Shirt is off, heat is on
It seems that the Maltese media are having a collective fit of the vapours because rapper Snoop Dogg strolled through Malta International Airport without a shirt and wearing a beanie.
At least two newspapers saw fit to splash pictures of the bare-chested star on the front and back pages and to point out the obvious – that he wasn’t wearing a top.
That was followed by a piece about Snoop’s no-show at a photo and press call during which he would pose for photos and answer a couple of questions – though not personal ones.
Naturally this provoked the ire of the moral majority online who raged against the way that a foreigner had been allowed to display his nipples while the local menfolk were legally obliged to cover up.
Then there was the tut-tutting about his horrendous bad manners in planking in his hotel room and not gracing the assembled press with his presence.
I don’t know about you, but what on earth were the media expecting? Snoop Dogg in a suit and tie, sitting down politely, sipping tea and nibbling at cucumber sandwiches while answering questions about his inner spirituality?
Were they thinking that Snoop would come up with some deep philosophical treatise? Or were they awaiting the views on gender equality from a man who peppers his songs with references to “bitches” and “hoes”?
What kind of social niceties were they expecting from someone who wrecked a duty free shop at Heathrow Airport? I’m a bit nonplussed about the necessity for an interview with Snoop Dogg. If he wasn’t prepared to answer personal questions, then what startling innovative insight could he have rewarded his followers with?
Goodness knows his life has been publicised enough. From his frequent bust-ups with the law for drug and weapon possession, to his proud declaration about being a professional pimp ( “That... was my natural calling and once I got involved with it, it became fun. It was like shootin’ layups for me. I was makin’ ‘em every time”) to his yawn-inducing reality show, it’s been out there for public consumption.
The truth of the matter is that gangsta rappers like Snoop Dogg deliberately court publicity. The violence, the profanities, the vulgarity, the no-shows – they all contribute to the cultivated aura of toughness and power.
Even misbehaviour and negative publicity help in the creation of this myth of the rapper as the ultimate mean machine. Every conviction, every headline, every shocked comment, it’s all grist to the rapper’s mill.
The media, disingenuously or otherwise, falls for this every time. First there’s the outraged reporting (Would ‘Man forgets to wear vest’ make it to the front page of the newspapers, if the man in question wasn’t a notorious rapper?).
Then there’s the star-struck stage where the media bow their head in admiration to the idol they have created. Finally there’s the point when the media-created monster turns on the media, which is when the hand-wringing starts and we get a lot of articles lamenting the fact that violent former pimps are leading our youths astray and what terrible role models they make.
It’s all so wearingly predictable. Having literally rolled out the red carpet for a man who’s turned misogyny and the objectification of women into an art form, journalists are miffed because he’s equally contemptuous of them. I can’t imagine why.
A news item which surprisingly didn’t make many ripples, was that about the Nationalist Party’s unpaid electricity and water bills. These bills run into thousands of euros, and although they have been left unpaid no corresponding action has been taken by service provider Enemalta.
That’s not the way that Enemalta works when users default on their utilities payments. As confirmed by Finance Minister Tonio Fenech recently in Parliament, during the first five months of 2011 alone, 167 businesses and 251 households had their electricity cut off after failing to pay their bills.
Strangely enough, the Nationalist Party did not suffer the same fate. Or rather, it’s not strange at all, because this is a country where political parties seem to have privileged status.
While the man in the street and local businesses struggle to pay bills which Eurostat claims have seen the highest increase among the 27 member states, some organisations seem to be exempted from making the same payments.
Besides the clearly discriminatory nature of Enemalta’s inaction, how can it justify not collecting its dues?
Or is it postponing any debt-collection indefinitely, until the corporation is further in the red and going down the same route that Air Malta did?