The Dim-Post

March 4, 2016

Salon des refuses

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:53 am

Like I’ve said before I’m probably going to vote to keep the old flag in the referendum, but I’m wavering here because of the awful unbearable smugness of a lot of the anti-Lockwood design arguments, which are based on the premise that the Lockwood flag is ‘objectively bad’. They’re not voting against it because they personally don’t like it, or just don’t like John Key – they’re above all of that petty nonsense. No, the argument goes: the Lockwood flag is ‘bad’ on a scientific, technical level, as judged by ‘design experts’.

Not all design experts, obviously. Lockwood is a design expert and his flag designs won the first referendum by a huge margin. But other design experts say its bad and it’s just a huge coincidence that people on the left decide to value the judgement of those experts and objectively decide the flag favoured by Key is ‘bad design.’

The very idea that we have ‘design experts’ who make objective timeless judgments about what does and does not look good is risible. Just about every celebrated work of art or triumphant design in the world was originally dismissed by ‘design experts’. Which doesn’t mean I think that’ll happen with the Lockwood flag – probably I think it won’t. But it could! ‘It looks like a logo.’ Well, maybe now that flags aren’t used for identifying enemy vessels at sea so much maybe they’ll all start to look like logos. Maybe the Lockwood logo will be seen as an iconic, groundbreaking example of kiwi ingenuity! Who knows?

Probably not though. If you just don’t like the look of the Lockwood flag then that’s fine. And if you don’t care but want to vote against it because you don’t like Key and want to give him a black eye then that’s fine too. We get to do that. But insisting that anyone voting otherwise is a moron because of some absurd attempt at objectivity over ‘design’ is just as snobby and elitist as the critics in the National Party say it is.

131 Comments »

  1. So … your desire to spit in the eye of “design experts” is becoming stronger than your desire to spit in the eye of John Key?

    If I, as an esteemed Professor of Law and Very Serious Person Who Ought To Be Listened To On Matters Of Great Importance, now tell you that it is your solemn civic duty to vote in this referendum will that cause you to become so enraged that you’ll boycott the whole exercise?

    This is fun! What other actions can we use danyl’s spleen to bring about?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 4, 2016 @ 11:02 am

  2. Classic design ignoramus post right here, folks.

    Comment by Hamish — March 4, 2016 @ 11:07 am

  3. ” Just about every celebrated work of art or triumphant design in the world was originally dismissed by ‘design experts’.”

    This is pretty much backwards. Pretty much only period of time in the western tradition where works of art and/or design that we now view as “celebrated” or “triumphant” weren’t also highly praised at the time is, well, about 1820-1950. Not to say that there aren’t people who’ve dipped and rose – is Raphael or Michelangelo better? We’d answer that differently now than some in the past, but in reality both Michelangelo and Rapheal were highly praised, well renumerated, famous, etc.

    (If you think about it, that’s kind of inherent in low surplus societies.)

    Comment by Keir Leslie — March 4, 2016 @ 11:08 am

  4. The Florentine public *literally* stoned Michaelangelo’s David statue when it was first unveiled.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 11:13 am

  5. This has been the has struck me as the most bizarre aspect of the whole debate. I can understand high levels of animosity towards Key but the argument that art and design are objective is mystifying. We may have “a” design or visual heritage – even that denies diversity – but a lot of design that has been popular over time has been low-brow. That the insults have been it’s a tea-towel or bath-towel just goes to show that this is about the middle class lecturering everyone else on ART. It’s like we’ve just spent $26m on finding the answer to the question of whether the middle class were laughing at or with the characters of Outrageous Fortune.

    All the in name of Finding or Identity.

    It does so remind me of back in high school when the boys used to argue about who objectively was the best guitarist.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 11:19 am

  6. Classic design ignoramus post right here, folks.

    You know what Hamish? You’ve convinced me! I’m gonna switch votes and vote for the Lockwood.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 11:32 am

  7. You know what Hamish? You’ve convinced me! I’m gonna switch votes and vote for the Lockwood.

    Well, if danyl’s now for the Lockwood, then that’s clinched my support for the original. Unless Sanctuary comes out in support of the original, in which case I’ll go back to the Lockwood. Unless that’s what NeilM says I should do.

    Gosh – this deciding what to do based on the opposite of what other people tell me to do is quite hard work!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 4, 2016 @ 11:39 am

  8. Danyl, have we somehow been tricked into believing you’re an adult when you’re actually a twelve year old? Has anyone actually met Danyl in real life?

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 11:44 am

  9. When I said I didn’t really care about the flag I wasn’t messing around. I will totally switch my vote to spite some random stranger on the internet.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 11:46 am

  10. @Andrew, so Danyl’s the moron in a hurry and Neil is the man on the Omnibus?

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 11:46 am

  11. The Florentine public aren’t “design experts” though, surely?

    The views of “design experts” at the time was that Michelangelo was an excellent young sculptor who could be trusted with a huge public art commission in his mid-twenties, and then that he should go on to get prestigious commissions for the Vatican like papal tombs, the ceiling of the Pope’s private chapel, to be the architect of the most important church in western christendom, etc etc. I mean, man, I’d give quite a lot to be disliked by the cognoscenti like Michelangelo was!

    I don’t really believe in objective beauty or any of that stuff, but in the case of the flag it’s striking that almost no-one who has any passing professional ability seems to rate the Lockwood. I mean, it’s not just that some people really hate it, it’s that you’ve got a near unanimity on the matter from a lot of people who, in the normal course of things, don’t tend to agree on much. And the people who do like it never advance an argument that looks like the kind of argument we make for things that we think have aesthetic merit.

    So sure, maybe in fifty years we’ll all be lauding Kyle Lockwood as a genius (although, admittedly, a genius with only one really great work to his name). But I would be willing to take pretty much any bet you want to make that we won’t.

    Which is all fine – Key and Joyce want a new flag for political purposes, because they are politicians and that’s the perspective they come to this from. An politically I tend to agree with them – we should have a new flag.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — March 4, 2016 @ 11:47 am

  12. Didnt know that ‘art was just design with a higher price tag’

    The good citizens of Florence stoning Michelangelo’s David because it was a ‘bad design’ ?

    When it comes to Architecture, do we say ignore the experts ?.

    Or in this instance ‘architectural designer’ or draughtsman Kyle Lockwood, who of course are largely responsible for the run of the mill suburban houses.

    Comment by Ztev Konrad — March 4, 2016 @ 11:48 am

  13. I think what people mean by objectively bad is that there is clearly a discourse of flag design that sets parameters in which design takes place and by which designs may be assessed, and the Lockwood flag does not work well within this discourse. If you think this discourse doesn’t exist then ask yourself why laser kiwi, which was a popular design that garnered international attention, or dogs playing poker, which is a very popular image, weren’t contenders for the flag. The answer pretty quickly leads to a set of criteria that establishes the existence of flag design parameters (which are well
    known, long-established published on the flag panel’s website, and contrary to some claims, not invented for the purposes of this process). It seems clear to a number of people that the Lockwood flag fails these parameters by not being easy for a child to draw (it’s so complicated it can’t even be sown!), not looking good when small, and not being well-balanced.

    Many of those people think it fits well within a tea towel discourse though I personally think it looks better as a T20 cricket uniform.

    RE: NeilM’s “best guitarist” analogy, it’s more that we can all acknowledge that one may argue about who we prefer out of Hendrix, Page, or BB King but there’s no argument that Fred Durst is it up for consideration.

