Somewhere in a darkened studio a few weeks ago, two men unleashed the world’s most powerful tsunami of terrible radio. Hayden Donnell dug up the recording.
UPDATE: Mark Watson has apologised over this segment and announced that Controversy Corner has been dropped from his show. Here’s his statement:
All of them are bad, if slightly one-note. Kirby is a sexist 16-year-old. Harvey is a sexist 12-year-old. Hosking is a synthetic alloy impersonating a human. Holmes had a history of maybe being drunk on radio.
Even at their worst, those hosts would take weeks to let loose as many mouth sharts as Mark Watson and Kieran Smyth did in a dizzying 10 minute spell. Between 8.33 and 8.43pm on a Monday, the Radio Sport nighttime host and his art dealer friend somehow hit the entire Big Three of offensive content – dancing through a breathtaking routine of racism, sexism, and homophobia like Satan’s ballerinas. I unearthed their risible segment in the byzantine back alleys of the internet last week. It’s called ‘Controversy Corner’, though it could equally be named ‘I’m Not Racist But…’, ‘Look, I Have Gay Friends’, or ‘Women Are Just Wired Differently’. It’s certifiably terrible, but it’s also worth listening to, if only as a whistlestop tour through the ugliest parts of New Zealand’s sickly sports media culture.
Join me on this journey through the belching swamp of bad radio, starting with this stop at racism boulevard.
Normally sports broadcasters dog whistle opinions like this one, calling white players rugby players “intelligent” and Polynesian players “physical specimens”. They emit plaintive cries for more “rugby brains” when a side’s racial balance skews brown. Lament the so-called “bro culture“.
Watson skips straight to the point, and says pairing two Fijians will inevitably cause the All Blacks midfield to implode into dust. “Yeah they’ve got that Fijian flair but they’ve also got a lot of so-called Fijian deficiencies. And they go AWOL, they go walkabout at times,” he says.
It a hark back to the old days when stereotypes were stereotypes, and you didn’t have to hide them beneath a sage call for “thinking man’s rugby”.
Sadly, this was the high point of the conversation.
LMAO women playing professional sport! What a hoot! The Sea Shells! Playing the Lollipop Wonderlands! In the Barbie Palace! With their Lady Brains! If you’re looking for evidence of why women’s sport is underfunded and unappreciated in New Zealand, this is Exhibit A.
Meanwhile, Smyth bizarrely starts referring to the imaginary white-shorted men haunting his dreams as “homos”, ignoring Watson’s half-hearted chiding. He doesn’t stop there. After a weird three-minute intermission where Watson recounts dropping a glove into a huge trough of urine, Smyth descends further into the mire.
Since 1884, rugby selectors have appointed 1151 All Blacks. Not one has come out as gay. NZRU chairman Steve Tew spoke about that statistically improbable dearth of sexual diversity in May, after a study showed gay Kiwi men are likely to either hide their sexual identity or give up on sport entirely.
“No one has yet said they’re an All Black and gay, one day that will happen and I would hope that New Zealand is more than ready, in fact is welcoming of it,” Tew told NewsHub.
He’s obviously never read the work of footballing columnist Miles Davis.
— Hayden Donnell (@HaydenDonnell) June 23, 2016
Or read a Facebook comment thread on Veitchy on Sport…
Or listened to Controversy Corner.
At the end of this segment, Watson does something revealing. He asks Smyth to stop using “homo” as an insult, but only to “appease the 1% of people who control society”. It’s a telling behind-the-scenes glance at the grimy basement of New Zealand’s sports media, where it’s fine to make gay jokes so long as they’re off-the-record; alright to mock or objectify women so long as there’s no-one taking notes. Though things are changing, and we no longer have people like Doug Golightly writing his detractors off as “lesbian tree-huggers” in primetime, that ancient river of dung is still bubbling away somewhere in the background of the culture.
So it’s great that Tew wants to see an openly gay All Black. But he should keep reflecting on why there hasn’t been one already. It’s a tough ask for one of our black-clad demi-gods to come out as gay when so much of our sports media is still the domain of testosterone-encased straight men, when people like Tew, Grant ‘Foxy’ Fox and Steve Hansen still appear on ‘Veitchy on Sport‘, and when someone like Smyth can repeatedly use ‘homo’ as an insult on a nationally syndicated radio show – and only get admonished for not leaving it until the mics are switched off.
The show ended like this.
SEE OTHER STORIES FROM THE SPINOFF’S ‘BAD RADIO’ FILES:
- How did The Edge get away with the Cucumber Number?
- George FM reduces human woman to sex meat – again
- George FM breakfast hosts apologise for on-air bullying
- Appreciation: In defence of Crystal Chenery
On Fijian rugby players
Kieran Smyth: “Fekitoa doesn’t do it for you anymore?”
Mark Watson: “Fekitoa to me just doesn’t have rugby nous. He doesn’t have the brains. He doesn’t have rugby brains. And then it’s scary, if he gets injured, suddenly you bring Seta Tamanivalu on and you’ve got two Fijians. And what Steve said is great. Yeah they’ve got that Fijian flair but they’ve also got a lot of so-called Fijian deficiencies. And they go AWOL, they go walkabout at times.”
KS: When you were in Fiji, can you answer me this, could you find netball. I mean I know you would have been really looking for it. Could you find it over there? Cause you missed the Vixens playing the Sea Shells or the Tooth Fairies playing the Magic or whatever it was.”
MW: “What is netball?”
KS: “Ah, that’s a good point. There’s no net involved. There is a ball… and a lot of funny men in white pants blowing the whistle every nought point one second under the goal. *Impression of a high-voiced ref* Man on man on man on *indecipherable*”
MW: “And then they’re giggling at their friends saying ‘I thought the girls played really well tonight hurhurhurhur. Even though we lost by 20 points hurhurhurhur. I think we should be really proud of ourselves hurhurhurhur. We trained really hard this week. We did shuttle runs hurhurhurhurhur.”
KS: “I was going to say they’re all homos but that’s not fair on homos. I love homos.”
MW: “You shouldn’t use that. It’s a derogatory term.
KS: “I say it with affection mate. Mate, I’ve got an art gallery.”
On the AFL
KS: “We’re watching the All Blacks on Saturday night and he says: ‘Who dis granddad?’
“And I say ‘It’s the All Blacks. And he says ‘Collingwood’. And, mate, how do you think I felt? My only grandson says to me ‘Is this Collingwood’.”
MW: “Did you disown him?”
KS: “Well I turned to my daughter and said: ‘Are you telling me that you really are going to have him play for that tight pants, weird singlet, bloody gay, homo sport?’”
MW: “Kieran, let’s not be derogatory….
KS: “Okay I’m saying it in a sort of a controversy corner sort of a way… you know how much us boring heterosexuals sometimes…”
MW: “I know, but we have to appease the 1% of people who control society.”
KS: “I’ve told you how much I love gays.”
On workplace banter
KS: “You’re my favourite gay.”
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.