Welcome to the very first Wednesday of the Pop Culture Junkie's Guide To Life!
It also happens to be the day of the week that we celebrate media from “Across The Pond And Beyond”.
Basically what that means is that I'll be looking at various sources of media that is not native to North America. This means looking at television shows, movies, anime series, and lots of other goodies from the UK, Australia, Japan, and other countries all over the world.
If I can learn anything about myself as I play the role of Globe Trekker, all the better for the blog, right?
So, let's kick into this Wednesday entry by looking at one of my favourite shows from the Land Down Under.
I was first introduced to the show “Home and Away” quite a few years ago. I used to watch a Canadian channel called YTV when I was a kid, mainly because it was one of the few places that aired old episodes of “You Can't Do That On Television”. But about twenty years ago, the channel aired Home and Away from the very beginning of the series. The show premiered in Australia in January 1988, and the first time I remember watching it was around 1990, so we were about two years behind.
During the original airings on YTV, I only remember watching a few episodes every now and then...but the episodes I did see, I ended up liking. I guess the best way to describe the show would be part soap opera, part family sitcom. Kind of a weird combo, but it made sense if you saw the show.
The premise? Tom and Pippa Fletcher got married years ago, and wanted children, but were told that they couldn't have any of their own naturally, so they decided to become foster parents to fill the void. All went well, until Tom lost his job, and the family was forced to move out of the city to make ends meet. Tom and Pippa packed up their belongings and moved to a small little community called Summer Bay along with their five foster children. Carly, Frank, Lynn, Sally, and Steven.
When they got to Summer Bay, they moved into the house that was close to a caravan park, which used to be a place for backpackers and vacationers to stay while surfing on the beaches of the town. It is here that the family starts to carve out a place in Summer Bay, and where the kids find themselves in all sorts of adventures.
One of the first storylines in the show was when Tom and Pippa ended up taking on a sixth foster child.
That sixth foster child is the subject of this blog entry, and as you'll soon see, there's some traits we both share that help explain why I am who I am...and there's also some traits she has that I would LOVE to have myself!
Enter Bobby Simpson. A sixteen-year old who has been in and out of mischief her entire life. She was born to two people out of wedlock, was given up for adoption as a baby, and her adopted father basically abandoned her and ended up in jail. Her adopted mother passed away, and as a result, she had developed into a wild child, terrorizing people on the streets and rebelling against any sort of authority figure.
This is where we are completely different as far as how we grew up. Sure, my family life was a bit tumultuous at times, but my family never abandoned me or intentionally set out to hurt me. I also never really had a rebellious phase, although at times I did talk back to my parents. What person hasn't at some point?
Though, I can see how Bobby might have felt like she had nobody to confide in. I sort of felt the same way. When I was dealing with personal problems at school, I initially kept things bottled up inside and tried to handle things myself. There were a couple of reasons why I did this. One being that I didn't think that my problems were something that people cared about. I didn't think my parents could help me understand why some kids were being so mean to me. The second reason being that when I did tell people about what I was going through, their well-intentioned solutions ended up making things somewhat worse. So, like Bobby, I didn't really confide in anyone about the hurt I might have been feeling, simply because I didn't know who I could trust in.
I feel that Bobby ended up feeling the same way. She had been hurt and abandoned by so many people in her life that trusting people was out of the question.
And, this leads us to another similarity between the both of us. We both eventually found someone who we could trust in, and who would have our backs no matter what.
In Bobby Simpson's case, it was the owner of the town's general store, Ailsa Hogan, who stood by Bobby when nobody else would. In fact, in this clip below, you'll get introduced to Bobby and the Fletcher family, as well as Ailsa's opinion of Bobby.
As you can see, Ailsa has a thing for underdogs, and stood by Bobby when nobody else would. This was definitely made clear when one of the caravans in the caravan park was set on fire, and the fingers of blame were cast towards young Bobby. It's towards the beginning of this next clip that you see a very powerful scene between Bobby and Ailsa.
Wasn't that lovely how Ailsa stood by Bobby when everyone else seemed to be against her? I was kind of lucky enough to have someone who was like Ailsa. Back in sixth grade, I was having a really rough go of things. It seemed as though my classmates and I didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things, and I was very upset about things, and I didn't know how to vent my frustration or anger. Enter Mrs. Woodfine, my sixth grade teacher. Lovely woman she was. She took me aside one day, and handed me a notebook out of the desk, and told me that whenever I was feeling down and whenever I was upset, I should write it down in the book, and if I wished, I could hand it in to the teacher so she could give me some advice on how to handle things. Of course, I wasn't obligated to do so...it was just left open as a suggestion. At first, I didn't think the book would have much impact on my life whatsoever, and when everyone in the class discovered the book, they immediately had more ammunition to make fun of me. But, in all honesty, the book WAS helpful. It helped me express my thoughts in a private manner without resorting to alienating myself from people...and in all honesty, I think that book helped contribute to the reason why I like to write about my problems rather than talk about them openly. It helps me understand myself better. So, in a way, Mrs. Woodfine helped me understand myself better. Just like Ailsa helped Bobby understand herself a little better.