    Comment by Jake — March 4, 2016 @ 11:48 am

  14. Any other so-called experts you have contempt for, Danyl? What about hairdressers–after all hairstyles are not very objective. Who needs the help of a damn hairdresser let’s all just let our mantails and neckbeards flow.

    Comment by Hamish — March 4, 2016 @ 11:50 am

  15. I’ve already consigned myself to the city of low expectations. Going through this again – getting lectured on about art and who we are by people who think they have a monopoly on determing that will be too painful. I don’t mind the Lockwood flag. I doubt I’ll like better any flag on any other shortlist. A convergence of taste is always going to leave many people unhappy. In short I think this process has failings but any other process will just have different failings.

    There was public consultation which some decide not to participate in. That might have been a good opportunity to engage with others with different views, different tastes,

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 11:51 am

  16. *not up for consideration

    Comment by Jake — March 4, 2016 @ 11:51 am

  17. I think its wonderful that a lot of people who really dislike John Key suddenly became passionate about great design and the need for expert input…

    I’m not why people have developed such squeamishness that they feel the need for an excuse for voting no that is better than “I don’t like John Key”. It’s very much his project, and the alternative flag is one which he favoured before we had the design process. That doesn’t make the Kyle Lockwood design good or bad. But just as you are entitled to say no if you like the product but hate the vendor, you can say no here too, even if you want a new flag. No need for excuses, justifications etc. The votes count the same no matter why you cast them, and voters owe nobody an explanation.

    Comment by Nick R — March 4, 2016 @ 11:55 am

  18. NeilM’s “best guitarist” analogy, it’s more that we can all acknowledge that one may argue about who we prefer out of Hendrix, Page, or BB King but there’s no argument that Fred Durst is it up for consideration.

    Now you’ve done it. Limp Bizkit just became danyl’s favourite band of all time.

    That will teach you to use your claims of “expert consensus” to tell him what to think!!!!!!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 4, 2016 @ 11:56 am

  19. What actually amuses me about this whole flag process is that the opinionated white middle classes are all annoying themselves instead of everyone else for a change🙂

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 11:59 am

  20. 17 – the NZ left has always tied nationalism, independence, and good design together – see pretty much everything Bill Sutch wrote about design in NZ. Am sure David Craig can tell you a lot about it as well.

    Comment by Keir Leslie — March 4, 2016 @ 12:00 pm

  21. When I said I didn’t really care about the flag I wasn’t messing around. I will totally switch my vote to spite some random stranger on the internet.

    I fully endorse this sentiment! I just want to make sure I’m spiting the right stranger on the internet. Deciding who that should be is something that is causing me a lot of angst and uncertainty.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 4, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

  22. one may argue about who we prefer out of Hendrix, Page, or BB King

    Yeah, except those are all pretty popular guitarists, just like Lockwood’s flags were, by far, the most popular flag designs. So what we have here is a bunch of people insisting that Hendrix, Page etc are OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE because ‘objective experts in musical composition’ who prefer, I don’t know, Bruckner and Neutral Milk Hotel, say they are.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

  23. I think you’re using two different values for popular. Hendrix et al were globally popular and have continued to be popular through, there’s no evidence that Lockwood’s flag design would interest anyone outside of this whole spat.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

  24. that should be “through time”

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 12:06 pm

  25. It’s almost as if comparing world famous guitarists and NZ flag designs isn’t a very apt comparison at all

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 12:20 pm

  26. Well only one of those things is a design issue, for starters.

    Comment by Hamish — March 4, 2016 @ 12:23 pm

  27. @Hamish for some very odd value of design🙂

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 12:25 pm

  28. It was the dynamic of – my taste has an objective basis – you have bad taste – that stuck me as similar.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

  29. If we need to vote against “awful unbearable smugness” we’re always going to be spoilt for choice (he says, smugly but bearably).

    It’s amazing how people define their world: by totally avoiding a horde of idiots on The Rock FM or Veitchy on Radio Sport or Leighton Smith, you can give them a free pass, and concentrate your indignation at lefty zealots on Twitter and (I suppose) a handful of design fascists.

    I mean, feel free, but let’s not pretend it has anything to do with the actual population at large. It’s like ranting at an off-message Guardian columnist while the Mail and Sun have ten times the readership – and influence. I expect Sanders groupies can be awfully, unbearably smug, but they are never going to be the ones in the White House, are they?

    TLDR: speak truth to power, not periphery.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — March 4, 2016 @ 12:33 pm

  30. Surely the Lockwood design is more analogous to Kelly Clarkson than Hendrix or Bruckner? I.e. an ultimately forgettable winner of a popularity contest.

    Comment by GarethLL — March 4, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

  31. It’s amazing how people define their world: by totally avoiding a horde of idiots on The Rock FM or Veitchy on Radio Sport or Leighton Smith, you can give them a free pass, and concentrate your indignation at lefty zealots on Twitter and (I suppose) a handful of design fascists.

    This is true.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 12:48 pm

  32. It was the dynamic of – my taste has an objective basis – you have bad taste – that stuck me as similar.

    I’m a published novelist so I could, I guess, claim to be an ‘expert writer’. And I have very strong opinions about some books and think some of them are terrible. But I’d never go around telling people they were tasteless morons because my status as an expert gave me access to an objective truth about the enjoyability of a book. That’d just make me look like an asshole.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 12:50 pm

  33. I don’t care how Neil Miller feel about Rheineck I’m going to drink it and love it so there.

    Comment by Hamish — March 4, 2016 @ 12:57 pm

  34. Good design is just common sense.
    33 leaves and 4 outlined stars = One complex flag.
    Rule number one of Good Flag Design: Keep it simple.

    Comment by Tony — March 4, 2016 @ 12:58 pm

  35. for me – it’s a logo – I remember a time before that wave of marketing graduates crawled into every deep dark crack in this country (even ‘RNZ’) – i refuse to be sucked in/down – like a majority of the population it seems

    Comment by rodaigh — March 4, 2016 @ 1:01 pm

  36. @ danyl

    “But I’d never go around telling people they were tasteless morons because my status as an expert gave me access to an objective truth about the enjoyability of a book. That’d just make me look like an asshole.”

    Or a newspaper critic/reviewer

    Comment by insider — March 4, 2016 @ 1:08 pm

  37. I’m very disappointed that this wasn’t written in Comic Sans.

    Comment by thomasbeagle — March 4, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

  38. The assertion of I have objective taste was also often followed up with – and we need to discus who we are as a people first.

    Which doesn’t bode well for having any informative discussion on that either.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

  39. I actually quite like the Lockwood design. Not enough to want it as a flag but as a towel or bedspread it’d be fine.

    That’s not the reason why I’m voting to keep the present flag though. I’m voting not to change because we haven’t changed as a nation. We’re still part of the English monarchy and I think we need to change to a republic before we change the flag. The change of flag would then be symbolic of the change in our nationhood status.

    For a flag I’d much prefer this one and it could do with just a little work.

    Comment by Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard) — March 4, 2016 @ 1:37 pm

  40. I think we need to change to a republic…

    I used to think that some point we would have a major national conversation about our identity and becoming a republic.

