Broadcaster John Campbell will tonight present his final show as the host of Checkpoint on RNZ. Emily Writes explains why he is a basket of kittens and how she loves everything about him.
Last week I had to admit to my husband that I’m desperately in love with John Campbell. I had just returned from the Word Christchurch writers festival where JC had chaired the gala night. I had bumped into him afterwards and he had:
- Remembered my name
- Not run away when I ran up to him and said JOHN CAMPBELL far louder than was necessary in a hotel lobby
- Talked to me as if I was the only person in the room and I was extremely interesting even though I was neither of those things.
My husband understood. He knows that nobody can compete with JC. We talked for around two hours about John Campbell and then the next day when meeting the girls at Vic Books and ignoring our children we talked some more about him.
We talked about how his eyes twinkle when he sees you, how he looks just so happy like it’s made his day to bump into you.
How does he make you feel like he wants to see you even though he barely knows you and probably doesn’t?
We talked about how he remembers everyone’s name and what they’re working on, how he makes you feel like you’re special even though you’re not. We talked about how sometimes when we see him he looks very tired but he still lights up talking about your latest project or how your kids are or what your mum or aunty is up to.
How does he remember who everyone’s aunty is?
My husband said – “he’s very close to Aunty Lois you know”. And I thought, I wonder how many people believe they are very good friends with John Campbell?
I mean, I am best friends with him, even if he’s not aware of this. In my head we hang out a lot. He urges me to keep writing, to ignore trolls. Along with Jeremy Wade from River Monsters and Dwayne The Rock Johnson he dominates a lot of my inner monologues.
He told me at the Christchurch writers festival that I’m a “delight”. Who even says that? Did I commit it to my memory bank? You bet your ass I did. Do I repeat it to myself in his voice daily? Also, yes, don’t judge me.
John Campbell is a national treasure, there’s no doubt about that. I refuse to hear differently. Don’t @ me.
John Campbell is your favourite song that comes on at just the right time.
He’s your snuggliest blanket with your best TV show in the background.
John Campbell is the piece of pizza you find at the back of the fridge when you’re hungover.
He’s the holiday you deserve and need.
John Campbell is your hot soup when you’ve got the flu.
John Campbell would watch The Bachelor with you and not judge your feminism.
He’s your woke uncle who always helps you pay your rent when money is tight.
He’s the dad who picks you up drunk when you’re 17 and you don’t get in trouble but he does talk to you about being responsible.
John Campbell is the person who holds the door open for you but not in an annoying give me kudos for chivalry kind of way.
John Campbell doesn’t mind when you can’t afford the next round after he just bought one. He understands your round anxiety.
John Campbell is your unproblematic fave.
He is of course a warrior for justice for people who are downtrodden and marginalised. In a time when NZ’s white men seem to only use their platforms to shit all over other people and punch down hard and fast or supervise bad interior decorating during a housing crisis – JC has always been different. He takes his role seriously, considers it clearly as it is – a privilege and a responsibility. He has championed so many causes, created a platform for so many voices, he really is more than anyone someone who is committed to making our weird little country better.
I have never met anyone who has met JC in the flesh who didn’t find it to be a life-altering experience. Often people will say to me “have you met John Campbell?” and if they have as well it will inevitably lead to six years of talking about how lovely he is.
One person said to me, “After I talked to him my face hurt from smiling.” This is a great way of describing JC. He is a face-hurter. He is the human personification of a hug.
Another messaged me and said: “John Campbell bought me a drink once. I love free drinks. And John Campbell’s Miami Vice white suit story makes me laugh every time I think about it. Also, John Campbell can quote Public Enemy lyrics. I have very specific kinks.”
At an event in Featherston that he hosted I watched him attempting to leave politely after speaking. He was mobbed almost immediately. It took him probably two hours to leave. He gave time to each person who approached him – regardless of whether they’d had a few too many wines and wanted to pinch his bottom or if they were a real anti-1080/Mike Hosking fan punisher.
I heard fragments of conversations he had with people there who were aspiring authors, writers, artists – he encouraged them to keep going, keep creating, he seemed completely in awe of the people he was talking to. I wondered how much of New Zealand’s art and writing he has a hand in simply through being the encouraging and kind person that he is.
An international writer in Christchurch asked me about him – did he really read everyone’s book? Because it seemed like he had? I assured him that he had. At an event he hosted where I spoke, JC had post-its and highlighted bits throughout my book. HE READ MY BOOK.
The writer was in awe that JC had put in that much effort. Effort is kind of John Campbell’s middle name – or maybe Angel is. Or Platonic Daddy.
It made me realise that we could and should all channel a bit of JC into our lives.
What if we actually tried to be more like John Campbell in our interactions with others? What if we gave every person who needed it the time to share themselves? What if we treated each conversation we had with a stranger as a way to build them up and make them feel better about themselves? What if we kept an open mind about what we’re reading in order to find the bits that might help us be a little kinder to each other?
People essentially are like dogs – if you tell a dog he or she is a good boy or girl – you can see their reaction. It’s like a little ray of sunshine. This is the JC way. Spreading kindness and making the world a better place by telling people they’re the goodest.
Because who doesn’t need to hear that every now and then?
Thank goodness for John Campbell.