Just when you thought you’d heard everything, along comes a new story to make your mind boggle, and cause you to re-assess whether it is you who are living in a parallel universe, or the politicians.
Today, Malta Today broke the story that the PN will be calling for contestants who wish to submit ideas of what they would do if they were Prime Minister. The contestants are also being asked to select a team of ministers and MPs to join them. The prize? A day with Prime Minister Gonzi himself to “witness the challenges and opportunities that the role of Prime Minister involves”.
There’s nothing yet about this on the mychoice.pn website, but MT assures us that it’s true and that the launch is happening next Tuesday. You can understand my scepticism – the whole thing sounds too ridiculous and far-fetched too be true. But, as far as I know, no one has denied the MT story so I guess (since I’ve signed up with the website) in the next few days Paul Borg Olivier will be sending me an email telling me all about it, just like he told me earnestly that he needs me on board (aw, shucks) and Austin has asked me to be a volunteer (I’ll get back to you on that one) and Gonzi has asked me to promote the website on Facebook (I was feeling generous that day, so sure, what the heck).
This whole ‘Be a Prime Minister for a day’ gimmick sounds like a reality show if you ask me, and if I didn’t know any better I would say that the brains who conjured it up come from the world of TV production. So don’t be surprised if the lucky contestant who wins the competition ends up being filmed with his mock cabinet of Ministers round a huge boardroom table as they discuss Malta’s future in all seriousness. And, if I were a gambling sort of gal, I would lay down a bet that some kind of TV show will eventually show us the lucky contestant trailing around a pleased as punch PM who will show him or her just how hard he works. We will all be suitably impressed (miskin! jahasra!), cue round of applause, cut to commercials.
On paper, those who are dreaming up these outlandish ideas to make Gonzi look good are probably thinking that it will work something along the lines of The Apprentice, which see reasonably intelligent people taking part. That reality show has aspiring entrepreneurs submitting their ideas for a viable business idea to millionaire businessman Donald Trump who decries with great realish who will make it and will be fired. They could have called the show The Gonzi Apprentice.
In real terms, however, I’m afraid this idea will probably end up being more like Jersey Shore, with flashy, loud people who will do anything to be in the limelight, have a dogmatic opinion about everything, and are convinced that they know more than they actually do. For let’s face it, even if this doesn’t end up being a “programme” shown during prime time – it will definitely be hyped up in all the media. And in this day and age, in the media, it’s crassness and volume which garner attention – polite and civilised just don’t cut it any more. Of course, someone suitable and presentable can always be groomed and coached for the role of the winning contestant, but maybe that’s just my imagination working overtime.
So, ladies and gents, our political landscape has come down to this. The future of the country is being reduced to gimmicks, game shows, and prizes to be won. Everything is slick and corporate and programmed with machine-like precision. Pity the same professionalism is not applied to the actual infrastructure and management of the country.
The Prime Minister is being packaged and re-branded, ‘sold’ to us in the same way that a corporation changes its corporate colours and logos and launches itself once again on the market in a fancy marketing campaign. The minds ticking away behind this PR exercise have cottoned on to the fact that voters feel a sense of disenchantment with Lawrence Gonzi, so now it’s all hands on deck to make him more approachable and human.
“Let’s show them how hard it is to be PM, let’s give them a taste of the many difficult decisions he has to face during the normal course of a working day, and let’s make it into a competition, people love competitions! And prizes! Yes, this is brilliant! Pure genius! Douze points.”
Well, not that brilliant or even original, in fact. The game already exists as you can see for yourself http://www.positech.co.uk/democracy2/.
As I said earlier, I’m still not sure if this is really happening or if it’s someone’s idea of joke. But if it is true, the most surreal part of this competition is that a group of journalists will be choosing the winner. Really now? And how is this going to work exactly? How are journalists going to be lured into ‘judging’ something which is clearly a propaganda ploy to boost up a PM who is flagging in the polls? Unless of course, the journalists all come from Media link.
We’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, I’m just wondering what they’re going to do if they don’t get enough people remotely interested in taking part in this competition. After all, if the prize is a day with the PM, and no one really wants the prize (what? No weekend break?) there’s going to be a lot of explaining to do.