    But after what’s happened with the flag I think I’d just prefer to drift in a rather aimless fashion towards our common destiny rather than go through this again.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 1:49 pm

  41. Geez now you’ve done it. Inflamed the People’s Front of Vexillology.

    Comment by robhosking — March 4, 2016 @ 1:49 pm

  42. we need to discus who we are as a people first

    That’s what’s problematic, I think. The flag should probably be chosen ‘by the people’ but demographically we are about 75% white and increasingly elderly, and that’s going to dominate the outcome in any democratic process.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 1:51 pm

  43. I like the Lockwood flag, and Comic Sans, and I dislike hoppy pale ales. So I appear to have objectively bad taste in three areas. What I’m unsure about is which group of experts is the most insufferable: the vexillologists, the typographers or the cicerones.

    Comment by Mark — March 4, 2016 @ 1:58 pm

  44. “But I’d never go around telling people they were tasteless morons because my status as an expert gave me access to an objective truth about the enjoyability of a book. That’d just make me look like an asshole.”

    Sure, but if you politely pointed out why you thought a book was bad by giving reasons rooted in your expertise, it would be unreasonable, self-defeating, and boorish for people to simply dismiss you out of hand. How do people ever expect to find new and interesting artworks if they think their current tastes are the final word?

    Comment by L — March 4, 2016 @ 1:59 pm

  45. @Mark, I suggest you actually talk to a typographer about comic sans, as they are aware of the functionality qualities of comic sans as well as the problem caused by the incorrect application of a typeface of its type. I’d also suggest that the people you refer to think it’s a font and not a typeface, and while I’m infuriated by your opinion I am impressed by your knowing the difference.

    I’d further suggest that hoppy ales aren’t really the problem, that the problem is that milds, bitters, and brown ales have been ignored in recent years. When NZ’s craft brewing started taking off it looked for a while that equal love was going to be given to all styles, but alas no. I would note that Gissy Gold has started reappearing in supermarkets. It’s hard to beat a cold Gissy Gold on a hot day.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

  46. “But I’d never go around telling people they were tasteless morons because my status as an expert gave me access to an objective truth about the enjoyability of a book. That’d just make me look like an asshole.”

    You don’t worry that telling people what to think about aesthetics and art history without having any expertise in those fields might also make you look like an asshole?

    Comment by Dojo — March 4, 2016 @ 2:19 pm

  47. You don’t worry that telling people what to think about aesthetics and art history without having any expertise in those fields might also make you look like an asshole?

    No because I have read two Irving Stone novels

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 2:25 pm

  48. “When NZ’s craft brewing started taking off it looked for a while that equal love was going to be given to all styles” In terms of Qty Demanded by the customers who are paying through the nose for it, you mean? I’d be all for the brewers creating porters and stouts at the same rate of production as pale ales, and then discounting them to shift them. I’d be the winner there. Well, at least until the craft brewers went under, selling their brand to the Giant Beer Co of Singapore.

    Why don’t you engage with craft brewers about what you want (they love that shit, after all, they’re enthusiasts, too)? Also, if you get onto their mailing lists, you’ll get a heads-up on their more experimental releases.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 4, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

  49. http://thespinoff.co.nz/03-03-2016/a-designers-last-lament-for-this-whole-sorry-flag-fiasco/

    I read the above by Simon Pound and was fully expecting a convincing case for voting no. And he was mildly convincing until he used a simplification of the alternative flag by a cartoonist and artist as an example how the it could be improved. At which point I started laughing, and Simon’s design expertise was heavily discounted for the balance of the piece. It’s close to a perfect illustration of Danyl’s argument.

    In the last ten days I have driven between Wellington and the Bay of Plenty and saw lots of NZ flags and the alternative. As someone who started out this process supporting the old flag, I have to say the best was a large version of the Lockwood design on a flagpole outside a house at Mt Maunganui. It flies very well, much better than I thought it would.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 4, 2016 @ 2:33 pm

  50. That’s what’s problematic…

    Let experts design the flag and experts design our identity. Take it out of the hands of the uneducated public.

    I think that irony has been overlooked.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 2:37 pm

  51. I hadn’t realised when I wrote my earlier post that the improved version of the Lockwood favoured by Simon Pound was also the one favoured above by Draco T Bastard.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 4, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

  52. Danyl is correct of course, we don’t need ‘design experts’ to tell us what is or isn’t good design because if the polls are to be believed it looks like about 2 thirds of NZ voters are able to spot a lemon when they see it.

    Comment by Bob — March 4, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

  53. I’m sorry some people have been telling you what to like or not like, but if we can separate that out from criticism in general, your argument makes no sense.

    There are design experts, just like there are movie critics and food critics and music critics. They know the basic bar that each field must clear before it can be judged on a “subjective” level. This part is, sorry to blow your mind, objective. A movie has to be lit properly, the actors convincing, the story meaningful. The food shouldn’t make you sick. Likewise, there are flag design principles the Lockwood design fails.

    No one likes being condescended too, so I understand the backlash to so-called “elitists” telling people the design they like actually sucks. I personally don’t care if you like the Lockwood design – whether you like it or not is the subjective part. Whether it’s a good design is the objective part. It’s not. Sorry if that coms across as smug, but it’s literally my job.

    Bear in mind it’s equally frustrating for professionals to have their entire discipline dismissed as “opinion” because people don’t understand it.

    Comment by James — March 4, 2016 @ 3:22 pm

  54. I personally don’t care if you like the Lockwood design – whether you like it or not is the subjective part. Whether it’s a good design is the objective part. It’s not. Sorry if that coms across as smug, but it’s literally my job.

    Well we’re just lucky to have professionals like you out there, keeping the rest of us safe at night from arrangements of colours and shapes that are objectively bad.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

  55. I don’t quite see how the pattern on a flag would influence the way it flies, at least in the moving, dense air-masses of New Zealand. All the suggested flags will flap and stream boisterously on windy, Wellington days and hang limp and flaccid on calm Auckland days (this reflecting the populations of those cities).

    Maybe in space. A very light flag with black on one side and white on the other would possibly fly under pressure of solar radiation.

    Comment by richdrich — March 4, 2016 @ 3:44 pm

  56. @James I feel you, man! In my profession, there are a lot of people who think whatever it is they chose to vomit out of their mouth on a particular day is more profound than the actual design principles and science available to be applied.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 3:48 pm

  57. Whether it’s a good design is the objective part. It’s not. Sorry if that comes across as smug, but it’s literally my job.

    I think we’d all be a little more amenable to the opinion of self-proclaimed experts ragging on Lockwood, if those experts took even just one moment to admit our current flag design is also quite shit.

    Comment by Phil — March 4, 2016 @ 3:49 pm

  58. Okay Danyl, so if Fifty Shades of Grey won the Booker Prize, you, as an author, would be totally fine with that? You’d say nothing, because it’s subjective what is good writing?

    Also, despite you trying to once again make it personal, there are objective principles in flag design. Roman Mars lists five, and the Lockwood fails four of them.

    Despite your sarcasm, designers are actually keeping the rest of the world safe from bad design. Or did you think things just look good and communicate effectively by accident?

    Comment by James — March 4, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

  59. I think we’d all be a little more amenable to the opinion of self-proclaimed experts ragging on Lockwood, if those experts took even just one moment to admit our current flag design is also quite shit.

    Or, even to be vaguely plausible. I’m a scientist, I’m a huge believer in the value of expert opinion. But real experts can usually marshal powerful arguments and point to convincing evidence to persuade people instead of just telling everyone over and over again what an expert they are. The expert arguments against the Lockwood – flags should be hand-sewn and easily drawn by children – make very little sense to me. Like, the US flag or the Soviet flag are pretty iconic, and they seem hard to draw. And who hand-sews flags?

