News & the politics of satire: TV3's 7 Days
As New Zealand’s favoured satirical television show 7 Days reconstitutes the week’s current affairs and offers up a valuable counter narrative to traditional news media through its remixing of the conventions of news and the panel quiz show. Whilst many academics have studied satirical television in the US and UK contexts very little attention has been paid to the collection of New Zealand television satire and local audiences’ preference for satire over other local comedy forms. In comparing the three television systems several characteristics emerge as unique to 7 Days and New Zealand’s satiric tradition; an affinity for self-deprecating humour, the targeting of hubris, and the assailing of tall poppy syndrome; the hailing and sustenance of public feeling, and thereby the nourishment of nationalism and a communal ‘Kiwi’ identity. Television satire dealing in news and review is a well-established practice but is often referred to in academia and popular culture as simply a ‘genre’ when it rather operates as somewhere between a discourse and a genre. Television satire is born of a strong literary tradition but literary criticisms fail to adequately address the functions of contemporary satire; its affective powers, the limits of its uptake, and the ideological footing of its critiques. Examples from US and UK television are considered as precursors to New Zealand satire, and a close analysis of 7 Days reveals that it is not only the conventions of genre that limit satire’s incarnations but also an unstable broadcasting history and an uncertain future.