When you were a kid, and you found something revolting/gross/untenable/intensely dislikeable, the easiest verb to use was hate. Short, simple, effective. Inevitably the nearest adult would say something like, “hate is a very strong word”, and you’d learn gradually that language is powerful and can harm. Indeed, hate is a word that when affixed to speech or certain actions, has the ability to cause immeasurable damage.
With this in mind, I have to say that I find Mike Hosking’s public rhetoric revolting/gross/untenable and intensely dislikeable.
He is a dangerously over-opinionated man with a big, public platform. If he was a character in a 1970s Stephen King novel he would be the cloyingly obsequious public figure who mutates into a flesh-eating monster, cramming the innocent townsfolk into his greedy gaping maw.
I try to avoid reading or listening to anything that comes out of his mouth, yet sometimes my filter lets me down and I find myself listening to a soundbite or reading an op-ed about his latest narrow-minded take on a societal issue.
Take, for instance, his recent diatribe about the immigrant children being taken away from their parent’s at the US border. Toby Manhire at the Spinoff has summed up the fucktopia better than I could but suffice to say, Hosking picks on defenceless children to further his personal agenda.
He probably eats his smashed avocado on toast for breakfast every morning, whilst scratching his too-far-past-post-ironic designer beard and thinking; “hmmmmm, I wonder which minority group I can take down today in order to validate my own privileged, narcissistic existence?”
There’s also his insistence (when it suits the occasion) that he is actually a broadcaster not a journalist, which allows him to apply zero bipartisanship to his nightly rants. And whatever he might have once or twice said about staying in the centre for his political views (okay maybe he said this once), he is undisputedly a total Key-loving sycophant. This is summed up best by his reaction to the news that Winnie had chosen Labour as his coalition partner.
Ooooh, did someone just do a big dump on your desk, Mr Hosking? Or is that the face of a man who has just realised that the party (ies) you have been pejoratively dissecting for the last nine years, now have the power to dismantle the socially damaging neoliberal policies put into place by your ole mate Teflon John?
I think the reason I get so utterly wound up by this man is his utter lack of empathy towards those sitting below him in the proverbial food chain. I mean let’s face it, he’s the apex predator of humankind, white, wealthy, middle-aged male. So why the hell does he have to be so publicly critical, cruel and just plain wrong about those groups in society who are not afforded the opportunities he has available to him? There’s a theory in comedy that he would do well to adhere to, punching down, it’s not really Fonzie cool to take someone down a notch if you’re doing it from above.
I’m also not a fan of comments from people like Hosking who say; but we all start from somewhere in life, if you work hard and make smart decisions, anyone can make a success out of themselves. A kind of “come on mate, pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality.
Yet this simply isn’t the case. It’s true that everyone in society has the same capacity to dream about being successful, and everyone’s wants and needs should be equally validated. But we don’t all have the same starting off point. Hosking cannot tell me that a 16-year-old living below the poverty line in rural NZ experiencing all the factors that can come with living in a low socio-economic bracket, is going to have the same chances in life as a 16-year-old living in a wealthy Central Auckland suburb. Obviously, there are exceptions but they are just that: an exception, not the norm.
It’s wantonly irresponsible that a powerful media player like Mike Hosking has the agency to openly criticise people who don’t have access to a public platform like he does. He is effectively legitimising negative representations of marginalised and vulnerable sections of society, basically because he can.
If there’s one positive thing I can say about Hosking it’s that he’s never let me down. I have never, ever agreed with anything he’s had to say on any topic. So there’s that I guess.