Some people have a fascination for gangsters; I am not one of them.
Presumably, a lot of it comes from the attraction to the figure of the outlaw and I can understand that. The problem is that most gangsters aren’t outlaws in any romantic sense of the word, they’re just unpleasant half-bright thugs.
All those notions of honour amongst thieves and living by some sort of code are more the preserve of Hollywood than anything to do with real life. Whether it’s the likes of the Krays in England (yes we know, Ronnie really loved his ol’ mum) or the American models, from Al Capone’s Chicago crew to self-important killers such as Las Vegas cornerstone Bugsy Siegel, they’re an unlikable bunch, revelling in gauche bad taste and self-regard.
Much like the inflated silicone breasts that have been causing trouble in Europe (and more recently here) these gangsters may look imposing from a distance, but up close they’re really not so impressive.
I guess the same could be said of New Zealand’s most high-profile accused international criminal, Kim Dotcom. He certainly looks imposing from a distance.
But, after initially being sympathetic because of what seemed like a stunningly heavy-handed approach by police here, I now find myself liking the large German more and more. Particularly since he has put out his ‘John Banks Song’.
I guess you won’t have missed the slight stoush that the MP and the MegaUpload multimillionaire have become embroiled in. John Banks appears to have accepted some campaign donations from Kim Dotcom. They may or may not have been anonymous, depending on the murky wording of local body campaign donations. And whether or not Banksie knew about them.
More than that has been hard to divine, since John Banks memory for many events appears to have faltered. He claimed not to recall the donations and even not to recall having visited Mr Dotcom by private helicopter at one of the biggest mansions in the country. So be it.
But Dotcom’s reply is priceless. The ‘John Banks Song’ can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CvRSZxqk_I. There are no visuals, just the song itself, recorded at Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studio in Auckland, with extra lyrics and production by Black Eyed Peas songwriter and producer, Printz Board.
(Incidentally, given Kim Dotcom’s alleged status as threat to the music industry, I’m surprised how few musicians seem to have a problem with him.)
It’s a wonderful song. Have a listen. I haven’t laughed so much in a while. But it’s not just that that appeals to me. It’s also a wonderful idea, a great way to protest and a fantastic little crack at good-naturedly sticking it to ‘The Man’.
It takes me back you know. Back to those fabled days of the sixties when often protesting was done with joy and humour, intending to get people to laugh at the absurdities of power rather than fear it.
It also reminds me of similar songs (well, not similar songs but one’s written with similar intent) in New Zealand’s past. Remember The Knobz and ‘Culture’? Back in 1980 their rebuttal of Rob Muldoon’s dismissal of New Zealand music blasted from many a radio station. And then there were The Blams and ‘There is No Depression in New Zealand’, itself one of the great Kiwi anthems and once again poking a stick at the bastions of power and misinformation.
And now we have Kim Dotcom, the most genial alleged criminal mastermind many of us have seen, making the best possible response to a situation that has now descended into complete farce.
I say complete farce, since John Banks has since claimed that he wishes he’d spoken more openly but he was acting under lawyers instructions not to talk about the case (which he now regrets). Certainly all those “I can’t recalls” – so excruciatingly repeated in the song – were a little embarrassing.
Oddly, no-one has asked the obvious follow-up questions: so why didn’t you say “my lawyer told me not to talk about it” rather than “I can’t recall”?