The legendary Australian soap opera, Neighbours, made its debut on Hulu and Hulu Plus Monday!
The US premiere week features a story arc that includes a guest appearance by actress and singer Paula Abdul. In today’s episode, Abdul visits Ramsay Street to drop in on Doctor Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher), who admits to a crush on the former American Idol judge – much to the surprise of his wife, Susan (Jackie Woodburne).
She is not the first known guest star on “Neighbours”. Throughout the years other celebrities such as Russell Crowe, Lily Allen, Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia and Guy Pearce have visted Ramsay Street.
Neighbours has reached the U.S. Nothing will be the same again.
(Also: Kylie Minogue, Natalie Imbruglia and Guy Pearce were cast members, not guest stars, Hulu! Come on! This is my youth you’re talking about here!)
I used to be particularly nostalgic; it was something that drove Kate mad when we first met, that I’d just expound on younger days when I had more hair as if they possessed some special magic that would explain everything, some weird and wonderful truth about the way the world — or, at least, I — worked. And then, somehow, I stopped. I’m not sure how or why, but it was as if I lost my affection for everything that had come before, and started living in the now, as someone somewhere would call it.
This all came back to me this weekend, when I had a dream in which I found photographs of people I’d gone to art school with, two decades ago now. My reaction in the dream is still oddly fresh in my mind — an affection, tempered with this feeling of I haven’t even thought about these people in forever. That’s not actually true, though; I think about them these days, but it’s in a contemporary, what-are-they-up-to-now way from seeing their posts on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. Instead of being all swallowed up by “THOSE WERE THE DAYS” garment-wrenching, it’s a “Ah, they’re the greatest, what times we had” thing.
I don’t know; it’s tough to explain. The me I was then feels like an entirely different person, now. It’s harder to want to be them again, now that I’ve realized just how ridiculous, uncertain and annoying I was from the viewpoint I have these days, I guess.
I was 8 the first—and only—time I spoiled Santa for a believer. My parents had come clean about the Santa myth to me a year or two earlier because I was offended that the jolly geezer didn’t care about me, a Christmas carol-singing Jew from the northern Chicago suburbs. Why did he only leap down the chimneys of my Christian friends? What had I done to deserve this prejudicial treatment? My parents finally cracked, and I was relieved. My friends weren’t more special than me after all!
I knew, of course, that most kids my age were not privy to this knowledge. Possessing the secret made me feel deliciously superior. I understood the cruel, complicated world a little better than my third-grade buddies. Unfortunately, my newfound sophistication didn’t enhance my secret-keeping abilities.
I had Santa ruined for me when I was… Five? Four, maybe? Young, I remember; a friend came over on Christmas Day to show off his toy haul, and when I attempted to show him what Santa had brought me, he laughed at me for even mentioning Old Saint Nick. “There isn’t a Santa! It’s just your mum and dad pretending!” he told me. On Christmas Day.
Ah, the casual cruelty of youth.
The way we represent history on screen and on blogs has very little to do with the way ‘it really was’, but with the way we want it, and need it, to be. A few months ago, a new television drama called Puberty Blues, set in a 1970s Australia, was shown on Australian television. It was extremely popular and very similar to the American Mad Men series in its exploration of the sexist culture of the past. For me, Puberty Blues had little to do with sentimentalising or aestheticising the past. Yet, like Mad Men, it was sold as a nostalgic trip into a ‘better’ and ‘simpler’ time, and was used as an avenue to regurgitate 1970s fashion and sell vintage wares to modern audiences. I don’t doubt there are many people who viewed the series as just that: an aesthetic nostalgia. But there were probably also viewers who saw it for what it was: an exploration of the cultural context of sexism that has little to do with buying vintage jeans from the 1970s, or reviving fondue parties.
It all depends on how you look at things. And I guess that’s the point that moves things beyond a purely postmodernist engagement with the past, into a metamodern one. Because as much as we may still love to superficially aestheticise history as a ‘style’ and a consumer ‘product’, we are also witnessing an engagement with nostalgia that is about ethics rather than simply style. Like postmodernism in the 1980s and 1990s, our current engagement with the past is consciously aware of what Fredric Jameson has termed its own “random cannibalization of all the styles of the past”, yet nevertheless seeks to say something beyond style in the process.  We will always return to the past, and perhaps less energy needs to be spent thinking about whether this is a ‘new’ phenomenon, and more on how we choose to see, represent and interpret the past as producers, consumers and viewers, moving towards a more balanced love of aesthetics coupled with an increasingly conscious understanding of history and the present.
I find myself thinking a lot about nostalgia from a pop culture point of view, and I have to shamefully admit that I’d never really considered it as an ethical (or unethical, really) exercise in flattening the past at all. This piece is food for thought that I’m going to be chewing over for awhile, I suspect.
Another toy that drove the nine/ten-year-old me insane with excitement, the 1984 Super Powers line. Only the first “wave” of releases came out in the UK – the twelve figures above – but they were more than enough to please me. Even at that age, there was something iconic about the big-name DC Comics characters, and I remember being ecstatic when I found Super Powers characters in a toy store in nearby Gourock. I still remember that the first ones I owned were the Flash and Green Lantern, but I remember that I also ended up with an Aquaman, Lex Luthor and Superman, too.
In America, there were a further twenty-one figures released, with lots of characters that I hadn’t even heard of at the time. I wish that I’d seen them, though; the idea of these toys being an early introduction to the likes of characters to whom I’d later become massive fans of – Jack Kirby’s Darkseid and Mister Miracle, or the stoic Martian Manhunter – appeals to me, even if I’m not sure what I would have made of such characters back then.
When I was ten and eleven years old, this was some of the most exciting art I could imagine (It’s the box art from the 1985 Transformers toys, painted by a guy called Jeffrey Mangiat).