Ian McKellen attacks NZ PM over 'gay red top' radio insult

Nov 6, 2012

John Key under fire again, days after he called David Beckham 'thick as batshit'

Getty Images

DAYS AFTER he described former England footballer David Beckham as "thick as batshit", New Zealand prime minister John Key has come under fire from British actor Ian McKellen, who took exception to the politician's use of the word 'gay' to mean 'weird' in a radio interview.
Key, during a knockabout appearance on a New Zealand farming show, laid into the attire of host Jamie Mackay, telling him: "You're munted mate. You're never going to make it. You've got that gay red top on."
Despite efforts to dismiss the exchange as "banter", McKellen, who plays Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, could not let it pass.
Writing on his blog, the actor said New Zealand had an "undeserved reputation" for "living a little in the past" and suggested that Key had not helped the country's image. "Mr Key should watch his language... Careless talk damages lives," wrote the actor, who is currently touring secondary schools in the UK to combat homophobia.
So far no-one has attacked Key for his use of the word "munted" - a slang-term based on the word 'c***' and usually deployed to describe someone high on drugs - which has entered common usage Down Under.
The fuss has been greeted with surprise by many plain-talking Kiwi folk. Host Mackay was unperturbed by the insult and said the exchange had been "nothing more than harmless banter".
"It's a storm in a teacup... no wonder the media sometimes gets a bad name," he added.
However, Key's radio gaffe on Friday came on the same day that he apparently told students at a girls' boarding school in Dunedin that footballer David Beckham was "thick as batshit".
Beckham spent 45 minutes with Key and his son Max when he visited New Zealand for an exhibition match in 2008, shortly after Key had been elected. According to the Daily Mirror, Key said Beckham was both handsome and "a really nice guy" but also told pupils that the footballer was stupid.
Beckham's agent said that if it was true the insult was "pathetic", but Key tried to distance himself from the comment yesterday, suggesting he had been misquoted. "It was a private conversation. I was talking to a few people and that's what [the reporter] thought he heard," he said.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

The word gay has been hijacked by people like McKellen who have turned it into a label just like homophobia.

Munted came to prominence in NZ during the earthquakes in Christchurch meaning something that has been destroyed. I don't know anyone who uses in the context that is in the article.