Saturday, 26 September 2015

Looks a Bit Peaky to Me, Red

We should all know the story by now.

Some dude (John Key) decides that we should change the flag, gets a bunch of people together, comes up with a bloody awful way of ordering things and then sits back and expects to ride the wave of popular support. Except it never happened. In fact, the closest it came to is, well, the post-list of four negativity which evolved into, quite organically, the support for Red Peak. After some eleventh hour politicking, that support got Red Peak into referendum number one.

Some of you may remember Red Peak from this blog. I was a pretty early advocate for it, the first time it came up was in the aftermath of the shortlist (as in the "long list").
We've known for a while, now, what the shortlist is. I'm not a fan, obviously, of them but I'm hoping one of the triangle ones gets in on the basis that all the others would be crap flags in terms of flag crap. I actually made a pretty angular suggestion myself and was intending on doing another more in line with these. The only issue with the current triangles is that black is an awful colour for a flag. I'd prefer, in fact, if the second one was chosen but amended to have the blue in both cases. I'd vote for such a design with a relatively eased conscience (you may recall that I am opposed to the flag change).
I'd like to say that my comments here and those on my third flag change post were influential but that would be to ignore all the evidence.

The simple reality is that Red Peak came up because of people like me, but not me, who were aware of the long list and who are aware of what I call "flag crap" and the distinction that must be drawn between "flag crap" and "logo theory", Flags and logos are different things. I made this clear a bit later on in that post.
Also, to be honest, a silver fern isn't that eye-catching and, well, none of the shortlist are... not really. On the other hand, few flags are. To some extent, we're importing what I'm going to call "logo theory".
In fact, in that post with my treatment of the topic holistically and with my discussion of the triangle flags specifically, I actually dealt with a number of the arguments that we see popping up in the context of Red Peak. A lot of these come from people opposed to flag change, as we might expect, but a lot of them, perhaps most of them, are Lockwood fanboys spitting sour grapes because the general response to, not one but two, Lockwood designs was "But these four are all fugly". Perhaps that's a little unfair. A lot of the anti-Red Peak views are probably better characterised as "But muh silver fern". That, in itself, is a big issue too.

The reality is that the Silver Fern simply isn't associated with NZ by people outside NZ or by people in NZ who aren't rugby fans (and, indeed, there's an argument to be made that to a great many NZers, the whole silver fern/All Blacks issue means that the silver fern says very specific and negative things about this country... I wholeheartedly agree there). Furthermore, even if you want to make arguments like "they're on our war graves" you have to contextualise this in terms of why that happened (which is not done, and nor do I know where to begin that enquiry). Likewise, national colours, flora and birds are often not on flags... look at the Netherlands, Scotland or the USA. Every argument for the Silver Fern, to my mind, simply boils down to All Blackism.

Yet, we can't dismiss the fanboy arguments as completely irrelevant in considering why Red Peak became an option. Sure, there are people like me who knew about Red Peak and who said stuff about Red Peak and got the ball rolling. And, sure, views like or similar to ours developed steam and probably convinced some people as they became aware of things. Yet, I think the fanboys are right in that Red Peak sort of became the protest symbol: Red Peak's not a flag option, it's the flag option that the Man tried to keep down, yo. You're getting the anti-Keys coming out and seeing an opportunity, once Red Peak was already a Thing mind, to stick it to the Man (and a very righteous mission it is indeed) and that's a pretty substantial internet voice right there. You're also getting people, again like me, who recognise that the Panel process was screwed up from the beginning and that we had no opportunity to have a discussion on the short list. The so called Long List, in all honesty, was completely pointless without that. The Long List was merely an overture to create a veneer of democracy in, as I pointed out on a Facebook argument, something which strikes at the very core of the idea of representative democracy. All sorts of ideas came to be embroiled in Red Peak, then. The groundswell that this should've had from the start, that should've prompted flag change's status as an election item (from both National and Labour), that legitimises the whole endeavour, then, only came about at the eleventh hour. If this were a movie we'd call it cliche, unbelievable even. Some might say these other contributing causes deligitimise the support, but other than the anti-Johns, that's not the case. That diverse elements of dissatisfaction with all levels of the process could come together? That's the very core of the organic groundswell this needed.

That's a pretty fat paragraph and it's discussing a fairly narrow thing. That says something. Red Peak now means more than just a flag design. It's a term that encompasses what's actually a fairly complex process. I should mention the NZ First Godwin tactic (note, Godwin's Law is two things, strictly speaking it's a fairly trivial probability concept, in popular terms it's a lazy argument technique... comparing to the Nazis is easy, m8.... or a law that means you lose if you fulfil it) because that's, you know, a thing. I should discuss the Herald's terribly pro-John Key coverage of the issue (and that coverage is probably going to be self-fulfilling: people go looking for what the impact of the affair is politically, get biased analysis that tells them, they believe it) which makes out that when Labour had an opportunity to support Red Peak it tried to get the mandate vote included (note, included, not instead of) in the first referendum. There's all this going on as well. But, really, Red Peak's interesting because despite its actual content being very difficult and different, John Key finally got the kind of discussion that he probably imagined at the start of all this.

Which I guess means it's time to post what I found hilarious:

Discovered Here.
Which reminds me, I said I'd fairly happily vote for a triangle option. In hindsight, that's not really true. Given the five options it'll be: hynoflag, Red Peak, weird fern, Black Lockwood, Blue Lockwood. Why? Well, it's a tactical vote. Unable to vote for my preferred flag (the current one) I will vote in such a way that I do my best to vote for it by proxy. Although, prior to Red Peak, a tactical vote would be no different, for me (to the extent that I abhor both Lockwoods and the only way to really distinguish them is that I think the black one is less popular). Hypnoflag looks better and more flaggish than either of the other three originals. It's also probably the least popular. The weird fern is also too weird for pure fernites. Putting Red Peak in second, though? Well that means that there is some acknowledgement that it's a flag. An actual proper flag.

Prediction time?

Either Red Peak or a Lockwood design to go against the current flag.

Current Flag wins by KO. Maybe points if it's Red Peak.

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