The city of Christchurch, New Zealand is casting a banish spell on their official town wizard.
For the past 23 years, a man named Ian Brackenbury Channell held a $10,000/year contract as Christchurch’s ‘Official Wizard’ (the only such position in the world, apparently).
However, Christchurch officials announced that they won't be renewing his contract following some incendiary comments the 88-year-old wizard made – and the comments weren’t about hobbits.
Channell complains that he’s being "canceled," but critics say he was totally out of line and deserves to be fired. Meanwhile, others are wondering why a city government’s been paying a wizard for 23 years in the first place.
World's Longest Unpaid Internship?
Born and raised in London, Channell moved to Christchurch in 1972, where he began working as a street performer. His wizard persona – grey beard, pointy hat, big staff – was a hit, and he quickly became a famous figure about town.
Channell was brought on as the city’s official wizard in 1982, and worked for free for 16 years. But even wizards have to put food on the table, so in 1998 he negotiated to join the city payroll. His official job duties: performing “acts of wizardry and other wizard-like services.”
Wizardry in Action
What’s a wizard without spells? Channell’s official duties in the past have included casting spells to help local rugby teams, as well as performing a rain dance on New Zealand’s South Island to end a drought. Incredibly, shortly after his rain dance, it rained.
His rain dance was so successful that Australia even imported him to perform a rain dance in the Outback. And again, shortly thereafter, it began pouring.
It’s all over now, though. His final paycheck as the Official Wizard of New Zealand will come this December, the city making the “difficult decision” not to renew his contract, which Channell himself believes is because he no longer matches the “vibe” of the city.
Gandalf the Controversial
However, according to reports, the Wizard of Christchurch likely lost his job over comments he made about women:
“I love women, I forgive them all the time, I’ve never struck one yet," he said. "Never strike a woman because they bruise too easily is the first thing, and they’ll tell the neighbors and their friends, and then you’re in big trouble.”
He’s also suggested that women are devious and trick men into dating them, and has posted memes on Facebook that say men are an “endangered species.”
When asked to comment, a council spokesperson said that the city is simply looking for different tourism strategies that better “reflect our diverse communities and showcase a vibrant, diverse, modern city.”
Channell has a different view. “It’s just they don’t like me because they are boring old bureaucrats and everyone likes me and no one likes them,” he stated. “There is nobody else anything like me in Christchurch.” He continued: “I don’t like being canceled."
Still, some were confused as to why taxpayers are footing the bill for a wizard in the first place. One Australian comedian joked, "what is this, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce? What is going on?"
What is your reaction?