Valletta hit the sweet spot with last year’s Christmas lights gazebo, but we just couldn’t stop there. It needed to be bigger. It needed to be better. Well, at least that was the plan anyway…
If less is more, then more is even more ‘more’, no? You may not subscribe to this way of thinking, but you’re only fooling yourself if you believe our island doesn’t. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder that’s the size of 2,000-years-of-colonization, and we’re not afraid to cover it in rhinestones and sequins.
Since we can have the biggest and the brightest, why shouldn’t we? Well, in Valletta’s case, the electricity bill alone should be quite a discouraging factor. For those who haven’t yet seen the display that sparked so much controversy, our capital city has decided to put Whoville to shame with a flashing Christmas display that is making drive-by UFO’s flash their brights to ask us to lower ours.
The debate about ‘intellectual art’ vs ‘art for the masses’ has been raging on forever, and it is an important one to keep having. But no matter where you stand on the issue, it’s not pretentious to hope that the European Capital of Culture won’t look like the stage for Liberace’s big return from the other side.
It’s also not a politically-charged attack against the government for us to believe that the simpler Christmas decor from last year was perfectly fine as is, and it didn’t need to Double-Warp-Digivolve to be “better than before”.
But the trend to nose-dive into OTT territory isn’t reserved for non-Christmassy Christmas lights (come on, they’re just an endless stack of off-white LEDs), it’s felt in almost everything we do.
Gay rights? We have the most, OK?! Who cares if society hasn’t caught up with the legislation and still throws around pejoratives like it’s nobody’s business, we’re the first.
And if people struggled to understand the very basic concept that love is love, can you imagine how well we’re going to deal with this new wave of Blockchain legislation?
The people elected to represent us barely know a thing about cryptography, let alone the average person on the street. But we’re first. Our economy may be booming, but we’re hearing stories of homeless people for the first time in our country’s recent history. Things just aren’t adding up.
Does no one remember Jurrasic Park? That movie isn’t a business plan for Malta’s next big foray into the world of paleonto-tourism; there’s actually a lesson hidden between all the GIF-able scenes. Just because you can do the most, doesn’t mean you should – even if the people are cheering and you’re convinced you’ll be the Chris Pratt of the story.
“We need decision makers who won’t colour in a Banksy just to say: Look, I improved it!”
We feel the effects of this mentality the most when it comes to our aesthetics and legal policy, but if you look into every other aspect of life in Malta, you’ll find it there too.
Three years ago Black Friday was an all-but-unknown concept to everyone, bar a handful of large department stores offering 5% off last year’s stock. Fast forward to today and even the local grocer had a Black Friday offer on carrots and potatoes (a real thing that happened in San Gwann).
Give it five years and Malta’s Black Friday will go from polite queues around SCAN to all-out fist fights in LIDL. Is this the “bigger and better” we want?
The issue here isn’t the drive to be lauded for being the best at something – we all respect that and it’s why we’re glued to our TVs when the World Cup rolls around. However, our outlook on how to get the results we want is what needs a readjustment on a national level.
You don’t have to do more to be the best, you just have to do the ‘less’ better. And that starts by having decision makers who won’t colour in a Banksy just to say: “Look, I improved it”.
In an ironic twist, the global first we have the greatest head-start on is for the most ‘uwijja-that’s-good-enough’s on things that were most certainly not good enough. It might have worked for Chicago’s Roxie Hart, but upping the razzle dazzle isn’t a substitute for the quality achieved by not cutting corners.
In Malta, Gandalf would have been called a pitma for insisting the ring had to be taken all the way to Mordor to be destroyed properly. Instead, Malta’s hobbits would have written him off as being pretentious, thrown it in the first fireplace they found outside Bilbo’s home and sent out a press release to let everyone know we were the first to destroy a ring of power.
So if we really want to be on top, we need to understand ‘the best’ is not synonymous with ‘the most’. That said, Coco Chanel’s famous warning to take one thing off before you leave the house only works if the dress you’re wearing underneath is worth showing off in the first place.
“In Malta, Gandalf would have been called a pitma for insisting the ring had to be taken all the way to Mordor to be destroyed properly.”