Pop CultureSeptember 25, 2017

The seven stages of listening to Don Brash speak on TV


Madeleine Chapman becomes bewitched by a new television phenomenon: people reacting to Don Brash on current affairs panels. 

This morning Don Brash, former leader of the National Party and current bad person, was on The AM Show alongside writer Verity Johnson. The topic was the Māori Party and I guess every single other person in the country was busy because Don Brash is quite literally the last opinion we need on the fate of the Māori Party.

He chucked out his usual bad sentiments, none of which need more coverage, and I would’ve changed the channel had it not been for the wonderful real-time reactions playing out on Verity Johnson’s face. Turns out she’s not alone in the hell that is having to sit alongside and listen to Don Brash speak on TV. Johnson is by no means the first victim, but here’s hoping she’ll be the last.

RIP to all those who appear below. Your sacrifice will be remembered.


Shock is the mind’s way of rejecting information it can’t comprehend. When a victim first hears the words of Brash, there is a moment of recoil. In this case, Verity quickly checks to see if she has heard a racist ghost whisper that the evisceration of the Māori Party is a good thing. Unfortunately, the words have come from a human being called Don Brash.


The victim deploys incredulous laughter as a defence mechanism. “This isn’t happening,” is what that laugh is saying. The victim stares off camera in a silent plea to the producer, who does nothing. Don Brash does not seem to understand and joins in the laughter, merely confounding the situation.


Past victim Ella Henry displays anger in its rawest form. It’s the “are you hearing this shit?” look. The kind your mum gives while you’re in the middle of lying about why you’re home late. Once again, Don Brash has misread the feelings of his victim and gives a jolly laugh.

Pennywise, the clown from It, loved to laugh too. And, for every panellist forced to sit next to him, Don Brash is their biggest fear brought to life.


This is simply a snapshot of the moment Don Brash openly pleaded with his victims, Miriama Aoake and David Mayeda, to get on board with his idea of doing away with Māori relations. The bargaining has not been accepted by the victims, but they are polite enough to look at him while he pleads his case. By both displaying a similar posture, they are presenting a crucial united front in this interaction.


Look at the resignation on the faces of Louisa Wall and Ella Henry. Wall has given up entirely on keeping with conversational etiquette and is staring deep into the black abyss of the desk, a representation of her state of mind in that moment.

Henry has chosen to direct her complete hopelessness right back at its source. Both women clasp their hands in an identical fashion, saving themselves from the PR nightmare that would inevitably arise were they to let a fist fly.


The camera is death and Miriama Aoake is looking death in the eye, welcoming it. Note the identical stance of Mayeda from the previous shot of bargaining. He is playing dead with his eyes open, an unorthodox but seemingly effective approach.


Don Brash hasn’t even spoken long enough for his intro banner to disappear when Hone Harawira folds his arms and himself falls into the warm embrace of death. It shows an experience and knowledge on the part of the victim to skip all the earlier steps and find that empty blackness while Brash speaks. He is at peace. May we all find such peace one day.


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