Monday, 20 June 2011

Topp Twins in Toronto.

This summer I had the opportunity to see the Top Twins live at Womad.
Their music set was fabulous and had me and all the rest of the crowd laughing, singing along and kicking up our heels to the great music.
But what I really enjoyed was ‘Ken and Ken’,
They did an hour long show on the food stage and their fabulous warm hearted characterization of the typical kiwi bloke was so neat to see live.
My partner had heard me rant about their political awareness work for nuclear-free New Zealand, the bastion point protests, and gay rights. I had tried to explain how most kiwis knew these twins who were gay, and they felt like family.
In essence, anyone with a TV could be educated out of fear of the “otherness” of gay people, by the sheer goodwill and approachability of these women.
I think I told him; “If you don’t love them, there is something missing in your chest cavity.”

He loved them.

After their food show I hovered by the stage hoping just to say hello and get a pic with either Jools or Linda. I was pleasantly surprised that when I approached Linda and she took the time to step away and grab Jules so they could both be in the picture.
I’ve met Zach Braff, Mandy More, Jon Cryer and a bunch of other celebrities and I’ve never felt out of depth.
With the twins I only just managed to stutter out an awkward blushing “I love you both – you are AMAZING” before they saved me from idiocy by making inane chit chat and posing for the photo.
I will treasure that photo forever.
While waiting to say hello, I saw a young woman throw herself at them and gush that they gave her courage to come out, and a heavily pierced woman break down in tears, unable to express exactly why they meant so much to her.
They have impacted an entire country.

I was pleased to see this write up on the Women’s media centre website by Emily Wilson.
An international audience is starting to sit up and take notice of the pair, now that their film “Untouchable Girls” won the audience award at the Toronto film festival.
It’s a shame they aren’t getting tvnz show spots for their shows, because the two of them are both still very keen to work, and it is simply a lack of interest from NZ broadcasters that stands between the NZ audience and them.

I will be very embarrassed if they get better recognition from an international audience than their own home, where they work so hard for their communities.


Acid Queen said...

You're right that ken and Ken are an affectionate parody of bloke cultuire. This is always a problem for me. People like Ken and Ken are not loveable buffoons IRL, they are frightening authoritarians. NZ bloke culture doesn't need this sort of touchy-feeling gentle chuckles, it needs to be shattered and torn apart.

Scuba Nurse said...

I would agree if they acted out those parts of bloke culture, but when I have seen them it has been sans the negative parts.
Ken and ken quite happily cooked with Peta matthys and taught a room of people hunting ettiquette and NZ bush info.

Acid Queen said...

It's that omission that bothers me though. It's like showing Clayton Weatherston as a character and focusing on how he's a great cook. They will make people think "Oh kiwi blokes aren't so bad" But they are that bad. They're worse.

notafeminist said...

Acid Queen - I'm not completely comfortable with the comparison of kiwi blokes to Clayton Weatherston. Kiwi blokes aren't so bad - some are very bad, but some are good, very good. The gross generalisation doesn't sit with me well.

stargazer said...

AQ: this is a point elsewhere and i'll make again here, in regards your latter point. i don't find blanket statements of that nature acceptable & don't want to see them made here. some of them may well be, and if you want to make statements around culture & attitudes, that's fine. but make statements implying that every single person in a group is all bad all the time is not OK.

ms p said...

I find AQ's generalisations offensive and sexist.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with these two and wish they were on TV again.

I was actually quite pleased to see a number of their characters being used in a TV commercial campaign (I think it's Gregg's coffee) - hopefully broadcasters will pick up that people still love them!

Moz said...

Is it too late to ask you to change the title to "Topp Twins in Toronto"? The missing P is distracting.

Other than that I love the toppies too. Untouchable is still one of my favourite songs.

Maia said...

Moderation Hat: Anonymous - We don't allow anonymous comments. Please adopt a consistent handle.

Acid Queen said...

No, obviously not all Kiwi men are abusers.

But the culture of Kiwi "blokedom" is one that fosters abuse and minimises it when it happens.

Not all men are "blokes" and thank god for that too.

Scuba Nurse said...

Moz - thanks for the edit tip - I will change the name to Topp asap.

Just a reminder to Everyone, if you want to discuss anything other than the actual post, go elsewhere. I'm not tolorating personal comments on my threads.

notafeminist said...

There were some extra interviews on the Untouchable Girls DVD (the Topp Twins documentary-movie thing). One of them was Dave Dobbyn saying how it was great that they portrayed stereotypes (he said something like "there was no such thing as political correctness in those days"). It is astonishing how much he didn't get it.

The Topp Twins in the movie stated that they always wanted to be politically correct - they were portraying stereotypes but never made fun of anyone but themselves.

Anonymous said...

Ken and Ken remind me of the family from The Castle in that the people who fit those stereotypes often (but definitely not always) subscribe to some much uglier beliefs/behaviours (here I'm thinking racism where The Castle went out of its way to show the family being clueless but utterly well-meaning).

If you can make a wider community (including those being stereotyped) accept characters without the ugliness then it's just possible that you can persuade people to move away from the ugliness without losing their cultural identity