New Zealand’s Answer to Borat

Hi there. How are you? Great. I’d like to have a little chat.

You’ve probably reached this post from…

  • Googling “Liz Shaw”
  • A forum discussion about Liz Shaw
  • The Encyclopaedia Dramatica article about Liz Shaw

I wrote this post almost five years ago, a satirical take on some of the more ridiculous things that a young Aucklander named Liz Shaw had done. I had fun writing it, though even then I felt uneasy about a few things – such as dredging up old lyrics she had written that expressed her confusion and sadness from how a guy she had slept with treated her.

That was mean, you know? That was mean of me, and I did it for the funny. It was a funny idea, that the best explanation for her behaviour was that she was having us all on.

But that’s not the best explanation for her behaviour.

The best explanation for her behaviour is that she is not well in the head. For whatever reason, she does not think, act or experience the world in the way most people do – just as someone with Down’s Syndrome or autism or PTSD behaves and experiences things differently.

I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I don’t know if the cause is psychological or physiological. But it seems very clear to me that this is the case. Unfortunately, whatever her condition is, the behaviour it causes draws both attention and mockery.

Let me be clear: mocking Liz for her behaviour is like mocking a kid with autism or Tourette’s Syndrome. Not exactly the same, but close enough.

Liz’s antics have always drawn an amused audience. But over the years, her continued public spectacles, along with the manner in which she responds to those mocking her, have created a sort of sad subculture of Liz Watchers. She becomes a regular focus of conversation in forums like TradeMe. Mocking what she’s done, how she looks, what she says becomes a regular pastime.

The Encyclopaedia Dramatica article about Liz is the best example. There are over 18,000 words on that page. I read it for the first time in four years a few days ago, and discovered it had radically evolved from the brief series of links it housed back then.

18,000 words. Hours of effort, mocking and taunting a girl who is obviously unwell, mostly for being unwell. Mocking her belief that she is being stalked while posting photos surreptitiously taken of her in public. A fascination with her vagina that borders on obsession. Just gleeful cruelty for its own sake, with some circle-jerk high-fiving about how clever we all are.

18,000 words.

Fucking hell. She’s mentally unwell; what’s their excuse?

So basically, I don’t want to be associated with these forum threads and Dramatica articles and the like. I could have just dropped the post entirely, but then I would have missed out on the opportunity to have this little chat with you, whoever you are. And to make this suggestion.

Next time someone says, “Did you hear what Liz Shaw’s doing now?” try saying, “Hey, who gives a shit? How about we don’t sit around having a big laugh at someone else’s mental illness? How about we talk about something else instead?”