Spe­cial place in our hearts

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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.

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