gendered discourses in the commodification of New Zealand’s Director General of Health during Covid-19
Keywords:gender ideologies, discourse analysis, critical multimodality, commodification, Covid-19
During Covid-19 lockdown in New Zealand from March to June 2020, gendered discourses appeared in artistic and commercial products featuring Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director General of Health and ‘hero of quarantine’. Using an analytical framework combining Foucauldian discourse analysis with critical multimodality, we explore how Ashley is shaped into existence through discourses portraying him as a superhero, love interest/sex symbol, national treasure, saviour, saint and authority figure. These emergent discourses ride on the wave of longstanding dominant discourses relating to gender and sexuality, alongside nation, class and ethnicity. While dominant discourses may provide reassurance when established realities are under threat, they simultaneously cause harm by reproducing unequal power relations between social groups. We contend that, even in periods of crisis, we should consider what broader messages we are sending when we latch onto the latest discursive trend.
Apse, Maxwell (2020) Ashley Bloomfield (This one’s for you). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/watch?v=tSuPeKaE6hk
Bakhtin, Mikhail (1992) The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Benwell, Bethan and Stokoe, Elizabeth (2006) Discourse and Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Berlant, Lauren and Warner, Michael (1998) Sex in public. Critical Inquiry 24(2): 547–566. https://doi.org/10.1086/448884
Bourdieu, Pierre (1986) The forms of capital. In John Richardson (ed) Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education 241–258. New York: Greenwood.
Bourdieu, Pierre (1991) Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Burrows, Matt (11 June 2020) Drawing of ‘Wonder Woman’ Jacinda Ardern, ‘Superman’ Dr Ashley Bloomfield for sale on TradeMe. Newshub. Retrieved from https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2020/06/drawing-of-wonder-woman-jacinda-ardern-superman-dr-ashley-bloomfield-for-sale-on-trademe.html
Butler, Judith (1990) Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge.
Cameron, Deborah and Kulick, Don (2003) Language and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791178
Cameron, Deborah and Kulick, Don (eds) (2006) The Language and Sexuality Reader. Abingdon, England: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203013373
Cheek, Julianne (2008) Foucauldian discourse analysis. In Lisa M. Given (ed) The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods. London: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412963909.n180
Coates, Jennifer (2013) The discursive production of everyday heterosexualities. Discourse & Society 24(5): 536–552. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926513486070
Connell, Raewyn (1987) Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Connell, Raewyn (2005) Masculinities, 2nd edition. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Daniel, Laura and Moore, Joseph (2020) I don’t wanna bone ya Bloomfield. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gpf7va6xxhs
Dawson, Shelley (2019) ‘Bitch I’m back, by popular demand’: agency and structure in a study abroad setting. Gender and Language 13(4): 449–468. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.39399
de Beauvoir, Simone (1949) Le deuxième sexe [The Second Sex]. Paris: Gallimard.
De Fina, Anna (2011) Researcher and informant roles in narrative interactions: constructions of belonging and foreign-ness. Language in Society 40(1): 27–38. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404510000862
Deguara, Britney (2020) Coronavirus: WHO showcases, praises New Zealand’s effective Covid-19 response with documentary. stuff. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/122247181/coronavirus-who-showcases-praises-new-zealands-effective-covid19-response-with-documentary
Eckert, Penelope (2008) Variation and the indexical field. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12(4): 453–476. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00374.x
Eckert, Penelope and McConnell-Ginet, Sally (2013) Language and Gender, 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139245883
File, Kieran Andrew (2013) The post-match interview as a discourse genre: a combined genre and register analysis. Doctoral dissertation. Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington.
Foucault, Michel (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Routledge.
Foucault, Michel (1976) History of Sexuality Vol. 1. New York: Penguin.
Flaherty, Jordan (2016) No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Saviour Mentality. Stirling, UK: AK Press.
Giovannetti, Justin (26 July 2020) Bloomfield of dreams: watching Saint Ashley on the rugby field. The Spinoff. Retrieved from https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/26-07-2020/bloomfield-of-dreams-watching-saint-ashley-on-the-rugby-field/
Gwynne, Joel (2013) ‘Andrea Dworkin was probably turning in her grave’: pornography, (post)feminist backlash and contemporary women’s memoirs. Journal of Literary Studies 29(1): 20–32. https://doi.org/10.1080/02564718.2013.774175
Heller, Monica and McElhinney, Bonnie (2017) Language, Capitalism, Colonialism: Toward A Critical History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Heller, Monica, Pujolar, Joan and Duchêne, Alexander (2014) Linguistic commodification in tourism. Journal of Sociolinguistics 18(4): 539–566. https://doi.org/10.1111/josl.12082
Hiramoto, Mie, Borba, Rodrigo and Hall, Kira (2020) Hope in a time of crisis. Gender and Language 14(4): 347–357. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.42609
Holmes, Janet (2018) Negotiating the culture order in New Zealand workplaces. Language in Society 47(1): 33–56. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404517000732
Holmes, Janet and de Bres, Julia (2011) Ethnicity and humour in the workplace. In James Paul Gee and Mike Handford (eds) Handbook of Discourse Analysis 494–508. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203809068.ch35
Holt, Douglas B. and Thompson, Craig J. (2004) Man-of-action heroes: the pursuit of heroic masculinity in everyday consumption. Journal of Consumer Research 31(2): 425–440. https://doi.org/10.1086/422120
Jewitt, Carey (2009). Different approaches to multimodality. In Carey Jewitt (ed) The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis 28–39. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge.
