Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Welly Wouldn't!

I loathe the idea of the 'Wellywood' sign. For those of you who have matters of importance to worry about, this will probably have passed you by, so let me explain. The owners of Wellington Airport (Infratil: 66% and Wellington City Council: 34%) have decided that it is a good idea to spell 'Wellywood' out on the hillside approaching the airport in big white letters, a la Hollywood. Many Wellingtonians disapprove.

For a start, it seems like a waste of money. We are told that it is not really for Wellingtons but for national and international visitors alike to admire when they fly into the capital city. Apparently fixing a 3.5 meter high steel word to a hill turns a place into an item on people's bucket list. I have never felt an urge to visit Hollywood, sign or no sign, and Mosgiel hasn't exactly got them flocking. Besides, most passengers who arrive at Wellington airport are too busy clinging onto the seat in front of them, utilising the sick bag or praying to the gods of wild weather, to notice anything other than a safe landing.

Yes, it is extremely derivative. Wellington has a thriving arts culture, comprised of theatre, dance, music, literature, film and television. Actually, scrap that last one, seeing as that is what is happening to Avalon studios. Just because Peter Jackson and Warner Brothers can over-ride the rights of the workers in this country with a snap of their fingers, should Wellington rent out prime advertising space to them as well? And when I say rent, I mean give for free, because of all the so-called benefits they will bring the economy regardless of the draconian and dictatorial changes to employment law.

Cobham Drive (the road down which nearly all traffic must drive as it leaves Wellington airport) already has plenty of original sculptures which interract with the one force Wellington doesn't lack - no, not bureaucracy; wind! Petty-minded people vandalise these on a regular basis. Do you really think they would leave those letters intact? You might as well write 'Steal Me' up on the cliff - I'm sure that a giant 'O' would become the latest in haute-decor for student flats in Newtown.

Actually the Hollywood sign is unsprisingly copyrighted, and the people who own the rights to it have threatened Wellington Airport with legal action if they persist with this quest for mediocrity. This potential crusade against the world's most litigious people isn't really worth fighting, is it?

One digital media agency, Skull and Bones have created their own sign generator with which techno-folk can mock-up their own copywood message. The responses are spectacularly uninspiring and unoriginal (with 'I'm a cliff'; 'Hamilton' and 'Help' being the best offerings) thus indicating that unoriginality isn't unique to the owners of the airport. Hardly anyone outside Wellington cares enough to notice, but those who do are defintely having a larff!

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