How much longer Papa Smurf?
I first heard that Kim Hill was leaving RNZ in a text. I remember it as if it was yesterday, indeed it was Friday 15/09/2023 – the day before yesterday. It was the Editor of The Daily Blog asking if I was going to do the next RNZ review on Kim Hill. Odd – why? What’s she done now that would be of any consequence at all? What wee Welly drama could this possibly be about? Did she get a ticket for riding her broomstick in a cycle lane? Tory Whanau-ed some overrated bar? Or something fitting her personality type: been arrested for the cold case disappearances of uppity male baristas? Or is she dying and does that mean George Hamilton can get his skin back? Or something completely implausible – like come out as straight?
I paid it no mind. I gave the editor a call about something else half an hour or so later, and then remembered about Kim Hill – what’s occurred? “She’s resigning from Radio New Zealand” – all over twitter, so much crying etc. Oh, OK. No tortured barista escaping from her EV down Lambton Quay then, like the part in Marathon Man where Dustin Hoffman’s character escapes, like the innocent nostalgia of a “distressed, naked teen” running down the street Darren Hughes-type scenario – never mind. His tone was matter of fact with maybe a hint of pride or satisfaction or something, like I was supposed to do something about that, a eulogy, an epitaph, bury her, burn her, drown her in a bath of holy water. So, my first reaction was: is that it? It wasn’t a thought or a feeling, no emotional engagement, just nothing; then: what does it mean, write a column, OK. I proffered my scepticism: “Well, you know how it works – Leighton Smith, Merv Smith and Paul Holmes and anyone in radio announces their retirement and the c*nts are still doing their f*cking shows three years later aren’t they!? Ugh. When’s she actually leaving?” The end of the year and something or other. “Oh, I see.” It was vague. Typical radio industry, even in the public sector. I was rolling my eyes, I would have to look it up. Fortunately, The Daily Blog editorial guide for media reviews says if it’s not cancer they may be curb stomped, so this needn’t be a chore. These radio talent departures are almost never immediate, such as a Tova-strophic ratings meltdown, so it must be a Mani-fest ego trip over contracts.
Before I could look it up online the RNZ bulletin was on air: Kim Hill will end the Saturday show, but continue to do something or other. It was vague. Typical radio industry. Are her retirement billboards going to be up for the next decade? It’s underwhelming, but there it was leading the 3pm RNZ news. The RNZ audience, the death of HM The Queen so recently in their thoughts, triggered into a mode of mourning… an area extending over three streets has been cordoned off around Broadcasting House so the public can lay floral tributes. I wasn’t really listening carefully, it’s all bullshit. RNZ, with deplorable sanctimony, is on par with some of the worst aspects of the private sector, a shameless whoring of the news for brand self-promotion.
My inclination is just to write my assessment of her out now and leave the actual resignation/retirement/demotion/employment dispute till the end, until the last moment possible, so I can keep my detached, depersonalised, unbiased objectivity without the risk of being triggered into unprofessionalism by catching a glance of her scowling, malcontented face de chatte.
I don’t have any unfair words to say or anything to declare except for the one and only time I ever had an interaction with her. This was the subject of some public discussion and an article in the NZ Listener. It was in 2000 or 2001 (or was it the late ‘90s?) back when the Listener, Kim Hill and myself were relevant enough for such a collision to have happened. Ben Thomas, editor of Auckland University Students’ Association anarcho-anarchist weekly magazine Craccum had published, on a drunken dare, my opinion piece about suicide. He had done so alongside several pages of a self-harm/how-to-massacre guide or something, it’s a long time ago and I can’t remember exactly and most of it is probably legal euthanasia now that’s how long ago this was. It was the shock it was hoping to be and then some. An uncontrollable chain reaction starting the day after it was released. The look on Ben’s face was like Oppenheimer witnessing the blast… when the atmosphere of the planet started to combust. Craccum was to publishing as the Young Ones was to television and Ben was a combination of Rick, Vyvyan and Neil – he too became briefly relevant.
Anyway, my piece was especially egregious because it seemed plausible as a moral position that not all suicide was wrong, that counsellors were useless and whatever else inflammatory but defensible things were said in that thrashing essay. Cue fuss, fury, editorial outrage (the Press Council was later to condemn everything and everyone in a scathing and extraordinary ruling – even though they didn’t have any mandate over student publications they went out of their way to admonish everyone who had so much as touched it). Cue a phone call to my flat at about ten o’clock in the morning from one of the lefty lovies on campus who despised me (the politically correct back then, they are woke now, it is the same thing), who was a producer for the 9-noon show – would I do an on-air live interview in about fifteen minutes? She was anticipating an evisceration, a dismemberment. I could hear it in her voice and that made me say: OK, sure. Bring it then. I would have finished my eggs on toast and have a cuppa ready. I had listened to Kim Hill as a matter of course because that’s what’s on RNZ and so you listen to it. I didn’t like her (how could you, she’s not supposed to be liked, but to be feared), but I didn’t dislike her particularly, she was just a bit of a constipated Pom in need of an enema. There was no trepidation.
