I can’t properly remember when Max Key entered my sphere of reference. I vaguely recall his father telling the media that despite having never lived in the area, his 12 year old son was a diehard North Harbour rugby supporter. This was one of John Key's early attempts at ingratiating himself with the electorate as he stood as an MP for Helensville. I thought it was a funny lie at the time, as people from the North Shore barely support North Harbour, let alone the pre-pubescent sons of New York currency traders, but whatever. Clearly that would be the first and last thing I’d ever know about John Key’s son. Max Key pretends to support North Harbour, I couldn’t tell you what Jim Bolger or Bill English’s kids are up to.
I wonder whether he was sat down as a 12 year old boy, explained rugby, its cultural significance, and then told who he had to support. It would also be interesting to know whether Max maintains the charade. Somebody should attempt to call the bluff; ring him up during a George set and ask what he thinks of the Michael Little, Matt Vaega midfield and whether Nafi Tuitavake deserves more of a run this season.
It wasn’t long after Max finished up at Kings that he began appearing at society events and being photographed with the cool kids. The Auckland tabloid press ate it up. I was initially repulsed by him to be fair. Well not exactly repulsed, more saddened I guess. Saddened that such a privileged and decadent upper class was clearly emerging in New Zealand, and as such, I spoke of him with mockery and disdain.
He clearly has a few things going for him though;
He’s ridiculous at social media. If developing a personal brand and propagating it through media channels is a skill... and as any millennial will tell you, it is... he’s up there with Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton as a genius of the art form.
He’s also released an unlistenable single. Having done that myself, I’m aware of the hard work and creativity that goes into even the most mediocre attempt at producing an original song. He then managed to leverage his profile and critically panned DJ single into a regular slot on George FM, which is no mean feat...
Had the worm turned for me? Clearly none of this would have been possible had he not been born the son of John Key, but they are tangible achievements, and relatively creative and brave, if not unique. I was beginning to admire Max Key’s chutzpah, and I was walking around letting people know.
“In an act of alchemy, he’s turned his shit single into a part-time job on George FM... and he’s even managed to Emperor’s New Clothes people into thinking he knows something about music!”
“Max Key’s on fire. He started from the bottom now he’s here!”
I think about Max Key heaps bro, and I have to say, in recent times I have again reassessed my position on him... I’ve started to peg him as slightly insane. The above photos were a major catalyst for this. Was he forming a 90s boyband? It wasn’t just the horror photo shoot though; I actually sat down and read the article that accompanied it. It was a staged interview with REMIX Magazine where he discussed his lifestyle and the pressures inherent in being New Zealand’s finest celebutante.
The broad purpose of the article [i.e. the reason Max agreed to the interview] appears to be to illustrate just how normal he is. Justin Bieber occasionally attempts to present himself in this manner as well - as wholesome and approachable. It’s good for business.
He worked at McDonald’s, he has every day interests; Investment Banking and Property Funds (!), and he was even bullied at Kings. Just a normal guy in a fucked up photo shoot.
Despite the contrived narrative, Max Key’s insanity couldn’t help but seep through the story, between the lines - his listing of Investment Banking and Property Funds as "interests" was perhaps the first sign of this. There can’t be many people in the world that call Investment Banking an interest, which is essentially because Investment Banking isn’t an area of study or a hobby, it’s a job. It’s akin to somebody claiming their interest is managing the operations of a book store, rather than literature.
If he had said that an interest was; studying the way pricing signals allow capital markets to direct resources to the production of goods and services that people value, perhaps this interest would have appeared genuine (he’s a deeply intellectual social scientist). But we all know that’s not what he meant. He isn’t interested in the act of investment banking; he wants to become as rich and powerful as he can possibly be. As our economy functions at present the most plausible way for an over-educated 21 year old to do this is through Investment Banking. Not to mention “Property Funds”, particularly in Auckland.
Tacitly acknowledging that your hobby is thinking about being rich and powerful in a fluffy PR-style interview is some Lord Voldemort shit in and of itself, but it didn’t end there.
A few days later, Max Key went on to describe to the New Zealand Herald the bullying that he experienced during his time at Kings, and that New Zealand should hashtag stopthehate. This article begins;
From his Instagram feed, it looks as if he leads a lavish lifestyle: jet-setting around the world, chilling at the pool, hanging out with beautiful blondes, posing beside Ferraris.
But Max Key, commerce student, aspiring DJ and 21-year-old son of the Prime Minister, says behind the "smoke and mirrors" of social media, he’s just a normal guy.
“I was the shortest kid at my school and a little bit overweight. I got bullied quite a bit at school so I found that pretty hard, growing up," he said.
As torturous as that must have been for Max Key (crying into his 225 thread count pillow case over Benedict’s implication that his personal trainer wasn’t worth his salt), I am sceptical as to whether he truly understands the subtleties of bullying. Or whether he's aware that his own actions might impact others in a similar way.
He regularly stands next to Ferrari sports cars and helicopters on his Instagram page, and often takes photos of himself posing in various global locations. The only conceivable purpose of such flagrant conspicuous consumption is to provoke the envy of other people, as brought to you by the New Zealand Herald. The above photo’s not getting him from A to B, it’s a public display of economic power as a means of attaining social status.
And isn’t that exactly what bullying is? Making yourself feel good by lording power over others. This is particularly galling given the fact that he has plainly never done anything personally to warrant his wealth. He’s a 21 year old kid, and if he’s serious about stopping the hate, perhaps he should be serious about not inspiring it.
This isn’t a Max Key pile-on though, I don’t blame him for behaving in the only way he’s ever known, and he’s clearly exploiting the lottery good luck he’s received effectively. However his inability to even appear normal or empathetic to human suffering in articles crafted specifically to suggest just that only illustrates the extent of the class divide that currently exists in New Zealand 2016, 30 years on from Reagonomics. And Max, so out of touch with Hohepa 6-pack that he’s in essence laughable, is the human face of this.
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