14 Links Definitely Not Intended as Free Promotion for Another Country
October 15, 2017 12:04 AM   Subscribe

Erin Chack (senior editor at Buzzfeed) tells how "I Accidentally Became Famous In Another Country" in a video summarized as "One BuzzFeed article leads to a country-wide campaign involving newspapers, fundraising, and the highest level of government."

To further the argument that Malta is underrated, the article could have mentioned amazing megalithic structures (more details) and other sights shown in videos from the tourism authority, or random items of interest like ties to Phoenicia, The Great Siege of Malta as described in a book by one of MeFi's Own, connections to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the subtitled short film and the book prize sponsored by the National Book Council, or landmarks in Game of Thrones you can visit today (unfortunately not including the one pictured at Buzzfeed).
posted by Wobbuffet (21 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
That is so cute
posted by growabrain at 12:17 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


Other interesting facts about Malta: Maltese is the only Semitic language indigenous to Europe, and at one point Malta officially did not exist - at least, as far as the Turkish navy was concerned.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:12 AM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


Incidentally, I just read sample chapters from Erin Chack's YA memoir This Is Really Happening and from BWA's The Great Siege of Malta, and they both seem pretty great.
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:52 AM on October 15, 2017


The Religion, a novel written by one of fave writers is set during the Great Siege... always keep meaning to visit when I have the time/cash.

A friend of mine is def planning to retire there / escape from post-Brexit hellscape uk

Also the whole country was awarded a medal
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:31 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


That certainly is a stupidly cute alley.
posted by drlith at 2:43 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


dear pals went there in late August this year on a scouting expedition with an eye to retiring there - he's a well-respected recording engineer and producer with a fair number of European clients. My impression is that they were put off by the heat.
posted by mwhybark at 3:20 AM on October 15, 2017


I went in the off season, in December, when the weather was pleasant, and was struck at what an odd place it was - no sign of any locals between the ages of 18-35, an abundance of bars selling booze at rock-bottom prices, with the real attractions often neglected or hidden (the incredible underground temple was stuck down an unremarkable suburban alleyway, the National Museum was dusty and shambolic, a tiny and curiosity-filled museum near St Agatha's chapel was purest Neil Gaiman). Worth the trip to see the two Caravaggios alone, both of which stand out surrounded by the kitschy Catholic crap the Cathedral is stuffed to the gills with.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 4:06 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am in Malta now. I’ve been living here since Aug 1 and it’s my 3rd time here, but my longest stay so far. It’s such a remarkable place.

Valletta is awe-inspiring in the way that going into Notre Dame is. It never fails to take my breath away walking down the streets. I truly feel I’m in a magical place every time I go there.

You can see the sea from almost anywhere. I have no trouble finding cafes with sea views that are inexpensive.

The heat can be kind of bad over the summer but unlike a lot of places in Europe, there is AC nearly everywhere so you can get some respite.

I got to the Azure Window last year, before it collapsed. I went out on a small motor boat with an old man who gave rides out into the sea at the arch. I got a lovely picture from the boat of it.

I have never encountered such a friendly charming place.

Even the guys that have cat called me have done so in ridiculous ways. “Eh, beautiful lady, you move like music!” shouted from a car is much better than the standard US fare of “Hey, where’s your man?”. No one has followed me down a street or stood too close or said anything awful. I understand from my female Maltese coworkers the men can be quite chauvinistic, but definitely not in the unsafe ways that I’ve experienced in the US. I’ll take mansplaining and a bit of a condescension over cornering me any day.

Also, the food is unbelievably good. And coffee! Such good coffee everywhere.