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 3:56 pm

  60. Our current flag isn’t good. It was done up quickly so ships knew we were from NZ. It’s too similar to Australia.

    I was happy to vote for a new flag, but the Lockwood ain’t it.

    Comment by James — March 4, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

  61. When I mediate between clients and designers and a client is trying to micro manage the detail of the design I usually ask the client, Do you like the design? If they answer yes, I then say something like, “Great, that’s why we hired a designer. Please ask all the questions you like and engage the designer in the detail but also trust their judgement in these areas as you have trusted their judgement on the overall concept.” But different designers can, following the same design principles, come up with quite different designs. Then it’s down to the taste of the client, there’s no objective way of separating them unless one design is clearly superior in having on impact on the behaviour of the target audience or customer. And, If that’s the case you are back to the judgement of the crowd, just as wider electorate has already passed judgement on the peered alternative flag.

    Comment by Tinakori — March 4, 2016 @ 4:12 pm

  62. Danyl: never heard the “hand-sewn” argument, but both that and “easily drawn by children” appear to be saying “keep it simple”. The reason for that is flags are often seen at very small sizes from a distance. Fields of simply colour are the easiest thing to identify at distances. Also, since they’re patriotic symbols, it helps if everyone can draw their flag.

    I’ll grant there are reasons for flag’s looking the way they do that are probably now out of date – like being used to identify armies or ships. There’s definitely a wider debate to be had there, ideally among flag designers though, not Herald political columnists.

    Comment by James — March 4, 2016 @ 4:12 pm

  63. designers are actually keeping the rest of the world safe from bad design.

    It’s going to take a few generations before we eradicate bad design and pave the way for a proper debate on republicanism and the consequent changes to our national symbolism.

    Children will have to be educated on proper flag design and also proper national anthem writing,

    People will have to be educated on proper story telling so they tell proper, educated stories about our nation. Not their own ill-conceived ones.

    These things can’t be left to to the uneducated, Iur national identity depends on not letting instinctive taste and peoples’ own stories dominate.

    Our nationhood has to be the expression of the people and they don’t know how to do that yet. But with the helpful guidance of experts they may be able to partake.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

  64. Amazing how condescending people are towards designers when their complaint is designers are being condescending to them.

    Here’s an experiment: try replacing “design” with “roads” or “law”, or even something creative like “architecture”. You’d never call a lawyer a “self-described expert” on law, you’d never tell a roading engineer where the road should go and what it should be made of, and you’re probably afraid the house will fall down if you told an architect to change his plans. The difference is you respect all those fields, even if you don’t understand them.

    But no: the fern “just symbolises New Zealand”. It popped into the collective conscious that way, one day, we all agreed. It has nothing to do with designers and artists using it over years until it became synonymous with NZ. Designers actually think about these things. It’s their job. But apparently we should just all disband because it’s hurting your feelings.

    Comment by James — March 4, 2016 @ 4:32 pm

  65. Is all we are seeing here the contempt that someone who works in the “hard sciences” feels for disciplines who don’t use things like electron microscopes, storm phosphor imagers and fluorescence activated cell sorters … yet still dare to make use of the word “objective”? in which case, let’s solve the problem by saying “there is a discipline (design) with its own discipline-specific understandings, practices and modes of thinking, according to which the Lockwood flag fails to meet the discipline-specific criteria of what is “good” design.”

    That claim may or may not then be “objectively” true within the discipline itself. In other words, we can look to see if there is anything like a consensus within those involved in the design community that the Lockwood flag fails in terms of the understandings, practices and modes of thinking that constitute it as a discipline. But that “objective” truth then means very little if you either (i) reject the current understandings, practices and modes of thinking that presently hold sway in the design discipline (because there will always be dissenters in any discipline (hard sciences included) who want to bring about the Khunian revolutions that change those understandings, practices and modes of thinking), or (ii) just don’t give a shit about what designers think. After all, no-one’s holding a gun to a puppy’s head and saying “vote for the flag that the designers want or Patches here gets it”.

    It does seem a bit weird to me, however, to become so annoyed that there even exists a discipline called “design” with its own discipline-specific understandings, practices and modes of thinking that your flag vote will be for the opposite of whatever it happens to say is “good”. I mean, spite is great … don’t get me wrong! But it seems such a oddly small and meaningless thing to vent that spite over, given the range of options on the table. I mean, wouldn’t it be far more satisfying to be able to tweet Matthew Hooten and ask him to send you a vial of his sweet, sweet tears once the Lockwood design gets voted down?

    On a pettily tangential but possibly interesting related note, but … when Danyl reviewed the “so bad it’s good” movie The Room back in 2009, he concluded that:

    “It is hard to make something this authentically terrible and audiences are very sensitive to irony or intentional parody.”

    I guess there’s a difference between pronouncing a movie to be “authentically terrible” and saying that a flag is “objectively bad design”? Otherwise Danyl could well be accused of, you know, appealing to something other than “what he likes/doesn’t like” as the sole permissible basis for making an aesthetic judgment. Which is, apparently, bad? Or something? Because I have to say that funny as this whole thread has been and a useful distraction for a slow Friday, I’ve sort-of lost the point of it.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 4, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

  66. Okay Danyl, so if Fifty Shades of Grey won the Booker Prize, you, as an author, would be totally fine with that? You’d say nothing, because it’s subjective what is good writing?

    Pretty much. There have been a couple of Booker Prize winners – Vernon God Little, Life of Pi – that I thought were just awful, but I don’t pretend there is an objective list of things that good books have and bad books don’t, and that I or anyone else has access to. I mean, I like the da Vinci Code, which is the most critically reviled book of all time, and agree with the critics who laugh at all the terrible sentences in it. But there’s a huge amount of technique in that book that, I think, the critics don’t see but the hundred million plus readers respond to.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 4:43 pm

  67. … I don’t pretend there is an objective list of things that good books have and bad books don’t, and that I or anyone else has access to.

    But … but … that’s not what you said when reviewing The Room!!!!! And if you really are committed to the view that “good/bad is just what you happen to think”, then why in all the other movie/book/music reviews you’ve written do you give reasons for your judgment? Why not just give the identifier/title and a two thumbs up or down?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 4, 2016 @ 4:54 pm

  68. It does seem a bit weird to me, however, to become so annoyed that there even exists a discipline called “design”

    I think it’s more the choice of something like a flag has much more to it than whatever design principles there might be and I’d be surprised if there wasn’t disagreement in the design community on particular designs.

    I think the argument – there is object good taste and it just so happens to coincide with my taste – requires a degree of fine tuning remarkable even for a universe that can’t seem to do without it.

    Comment by NeilM — March 4, 2016 @ 4:58 pm

  69. Danyl, on 5 September last year, in a post here, you said that “none of the flags the panel selected actually look like flags”. Was this not a reference to some kind of objective vexillogical design standard?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 4, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

  70. Is all we are seeing here the contempt that someone who works in the “hard sciences” feels for disciplines who don’t use things like electron microscopes, storm phosphor imagers and fluorescence activated cell sorters … yet still dare to make use of the word “objective”?

