Crowds protesting the government’s mask and vaccine mandates in Wellington, New Zealand have had to deal with something more unusual than police hassling them. Lawmakers are playing hits by Barry Manilow, James Blunt and Celine Dion on a loop in an attempt to get them to disperse.
Trevor Mallard, the speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, has been blasting Barry Manilow‘s greatest hits — as well as the 1990s Los del Rio hit “Macarena” — through the speakers inside Parliament buildings in an attempt to break up the crowds of protestors, who have refused to budge for the past week. COVID-19 vaccine PSAs are also being played.
After James Blunt spotted the story, he tweeted, “Give me a shout if this doesn’t work” — and his hit “You’re Beautiful” was promptly added to the rotation, as well as an out-of-tune recorder rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
The tactic has made headlines around the world, and elicited mixed reactions.
Mallard told the New Zealand website Stuff over the weekend that surrounding residents had been consulted on the plan and were supportive. “And one of them is a Barry Manilow fan,” Mallard added.
So far, the protestors appear to be unbothered: They’ve been dancing along to the “Macarena,” singing along to “You’re Beautiful” and playing their own songs, like Twisted Sister‘s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
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