester North West, Dundee, and Epping/Woodford). Throughout his career Churchill stood for liberty. He believed in open debate and freedom of speech, and opposed any system or ideology that tried to dictate the way one should think. Churchill felt deeply that disagreements within the democratic system should not degenerate into personal animosities. RIDER: This site is not connected to nzconservative, a Catholic site, or NZ Conservative Party, although from time-to-time I share some of the views espoused by both groups and other sites I follow, as published; I am an independent thinker and blogger.
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