Review: The Life of Brian
By Jay Bennie
17th July 2008 - 11:30 pm
So, what did we learn about the Bishop of Bling, Destiny church's leader Brian Tamaki, from tonight's TV3 documentary, The Life of Brian?
Not much we didn't already know. We saw that he is narcissistic, attracted to flash consumer goods and knows how to extract an impressive, nouveau-gauche lifestyle from his congregation of the dispossessed. We saw that he feeds off the dubious attention of charismatic black American preacher Eddie Long, that he likes hanging with yobbish brown blokes and that, despite the pre-broadcast hype, he's just as duplicitous about his homophobia as he ever was.
Tonight's doco confirmed that Tamaki and his ATM-like followers have lost the ability to see their own bigotry and intolerance. The exalted leader has inducted them into his gang and given them a place in life, a dream of riches and enemies to fixate on. Are the fist-waving chanting Enough is Enough marchers any different from the fist-punching barking Mongrel Mob-sters?
For all that The Life of Brian was billed, misleadingly, as somehow revealing that Tamaki is now reaching out to gays in a benevolent fashion, he is still the same bigot he always was. A Destiny spokesperson advised GayNZ.com last week that this footage was filmed in 2005, the year Tamaki's Destiny NZ political party stood on a "NZ moral rot is caused by homosexuals" general election ticket, and sank without an electoral trace. This documentary was old stuff, and even Destiny admits that Tamaki's attitude to homosexuality is the same now as it was when this footage was filmed, and for years before.
Since that electoral disgrace, which must have been a shock to Destiny acolytes hyped up on Tamaki's promises that with God's will their party was headed to Parliament, Tamaki has been remarkably quiet, perhaps spending his time re-tuning his followers' expectations and blind obedience. He is presumably still quietly obsessing with homosexuality as always, still gunning for gay-friendly politicians like Helen Clark or David Benson-Pope, whose support for liberal causes like acceptance of homosexuals he cannot or chooses not to abide.
By tonight's evidence Tamaki can look people in the eye and say that homosexuality is just not normal, and that homosexual relationships are purely about sex, then blandly imply that he has an affable relationship with on-duty airline cabin crew - whom he indiscriminately equates with homosexuality and who are not in a position to be anything but professionally cordial or their employers would be raking them over the coals. And his sense of camp theatricality was well to the fore in footage of his 2005 coronation by Long, a self-agrandising blend of state funeral and K. Rd. drag show.
I'm picking that TV3 sat on The Life of Brian hoping that Destiny would make another run for Parliament in the coming election, and now that hasn't transpired, except in the guise of the befuddled little coalition it engineered, the channel cut its losses and bunged the programme on air before it aged even further. So we saw old footage promoted as new, and didn't learn anything new.
In The Life of Brian veteran documentary maker Ross Jennings simply reinforced the long-held observation of many glbt New Zealanders that Tamaki is a man of zero compassion, snake-like cunning, limited intellect and unlimited ego.
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