Fresher’s was always a commercial hell-hole. Fair play for making students look like shallow, hungry lemmings

The Skinny | No 160 - Cash Bubble Campus Bonanza

Oh so Squid Games... take by satirical page Bis-Serjetà on the €1,500 cash drop at Campus Hub, Vassallo Builders owned mall at the University of Malta extension
Oh so Squid Games... take by satirical page Bis-Serjetà on the €1,500 cash drop at Campus Hub, Vassallo Builders owned mall at the University of Malta extension

What are we skinning? The spectacle of university students hoping to catch a fiver (or several) out of a floating balloon during Fresher’s Week.

Why are we skinning it? Because both the event itself and the outrage that ensued proved themselves to be indicative of the sorry state of the supposedly highest educational institution finds itself in, time and time again.

Oh, so you wouldn’t grab cash if it fell out of the sky? Well, first I’d check if it wasn’t Jack Nicholson’s Joker who was orchestrating the entire thing.

What? Something akin to what was organised by Free Hour at Campus Hub – where the event took place earlier this week – featured as the climatic set-piece in that seminal piece of superhero media: Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), where the iconic smiley-villain also preys on the essential avariciousness of the Gotham City populace to propagate his nefarious ends.

That film is ANCIENT though. Would the kids know about it? They should. Would certainly help them dodge similar dangers, since apparently floating balloon lures are something we have to worry about at Uni.

I’m shocked that with all the superhero films that have come – and which continue to come at us – since then, not one of them contained such a useful nugget of practical advice. Which only highlights the importance of a holistic educational system that encourages our students to look beyond their noses and dig into the many lessons proffered to us by past masters.

Nobody got hurt though, right? Thank the gods for that, for sure. But the whole thing still leaves something of a bitter aftertaste.

But Fresher’s Week was always something of a commercial hell-hole. Do you really think so?

I mean, it’s only gotten worse recently, what with more and more companies giving away freebies at an alarming rate. Perhaps this one hits harder because of its visual impact.

Yeah it reminded you of The Joker... The Squid/Hunger Game/s comparisons have been drawn as well.

You’d think that an online media-savvy company like Free Hour would have a more strategic angle on how they plan and disseminate acts of visual spectacle. Again, a holistic educational system -- not a reactive one that relies primarily on specialised, rote learning for the sake of exams -- would probably have led them to draw more productive parallels and conclusions on that front.

Do say: “While it’s true that Fresher’s Week has become a depressing churn of corporate expansionism and freebies – exacerbated by the legacy of Muscatonomics, no doubt – the ‘cash bubble’ is such an archetypal representation of that mode that it’s no surprise it attracted so much attention.”

Don’t say: “No publicity is bad publicity. If Free Hour wanted to make the student population look like shallow, hungry lemmings, then they’ve succeeded in their goal so fair play to them!”