This place is a paradise. I should stop telling everyone how great it is or you’ll come here and my rent will go up ;)

(Bad parts are the relentless traffic - the pollution and wacky public transport are constant issues for locals. The streets are too narrow to make wider. It’s very walkable tho. And the buses, while unreliable are quite frequent. And air conditioned. I’ll be interested to see what happens with the massive issue over too many autos. It’s quite unsustainable as it is. )
posted by sio42 at 5:02 AM on October 15, 2017 [28 favorites]


Also, yes, everywhere does look exactly those pictures. Memail and i’ll link you to my instagram. My view is across the bay from Valletta and i see that view in the article every single day.
posted by sio42 at 5:04 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


That's a great story.
posted by octothorpe at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


The demonstration of stereotypical American ignorance present in the video is pretty infuriating and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

She hasn't gone to Malta. She doesn't actually know anything of real import or significant detail about Malta. She looked at pictures online and decided it, "Looked like an Iphone background." That's a horribly insulting, reductive thing to say about any place. And what qualifies you, from that experience, to promote a small country?
posted by constantinescharity at 10:45 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


If you watch the video, she did actually go to Malta. And she acknowledges that the original Buzzfeed article was just a quick drive-by post without much insight but that's 90% of Buzzfeed and it's what they pay her to do.
posted by octothorpe at 10:51 AM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]


And what qualifies you, from that experience, to promote a small country

I think that's the joke. At this point, particularly in view of her book, she qualifies as a humorous memoirist, a role where being disarmingly and entertainingly honest about your limitations, fallibility, and absurd things you've done is sort of the goal. She's explaining that her role as a listicle/clickbait writer can be pretty absurd (I think her listicle acknowledges it implicitly too: "it's imperative that you click this post," etc.). I wonder if it's reasonable to view both roles the way we look at comedy writers: some perform memorable longer-form jokes that draw on personal experience, some are on teams that have to produce jokes regularly.
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:10 AM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


All small, poor countries should have such terrible problems as having journalists in rich countries saying nice things about them that might lead to more prosperity for them.
posted by Bee'sWing at 11:26 AM on October 15, 2017 [6 favorites]


She hasn't gone to Malta. She doesn't actually know anything of real import or significant detail about Malta. She looked at pictures online and decided it, "Looked like an Iphone background." That's a horribly insulting, reductive thing to say about any place. And what qualifies you, from that experience, to promote a small country?

She called most of Europe "dreary and grey" and you're upset she said Malta is photogenic?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:00 PM on October 15, 2017 [4 favorites]


She does acknowledge that the situation is absurd, sure. Pokes some fun at her job with the talk of 21 somethings about oatmeal and so on. She also cranks out a stream of ignorant ideas and thoughts while she described the situation.

It was off-putting, in a "ah, you mix the stereotypes of airhead millennials and the ugly american tourist" kind of way. She might be self-aware about the silliness of buzzfeed listicles but has a buzzfeed listicle view of the world, which is sad to see in someone who seems like a nice person.
posted by Infracanophile at 3:34 PM on October 15, 2017


All small, poor countries should have such terrible problems as having journalists in rich countries saying nice things about them that might lead to more prosperity for them.
Malta is certainly small but it's not especially poor (though there seems to be a pretty huge discrepancy between the sources I consulted as to exactly what its GDP/capita is..)
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:38 PM on October 15, 2017


Malta is in the neighborhood of Poland and Qatar, so you are right, not especially poor. But hoteliers and restaurateurs probably appreciated the good press. I wonder how things will go for Malta in the long run, with climate change and its role as a destination for migrants from the south. It's not as close to Africa as Lampedusa but it has to be a destination for desperate people in boats.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:28 PM on October 15, 2017


Today's report gives quite a different impression of Malta's government : Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist

.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:28 PM on October 16, 2017 [6 favorites]


Malta is hell for birds.. Also an elderly relative of mine retired to Malta and my other family members and I visited her on many occasions. As she got older she got herself into an absolutely terrible situation where she was being badly abused by her next door neighbour to the point where she was kept drugged/sedated. That neighbour also had someone living with him who I strongly believe could best be described as a slave. We reported all this to the Maltese police many times who did nothing.. Granted all this happened almost 20 years ago and perhaps things have changed....but suffice to say I am not a big fan of Malta.
posted by hazyjane at 4:42 PM on October 16, 2017 [2 favorites]




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