« A steamy television period drama about a 16th century sultan has angered conservative Muslims in Turkey and sparked a debate over the portrayal of the past in a country rediscovering its Ottoman heritage.
“The Magnificent Century” chronicles the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled the Ottoman Empire in its golden age. Scenes which have particularly offended show a young and lusty sultan cavorting in the harem and drinking goblets of wine, pursuits frowned upon by the Muslim faithful for whom the sultan had religious as well as temporal authority.
Producers of the series, which has drawn huge audiences and boosted sales of history books on the period, said they wove in imagined elements to the love story between Suleiman and his favorite slave concubine, and later wife, Hurrem, with the aim of presenting the characters as more human. But for many pious Turks, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who leads a government with its roots in political Islam, the series is an insult to the nation’s forebears. » […]
« Başta Zaman gazetesi olmak üzere gerici basın « Behzat Ç. »nin içkisine takmış durumda. Dizinin senaristi ve başrol oyuncusu ise eleştirenlerin tek dertlerinin bu olmadığını savunuyor.
Gerici basının televizyon dizilerine yakın markajı sürüyor. Senaryosunu beğenmedikleri diziler için karşı kampanya başlatmaktan çekinmeyen gerici basın, RTÜK’ü de harekete geçirmek için elinden geleni yapıyor. « Polisleri kötü gösteriyor » eleştirisinin ardından şimdi de dizide karakterlerin rakı içmesine takılmış durumda.
Kanal D’de yayınlanan Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki isimli dizi hakkında « Nedir bu ülkücülerin dizilerden çektikleri » başlıklı haber yaparak, söz konusu dizide sağcı-ülkücü gençlerin karalandığını iddia eden Zaman gazetesi şimdi de Behzat Ç. isimli diziyi yakın takibe aldı. Son günlerde dizi hakkında Yeşilay yöneticilerinin yaptığı « içkiyi özendiriyor » açıklamalarına da gazetede sık sık yer veriliyor. » […]
« As discussions concerning the length of single episodes of television series continue in Turkey, research by the country’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has revealed that shows in Turkey are twice as long as their counterparts in Europe.
RTÜK President Davut Dursun told the Anatolia news agency they launched the research upon complaints of excessive episode length filed by viewers and tasked staff with investigating the length of series episodes. Responding to criticism targeting RTÜK, since it determines the maximum length of TV episodes, Dursun said they had looked into episode length and who determines it in Europe. (…) »
« Je proteste contre les scènes gratuites et non conformes à la réalité que comporte la série Muhtesem Yüzyil. Ce programme trahit notre histoire, insulte à la fois nos ancêtres et l’Etat ottoman, et désinforme le public. S’il vous plaît, bannissez-le des ondes avant qu’il n’ait rempli son objectif. » Des messages de ce genre, le RTÜK, l’équivalent turc du CSA français, en a reçu une avalanche en l’espace de quatre semaines, rapporte le quotidien stambouliote Today’s Zaman.
Du jamais vu dans l’histoire de l’institution, habituée à traiter 10 000 plaintes par mois en moyenne. Soixante-quinze mille téléspectateurs l’ont saisie en décembre pour dénoncer la diffusion, sur la chaîne privée Show TV, de Muhtesem Yüzyil – littéralement, « le siècle magnifique » – une série consacrée à la vie de Soliman le Magnifique, ce sultan législateur (1494-1566) qui fit de l’Empire ottoman une puissance mondiale.(…) »
« Turkey’s parliament approved late on Tuesday a law doubling to 50 percent the amount of broadcasters that foreigners can own, opening the way for more acquisitions from abroad.
Foreign investor interest in the country’s fast-growing media sector is expected to increase as a result of the legislation.
The foreign ownership article was approved individually on Jan 6 and the whole package of legislation was voted through on Tuesday evening.
Under the law, foreigners will be able to become partners in a maximum of two media institutions.
It also opens the way for broadcasting in foreign languages and dialects. The state broadcaster already has a Kurdish language channel.
Turkish media group Dogan Yayin, which owns major television stations as well as mass circulation newspapers such as Hurriyet and Milliyet, is in the process of selling assets.