Kazemi, Alex (26 July 2020) Heroes and monsters of health. The Spinoff. Retrieved from https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/26-07-2020/health-workers-are-humans-not-heroes/
Kerekere, Elizabeth (2017) Part of the Whanau: The Emergence of Takatapui Identity – He Whariki Takatapui. Wellington: Tiwhanawhana Trust.
Kiesling, Scott F. (2005) Homosocial desire in men’s talk: balancing and re-creating cultural discourses of masculinity. Language in Society 34(5): 695–726. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404505050268
Kiesling, Scott F. (2011) The interactional construction of desire as gender. Gender and Language 5(2): 213–239. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v5i2.213
Koller, Veronika (2015) Sexuality and metaphor. In Patricia Whelehan and Anne Bolin (eds) The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality. Malden, MA: Wiley.
Kristeva, Julia (1980) Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. New York: Columbia University Press.
Ledin, Per and David Machin (2020) Introduction to Multimodal Analysis, 2nd edition. London and New York: Bloomsbury.
Machin, David, Caldas-Coulthard, Carmen Rosa and Milani, Tommaso M. (2016) Doing critical multimodality in research on gender, language and discourse. Gender and Language 10(3): 301–308. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.v10i3.32037
McKenzie, John (1 May 2020) The ‘curve crusher’: Dr Ashley Bloomfield becomes the face of fashion brand. 1 News. Retrieved from https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/curve-crusher-dr-ashley-bloomfield-becomes-face-fashion-brand
McMillan, Virginia (29 March 2020) Who is Ashley Bloomfield? Delving into the New Zealand Doctor archives. New Zealand Doctor. Retrieved from https://www.nzdoctor.co.nz/article/undoctored/who-ashley-bloomfield-delving-new-zealand-doctor-archives
Milani, Tommaso M. and Levon, Erez (2016) Sexing diversity: linguistic landscapes of homonationalism. Language & Communication 51: 69–86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2016.07.002
Moonreef Productions (2020) Sir Ashley Bloomfield: a rap tribute. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/s1oeMnvCKfk
Newman, Albie (2020) Lockdown wizard: a Kiwi love song. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/yL_a7AtMXfI
Nichol, Tess (6 April 2020) The extremely competent, somewhat boring civil servant who has New Zealanders’ hearts aflutter. Slate. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/04/new-zealand-covid-19-coronavirus-ashley-bloomfield.html
NZ Herald (7 May 2020) Covid-19 Coronavirus: inside Dr Ashley Bloomfield’s work and family bubble. NZ Herald. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12330408
Ochs, Elinor (1992) Indexing gender. In Alessandro Duranti and Charles Goodwin (eds) Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon 335–358. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ochs, Elinor (1996) Linguistic resources for socializing humanity. In John J. Gumperz and Stephen Levinson (eds) Rethinking Linguistic Relativity 407–437. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
O’Hanlon, Renae (2007) Australian hip hop: a sociolinguistic investigation. Australian Journal of Linguistics 26(2): 193–209. https://doi.org/10.1080/07268600600885528
Pascale, Celine Marie (2018) Epistemology and moral economies of difference: transforming social research. International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies 1(1): 45–57. https://doi.org/10.13169/intecritdivestud.1.1.0045
Rich, Adrienne (1986) Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. In Blood, Bread and Poetry: Selected Prose 1979–1985 23–75. London: Virago.
Rose, Gillian (2016) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to Interpretation of Visual Materials, 4th edition. London: Sage.
Shaw, Richard (18 May 2020) Experts are back in fashion – now more than ever we need to question them. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/experts-are-back-in-fashion-now-more-than-ever-we-need-to-question-them-138113
Stabile, Carol A. (2009) ‘Sweetheart, this ain’t gender studies’: sexism and superheroes. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 6(1): 86–92. https://doi.org/10.1080/14791420802663686
Stuff (8 June 2020) Coronavirus: How PM Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield reacted to zero new Covid-19 cases. stuff. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300030026/coronavirus-how-pm-jacinda-ardern-and-dr-ashley-bloomfield-reacted-to-zero-new-covid19-cases
Suzuki, Satoko (2020) Masculinity, race and national identity: representations of non-Japanese men’s speech in contemporary Japanese novels. Gender and Language 14(3): 226–243. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.39953
Tuhiwai Smith, Linda (1999) Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.
Tyler, Meagan (11 August 2020) Calling Brett Sutton a ‘CHOttie’ is not objectification – but it’s not feminism either. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/calling-brett-sutton-a-chottie-is-not-objectification-but-its-not-feminism-either-144134
Ward, Tara (22 May 2020) All the weird and wonderful creative tributes to Dr Ashley Bloomfield. The Spinoff. Retrieved from https://thespinoff.co.nz/money/22-05-2020/all-the-weird-and-wonderful-creative-tributes-to-dr-ashley-bloomfield/
Woodhams, Jay M. (2019) Political Identity in Discourse: The Voices of New Zealand Voters. Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18630-2
Wodak, Ruth (2000) Recontextualization and the transformation of meanings: a critical discourse analysis of decision making in EU meetings about employment policies. In Srikant Sarangi and Malcolm Coulthard (eds) Discourse and Social Life 185–206. London: Pearson Education. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315838502-11