    I haven’t been thinking of objective scientific truth so much as the history of art, in which expert objective pronouncements, lists etc of what is good and bad routinely get swept into the dustbin of history. I mean, I get that there is a discipline called design and that if you want to hire someone to make a web page or a menu or whatever look pretty then you can hire them, and that they have principles that they work to, just like any other medium. We should have had some people like that on the design panel. But their pronouncements aren’t canonical. People who think their flags or menus or whatever aren’t pretty aren’t ‘wrong’,

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 5:04 pm

  71. Nah, I think you’ve got things totally arse-about-face here, Danyl.

    My reading of the social media debate over recent weeks is that most of the “awful, unbearable smugness” and snobbery and elitism is coming from the Lockwood fans and their fellow travellers. Those who agree that the Lockwood alternative is an ugly piece of design are rather pretentiously mocked with such erudite and ironic little bon mots as: “suddenly everyone’s a design expert !” or “everyone’s suddenly discovered nascent design sensibilities !”.

    The elitist notion underpinning this sort of argument is, of course, that most “ordinary” people aren’t qualified to distinguish good from bad design. So we need to put these outrageously presumptive hoi polloi, deigning to pontificate on matters of design quality if you please !, back in their place.

    Whereas, I think we are all qualified. There’s a reason why 60% of New Zealanders (according to a recent poll) felt the quality of the Lockwood design was “Not Good” (compared to 35% who said “Good”). I think design sensibilities emanate from a kind of innate human intuition about what looks right and what looks wrong, what does and doesn’t look balanced and pleasing to the eye. Design experts simply formalise and codify those inherent human sensibilities.

    So when a large majority of the public agree that a design just doesn’t look right (even if they can’t express it in the sophisticated lingo of professional designers) then I’d say that’s actually inherently Anti-elitist.

    Comment by swordfish — March 4, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

  72. Put three architects in room and you will have an argument. put three design experts in a room and you will have an argument … when ever, where ever there is ‘design’ some poeple will like it others will hate it.

    Comment by Robert — March 4, 2016 @ 5:11 pm

  73. ASAIK no country has adopted a new flag whose design was selected democratically. South Africa tried for years before giving up. Apart from questions of design, taste, politics, etc there is a basic reason for this. Flags represent different things to different groups of people. The need to keep the design simple means these group’s wants cannot be met and in any vote they will outnumber those wanting change, and so we have stasis.

    I suspect the disappointed and anti JK votes will carry the day. A pity, it would be nice to have a flag that was unique and easily recognisable as NZ. If the Canadian experience is anything to go by, it wouldn’t take long for the great majority of the population to get to like it and be proud of it.

    Comment by BOF — March 4, 2016 @ 5:12 pm

  74. There is definitely disagreement in the design community all the time. But it starts from a base of basic craft – if two letters in a logo were crammed together and the next two were open and spaced out, i.e. bad kerning, then every professional designer would agree that’s bad design. What they disagree on is the subjective parts – I don’t like how they used Helvetica, it’s overused, I don’t think the tone is right for an accounting firm (but maybe that’s what they wanted, to stand out), etc. The argument here is the Lockwood flag doesn’t meet that basic level of craft. It’s a prettied-up Laser Kiwi. (It’s not that bad, which is why it’s liked by so many, but from a designer’s point of view, it’s bad.)

    Just to be clear: the debate is non-professionals telling professionals they’re wrong. It’s Mike Hosking, Steven Joyce, Barry Soper, Claire Trevett, Dan Carter, a panel of non-designers choosing the flag in the first place, etc etc.

    Also: part of a designer’s role is to explain why things are designed the way they are to the client. Red Peak had a nice story behind it, and once people knew it, they liked the flag more. The Lockwood started from an advantageous position because it used the fern, which has been established over years as symbolising NZ (it didn’t just pop into existence as a symbol, as Hosking seems to think). So people could glance at it and get the story. This is where the panel failed at the start. The whole process has been fucked.

    Comment by James — March 4, 2016 @ 5:13 pm

  75. There’s a reason why 60% of New Zealanders (according to a recent poll) felt the quality of the Lockwood design was “Not Good”

    Maybe. If you’d asked me a month ago I would have replied that I thought the Lockwood design was simply shocking, didn’t look like a proper flag, etc. I didn’t really think that though – it was Key’s flag and I’m a lefie, so I just didn’t like it and resolved to vote against it. It’s only been the last few weeks when I’ve seen the actual Lockwood flying and thought it didn’t look so bad, and all the tweets and editorials and columns from people complaining that it was so shocking it hurt their eyes etc, that I realised how tribal my own sensibilities were. I mean, I still think it isn’t that great and I’m kind of pleased it will be a (mild) defeat for Key, but I’m not pretending it violates the basic laws of the universe any more.

    Comment by danylmc — March 4, 2016 @ 5:20 pm

  76. I really like the flags of Wales, Nepal and Tibet, none of which meet the children drawing / sewing measures or measures drawn up by radio hosts like the dubiously named Roman Mars, but anyone saying they are bad flags are to my mind plain wrong.

    As for the tea-towel trope what a crock that is. I’ve never seen a tea towel remotely like that.

    I’m all for dumping the defaced Blue Ensign – for the first time I’m hoping Key wins a vote.

    Comment by clintnelson — March 4, 2016 @ 5:20 pm

  77. Wow Danyl! So all of the people with qualifications in the applied sciences and commercial arts produce “pretty menus”. I’m getting a good view into why you’re suddenly so hated on twitter.

    Comment by Robert Singers — March 4, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

  78. Can I just say, for context, despite being a leftie I was never against the flag change because of Key. I actually wanted a silver fern on black background before the process started, which is exactly what Key wanted.

    Also, the Lockwood does look a lot better in person, flying on a pole, than as a rectangle in print, so I’m glad they’ve done that to help people decide. I actually think the vote will be much closer than people think.

    Comment by James — March 4, 2016 @ 5:28 pm

  79. put three design experts in a room and you will have an argument … when ever, where ever there is ‘design’ some poeple will like it others will hate it.

    Genuine question – are there any “designers” out there (beyond Kyle Lockwood) who think the alternative flag is an example of “good” design?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 4, 2016 @ 5:38 pm

  80. If this is going to be turned into a referendum on how popular John Key is, then the new flag design will win. I’m a little bit miffed about how the whole situation has been exploited by certain people to turn it into a referendum about John Key in part because it means that some people will choose their vote purely out of spite, but then attempt to dress it up as an objective evaluation about being for ‘the good of the country’..

    What irks me about that is that there are many who wholeheartedly and genuinely feel allegiance to the existing flag, but their concerns have been cheapened by political hyenas, trapped in the headlights, eagerly tearing at the wounded wildebeest of our national pride.

    But I shouldn’t judge. I’m in two minds, and am tempted to vote for the new design just to annoy my wife after the event

    I think.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 4, 2016 @ 5:51 pm

  81. I’m voting for change , I don’t like the old flag and feel no attachment to it all and also because I don’t want to have any association with the majority of the people who don’t want to change. If you don’t like the design or don’t feel the need for change fine I get that but and its a perfectly valid position but if you think
    it was to distract from the tppa negations
    a way of making the treaty null and void
    voting for the status quo a good chance to make John key look silly
    a flawed process [I’m struggling to think how they could have improved on it, this is an excuse opponents have pulled out of their arse and its been seized upon as a valid reason when if they have offered an alternative process I haven’t seen it.]
    We shouldn’t be cutting our ties with our colonial past-this is the most embarrassing one of all seeing those on the left tying themselves in knots trying to justify this position which goes against everything they believe in.
    not a great flag because no vexillologists were involved

    Then you’re a fool , a selfish fool at that. I doubt any politician is going to bother touching this one again in my lifetime so we are stuck with Australia 2.0 for the foreseeable future. The people who have been sneering arseholes throughout the whole process are not people I want to have any bond to no matter how tenuous it is.