U.S. private equity fund KKR, Time Warner and private equity fund Texas Pacific Group are among shortlisted bidders for assets in Dogan Yayin, which is embroiled in a legal battle over massive tax fines.
The ruling AK Party tried to reform foreign ownership rules in 2005 but the bill was vetoed by the former president.
The current president Abdullah Gul is a former AK Party member, and has a track record of approving legislation passed by the AKP-dominated parliament. »
« Dans les pays occidentaux, on peste contre des produits bas de gamme qu’il faut remplacer sans arrêt. Tandis qu’au Ghana, on s’exaspère de ces déchets informatiques qui arrivent par conteneurs. Ce modèle de croissance aberrant qui pousse à produire et à jeter toujours plus ne date pas d’hier.
Dès les années 1920, un concept redoutable a été mis au point : l’obsolescence programmée. « Un produit qui ne s’use pas est une tragédie pour les affaires », lisait-on en 1928 dans une revue spécialisée. Peu à peu, on contraint les ingénieurs à créer des produits qui s’usent plus vite pour accroître la demande des consommateurs. »
» Over the past few years, Turkish television series have seen a rapid rise in popularity, partially due to the techniques used in filming them as well as their strong acting ensembles.
Outside of Turkey, the popularity of these series is breaking viewing records in regions from the Middle East to the Balkans. So far, a total of 65 Turkish series, including popular favorites such as “Acı Hayat,” “Asmalı Konak,” “Aşk-ı Memnu,” “Kurtlar Vadisi,” “Yabancı Damat,” “Yaprak Dökümü,” “Çocuklar Duymasın” and “Ihlamurlar Altında” have been broadcast to audiences in 39 countries, such as Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Bulgaria and Greece. The country with the greatest demand for more Turkish television series is Kazakhstan, followed by Bulgaria and then Azerbaijan. (…) »
By Justin Vela for Southeast European Times in Istanbul — 11/02/11
In the wake of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation and the continuing protests against ruling regimes throughout the Middle East, a debate is under way about whether Turkey’s path should stand as an example for Muslim governments.
While some secular Turks regard the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as populist and Islamist, Western observers in Turkey view the country’s model as desirable, now that Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah announced they back Egypt’s protesters.
Today’s Zaman pundit Mumtaz’Er Turkone argues that the ordinary people gathered at Tahrir Square in Cairo are the people in power in Turkey. « Egypt is traveling towards the position Turkey has attained after a long and adventurous quest for democracy. »
« On the one hand, Ankara and Prime Minister Erdogan have increasingly spoken of Turkey’s desire to see democracy flourish and justice prevail in the Middle East, » writes Yigal Schleifer.
But Erdogan’s call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to « satisfy the people’s desire for change », he argues, was at odds with Turkey’s close support for the autocratic regimes in Syria and Iran. The embattled Mubarak finally heeded that call and stepped down on Friday (February 11th).
Schleifer concludes that the turmoil could give Ankara another chance to put forward « the ‘new Turkish model’ — democratic, Islamic, economically vibrant and rapidly shedding the influence of the military — as one for other countries to emulate ».
But Turkey must first overcome the critic’s argument it is not an Arab country. « The best (and perhaps only) way to do this is to emphasise its Islamic identity, which may explain why in his parliament speech, Erdogan used a distinctly religious tone in his appeal for Mubarak to step down. »
Author and blogger Jenny White discusses a new Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) survey showing trends that may help explain Turkey public’s opinion on the debate.
More than 65% of respondents said they « felt Turkey could be a ‘model for the region' ». Asked why, 15% listed Turkey’s Islamic background, 12% Turkey’s strong economy and 11% its democratic government.
Another 10% listed Turkey’s stance in support of Palestinians and Muslims.
Of the ones who rejected the idea, 12% listed Turkey’s secular political system as the reason, while additional 10% the country’s ties with Western nations.
Journalist Frederike Geerdink argued that events in Egypt could actually strengthen Turkish democracy.
