Election scandal finally revealed!

It's terrible to gloat, and it's probably ill-advised to pick sides in a court battle. But when that battle is a musician versus a bunch of politicians?

There's been so much excitement in the aftermath of the recent election.

Perhaps I'm a little naive, but didn't elections used to be a bit, er, boring? Not any more! Last time there was Kim Dotcom, Hone Harawira and all sorts of bad craziness, and this time we get a cliff-hanger and Mike Hoskings looking continually depressed. The hijinks never stop.

But in all that excitement, I don't think enough attention was paid to the decision, finally released last week after many months, in that big stoush between the National Party and Eminem, where the brave politicians were ordered to pay more than half-a-million in damages after a trial described by Eminem's representative as “distasteful”.

“It wasn't just slightly,” he said, “it was overtly insulting.”

That seems a fair reaction to National fixer Steven Joyce's opinion: “I think they're just trying to shake us down for some money before the election.”

This all took place back in May, when Jeff Bass, actual composer and producer for Eminem, travelled from faraway Detroit to play the opening guitar riff from 8 Mile live in the courtroom.

It was a lot more fun than yer average shoplifting case. Let's wallow in nostalgia for a minute…

The boom

There was the National Party, via their lawyer, dissing Eminem, describing the (multi-award-winning-gazillion-dollar-selling) song as having “low-level originality”. Said lawyer had clearly been studying this musical phenomenon known as hip-hop, because he was able to describe it so insightfully: “It's more than just the boom, boom, boom, boom,” he said.

He also called musicologists to attempt to smear the famous rapper's work. One, a Dr Kirsten Zemke, had this learned opinion: “There is no musical meaning for the term ‘essence'.

If there was something that could be called essence, it would be instead referring to the flow, lyrics, life, history, imagery, videos and engagements with the hip hop community, and the fierceness, anger, vulnerability or timbre of Eminem.”

No wonder Eminem's lawyer responded: “The submission really defies common sense and the evidence.” Part of that evidence was the uncomfortable detail that the track used by the National Party was called ‘Eminem Esque'. Their lawyer claimed the name wasn't a factor. The judge responded: “It's a little clue, though, isn't it?”

Pretty legal

The highlight for most of us watching, though, was always Steven Joyce, the man who memorably described the use of the song as “pretty legal”.

That earned him a second appearance on John Oliver's American TV comedy show. The first was, of course, when Mr Joyce was publicly nutted while giving a speech by a thrown pink sex toy.

What with that, and the general humour generated by John Oliver from people with New Zealand accents trying to pronounce “Eminem”, it's no wonder they look at us oddly when we travel to America. However, it's not like this is something new for the National Party. In 2008 John Key ordered the destruction of 20,000 DVDs featuring him in a video entitled “Ambitious for New Zealand”.

It turned out that Coldplay's record company, EMI, was a bit concerned that the background music on the party's video was a little too similar to Coldplay's song Clocks.

And as far back as 1984, Warner Brothers threatened to sue National for breach of copyright after the theme song for the film Chariots of Fire was used in an ad. Talk about repeat offenders.

The upshot is that it would appear the National Party has been left with a $650,000 hole in its budget. Not only that, but this time around, obviously cowed by trouble that had arisen previously, National opted for possibly the most boring electoral music in the history of boring electoral music. You could call it “Bland Esque”.

And look what happened...

watusi@thesun.co.nz



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Supermoon from Dive Cresent, 8pm last Sunday evening. Photo: Sally Garner.

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