    Btw , to the people who a year ago didn’t know what a vexillologist was but now think that vexillogists are the way the truth and the light when it comes to flag design here’s what they chose for their 2015 conference http://www.icv26.com.au/

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 4, 2016 @ 6:32 pm

  82. I’m struggling to think how they could have improved on it [the process]

    For about a year there have been countless suggestions across all available media, so it’s hard to take this comment seriously. For starters, the Flag Consideration Panel got more or less everything wrong (membership, the vacuous advertising, engagement, the final 4, the Red Peak issue, and so on).

    If they’d got it at all right, change would be likely. They didn’t, so it isn’t.

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — March 4, 2016 @ 6:44 pm

  83. For about a year there have been countless suggestions across all available media, so it’s hard to take this comment seriously. For starters, the Flag Consideration Panel got more or less everything wrong (membership, the vacuous advertising, engagement, the final 4, the Red Peak issue, and so on).

    Oh really?
    I think no matter who the membership was people would have picked holes in it so I’m not buying that, vacuous advertising? I think the same applies here too , the final four? once again I doubt you’d be happy with any four they’d have picked. Engagement ? Its really hard to fight the torrent of crap like the stuff I’ve listed above that has been doing the rounds and to see people like Kenneth Ng saying we shouldn’t cut our ties with our colonial past would be funny if it wasn’t all so damn sad.

    I agree with you about red peak though, they should have seen it for what it was and told the people pushing it to go away. It polled terribly in the roadshows and was a distant third in the poll. Thats what happens when you pay attention to twitter.

    A distraction from the tppa negotiations, Jesus, you really think this government is that smart? Really?

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 4, 2016 @ 6:59 pm

  84. @Cliff,

    So you’re voting to change the flag in opposition to how (some on) the left have decided not to change the flag in opposition to John Key wanting to change the flag … and your oppositional stance is rational and defensible unlike the oppositional stance of (some of) those on the left?

    Boy … we are getting all twisted up into knots, aren’t we?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 4, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

  85. Also, Cliff, you’re not allowed to tell people that they have “wrong” reasons for voting. That implies that there are objectively “right” ones for doing so, and that will make Danyl upset with you and force him to go back and change his vote just to spite you.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 4, 2016 @ 7:04 pm

  86. Let’s see what this govt tries to slip past us all while people are arguing angels on pinheads about a scrap o cloth. #fleg

    Comment by Sacha — March 4, 2016 @ 7:27 pm

  87. Cliff Clavin @81: yes, those are all pretty foolish reasons to keep the current flag. But how about if you think:

    1. The PM shouldn’t get to just announce we’re going to have a referendum on a new flag because he’d like us to have one; and/or
    2. No constitutional changes that would actually justify a change of flag have taken place; and/or
    3. In the absence of above-mentioned constitutional change, none of the proposed alternatives have any genuine symbolic meaning; and/or
    4. It’s a flag, not a logo, and countries don’t need re-branding exercises;

    No foolishness involved at all. (With the possible exception of item 1, and even there it isn’t foolishness on the part of the citizenry.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 4, 2016 @ 7:35 pm

  88. So Cliff, your argument boils down to: if something else had happened, people would have opposed that too.

    Impossible to argue with that, since it resides only in your imagination. All we know is: before what happened (in reality, not your head) a lot of people were at least leaning towards a change of flag. Now they aren’t. Their fault?

    Comment by sammy 3.0 — March 4, 2016 @ 7:51 pm

  89. I REALLY want to change our flag because we have moved beyond being a colonial vassal state.

    BUT, I want an actual grown-up process first, not one that is a result of John Key’s vain desire to see our flag turned into a logo. The Flag Consideration Panel were hand-picked by the National government and duly returned a bunch of flags centred around John Key’s preference for a silver fern.

    It’s a shit process that resulted in shitty corporate-logo style flags. I voted for Red Peak because I like the references it made to taniko, raparapa, Te Po, various maunga and the Union Jjack. The only thing the Lockwood flags reference is the ABs, and the southern cross. Yawn.

    I’d rather have the existing flag than the scrofulous alternative. Giving John Key a political black eye is simply icing on the cake.

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — March 4, 2016 @ 8:02 pm

  90. Flashing light, its not just the left and I don’t think I said it was did I? The RSA have stuck their nose firmly into this as well, google New Zealand war graves and tell me what you notice about the headstones.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 4, 2016 @ 8:12 pm

  91. @58 “Roman Mars lists five”

    Brilliant presentation. Am reminded that Auckland’s branding may be more important as we move into the era of city/regions rather than nation states.

    Comment by Sacha — March 4, 2016 @ 8:21 pm

  92. 87.Cliff Clavin @81: Correct. Suddenly all the JK haters are now deeply into vexillology having just discovered it.
    Why can’t they just say that they hate JK and will not go along with anything he is involved with.
    I have no doubt that if we had the exact same flag choice we have now but with a Labour govt there would not be the same left opposition.

    Comment by The Watcher — March 4, 2016 @ 8:23 pm

  93. “Is all we are seeing here the contempt that someone who works in the “hard sciences” feels for disciplines who don’t use things like electron microscopes”

    Yes. Scientists need to respect creatives.

    Comment by Sacha — March 4, 2016 @ 8:25 pm

  94. Sammy 3.0

    “So Cliff, your argument boils down to: if something else had happened, people would have opposed that too.

    Impossible to argue with that, since it resides only in your imagination. All we know is: before what happened (in reality, not your head) a lot of people were at least leaning towards a change of flag. Now they aren’t. Their fault?”

    Ok lets start with who should have been on the panel then? Who would you nominate? This should be interesting….

    A lot of people were etc etc now they aren’t , their fault? I think that might be in your head mate, when Lloyd Morrison tried to get some enthusiasm about an alternate flag it went nowhere and it wasn’t that long ago.

    But tppa, Keys a dick, its a waste of 26 mill, its tea towel etc etc

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 4, 2016 @ 8:36 pm

  95. “before what happened a lot of people were at least leaning towards a change of flag”

    link to evidence?

    Comment by Sacha — March 4, 2016 @ 8:45 pm

  96. I REALLY want to change our flag because we have moved beyond being a colonial vassal state.

    TPPA? Ha ha bloody ha…

    Comment by Rich — March 4, 2016 @ 8:50 pm

  97. @Rich, perhaps John Key’s government want us to be a corporate vassal state, but we aren’t there yet.

    Comment by Mikaere Curtis — March 4, 2016 @ 8:54 pm

  98. “All we know is: before what happened (in reality, not your head) a lot of people were at least leaning towards a change of flag”

    Were they? No poll ever showed anything close to majority support for a change of flag.

    An alternative thesis is that those who want to keep the current flag have always been a majority, they’ve just become a more vocal majority. Which is what happens when you “start a debate”.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 4, 2016 @ 9:00 pm

  99. “BUT, I want an actual grown-up process first, not one that is a result of John Key’s vain desire to see our flag turned into a logo. The Flag Consideration Panel were hand-picked by the National government”

    How would you like to see the panel chosen? Perhaps we could elect them democratically? Unimpeachably democratic, but it would make the cost of the process even more prohibitive, which is already a central criticism. And if you’re not going to elect them, they’re going to have to be selected by the government somehow. Sure, we could have a consultation – but it’s already a consultative body, so we’d be having a consultation on the consultation. And it’s not like the panel members were all just National party hacks.

