Well, this is the final voting week for the decision about which flag we want in the big flag-off with our current flag.
I did not vote. It was not a pre-planned protest; I did actually intend voting, but finally something niggled at me. A one-word question that had been raised earlier in the debate by many people haunted me as I took pen to voting slip. “Why?”
If we had voted to become a republic and break off all constitutional links with Britain, that would be a good reason to change our flag. If we had an internal revolution and abandoned democracy for communism, that would also be a good reason. But if, constitutionally speaking, we have not changed anything, then why change our constitutional flag?
If it is just because we want a design that is a bit more ‘marketable’, a bit more ‘on trend’ then we can have a corporate logo that is officially used to assist products and services to leverage off New Zealand’s profile. In fact we already have one of those, the stylised red kiwi on a blue triangle. By all means if that corporate image needs freshening up, then do so. But that is not the constitutional flag. They are two completely different subjects.
And if the organisers of the design referendum are trying to engage the new generation, perhaps they should have taken one or two of the young generations ideas into the finals.
While we had stars, kiwis and ferns coming out of our ears, the one New Zealand image that most strongly connects with the current generation is the Lord of the Rings. One youngster identified this and put in his or her concept for the One Ring to rule them all. That is very marketable. It leverages off the Lord of the Rings movies’ massive global presence; it resonates with a large consumer group; it puts NZ in the same competitive marketplace as Hollywood. In a word it ticks all the commercial boxes if commercial boxes are the ones the organisers wanted ticked. Where was this in the decision-making mix. They could have arranged a professional artist to render up the concept and we would have had a real contender.
But possibly the most unlucky design not to have made the cut was submitted by a young Korean-New Zealander, Jeong Hyuk Fidan; surely the face of the future in NZ if we are to continue to be a global golf powerhouse with all the commercial leveraging that comes with that. Jeong designed the exploding egg. Jeong’s rationale, quite simply, is that New Zealanders like eggs and explosions are cool.
This is the Playstation generation. This is a game app on a flag. Look, it even sings the national anthem. It has delightful alliteration. This design would go viral. New Zealand would be a game on 50% of the smart phones in the world. Ten million YouTube hits in 24 hours. This is the future; just think of the merchandising opportunities. But did we get to see Jeong’s creation on our final selection list? We did not. We did not because it did not ‘fit the brief’; because it was ‘outside the box’; because it would make a mockery of the whole process. All three, to my mind, are precisely the reasons why it should have been in the final selection.
We got ‘inside the box’, we got ‘within the brief’ and we got as boring as batshit. We got commercial designs not constitutional designs and that is why so many, like me, in the end disengaged with the process. For this design competition was presented as a need for changes to a constitutional flag when there was, in fact, no constitutional change to validate any flag change and provide a rational brief for designers.
So my vote, which of course remains invalid as it is only on this blog not on the official voting form, is for Jeong’s eggselent exploding egg. Out of the mouths of children, creative genius.