And, maybe that triggered our want to change who we were as people. We didn't want to see ourselves as victims anymore. We wanted to just be accepted.
In the clip above, you'll see that she ended up finding another ally in Steven, who fought off the two goons who were giving Bobby a hard time. Of course, Bobby was kind of sassy and smart-mouthed towards them both, which kind of leads into another similarity.
We both are not afraid to say what we feel!
In the clips you have watched (or at least hoped you watched, or else this blog post is for naught), you'll see that Bobby does not mince words when it comes to people attacking her. I'm kind of the same way, though in a different manner. Bobby tended to speak her mind whenever a personal injustice was done to her...in this case, her being wrongfully accused of setting a caravan ablaze. I, meanwhile, don't like seeing injustice of ANY kind. If I see any sort of news story or current event that I don't particularly agree with, well, I speak my piece. About a year ago, a city politician wrote a letter to the town newspaper blasting my workplace for supposedly not doing enough to protect our environment, even going as far as making the ludicrous claim that we forced him to put his purchases in a plastic bag. It's ludicrous because I know for a fact that we don't do such a thing at my workplace. In fact, we even have bins that are specifically designed for customers to recycle plastic bags outside the front doors. I could go on and on about how wrong his accusations were. So, I typed up my own letter to the editor and e-mailed it, and got it printed about two days later. And it felt really good.
I kind of regret not telling the politician to “Rack Off” like Bobby did...but in a way...maybe I did. :D
Now, here's something that I wish I could have been more like Bobby.
Bobby Simpson's foster sister Carly ended up suffering from alcoholism. To Carly's credit, she did go for help, and she was trying to go cold turkey from alcohol. Unfortunately, Carly's enemy from school Alison Patterson found out and twisted the news around spreading the word that Carly was a drug addict. Well, Bobby found out that Alison was responsible and was trying to undo the damage that Alison caused by telling the townspeople the truth about Carly. But, Alison was not going to let anyone stop her from humiliating Carly at every opportunity. So, Bobby took matters into her own hands.
How many of you were watching that clip, cheering Bobby on? I bet that some of you have known an Alison Patterson in your lives and wished that you had the guts to stand up to her the way that Bobby did. Bobby didn't even like Carly when they first met, so for Bobby to stand up for Carly against Alison...it was pretty cool to see.
And, honestly, while I myself probably wouldn't have tried to drown my bullies in an ocean...I admit that I kind of wish I had more of Bobby's courage when it came to facing them down. So many times I was brought down by people who were basically so insecure about themselves...I'm actually ashamed that I didn't stand up for myself more. In that sense, I really admire Bobby because she did the one thing that I was too afraid to do. She wasn't afraid of anyone. Maybe it was the hard childhood that she had sustained that toughened her up that put that spunk in her. Whatever the case, there's a reason why Bobby was my favourite character in the whole show. That was it.
As tough as Bobby was though, she had a vulnerable side. Although she tried to hide it from everyone who got too close to her, she really wanted to be accepted by people, and she really wanted to be a part of something. Ailsa was her first and probably best friend, and Bobby could always count on her to be there no matter what. Eventually, Ailsa's kindness towards the Fletchers caused Tom and Pippa to take her on as a foster child, and as time passed by, she gradually began to integrate herself into the community of Summer Bay. The man who you saw in the first clip grabbing Bobby and proclaiming her to be no good? That was Donald Fisher, the headmaster of the high school where the kids all attended. Bobby Simpson was one of the poorest students in the whole school, and at first, Fisher didn't want Bobby in his school at all. But there was something inside of her that caused him to want to work with her, and help her get her diploma. Bobby befriended Alan, Fisher's estranged teenage son, and Bobby managed to help Alan patch things up with Fisher before he tragically died. The relationship between Fisher and Bobby was frayed and filled with fights, but it all paid off in the end. Bobby earned her diploma, and you can see that she also won a very special award on top of that.
I guess the lesson that one can take from Bobby Simpson is this. It shows that nobody is truly a lost cause. It shows that anybody can make a success of themselves if they're given enough positive reinforcements. It shows that even the most unlikely people can find a place where they belong.
Bobby Simpson found that place on Home and Away. The show still goes on in Australia, and sadly, Bobby Simpson's character was killed off years ago. It seems almost unfair in a way that she died when she finally got her life back on track. But to Bobby Simpson, the journey seemed worth it.
I just hope that one day, I can find my place in this world...just like Bobby did.