Opinion: Dear New Zealand, can we please stop making mugs immortalising every amusing moment?

OPINION: Please, Aotearoa, I'm begging you - enough is enough. 

We've been doing so well with our radical elimination of the COVID-19 Delta variant from our shores. Our vaccination rates are hitting record highs, and we've all once again pulled together in a show of unity across lockdown, despite this one being so much further up struggle street than others. 

But we must, WE MUST, stop with the mugs. 

A taste of feel-good overseas headlines has done nothing but whet our appetite for our own hilarity, like the class clown taking the joke too far after getting a laugh out of the hot kids at the back of class. 

This has been proven by a series of hilarious 'meme-able' moments in recent press conferences, kicking things off with the Chris Hipkins now so-overshared 'spread your legs' gaffe. 

In a sign of the modern TikTok era of internet, this moment reached a fever pitch of hilarity on social media, hit headlines overseas, became immortalised on a series of mugs, face masks and a personalised plate, immediately declined in being even a little bit funny and now is a steadfastly dated reference - all in the space of two weeks.

This is largely in part to Hipkins getting in on the gag, going full meta drinking from his own meme'd mug at another 1pm press conference, which made us feel weirdly exposed in a "let us laugh at you not with you" kind of way. 

Opinion: Dear New Zealand, can we please stop making mugs immortalising every amusing moment?
Photo credit: Newshub.

Have you ever seen someone fizzing more to be engaged in a joke at their expense than this guy? You have not. If Chris Hipkins drinking out of his own mug gets printed on another mug, and that gets printed on another, like a never-ending series of babushka dolls, I won't be surprised. 

But now it seems that whole debacle has triggered the immmortalisation of a string of barely-there moments, including this vaguely amusing discussion between the Prime Minister and Dr Ashley Bloomfield during Thursday's 1pm standup. 

The pair had a brief, not even five-minute discussion of whether people should or shouldn't bang in hospital wards, like a particularly dry episode of Grey's Anatomy. 

Lisa Stirling, the artist and influencer behind 'No Filter Mum' chose to print a caricature of this chat onto more mugs, which were spotted by TVNZ's Breakfast reporter Abbey Wakefield.

Wakefield summed it up succinctly with her tweet: "Oh no... it's been made into a mug already."

Wakefield summed up the collective lethargy of the nation.
Wakefield summed up the collective lethargy of the nation. Photo credit: Twitter/Abbey Wakefield.

"Oh no" indeed. If that five-minute moment stuck with you so deeply you must drink your morning cuppa from it forevermore, you can buy it from Stirling's site for the fairly reasonable price of $25. That amount is equal to the minutes it was funny to anyone who saw the press conference, before promptly forgetting about it. 

New Zealanders - we are so lacking in self-awareness and so horny for ourselves we think we need to make merch for everything that happens in our little country. 

It's the same mentality that sees us point at the TV screen and say "oh my God!" every time we're mentioned in an overseas show, like when Turtle's actress girlfriend on Entourage moved to Aotearoa to film, or JD made a gag about us on Scrubs. Remember that? Of course you do. 

Instead, I argue that amusing moments can happen and we can all smile and turn to our loved ones in our bubble and say, "did you catch that? What a gas". 

We surely don't need to drown in piles of meme-d up mugs, which will be gifted to friends and family, eventually make their way into office kitchens, and next year will house various desk cuppas. The hilarious design will eventually fade away in numerous dishwasher cycles -  a mere memory of a moment which slightly elevated a day otherwise sunken in lockdown malaise. 

Of course, the flipside to this is that people should be able to enjoy nice things in otherwise shitty times: Surely anything that makes us laugh or offers some brief cheeriness in a period steeped in uncertainty or fear or boredom is a win? 

If that's your feeling - and I dont blame you in the slightest - spend your $25 with pride. Perhaps 'spread your legs' or 'sexy time in hospital?' will become moments as locked in Kiwi consciousness as Stephen Joyce being hit the face with a dildo, and these subsequent mugs will be worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. 

Now Stephen Joyce getting hit in the face with a dildo - that's a mug that should have been made. 

Sarah Templeton is Newshub's Lifestyle Editor.