The onslaught of memes was to be expected, of course. After all, it's not everyday that we get to see honest-to-goodness fisticuffs that seem to come straight out of some redneck movie. I'm talking about the Marsaxlokk fight, the video of which dominated all media yesterday.
As fights go, it came with trimmings that were a godsend to the usual (satirical) suspects like Bis-Serjeta. There's the one where the skinny guy doing a very good impression of Rambo on the rampage gets decked out in a Darth Vader mask.
The other one with footballer Mario Balotelli (famous for that sculpted chest) phot-shopped in, sporting the legend "only I can do the shirtless thing". Good stuff and I laughed hysterically along with the rest of social media users.
Only, if you stop to think about it, it wasn't really that funny was it? Firstly, for the obvious reasons: if the fight had been allowed to go on for five more minutes, someone would have gotten badly hurt. But it didn't, so let's set that aside for now. The real reason it's not funny is that it is so darned embarrassing. We had the swearing, we had the screaming, we had the bare chests (we do so love the spot of machismo, don't we?) and we even had the obligatory gold chains that would probably cause your eyesight as much damage as a punch if they catch the sun just right.
In this case, we are nothing more than the sum of our parts. And that sum spells "Neanderthals". Sure, fights happen. They are part of our Latin temperament and all that. But lately, they seem to be happening a tad too often. Only last week, we had the cat fight in Birzebbugia where two women did untold damage to their reputation and to an unfortunate Lidl basket. And now, this. What both fights have in common is that they show to (dis)advantage the crass mentality that many of us still suffer from. The rednecks of Malta.
Why am I making such a big deal out of ths redneck thing? After all, if they flourish in the States, why not in Malta? The reason is simple. The US is big enough that pockets where modern civilization is rather lacking are to be expected. Not everyone is exposed to the same lifestyle, the same opportunities, the same education... You would hardly expect someone who was raised in the beck of beyond to share the same sophistication as a New Yorker.
In Malta, there is no beck of beyond. We are all exposed to the same opportunities. We all enjoy decent, free schooling. It takes an hour to cross the island - and only because traffic management is bad. There should be no difference between growing up in Valletta, Sliema, Birzebbugia or Marsaxlokk.
And mostly, there isn't. Except for the few who actually want to maintain this illusion of difference, that is. The few who should really know better but who seem to revel in crass displays of uncivilized behavior. You know, like parading about shirtless, sporting a tonne of gold and for all the world acting like the past 2000 years of progress didn't happen.
These are the ones giving us all a bad name. And really, they have no excuse.
P.S. A €60 fine? Seriously? A hefty dose of community work would have been a lot more useful.