Today’s moral dilemma comes from “Anon”:
We live in a block of twelve flats in a nice quiet “leafy” suburb of Sydney with lovely neighbours and so on - with one exception. The lady representing the body corporate also lives in the block but appears to be suffering from some kind of mental illness.
An unfortunate side-effect of civilization and the development of agriculture and industry is that people often have to live near other people.
Sometimes, these people are warm, friendly folk who watch your house while you’re away, say good morning in cheery tones and resist the urge to viciously puncture every spherical object that lands over their fence as a result of your children’s poor coordination.
Sometimes, however, they are like Paul Hayward of South Wales (in the UK, NOT New South Wales), who spent a decade tormenting his neighbours by throwing eggs, stones and rubbish at their houses, sending hundreds of cabs and take away orders to their homes and even having two tons of coal delivered to their door.
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Channel Ten soapie, Neighbours is so far behind the times all that’s missing from the Ramsay Street set is an FJ Holden and a Hills Hoist washing line.
Case in point: last night’s episode of the popular show where male gay characters, Chris and Aiden, share their first on-screen kiss.
Well, whoop de do. Feels a little bit 1985, especially for a show that’s dominated its time slot for 27 years. Surely that’s time enough to understand your audience? So what’s taken them so long to get on board with gay relationships?
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As the well-worn song goes, everybody needs good neighbours. But how many of us even know who our neighbours are?
The days of passing a cup of flour over the fence, back lane barbeques and collecting each other’s mail have faded into obscurity. They’re totally, utterly gone. Replaced by cranky, surly, aloof and self-interested people who just happen to live next door to each other. Guarding their compost bins and tending to their own backyards. Or filming someone else’s. Yes, filming. But we’ll get to that.
As news.com.au reported yesterday, the Local Government Association of NSW is meeting this week to debate 100 or so separate items that are dividing the fences and driveways of our sunny state. Items on the agenda include: the rights of harangued neighbours to film each other, stinky nappy disposal and people who ride motorbikes on other people’s front lawns.
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It won’t be long before Andrew Bolt has a cameo on Neighbours discussing validity of climate change with Harold Bishop. (Yes, we know we mentioned Harold on The Punch yesterday - sorry. Ed.)
Network promotions departments assume you could easily digest Mr Bolt popping up on Ramsay Street without any real thoughts about why he is there. This is exactly why underhanded cross promotion is becoming ubiquitous. Your favourite shows are being morphed into unbearably bland advertisements for the network.
Promotional departments shamelessly hijack mostly live TV, from sporting events to the news, sneakily forcing the hosts to endorse shows that need a bit of a ratings oomph.
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It has been 26 years and 6000-odd episodes since Danny Ramsay first rode his Malvern Star along Ramsay Street, marking the beginning of the soap phenomenon Neighbours.
That first episode, eager to impress, showed Danny experiencing a nightmare with homoerotic and incestuous overtones, about his brother Shane (in Speedos) diving to his death. Sweaty Danny thrashes around in his bed to the sounds of the decadent bucks’ party next door.
Neighbours would later launch the Hollywood career of Guy Pearce and turn Kylie the talking budgie into a singing one, but for me that first instalment has been a rare highlight.
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I have a secret shame. I watch Neighbours and I like it.
For years I’ve felt the judging looks and sneering comments when people find out I like to watch Neighbours. After clarifying that I like to watch the TV show and not my actual neighbours, the judgement is usually even harsher.
People think I’m lame and need to get out more. While this may be true, it has nothing to do with the quality drama that airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Ten. I think it is a great show and is as ingrained in Australian culture as the 4am kebab is to Saturday night.
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