A parody of a Treasury

Dr Eric Crampton
Insights Newsletter
26 April, 2019

“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake it for the genuine article.” Poe’s Law warns that without strong warnings, parody will confuse people.

We occasionally get into a bit of a pickle with the third column in our Insights newsletter.

In this spot, we take the opportunity to have some fun – a light-hearted take on the week’s events; a fun anecdote that sheds light on the human condition; or even a parody of current policy as warning of where things might yet lead.

It is the last one that occasionally causes unrest. Out of context, it can be hard to identify parody. In its traditional third position in the newsletter, it works – for subscribers who know what to expect. Shared on the web on its own, out of context, it can be harder to tell – as suggested by Poe’s Law.

This time, though, it is Treasury that has managed to confuse everyone.

Last week, Treasury ran a gaming session at its offices at Number One The Terrace. The advertising for the event, in hindsight, was clearly parody. “Imagine surprising Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!”

The invitation encouraged attendees to play the Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game – designed, according to the advertising, to help people tap into their sun and moon feelings to create win-win-win outcomes. Treasury Chief Operating Officer Fiona Ross and Treasury Manager Strategy and Performance David Dougherty were to be in attendance, with Ross explaining what she had been learning from using the cards as Chief Operating Officer.

All of it was clearly satire of the darkest imaginings of where Treasury’s wellbeing agenda might lead. And I fell for it, blogging some outrage about Treasury’s degeneration. Newshub also fell for it.

Once they had us all on the hook, Treasury upped the ante – they actually held the event. The Spinoff’s Danyl Mclauchlan attended and reported on it. Ross stayed in character throughout, even opening the event with gibberish: “We all know we live in a DEVUCA world.”

When our parody articles are confused for the real deal, we try to correct those who have been misled. We hope Treasury will soon clear everything up for us. Is this a Treasury parody, or the parody of a Treasury?

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