The 1970s are nearly half a century away. In that time, loads of things have improved, from basic sanitation to the myriad of consumer electronics available in our everyday lives. If there’s one thing that doesn’t seem to have changed in the last four decades when it comes to Malta, however, it’s the slew of political graffiti ‘guerillas’.
In a nostalgia-inducing four-minute clip uploaded by Facebook group Mill-Arkivji, a very different Malta from 1976 was battling an issue many nowadays are all too familiar with. Sure, the buses were different and the roads way emptier, but election fever still resulted in billboard defacements and general vandalism. In fact, the clip was originally shared by the group back in May 2017, right as election fever was yet again reaching its peak on the islands. “This is not a new phenomenon,” the Facebook description reads, and it couldn’t have been more right.
Multiple scenes of phrases lodged against PN and MLP can be seen dotting the landscape of 1970s Malta, to the point where the police had to intervene.
In the clip, Police Superintendent Paul Grech (who’s looking cool AF, might we add) quotes the Police Commissioner’s newly-released directives in March 1976 on political slogans. Grech explains how groups of police officers were assigned to erase or cover paint slogans from walls around the island.
The clip also features interviews with people on the street, and it does feel like people were a tad more vocal about the whole thing back then.
While one person explained how “this affair is shaming us with foreigners,” another interviewee took it one step further, addressing the tribal mentality which was still very prevalent back then. “It’s not that side or the other, we as Maltese should vote against this dirt that’s happening around the island, the filth and even dishonest words on the floor and on the walls.”
Another thing which will definitely sorely stick out is how common straight-up hate speech can be seen sprawled around the islands.
The N-word is spotted in at least four separate instances, and while someone out there will definitely argue that “it was a different time”, the rampant racism behind the messages is very hard to miss, let alone justify.
Over 40 years later, here’s hoping that 2018 is the year we start making some serious steps towards a mentality shift.