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July 19, 2010 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round One

The people have spoken. Last week we took your nominations for Salient’s second ever Academic Idol. We’ve got the top 10. But who will it be, Victoria University? Who will be the last one standing? Who will win your hearts, make you laugh, make you cry or just make you cringe with their use of lame puns related to their field of study? The decision is in your hands. Or in your texting thumb.

In 2006 Academic Idol was touted as “reality journalism at its best”. Yes. Reality journalism. It exists. It is real. here it is, in Salient. If history really does repeat, Academic Idol will be a resounding success, a law lecturer will win and Salient will come second in the student media awards. To Critic. Fuck.

Due to unforseen circumstances (like being overseas), some of your faves have had to decline the invitation to participate. Perhaps they just weren’t cut out for the cut throat competition anyway.

The concept is simple. And a lot like American Idol. Each week, each lecturer will be asked a question and they’ll have to answer it within the 100 word limit. And by deadline. Votes will be deducted for lateness, and exceeding the word limit. All you have to do is vote for your favourite—email or text 027 CUSTARD. The person with the least number of votes is eliminated. Fired. Goneskies. It’s as easy as that. We’ll keep the tally of votes in the Salient office on a large whiteboard. Yeah, technological sophistication is where it’s at.

Without further ado, here is your top ten. We’ve thrown in a couple of wildcards for good measure. And there’s a few Survivor-esque twists thrown in the mix as well. The future is in your hands, or something cheesy like that. Get behind your favourites. Support your school or campus. Vote. Go on.

This week’s question:
Who would play you in the movie of your life and why?

Peter Andreae (aka Pondy), Computer Science

The Honda ASIMO. Since my research goal is to develop an artificial intelligence system that can learn how to act and interact in the complex human world, it seems like a good idea to have an artificial intelligence agent play me in a movie. ASIMO isn’t intelligent enough yet—it has excellent motion control but is no good at reasoning and talking yet (which is what my life is about). But by the time anyone thinks a movie of my life is a good idea, I’m sure I will have made an intelligent learning system that could be installed in one of the robots.

Hilary Pearse, Political Science

Jessica Simpson. People comment on the uncanny physical resemblance all the time, and not just when I’m washing my car. I’ve also felt a deep sense of connection with Jess for some years now due to the spooky parallels in our lives. I too had a disastrous early marriage to a member of a boy band and have been publicly humiliated by a fashion experiment involving high-waisted jeans. And I hear that Jess is also interested in democratic reform within Westminster-derived parliamentary systems. It makes me wonder if we could be related. My mum’s side of the family is from Marton and I think there are some Simpsons living there too.

Justin Bachoff, Modern Mythology

Well I guess I’m surprised as anyone to be here. The person to play me? I would hope that Crispin Glover would be available. He seems of all people in Hollywood to have an innate grasp of the structure of modern myths: the smoke-and-mirrors game played out by hidden actors, the possibilities created by infinity and the uncertainty of personality. Aside from that, he’s George McFly! How cool would that be? Also, I would allow Rachel Weisz to play the romantic interest for obvious reasons.

Geoff Stahl, Media Studies

A few weeks ago, some French tourists passed me on Cuba Mall, declaring “Regardez! C’est Bruce Willis.”  While finding the comparison somewhat untenable at the time, I thought this a viable response to the question. Bruce’s aging physique seems now to have dovetailed nicely with my own prolonged lack of fitness. The thought of a soft-edged, in-decline action star bringing to the role of lecturer the existential malaise, waning charisma and the hint of sarcasm born of a life once lived large but now reined in by the strictures of institutional imperatives, for this Bruce seems entirely appropriate. Either him or DJ Tiësto.

Marc Wilson, Psychology

I’m so honoured! Now I’ve been nominated I’m going to stop writing funding applications altogether. There’s no point denying that I’m not the most manly of men, so I’d have to pick someone who is everything I’m not and that person is… Bruce Campbell (, star of ‘The Evil Dead’ series directed by childhood friend Sam Raimi. Not only does he have the chin I always wanted (see his autobiography If Chins Could Kill), but university isn’t too different from fighting off zombies. Let’s face it, if I could deliver lines like “I’m here to kick ass and chew gum… and I’m all out of gum,” I wouldn’t be the B-grade academic I am today—Hail to the king baby!

Matthew Trundle, Classics

Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard) because he is English, bald and a great classical actor.

David O’Donnell, Theatre

I’m getting on a bit so I’d like to see several actors playing me, in the style of the Bob Dylan film I’m Not There. Jemaine Clement could play my younger self because he’s got the mop of hair for it and captures the essence of the young Kiwi male. Cate Blanchett would be the slightly older version, perhaps adapting her portrayal of the über-cool young Dylan, and like me she seems to be an expert multi-tasker, being a new mum, Hollywood actress and co-director of the Sydney Theatre Company all at once. Sir Ian McKellen could play the older me—as a veteran Shakespearean actor I think he would have the range to master the role, and I’d hope that some of that Gandalf-style wisdom might rub off on my lectures.

Lee Gibson, Design

Without a doubt, Wesley Snipes*. 
But don’t get a movie made, just take some highlights out of his films over the years and you would have a great summary of events, almost a biographical documentary. Key moments: New Jack City—growing up in the King Country; White Men Can’t Jump—some nice hightops and a fade; Blade—looking tough as; Money Train—hanging with Woody Harrelson (we are actually close friends); Blade II—still looking tough; Blade Trinity—going through a weird stage, but still looking tough, then just fading out with no one noticing.
*minus jail time

Chris Eichbaum, School of Government

What are we looking for here—physical likeness or attitude? I guess for me it’s more about the latter. That said, when I consulted my guru, the venerable ‘Dara’, the advice was that, on the physical similarity stakes Jesse Ventura was a good likeness (from the neck up). That may well be the case, but on matters political, Jesse and I are not exactly of similar mind. So I’m going to opt for attitude—and on that basis I am going for an actor in my favourite two films of all time. At the top of my list is The Fisher King, directed by a member of the Monty Python Crew, Terry Gilliam. And at number two is The Big Lebowski, directed by the Cohen brothers. And the actor? Jeff Bridges. Why? Because The Dude abides…The Dude abides.

Dean Knight, Law

Hmmm. Tricky.  A quick plea to friends, via Facebook, generated these suggestions:
• Neil Patrick Harris (“Doogie” once was my nickname, as a 19-year-old summer law clerk);
• Sir Ian McKellen (militant gay, and he once crashed a party at our house);
• Alan Tudyk (my doppelgänger, apparently);
• Fyvush Finkely (grrr – just too mean!);
• David Wenham (hot ginga!);
• Leonardo DiCaprio (some foolish attempt once to replicate his circa-1996 floppy blonde hairstyle);
• Philip Seymour Hoffman (creepy…);
• Allison Janney (omigod – CJ is *my* idol!);
• Matt Damon (some rugby talent seen in Invictus, but needs more work…).
But maybe GLEE’s Matthew Morrison, as he has a much better voice and more rhythm than me?


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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