    “It’s a shit process that resulted in shitty corporate-logo style flags. I voted for Red Peak because I like the references it made to taniko, raparapa, Te Po, various maunga and the Union Jjack. The only thing the Lockwood flags reference is the ABs, and the southern cross. Yawn.”

    The southern cross is a symbol that has had deep spiritual and cultural meaning to the Tangata Whenua for centuries.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 4, 2016 @ 9:03 pm

  100. It’s only a flag, for god’s sake. I couldn’t give a flying fuck what’s on it, and I certainly won’t be voting.

    Comment by Dr Foster — March 4, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

  101. “It’s only a flag, for god’s sake. I couldn’t give a flying fuck what’s on it, and I certainly won’t be voting.”

    Ok, now theres a position succinctly put without alluding to any tinfoil hat conspiracy theories. Nice work.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 4, 2016 @ 9:15 pm

  102. @ cliff claven,

    I’m sorry … which of these “reasons” for not voting for change that you roundly scorned have the RSA been propounding?

    it was to distract from the tppa negations
    a way of making the treaty null and void
    voting for the status quo a good chance to make John key look silly
    a flawed process [I’m struggling to think how they could have improved on it, this is an excuse opponents have pulled out of their arse and its been seized upon as a valid reason when if they have offered an alternative process I haven’t seen it.]
    We shouldn’t be cutting our ties with our colonial past-this is the most embarrassing one of all seeing those on the left tying themselves in knots trying to justify this position which goes against everything they believe in.
    not a great flag because no vexillologists were involved

    However, if they are now on the enemies list that are making you vote for change, just who exactly is allowed to argue against it (in your humble opinion, of course)?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 4, 2016 @ 9:20 pm

  103. You know I don’t like to castigate people for changing their views, because I think admitting that one was wrong is preferable to sticking to a viewpoint you’ve come to disagree with purely out of bloody-mindedness.

    But I think Danyl has now managed to disparage, more or less equally, every single perspective on the flag debate, at least at some stage in the conversation.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 4, 2016 @ 9:31 pm

  104. “However, if they are now on the enemies list that are making you vote for change, just who exactly is allowed to argue against it (in your humble opinion, of course)?”

    In my humble opinion anyone with a rational reason for not wanting change and not some conspiracy theory they saw on facebook, imagine 25 or so years down the track explaining to your grandkids “I didn’t vote for change because I thought the pm was a dick and it would piss him off” . Key will be a distant memory by then so is it really worth it?
    If you don’t like the alternative flag fine, totally understand it. Took a while for the Lockwood flag to grow on me but this is probably the only chance we are ever going to get to change it for a very long time and its a bit rich to call someone else a dick if you’re going to vote against the lockwood fern for those reasons I listed.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 4, 2016 @ 9:32 pm

  105. I’m going to vote against the Lockwood flag because I haven’t been on the winning side of a national vote since the ’05 general election and want that sweet feeling of being in step with the majority of other people who bothered. Come at me.

    Comment by Mushimushii — March 4, 2016 @ 10:06 pm

  106. “We shouldn’t be cutting our ties with our colonial past-this is the most embarrassing one of all seeing those on the left tying themselves in knots trying to justify this position which goes against everything they believe in.”

    I’m not really sure why this is so embarrassing. The flag itself isn’t ‘tie to our colonial past’ or whatever. It’s a symbol. The ties to our past are our head of state and other constitutional arrangements symolised on the flag for sure, But getting rid of the symbol won’t cut those ties eh? I think that’s a fairly fair enough position to take to be honest.

    I’m not saying you have to agree with it, but I don’t think it’s an embarrassing position. I get the argumenst that if we change the flag then maybe that will spur further tie cutting, but I don’t think it’s aprticularly strong. Key has gone out of his way to say that this change has nothing to do with any other changes. Those sorts of changes had no part in any of the official paper put out, or any part of the panels discussions AFAICT.

    And lo and behold we got a flag that just slightly changed the old one. doesn’t say anything new other than ‘ditch the jack, here’s our longstanding ready made symbol to replace it with, let’s go home’.

    the new flag is possibly popular precisely because it doesn’t cut those ties. It’s like ‘New Zealand Day would be better than Waitangi Day’. Kind of a ‘shut up’ to those other conversations that some on the left who wanted to change a flag wanted to have. And it’s ok, obviously, that other people want the new flag for those reasons.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 4, 2016 @ 10:09 pm

  107. @Cliff Claven,

    What is wrong with the statement “I don’t like John Key and don’t want to give him what he wants, so will vote against changing the flag”? Objectively speaking, of course. And how is it objectively a worse argument than your original statement back up at 81 that you are voting to change the flag “because I don’t want to have any association with the majority of the people who don’t want to change.”

    Because you are presenting as a black kettle ranting at a shelf full of pots about their dirty, dirty colour.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 4, 2016 @ 10:25 pm

  108. Flashing light, I had more or less thought I’d vote against the new flag because a) I think it looks silly and b) stupid John Key. Then upon reflection I realised that I really don’t care what’s on the flag. The NZ flag has never been a particularly significant part of my identity, so why start worrying about it now?

    Comment by Dr Foster — March 4, 2016 @ 10:38 pm

  109. What is with this argument about design? The fact that the current alternative is a dog is just a bonus (for the record I fell instantly in love with the migrating bird flag – it is everything the Lockwood and current flag are not. An inclusive, beautiful evocation of a nation of migrants in islands lost that are the vastness of the Pacific Ocean).

    This referendum is a referendum about the process, the design alternatives are now completely irrelevant. It is also a wounding warning shot to John Key on the fatal twin vices of elite hubris and political laziness. To me, this flag debate reminds me of the Section 59 repeal debate. A lazy politician who can no longer be bothered with doing the legwork to build broad support for change instead constructs a consensus amongst the governing elite and blithely tries to ram it through, only to meet a sticky end at the hands of voters. Section 59 was repealed, of course – but the bitter legacy was of Bradford’s political laziness was electoral defeat and a change in the cultural narrative that still poisons how people view the progressive political class.

    Key’s leap for electoral immortality is typical of the man. A manipulative business orientated intellectual lightweight with a taste for Philistinism he is neither for a grand political statement like the social security act/think big or a soaring cultural statement of identity, like a new flag for a new republic. Instead he forced on us what he knows, a vacuous corporate style rebranding exercise, conducted a contextless, artificial and colourless debate where amnesia was elevated to a political principle and got a hand picked bunch of mediocrities to sift through pallid options that resulted to find something that suited his personal, and questionable, taste.

    The whining from the Key fanbois at the predictable result (the headline I see in the Herald today says it all “Current flag STILL the preferred option”, as if they can’t quite believe the shoe shine boy has still hasn’t called them sir even after constantly reminding him to do so at every opportunity) shows how out of touch they are.

    This isn’t fatal for Key. Firstly, he isn’t yet as batshit crazy as Bradford as to allow his particular Ozymandias moment to involve invading the fabric of peoples families without asking them and secondly he has complete dominance of our joke media, but he had better be very careful from now on. Key has built his popularity by appealing over the head of the middle class elites and talking to the waged middle/lower middle class, and that waged class is in the process of giving him and his elite process a firm middle finger right up the jacksie. Another mistake like this, and the slide may well be spectacular for Mr. Key.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 4, 2016 @ 10:42 pm

  110. Flagged this thread for abusive comments. Key concern, lack of red flags.

    On a more serious note, why oh why didn’t we get a chance to choose Kiwi with Lasers. Literally the best flag ever.

