Farsons drops Brikkuni from festival over frontman’s abrasive Facebook post

Government aide and propagandist Glenn Bedingfield leads charge against Brikkuni frontman Mario Vella, who says PM’s ‘idiot’ put pressure over private entities to drop band

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Matthew Vella
27 June 2016, 3:05pm
Mario Vella: the irreverent singer is a regular antagonist on Facebook but his uncompromising style earns him quite some enemies
Mario Vella: the irreverent singer is a regular antagonist on Facebook but his uncompromising style earns him quite some enemies
Rock band Brikkuni will not be performing at this summer’s Farsons Beer Festival, after the company dropped the popular band over comments posted on Facebook by frontman Mario Vella.

The irreverent singer is a regular antagonist on Facebook who revels in his status to call out bullshit where he sees it. But his uncompromising style earns him quite some enemies: causing offence is not illegal and Vella takes no prisoners.

But since taking the Prime Minister’s wife to task during her charity swim on Saturday, he has fallen foul of Joseph Muscat’s aide Glenn Bedingfield – a prospective election candidate who runs a personal blog targeting Labour critics on the social media.

Vella’s caustic comment, in which he says he “could not give a toss if Michelle Muscat walked the Antarctic in stilettos”, was the least abrasive part of his Facebook post: he expressed the wish that her private parts be struck by jellyfish during her charity swim.

Laugh if you don’t worship sacred cows; but first-lady adulation is serious business for Bedingfield.

In just one day, Glenn Bedingfield – who broadcasts a radio programme that sends up Opposition critics – posted various blogposts taking Vella to task, anyone who chipped in with comments on his post, such as MaltaToday journalist Raphael Vassallo, and even Farsons for having selected the band to play its beer festival.

Today Monday the beer company informed the Brikkuni frontman his band would not play the festival after the Labour Party media one.com.mt enquired with Farsons as to whether they would react to his’s commentary. The company answered that it was disassociating itself from the band. “We took the necessary steps to safeguard our company’s position,” a company spokesperson said.

Vella was even blocked from Facebook, after complaints were filed through the social media platform’s complaints system.

Vella, whose songs take pot-shots at the establishment, was stoic about the whole episode when contacted for comment.

“I have a general antipathy towards the entire political class, be it the party in government or the opposition. I represent myself, and I do no bidding for any institution.

“It is ridiculous that an idiot like Bedingfield gets to manipulate what people say or gets others to target me or put pressure on a private entity to censor me,” Vella said.

“To me Michelle Muscat is a dishonour for feminists – she exploits charity for her own ego instead of talking about the morning-after pill,” Vella said.

The anti-censorship activist Mark Camilleri, who is the National Book Council’s chairman, said Bedingfield’s actions were tantamount to state censorship.

“Vella was explicit and rude, an ignorant boor’s comment. But I was surprised that Farsons dropped Brikuni after Bedingfield’s blogpost,” Camilleri said on Facebook. “Bedingfield must understand that what he writes carries the implicit weight of the State behind him because of his role. Whether you agree with Vella or not, this was state censorship in a complex, yet effective way.”

Independent MP Marlene Farrugia also stuck her neck out for Vella on Facebook, posting a Brikkuni video with the caption 'Je Suis Charlie', a pro-freedom of speech slogan popularised after the 2015 terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

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Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.