Malta Has A Celebrity Culture Whether You Like It Or Not, And This Year's Carnival Weekend Perfectly Proves It
'No one cares about Maltese celebrities'... until they put in the effort to dress up like them
For decades, there seems to have been an unspoken understanding that Maltese celebrities just don't exist. Unless you're a politician, a saint, or that one singer who went up to Eurovision and got a half-decent result, you're one of us and are definitely not a celebrity. But this weekend's carnival festivities prove times have changed.
Ten years ago, the only way you could get starstruck by a Maltese person was if you ran into someone like Ira Losco or Clinton Paul (albeit for probably different reasons), but as social media has continued to become one of the country's main storytellers, a new generation of local celebrities has risen. Bloggers, comedians and artists have been given the platform they've yearned and worked for... and the acknowledgement is there whether you like it or not.
Beyond Pilatus Bank floats, buckets of awrat and Muscat-Delia impromptu boxing matches, other subjects have emerged: the people who were all over our social media in 2018
Nowhere was this as clear as with Sarah Zerafa, the young Maltese model with over 150,000 followers (for context, that's nearly a third of the population).
From an adorable girl dressing up as the Maltese influencer to the obligatory Time To Eat YouTube ad reference, Sarah Zerafa costumes were aplenty this year. I mean, one guy literally put up a "Hungry and fancying take-away?" Facebook post jokingly offering Nadur deliveries on his quad bike.
Elsewhere in Gozo, groups of friends took things up a notch with a whole collection of Maltese celebrities
"Welcome to The Sims 4 Malta Expansion Pack," a post uploaded onto Instagram by Julia Johnson Scott on Sunday read.
What followed was a number of costumes ranging from popular influencer Tamara Webb to our very own comedian-extraordinaire Chucky (or rather, the larger-than-life Tolqueen).
Even Malta's most relatable celebrity-model-DJ Valentina Rossi got her own costume, which included the popular catchphrase "Aw Joyce!". And in classic Rossi fashion, Valentina was quick to give her costumed doppelgänger her seal of approval in the form of a shout-out, saying she wished she got to meet her.
And of course, X Factor's Ray was also there, donning his signature black fedora hat.
Speaking of Ray, one group went as the whole judging panel of X Factor Malta
Was there really any escaping this one?
The international talent show's arrival in Malta was watched by hundreds of thousands of people, beating 20-year-old Xarabank for the number one position of most watched show on TV in national history. But beyond the young stars that were born on the stage, X Factor brought a new set of Maltese celebrities to the mix of veterans: the people judging their every note.
Fresh off a much-debated (and memed) couple of months, young X Factor Malta judge and relative newcomer Alex Alden took to Facebook to commemorate the "super amazingly cool" feeling of seeing people dressing up as her for Carnival... controversial Caesar outfit included. And in case that wasn't enough, Gozo's grotesque carnival even had an entire mini-float dedicated to 'X Factor Nadur', and they of course had their own version of the controversial English-speaking judge.
I wish I could take the credit for predicting this a couple of days ago, but deep down, we all knew this was bound to happen. Being the most talked-about person of the most watched TV show in the country would make you a celebrity in any country. And whether we like it or not, it does here too. And that's the whole point.
"No one cares about Maltese celebrities"... until they put in the effort to dress up like them
We've all heard it before.
You'll hear it time and time again; our island doesn't have celebrities, and no one cares about the personal lives of Maltese people in the limelight. From "Who?!" to "Who cares?", you will hear people speaking for everyone else on a daily basis.
And yet, everyone and their nanna knows who these people are. And every single year, more and more people keep dressing up as these people for Carnival. And as international media continues to cover the lives of some of the world's biggest singers, models and influencers, local media continues to reflect that with our own stars.
No one cares, you say? Well, show me actual proof, then we'll talk.