Voyager 2023 media awards

Jessie Gurunathan

4 mins to read

The internet had a field day with Sam Uffindell’s claim of helping his wife once a month with the shopping. Photo / Alex Cairns

OPINION

Politicians, they’re just like us. *Cough*.

But are they really? Technically they’re supposed to be, well, better.

After all, why should we trust or elect them into positions of power if they’re no different to us?

We, the voters or “everyday people” as Sam Uffindell likes to refer to us, have a right to hold them to a higher standard.

In the internet age where social media has completely changed the political landscape, it’s never been easier to catch the politicians off guard or hold them to account. Politics, and in particular, election years have always been a bit of a popularity contest; however, candidates of yesteryear didn’t have cancel culture to contend with.

If someone isn’t on their A-game and slips up, thanks to smartphones and social media you can put someone on blast with the touch of a button.

It’s been well over a week since National Party MP Sam Uffindell made it known that once a month he likes to “give his wife a break” from the grocery shopping, and yet it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

His admission certainly wasn’t met with the admiration and applause I think Uffindell was hoping for, but it did make him internet-famous for all the wrong reasons.

The internet had a field day with him and his rather embarrassing attempt at being relatable. Aside from all the hilariously good memes I saw circulating, the best one had to be the #UffingIt hashtag, where other men cheekily shared their own “selfless act of service” that deserved the same level of appreciation I think Uffindell was initially aiming for. Participants clearly understood the brief and delivered a knight-in-shining-armour level of thoughtfulness that would undoubtedly make the Uffindells of this world do a celebratory fist pump.

My personal favorite was Simon O’Neill, aka @SJPONeill who tweeted, “I remind my better half when it’s the day to take the rubbish out. When I get home and she’s forgotten, I remind her that I reminded her. #Uffingit.”

Another user @handyandy13 really captured the chauvinism beautifully with, “Put my cup in the dishwasher to help my wife out. #Uffingit”

Not all political gaffes are created equal, some are just straight-up harmless fun. One of the most memorable foot-in-mouth moments has to be in 2021 when our then Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins’ had a slip of the tongue when he accidentally encouraged New Zealanders to go outside to “spread their legs”, instead of stretching them, at a press conference. It was definitely a welcome respite from all the doom and gloom we were navigating as a nation during that time. It actually wound up taking out first place in the 2021 New Zealand Quote of the Year competition, apparently edging out a toddler’s profane response to seeing a goat.

As Chris Hipkins wisely once told the public, spread your legs, not the virus! Photo / Screengrab, Facebook
As Chris Hipkins wisely once told the public, spread your legs, not the virus! Photo / Screengrab, Facebook

Another fan favorite has to be Judith Collins and her infamous, “My husband is Samoan, so, talofa” quote, which you can actually purchase on a range of merchandise like coffee mugs, T-shirts and even a cosy throw blanket.

As the daughter of a former two-term local mayor, witnessing the level of public scrutiny and stress that came with local body politics was enough to put me off for life. Modern-day politicking is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Every misstep and blooper is recorded (literally) and immortalised on the world wide web, making it impossible for people to forget and, often, difficult to forgive. In a race to the finish line that requires a certain level of likeability and accountability, I think social media plays a huge part in helping us determine how and who we vote for.

There’s going to be a lot of political peacocking on full display over the coming weeks as the campaign trail reaches fever pitch. It makes me exhausted just thinking about them having to be “on” 24/7 and I imagine the fatigue will set in, inevitably leaving a lot more room for error. Who will be the next viral sensation? Whoever it is, talofa, Godspeed and, in the wise words of Ru Paul, may you live to slay another day.

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