….to hit our funny bone. With apologies to Stephen King, particularly as this post relates to fodder that is far from ominous, I shall begin my first foray into reviewing the return to a comedic series. More specifically, I will, here, be concentrating on a series of YouTube videos that provide a commentary of the social fabric relating to the land I come from and its various aspects. Taking his cue from the popular “S**t Asian/ Italian/ Black/ White (insert ethnicity or nationality) People/ Moms/ Dads Say” videos that had begun to do the rounds on YouTube some eight years ago, creator and director Jon Aedyn King tested the waters of the local scene by circulating videos gently mocking both members of the tal-pepe class (supposed upper middle-class individuals) as well as their nouveau riche counterparts. These clips certainly made waves, prompting a barrage of both positive and negative reactions to the caricatures portrayed. Some commentators instantly felt that the parodies presented an accurate picture of the differing social classes, and expressed their enthusiasm for the comedy, while others took exception to the artificial façade adopted by the so-called high-class characters, mistaking their depiction for genuine portrayal, littering the space under the YouTube uploads with curses and violent sentiments. The videos were even shared across social media networks by a prominent local journalist, who found the short films’ tongue-in-cheek approach to local culture irresistible.
On discovering, via a common friend, that King was planning to revisit the series, I contacted him in order to gain some insight into his vision. First and foremost, I learnt that the previously named “S**t Malta People Say” short films were now going by the name “Hit Malta People”. Cleaner, more contemporary and sans expletives, this sounded like a step in the right direction. The creator also urged me to be present at the filming of the series’s reunion, so to speak, in order to better understand the thrust of the videos. On set, I recognised the female actor who had participated in the original series and then gone on to be the focus of several “Darlene Does…” videos (as in, “Darlene Does Casual Part-Time” or “Darlene Does Valletta”). In the aforementioned videos, the larger-than-life personality feels the need to announce her aesthetic, travel, property or career achievements to the world at large, whether she brazenly touts certain make-up brands or raves about lesser-known travel destinations, simultaneously mangling their pronunciation, coos over the latest real-estate must-haves in the capital city or enthuses over her latest hike up the corporate ladder as the PA to the Big Cheese.
The actor who played the rather memorable Mr. Ropert, with his outlandish one-liners and imitable cadences, also put in an appearance, this time in a different guise. The various characters fed off each other’s energy, conversing on topics as many and varied as the legalisation of cannabis, aphrodisiacs and how to come by them, gripes islanders have regarding the property issue and other subjects that anyone who lives on Malta would be aware of. Spoiler alert: in addition to the above, viewers should also expect some situational comedy, with personality clashes aplenty, incessant codeswitching (subtitles will be provided for those unfamiliar with the lingo) and the pride of one particular exercise freak receiving a mortal wound. If looks could kill…
As the shoot progressed, I was able to see what drives King to make these videos – an incurable irreverence coupled with genuine affection for all things Maltese. If you love the culture, you can laugh both with it and at it, and this is precisely what King’s videos do – if you’ve lived on the island for at least upwards of a couple of years, you will recognise aspects and nuances of the speech and mannerisms – if not in yourself or family members, then in acquaintances, friends and colleagues, not to mention strangers on the street. “The Hit Malta People Say” videos provide an ironic mirror to small-island mentality, the notion of keeping up with the joneses together with delusions of or pretensions to grandeur. The “big fish in a small pond” mindset has never rung so uproariously true.*
*The Hit Malta People Say video is scheduled to be released over the next few weeks, due to the filmmaker’s travelling schedule. Editing is due to begin after the next two weeks.