With each passing week, a new international profile of Jacinda Ardern is published. Having studied them all, Madeleine Chapman presents a simple DIY guide.
Dinosaurs. A robust exchange of views in the ACT caucus. An international story on New Zealand that doesn’t mention Middle Earth. These are three things that don’t exist in 2018.
Profiles of world leaders are available at every turn, and unless they’ve whispered a confession in a journalist’s ear, most will be the same words rearranged. With Jacinda Ardern breaking barriers left, right, and centre-left, international media outlets are scrambling for their own Jacinda profiles. The latest is in Vogue‘s March issue, featuring an interview with the prime minister and a distinctly Scandi-Noir photoshoot.
For those still unsure of how to frame the New Zealand PM in their pieces for international media, here’s a quick and easy guide.
Make sure everyone knows where New Zealand is. Not geographically but cinematically. Refer to the country as Middle Earth, a fictional land. Give readers a sense of wonder as they build a paradise in their minds. Be sure to fold in the fact that she is a woman who is pregnant.
Shut it down. Remind the reader that New Zealand actually isn’t that great. Stats on homelessness and suicide rates are a great resource for this.
Use the word Jacindamania if at all possible. Never let this word fade into oblivion. Mention the pregnancy.
Introduce Jacinda’s partner, Clarke Gayford. Be sure to mention that he likes to fish. If there’s a fishing pun or allegory to be made, make it.
Reference the fact that Ardern was a DJ that one time but be sure to present it as an alternative career path for her. Remember: she is pregnant.
Showcase the extent of your research by employing some classic Kiwi lingo. The trick is to take a handful of words that sound like Kiwi-isms and arrange them in any order. No one will know the difference.
Bring up the fact that she was raised Mormon but don’t mention that she is now agnostic. She is pregnant.
Pen a touching tribute to Paddles. Mention the thumb thing. She’s pregnant.
Name-drop Helen Clark and then issue a correction when you inevitably and incorrectly refer to her as New Zealand’s first woman prime minister. Pregnant.
Make a callback to Middle-earth. It never gets old.
By following these ten steps, you’ll have a fully rounded profile of (pregnant) Jacinda Ardern. The simple formula, for example, instantly generated the copy below:
Deep in the heart of Middle-earth, a prime minister waits. Jacinda Ardern, a young Mormon elf, is settling into her role as New Zealand’s newest leader by lounging in her Auckland bungalow. The suburb she calls home is picturesque, a slice of paradise to represent New Zealand as a country. But take two steps back and you’ll soon learn that New Zealand has plenty of problems. In fact, for the Nationals who voted against her, it might be hell on Middle-earth.
Ardern knows this and knows that women all over the world are looking to her to be their Anti-Trump. Their She-Trudeau. Their Lady In Coveralls And Bandana. She looks to the future, while living in the future because it’s always tomorrow in New Zealand. Always tomorrow, always one step ahead. That’s what Ardern has told her many supporters at Jacindamania events around the country. Just outside, her partner Clarke Gayford, a local fish, is holding a dinner plate. He is about to, as the Kiwis say, throw another sausage on the hāngi. Ardern watches him and smiles. Her smile is genuine and her fingers tap along to the hum of a neighbour’s lawn mower. It’s no surprise she was once a prominent DJ on the Auckland music scene.
All of a sudden Ardern’s smile falters and the empty feeding bowl under the dining table becomes deafeningly present. She looks at it. Memories of Paddles, her tragically dead thumb-cat, flitter across her face while one hand absentmindedly strokes her stomach. She’s pregnant. Soon there’ll be the tiny pitter patter of baby feet in Hobbiton. Helen Clark.
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article assigned an incorrect distinction to Helen Clark. She was New Zealand’s first female leader to take office after a general election, not the first woman to hold the position. (That was Jenny Shipley, who became leader after her predecessor resigned.)
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