US actor Jason Momoa (R) performs a Haka dance as he arrives for the world premiere of "Aquaman" at the TCL Chinese theatre in Hollywood on December 12, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The best of The Spinoff this week

Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.

Tina Ngata: Once were gardeners, lovers, poets… and warriors

“We are not a warrior race.

We are, and always have been, a race of voyagers, scientists, gardeners, lovers, poets, composers, philosophers, artists, orators, mathematicians, dancers, astronomers, builders and healers. We were peacemakers and keepers as much as warriors – and in many cases more so. The trope of the savage indigenous man is one that is capitalised upon by media and state in a way that is harmful and diminishing. In this sense, I have a concern about our representation in Hollywood, which resurfaced when I came across the recent haka performed by Jason Momoa at the premiere of Aquaman – and hence my search this week for the medicine that is ‘Once Were Gardeners’. I’m not that worried (as I hear others are) about the relative quality of what was performed. What I am concerned about is the hypermasculinity being placed around our culture, through Hollywood, and at the hands of Polynesian men. I am concerned with this continued fascination of media with us as a ‘warrior race’.

We are not a warrior race.”

Sophie Bateman: The astonishing selfishness of ‘not all men’

“In this unpredictable, ever-changing world, a few things remain absolutely dependable. The sun will rise every morning. Babies will be born. Aucklanders will complain about our relatively mild weather.

And if you say something critical of male behaviour online, 8000 men will squirm out of the woodwork to bleat a single phrase: “Not all men.”

Those three words are bleaker than death and more unavoidable than taxes.

Like reclusive Gotham billionaires to a bat-signal, men of all shapes, sizes and creeds come leaping out of the ether to remind you it’s not nice to generalise.

No one likes being generalised. No one likes feeling blamed for another’s actions.

But if someone mentions the indisputable fact that men kill, rape and assault women on a horrific scale every day in every part of the world and have done for all of human existence, and your reaction is to point out only some men do that, I strongly suggest you reconsider your choices.”

Christina Vogels: Talking to our young men may unlock answers to the Grace Millane tragedy

“Over the past two weeks a number of narratives have threaded their way through the conversation about the Grace Millane tragedy. The primary one has been disgust and anguish that a young woman on her OE was brutally murdered in this country. But another has focused on how men’s use of violence towards women is all too common in this country. Like the #metoo groundswell, social media in particular has been inundated with people sharing their dismay and exhaustion at how men in the country are able to use violence to control and terrorise women, despite all the legislation, protection orders and policing which are supposed to keep women safe.

I shared many of these reactions. I felt visceral disgust and sadness, and like many women, I felt fear. This fear is acutely gendered: from a young age, girls are taught that the world is not safe for them. I’m 38 and I still feel this fear and modify my behaviour, almost subconsciously, to account for the fact that men are able to commit crimes of violence towards women in this country.

But as a researcher into violence against women, I had other reactions.”

Golriz Ghahraman. Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Golriz Gharaman:  We do not shed our skin: why all politics are identity politics

“It turns out that only the perspectives of the less advantaged identity carriers are dismissed as ‘identity politics’. Talking from the perspective or in support of issues faced by privileged, status quo identities is just ‘politics’. No one notices that civic planning by able bodied policy-makers is biased against the disabled. No one seems to realise that for centuries, straight people aggressively and sometimes violently privileged their sexual identity over everyone else. No one would ever suggest bankers shouldn’t be allowed to comment on the economy because of their inherent bias or very real personal interests they may be protecting, in the same way that I am told I shouldn’t be able to talk on immigration or ethnic issues.

Most blatantly, right now, most of those screaming about ‘free speech’ and demonising ‘identity politics’ overtly appeal to identity. They constantly attack, with the same breath, groups like ‘feminists’, migrants, Muslims, as the scourge of society.”

Emily Writes: Gift ideas for your terrible relative that aren’t another box of sampler biscuits

“Buying Christmas presents is heaps of fun when you like the people you’re buying presents for. But what if you get the family dickhead in the Secret Santa? And what do you do when you realise you’ve given your grandfather a Griffins Sampler Box of biscuits for the last 12 years?

Well, fear not. I have exactly the gift guide that you need. Here’s a complete list of how to buy for the family members who make you wonder if you’re adopted.”

Henry Oliver: How ‘Snoopy’s Christmas’ became a classic in NZ (and nowhere else)

“It’s Christmastime! And Christmastime means Christmas music. And not just those fancy school choirs and buskers with violins, but a whole genre of pop music that you’re reminded of every year in early-December. Y’know – ‘Fairytale of New York’, ‘Merry Xmas (War Is Over)’, ‘Last Christmas’, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ All instantly recognisable. All signifiers of this most special time of year anywhere in the world where this is a most special time of year. (And all on Now That’s What I Call Christmas.)

But there’s one song that means Christmas here in New Zealand more than it does anywhere else in the world. And it’s not remotely a New Zealand song. It’s recorded by an American group for an American label and is about a quintessentially American character. Yes, it’s ‘Snoopy’s Christmas’ by 60s novelty pop band The Royal Guardsmen.

‘Snoopy’s Christmas’ was released in 1967 and was a hit in New Zealand every December for decades. There was no official New Zealand singles chart until 1975 so the hard data is sparse, but the song officially entered the New Zealand singles cart in 1987 and last charted in 2003.

How did this happen? How did ‘Snoopy’s Christmas’ become a hit in New Zealand but almost nowhere else?”

David Farrier: It’s time YouTube and Google stopped profiting from porn with kids in it

After writing about fetish videos involving kids on YouTube two years ago, the problem has only got worse, writes David Farrier. Way worse. When will Google do something about it?

Alex Casey: Dinner with a cool granny in the neighbourhood? Sign us up

The concept is simple: you cook a meal and share it with an older person in your community in their own home. At the moment, Dinner Together is working with Age Concern to find participants in the regions who are keen for a visitor. “Visiting them at their place is important,” says Brown, “because that’s a comfortable place.” From the initial visit, you can set up regular dates and get an idea of what they need from you – if anything. “It’s just thinking about little ways that we can help, whether it’s picking up groceries or making a cup of tea,” says Brown.

The goal is to combat the rise in loneliness among the elderly, a trend that has come about due to a number of factors. “The price of housing hasn’t been helpful,” says Brown. “I also think people don’t like reaching out for help when they’ve spent their whole lives being independent.”

Ollie Neas: Revealed: Rocket Lab has just made NZ a launch pad for US defence satellites

“Rocket Lab made history on Sunday as its first ever mission for NASA made orbit from the Mahia Peninsula. The mission was the first dedicated launch of miniature satellites, or CubeSats, for NASA by a commercial launch provider.

But this was not the only reason the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa)-19 was historic. It was also the first time a satellite for a US defence agency was launched from New Zealand.

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Although described as an “educational” mission, ELaNa-19 included a satellite that will conduct research for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the Pentagon agency which develops cutting-edge technology for the US military.

DARPA’s involvement with this satellite, called the SHFT-1, has not been publicly disclosed by Rocket Lab. Nor does it appear to have been disclosed to the minister for economic development, David Parker, who approved the launch.”

Michael Hann: A very merry mixtape: 30 Christmas songs that are actually really good

Michael Hann has spent years mining for Christmas-song diamonds, proving that not all festive music is irredeemably horrible. Here he pulls on his big white beard and presents the definitive playlist.


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