The Sun Always Shines On TV
My visits to Malta are almost always flavoured with a main theme, which dominates most of my activities in the days I spend visiting my country of birth. Often it's music. Sometimes it's family. This time it's TV. To be quite honest it feels a little odd, particularly because I thought I had shaken off the ghost of TV before the end of the 20th century.
This round of TV-dominated activities started with performing my civic duty as a member of the expert jury panel at the 2010 Malta EuroSong, selecting Malta's 2010 Eurovision Song Contest entry. This exercise took up almost an entire weekend of my life, but I don't regret a second, even though enduring subpar songs and singers overshadowing some excellent singers and a couple of decent songs is not an easy job. Fortunately, reason prevailed at this year's local selection for Eurovision and the act with the best chance of not doing too badly at the contest in May was selected with a clear vote by both the judging panel and the televiewers. In spite of this, my ideas about what Malta really needs to do vis a vis its annual Eurovision efforts remain unchanged.
It was delightful to get away from it all with Charles Xuereb (one of my former broadcasting career mentors) on Wednesday at Malta's National Museum of Fine Art. Our evening in the Art & Wine @ South Street series seemed to generate quite a bit of debate around the theme of contemporary art. The museum staff's vision for the future of art in Malta is simply fantastic. They're already doing miricles with the resources at hand and I wholeheartedly believe that great new things may come to pass at Malta's foremost art musuem in the coming years.
I'm always amused by the different audiences and broad-ranging cultural dynamics in Malta whenever I visit. Back to TV on Friday, I spent the better part of the evening in the green room for Malta's most popular chat show: Xarabank. On one level it's a showcase for populist Maltese ideas to florish, on another it's a contemporary cultural anthropologist's playing field. I enjoyed it all, even though I only got to speak for no more than a couple of minutes on the show.
To bring it all to a close, earlier this evening I attended the 2010 Malta Television Awards at the same Ta' Qali venue where I spent most of last weekend. I was one of the judges for the Best Documentary category. It was a fabulous networking occassion as a huge number of the multiude of people who work in Malta's television industry where all gathered under one roof. As award shows go, this is one that's still in its infancy in terms of impact and format. Considering how television has developed in Malta over the past 20 years, I am quite keen to see what shape things will take on 20 years from now; especially as TV faces an ever growing challenge from the Internet.
Although I was mostly in Malta to give lectures on contemporary performance at the University of Malta through the Erasmus programme, overall I come away from this TV-themed week with a clear sense that the quantity and quality of television shows in this country has advanced greatly since I officially abandoned my career as a professional broadcast in the 1990s. However, I'm saddened by the fact that there's no more creativity now than was evident in the time when resources were restricted and limited in every way, shape and form.
Incidentally, if you've come to the blog looking for this week's Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast I urge you to listen to one of the 200 episodes I've produced since 2005, while I prepare for the 202nd edition.