Ah, the selfie. It’s subject to mixed reviews.
To some, it is the epitome of a society gone to the pack, a society hopelessly enthralled in its own vanity. To others, it is just a harmless and fun way of documenting their journey through life (while reminding their friends incessantly of how cute they are).
To politicians who consider themselves relatively au fait with technology, it can represent an opportunity to connect with their audience; to show their constituents how good-humoured and relatable they really are.
John Key was widely regarded as the master of the political selfie. After visiting a university campus, there was never a shortage of selfies in his wake. That they were frequently cringe-inducing seemed only to embolden his popularity. He was the nation’s embarrassing dad, after all.
Of course, behind all of Key’s duck-facing and double-chinning was a calculated strategy. His self-effacing likeability could be leveraged to get away with all manner of legislative sins, and to weather any minor scandal.
To that end, selfies can be a useful political tool – if one has the requisite charisma. Who then among New Zealand’s current crop of politicians has truly mastered the art? Whose selfies reign supreme over the Kingdom of New Zillund? Let’s not deny it, folks – this is the real election battleground.
Bill English: B+
I need not recall the horrors of Bill English’s pizza-making devilry. It was, as we all know, a dark day in our nation’s history. Here Bill is pictured with best-thing-since-sliced-ciabatta Nadia Lim and it’s a great cameo, to be fair. If anyone can rehabilitate him, it’s NZ’s First Lady of Cuisine. Points deducted for Bill not quite matching Nadia’s energy.
Jacinda Ardern: A-
Labour’s crown jewel, Jacinda Ardern, is posing with a high school feminist club here. There’s a chin missing, but this is forgivable in the context of wanting to capture the entirety of this switched-on group. To her credit, they seem genuinely chuffed to be in the photo. I love that Jacinda takes the stuffy-old-politician archetype and kicks it to the curb.
David Seymour: C
This one doesn’t quite hit the mark for me. The assault of yellow and blue makes me think of Sweden rather than the free market, and the fidget-spinner reference already feels so 2000-and-late. Points added for the punny caption which reads as a self-inflicted burn: ‘All spin, no substance?’
Grant Robertson: B
Not a bad effort, if not the most flawlessly-executed selfie. The image suggests a rain-or-shine commitment to the Labour machine which will resonate well with the base. The volunteers in the background are a little awkward-looking, but Grant saves it with his hoodied exuberance.
Marama Davidson/Metiria Turei: A
It may be my bias projecting, but this one just oozes warmth and coolness to me. Two principled, compassionate wahine toa made all the more stylish by the black and white filter. Above this shot, Marama included a heartfelt explanation of how the Green Party will support people to get out of poverty. If that doesn’t get your social justice juices flowing, nothing ever will.
Wait… what’s this?! A selfie of my kitty? Yes. Yes it is. There is only one selfie queen (sorry politicians!) and that is Her Fluffyness. Better luck next time.
Selfies were sourced from public campaign pages. Happy to remove upon request.