    Comment by Jeff Rosie — March 4, 2016 @ 11:00 pm

  111. “he isn’t yet as batshit crazy as Bradford as to allow his particular Ozymandias moment to involve invading the fabric of peoples families without asking them”

    So just for the record, you’re in favour of belting kids? Or not in favour, but think that change needs to come softly softly?

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 4, 2016 @ 11:40 pm

  112. Of course I was in favour of repeal.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 5, 2016 @ 12:02 am

  113. Of course!

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — March 5, 2016 @ 1:45 am

  114. Yes, I’m an elitist. Fuck you.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — March 5, 2016 @ 3:14 am

  115. So just for the record, you’re in favour of belting kids?

    Thanks for this reminder of the quality of debate that went into the process.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 5, 2016 @ 6:27 am

  116. Jesus, I came into Dimpost this morning and I thought the last few years had been a dream and I’d woken up and was back in 2007.

    Now, that was an experience I would not wish on anyone.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 5, 2016 @ 8:03 am

  117. Flashing Light

    “What is wrong with the statement “I don’t like John Key and don’t want to give him what he wants, so will vote against changing the flag”? Objectively speaking, of course. And how is it objectively a worse argument than your original statement back up at 81 that you are voting to change the flag “because I don’t want to have any association with the majority of the people who don’t want to change.”

    Because you are presenting as a black kettle ranting at a shelf full of pots about their dirty, dirty colour.”

    Yes yes, the people inventing outrageously dishonest reasons why we should keep the flag are exactly the same as John Key. [Slaps forehead }Why did I not see this before?

    Or alternatively they are being selfish fools , do you remember who was pm when we got the flag we have now? or our anthem? I don’t, actually I don’t care who was pm then either.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 5, 2016 @ 8:49 am

  118. @Cliff Claven 81, Thank you for sharing the vexilloligists’ 2016 conference flag, this absolutely made my day.

    Comment by Bill Forster — March 5, 2016 @ 10:25 am

  119. @Bill 118 is so right. Thanks Cliff if that’s what flag ‘experts’ come up with thank god we had amateurs. Bunch of charlatans. Have a look further down at the vexillologists of Aussie society flag and then consider people calling the Lockwood flag cluttered.

    Their website is an utter joke as well – ‘designers’ who use a table based design that was substandard ten years ago. Just about everything about it is done badly. Laughable, not people who’s opinion anyone should take as definitive.

    Comment by clintnelson — March 5, 2016 @ 3:11 pm

  120. so we are stuck with Australia 2.0 for the foreseeable future.

    Or you could say that Australia is stuck with NZ 2.0 for the foreseeable future. The difference is that the Aussies are not self flagellating themselves over that prospect. Who would’ve thought that the Aussies have the more mature attitude!

    Comment by Ross — March 5, 2016 @ 3:30 pm

  121. @ 100 Dr Foster: “I couldn’t give a flying fuck what’s on it, and I certainly won’t be voting.”

    I must say it’s really heartening to see the medical profession taking such a socially responsible attitude. Clearly, the practice of medicine is in very safe hands for the foreseeable future.

    Comment by swordfish — March 5, 2016 @ 7:23 pm

  122. CC @ 117

    Yes yes, the people inventing outrageously dishonest reasons why we should keep the flag are exactly the same as John Key. [Slaps forehead }Why did I not see this before?

    You are completely, utterly, totally missing the point. You specifically said that you are voting to change the flag because you are opposed to those who want to keep it. Then you jump up and down and have hissy tantrums about all those who are voting to keep the flag simply because they are opposed to the person who wants to change it. So … why is your reason (go back and read what you said at 81) for voting any different to those that you decry as bad?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 5, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

  123. Danyl @42. “That’s what’s problematic, I think. The flag should probably be chosen ‘by the people’ but demographically we are about 75% white and increasingly elderly, and that’s going to dominate the outcome in any democratic process.”

    Democracy’s such a bugger isn’t it? I think we should call the whole thing off for a generation so that by the time we try again the demographic mix will be such that the ‘correct’ result may be achieved.

    Comment by Grant — March 5, 2016 @ 10:43 pm

  124. GarethLL: Personally I’d compare the Lockwood flag to Nickelback or The Feelers.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 5, 2016 @ 10:58 pm

  125. Comparisons could also be drawn with New Coke if the whole thing really does turn into a fiasco.

    Comment by Kumara Republic — March 6, 2016 @ 2:16 am

  126. 121 Ross, that is patently untrue.

    Have a look here,http://www.ausflag.com.au/
    We’re no longer that. You’re proud New Zealand, We’re proud Australia. We need you to lead the way on this one. https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/we-need-you-to-lead-the-way-says-aussie-flag-change-campaigner-as-referendum-opens

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 6, 2016 @ 3:54 pm

  127. You are completely, utterly, totally missing the point. You specifically said that you are voting to change the flag because you are opposed to those who want to keep it. Then you jump up and down and have hissy tantrums about all those who are voting to keep the flag simply because they are opposed to the person who wants to change it. So … why is your reason (go back and read what you said at 81) for voting any different to those that you decry as bad?

    I don’t recall jumping up and down about it, I guess whether or not I had a hissy fit is subjective but I’m fine saying with saying I’m opposed to being associated with those who want to keep it for any other reason than they don’t like the alternative or they like the one we already have. if you’re voting against it because you don’t like Key or believe its a distraction from the tppa etc, history is going to judge you very harshly and I maintain you’re a selfish fool for voting for any other reason than the two I gave. And yeah I’m voting as much against those weirdos as much as I am for a new flag now, I’m not that bothered about how it makes me look, there is actually a bigger picture than your feelings about Key.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — March 6, 2016 @ 4:05 pm

  128. I haven’t got a clue how I voted. I gave the slip to my six year-old daughter and asked her to tick which she likes. She didn’t tell me which she picked. It seemed wises to let the coming generation have a say, given that they will be living wit the choice, while we oldies writhe around in our our collective froth like copulating frogs.

    Comment by leeharmanclark — March 6, 2016 @ 8:22 pm

  129. “I maintain you’re a selfish fool for voting for any other reason than the two I gave. And yeah I’m voting as much against those weirdos”

    still missing the point there

    Comment by framu — March 9, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

  130. @ leeharmanclark

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1603/S00148/flag-referendum-referral-to-the-police.htm

    Hope it’s not aimed at you. Would be a legal travesty if they are prosecuting such things

    Comment by insider — March 9, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

  131. So hey, I’m voting for the Lockwood flag, but I also agree it’s not a good design. It’s just a better design than the 1902 flag. It has many of the same problems- too many complicated elements that draw the eye to the wrong place, complicated design-based storytelling, and it has the additional issue due to the less stylised shape of the fern that it has to be screenprinted, and can’t be sewn.

    That doesn’t make it an unpopular flag, (clearly it was the least unpopular of all the alternatives, in fact) but it does make me a lot less enthusiastic about change. (And believe me, until that shortlist was announced, I was pretty enthusiastic) I think comparisons with various elevator music is totally fair- the alternative flag is catchy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great design. It just means it’s been successful on connecting with people on a superficial level.

    Really this whole farce makes me understand a lot more why this process hasn’t been done by referendum in the past, not that I’d ever agree that they should just legislate change themselves.

    Comment by Matthew Whitehead — March 15, 2016 @ 2:32 pm


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