Monday, April 18, 2005

Baudrillard and Malta

I’m back home from the vacation in Malta, and I keep thinking about what Jean Baudrillard said about hyper reality and simulation. He claims that the images we see in the media seldom represent reality. They are rather phantom images of a reality that gets lost on the way through the media channels to the consumer. What we see is therefore a hyper reality.

The reason why this comes to mind is that in my quest of useful information about Malta before I left, some websites encouraged me to explore the islands by bicycle:
"Put on walking boots, hire a mountain bike and head out from the village squares on the narrow farmers’ tracks."
"Highlight: hire a bicycle and explore the Maltese Islands."

Since I’m fond of biking, I thought to myself that “yeah, that’s a good idea, I’ll look into that once I get there.”. But once I got there, I realized that it probably isn’t such a good idea. Why? Because the traffic was chaotic! Few pedestrian crossings, very few bicycle roads, narrow roads and loads of cars passing you by in high speeds. Perhaps I’m over sensitive because I’ve been in two traffic accidents but there’s no way I’d get into the Maltese traffic on a bike. Therefore, the image I got of the conditions of the bicyclist on Malta on the tourist sites and what I finally saw when I got there did not match. I saw only one person biking during the whole week and the Maltese themselves seem fond of their cars, as there are more than 200 000 cars on the island, and about 350 000 habitants. But it's great fun to find out that things are completely different than what I thought. It’s healthy and educational.

Despite the trouble of crossing the roads, I really enjoyed Malta. There were lots of things to do for a film buff like me. There’s the Popeye village, built for the shooting of the movie Popeye, and the Mediterranean Film Studios with two large circular water tanks, where movies like The Count of Monte Cristo, Revelation and The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen were shot. It was pretty cool to visit the places you see in the movies. (This is a picture from the movie The Odyssey and this is my picture)

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