Prospective new migrants to New Zealand should be shown Ian Mune’s movie Billy T: Te Movie in order to weed out the uncommitted. Of course, we needn’t tell them that the country has changed beyond all recognition in the the last 25 years – that would spoil the fun. We could stick a hidden camera on them and giggle (I think I know what the giggle should sound like too) as the full horror of New Zealand’s unsophistication in the 70s and 80s is revealed.
Billy’s success was symptomatic of that strange immature clinging to overseas ideas that riddled New Zealand culture at the time – he was inspired by awful Northern comics like Bernard Manning and Les Dawson – but he was also a catalyst for the change and Mune’s doco tells his story well. My only complaint – for a change – is that it isn’t long enough – some of the most interesting aspects of Billy’s life are skirted over pretty lightly. I could have done with more from Jim Moriarty, for example, about what it was like as an activist to watch the only Maori on tv perpetuating ugly stereotypes. In fact, they could have swapped more analysis for some of Billy’s lamer jokes and I wouldn’t have minded.