The interview starts and it’s not so much a tango as a knife fight in a car park. I was determined to keep it upbeat, positive, constructive, serious but chatty. But after about five or six minutes maybe we get into this elongated metaphor that goes backwards and forwards and eventually too far for her. Up to this point it’s going OK, we’re both cut, but standing, no knock-downs, however she’s becoming more breathless, more exasperated, and it’s the equivalent to the third or fourth round in boxing terms, and I can hear the huffing, the puffing, the steaming. I am nonplussed, measured, unemotional; she, increasing magnitudes of apoplectic rage. If I recall, approximately, she asks: “if someone jumps overboard you wouldn’t throw a life jacket to that drowning person!?” And I say: “well, they threw themselves off the boat for a reason didn’t they?” A sharp snort or retort I couldn’t make out. And then there was silence. Had another flatmate picked up another phone on the line? No. Ha, we seem to have been cut off… she didn’t… no, no way, she wouldn’t have just hung up on me, surely not. So, I’m in my bedroom, cup of earl grey on the desk pad, swivel chair reclined at a jaunty angle, the receiver of the phone to my ear, like an idiot, listening to this silence. Was it all a dream? It played out precisely how a dream plays out when you fall back to sleep when you should have got up – wild, illogical, crazy combinations of people, characters, places, situations and all of it so real. OK, I’ve got to go to work now. Did this actually happen?
Oh boy did it happen. Everyone thought it was appalling. Appalling was the word used by everyone: by friends, colleagues, at work, in the media, the Press Council decision, the meeting in the Quad, on the street, everyone, everywhere considered what I had said was appalling. However, what Kim Hill had done in cutting me off turned out to be an even worse crime to the liberal intelligentsia – censorship and straight out unprofessionalism. Yes, it was she who was at fault, not I. In the short attention span of the media matrix, of heroes and villains, of competing outrages and superseding sensations she had granted me the seemingly impossible: redemption. She’s the one that lost her rag and her credibility in the encounter, not me – the judge’s card said she lost when she threw in the towel, I don’t know what the scores would have been at that point. My offence was eclipsed by the bad manners of the doyen, now rendered as short-tempered, to go with the wicked spinster aunt role the public had become accustomed to. She was now appalling. The Listener article that followed said she had only hung up on one other person before in her career – Jeffrey Archer. So, apart from that run-in many years ago, I have no problems with her and can be unbiased I hope you agree.
So back to Bitchy McBitchface. Women think her vinegar is misanthropic – she hates people. No, not quite. She hates people alright – to the degree that person is not politically correct yes, but there is a bilious stripe for the half of people armed with a built on rape kit. Men – being the recipients of the hate – can see the misandry for what it is. It’s like racism, the person dishing it out and the person getting it both know what it is even if everyone else doesn’t, or chooses not to. The counter-argument is that male fragility complex is to sexism as black victimhood complex is to racism: the supposed victims can’t see over their own self-pitying wallowing that the arsehole abusing them is blind to their gender or race, they’re just being arseholes. I don’t buy the counter-argument.
Let’s tidy this up right now. It’s in the Spoonerism Kill Him. Let’s tidy it up some more. Common sense tells us that misandry comes from resentment not so much of the superiority of men as the necessity for men. If I recall correctly that was more or less JFK’s assessment of why the South Vietnamese President’s wife was so bitter – she only held power through men. The counter-argument to that has some weight, if I may mansplain it.
Why is Kim Hill a hateful bitch? She is touted as such – her fans will list her hateful bitchiness as her major attraction. Did men generate her vaunted characteristic? Did the Maori kids who teased her at school when she arrived from England do that much life-long damage? She skirted over it on her desert island disc thing a few years ago. She had a very hard time – but no details, sounded raw. Do the sheep still cry, Kim?
What could possibly be relevant about Kim Hill now, given her trajectory has been falling since that ill-fated interview twenty something years ago? I see the word count is maxed, so let’s spend 30 seconds finding out the retirement schedule.
From RNZ: “New Zealand broadcasting great Kim Hill is signing off from her flagship Saturday Morning show on RNZ National.
Hill joined RNZ in 1985 and has presented a number of key programmes, most recently Saturday Morning with Kim Hill since 2002, and as a popular fill-in presenter on Morning Report.
“Kim will continue to do some work for RNZ in 2024 and is working with us on some ideas for a series of in-depth interviews. We are delighted and will have more to say about that in the new year.”
[…]while British author and politician Jeffrey Archer told Hill she was rude and he had “every right to tell her so”.”
Which means what? Typical radio – she’s not going away. They never do. I will be doing more columns yet it seems. More dancing, more knife fights.