Special place in our hearts
share of viewers aged 25-54.
Last year, that share was a reasonable but significantly smaller 9.2 per cent. These days, if a show has double-digit market share it’s doing well – the mostwatched documentary of the year, Stan, had 32.5 per cent of viewers tuning in.
Its smaller viewer numbers could be down to a proliferation in television options, and what Mau calls its move from being new and exciting to ‘‘a tradition’’.
‘‘I am a bit shocked it is still going,’’ she admits. ‘‘It’s a tradition, now. A regular yearly gig for people in the performing arts.’’
The survival is something of a miracle, most admit. Even event producer John Searle, who has been with the show since it started, is surprised.
When it launched, its founder, Alan Smythe, declared ‘‘the Christmas concert will be back’’. But Searle didn’t expect to be working on it 25 years later.
‘‘You wouldn’t have thought it would end up like this,’’ he says.
Now, about 1000 people are involved in the concert each year – 200 performers, as well as security, volunteers and stage crew.
Searle is standing with the crew when we talk, awaiting containers which have made it through landslips and rough seas from Christchurch.
The 17 containers are in Auckland, but the rain is delaying stage set-up.
The long-serving producer is optimistic about the weather for tomorrow’s show at the Auckland Domain, but he’s also asking himself, ‘‘Why am I doing this?’’
He’s looking forward to hosting some well-known talents – this year’s headliner is Stan Walker – and also younger, lesser-known dancers and musicians. ‘‘This show has always been a platform for emerging talent,’’ he says.
As a teenager, chart-topping vocalist Hayley Westenra made her screen debut at Christmas in the Park and Searle is passionate about keeping this festival, a talent incubator of sorts, alive.
Although the artists may change, the show is still about Christmas, raising money for the charity Youthline, and bringing together fresh and old talent.
‘‘For better or worse, that appeals to me,’’ Searle says.
As long as people keep showing up, he hopes those three ‘‘core principles’’ of Christmas in the Park – charity, community, and quality talent – will be enough to keep it going.
The nostalgia-fuelled video broke the record for the most viewed Youtube video in 24 hours. We wanted that era and we wanted it injected straight into our veins – the tiny sunglasses, fluffy mules and all.
The pace at which the video exploded says, once and for all, pop culture is done with the 1980s. We’ll never be done with the music (hello, box office smash Bohemian Rhapsody), but our obsession with reliving that point in history can finally be laid to rest.
Ten years ago, clothing stores were loaded with pieces reminiscent of the 1980s. There were block letter slogan tees a la Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, everything was fluoro (gross), and even the humble leg-warmer managed a fleeting moment back in the spotlight.
The 80s stronghold started to loosen about 2014 when jelly sandals and crop tops reemerged. We were shocked at the prospect of baring our midriffs again and vowed it wouldn’t last, but four years later, we’re regularly showing about 2 centimetres of midriff skin between our tiny T-shirts and high-waisted Mom jeans.
The specific period that pop culture is now lusting after is 1995-2004. Alicia Silverstone in Clueless to Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, if you will.
Before Ari dipped into the nostalgia game, Anne-marie was doing it in her video for 2002. Two months ago, Charli XCX and Troye Sivan went full Steve Jobs in their video for 1999 ,a song that has Charli longing for a long gone era, ‘‘I just wanna go back, back to 1999 / Take a ride to my old neighbourhood / I just wanna go back, sing, ‘Hit me, baby, one more time’.’’
Netflix is building a microempire of rom-coms rooted in the re-hashing of tropes we loved so daughter. In particular, the scene where John Bender hides under a table, and it’s implied he touched her inappropriately, without consent.
Nobody in today’s social and political climate wants to see that on telly. Consumers now want to reminisce about fierce Elle Woods rising above her haters in Legally Blonde; Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn opening a non-profit crisis centre for women in First Wives Club; and Julia Roberts as the strong, successful, perfectly flawed actress in Notting Hill.
This isn’t to say the 90s and early-00s get off scot-free – all four of the films Grande threw to are essentially void of diversity – but some progress is better than none. I’ll take the strong female rom-com leads of 1995 to 2004 over the romanticising of the manipulative, jealous, abusive men in St Elmo’s Fire any day.
Pop culture will always have an obsession with history – the two years of Gatsby-themed parties we all endured 2013-2015 speak for themselves.
But for those struggling to process the fact it’s been 14 whole years since Mean Girl Regina snapped at Gretchen, ‘‘Stop trying to make fetch happen!’’, don’t fret, this era has a good few years left in it yet.