« As I write this, news is coming in that Egyptian state TV is claiming that countries which once occupied Egypt are now plotting against it. Besides the USA, Britain and Israel, of course Turkey was named — well, the Ottoman Empire is long gone, but we see the point. Erdogan has spoken out against Mubarak, basically saying that he should listen to the voice of the people and step down immediately. «
Geerdink argues the so-called « Ergodan effect » may have even contributed to the uprising in Egypt.
« A democracy with a majority Muslim population daring to speak out against the USA and against Israel, that is rather remarkable. Besides that, Turkey has a rapidly growing economy, and is pushing through democratic reforms while under a so-called mildly Islamic government. »
Should the Middle Eastern countries remodel after Turkey, they will « make Turkey’s democratisation process stronger », she concludes, proving that a majority Muslim population and democracy really can go together.
« A steamy television period drama about a 16th century sultan has angered conservative Muslims in Turkey and sparked a debate over the portrayal of the past in a country rediscovering its Ottoman heritage.
« The Magnificent Century » chronicles the life of Suleiman the Magnificent, who ruled the Ottoman Empire in its golden age.
Scenes which have particularly offended show a young and lusty sultan cavorting in the harem and drinking goblets of wine, pursuits frowned upon by the Muslim faithful for whom the sultan had religious as well as temporal authority.
Producers of the series, which has drawn huge audiences and boosted sales of history books on the period, said they wove in imagined elements to the love story between Suleiman and his favorite slave concubine, and later wife, Hurrem, with the aim of presenting the characters as more human.
But for many pious Turks, including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who leads a government with its roots in political Islam, the series is an insult to the nation’s forebears.
That is not something he welcomes at a time when he is trying to revive Turkish influence in the old Ottoman domains across the Middle East. Tens of thousands of complaints have been filed with the national TV watchdog.
Known as the « Lawgiver » among Turks, Suleiman is regarded as a sacred character, whose rule from 1520 to 1566 marked the height of the Ottoman military, political and economic power, when it stretched from Budapest to Mecca, Algiers to Baghdad.
« OVER-IDEALISATION »
Last month, demonstrators chanting « Allahu Akbar » (God is Greatest) staged a protest outside the offices of the TV channel broadcasting the series, and the state broadcasting watchdog, the Radio and Television Supreme Council, told producers the show was « contrary to the values of the national and moral values of the society. »
Descendants of the Ottoman dynasty have also criticized it, and a leading scholar said it contained historical inaccuracies.
The critics, though, are distorting history themselves, argues Mustafa Akyol, a columnist who frequently writes on religion and politics for Turkish newspapers.
« The first problem is the over-idealization of the Ottoman Empire, » he said.
He said the Ottomans might have been good « servants of Islam’, but they were also humans with sins and temptations.
« Quite a few Ottoman sultans, for example, were indeed wine drinkers and while their harem was not the orgy ground that filled the fantasies of some early (Western) Orientalists, it was not a sexless monastery either.
The dispute has deep resonances in Turkey. It echoes divisions in a country that straddles Europe and Asia.
Erdogan’s AK Party is trying to forge a more open Islamic identity in a nation, nearly 90 years after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded a determinedly secular and Western-looking Turkish state in the postwar ruins of the Ottoman empire.
The arguments between the religious- and secular-minded over the TV show has also coincided with new restrictions on alcohol sales that have prompted accusations that the AK Party is interfering in people’s lifestyles and imposing Islamic values.
Erdogan called The Magnificent Century « an attempt to insult our past, to treat our history with disrespect and an effort to show our history in a negative light to the younger generations. »
« OTTOMANIA »
The Ottoman Empire was long denigrated by the successors of Ataturk, who ended the sultanate. Official state ideology blamed decadence and religiosity on the part of the Ottoman rulers for Turkey’s humiliating defeat as a German ally in World War One and the carving up of its Middle Eastern empire by Britain and France.
The renewed interest in the glory days of the Ottoman empire comes as Turkey enjoys its greatest prosperity of the modern era, giving a young population increasing pride and confidence.
Power, experts say, has shifted to a new middle class of observant Muslims ready to reinterpret Turkey’s historical narrative, loosening the strictures of Kemalism — the ideology that shaped the Turkish republic in its early years, stressing Ataturk’s vision of secularism and nationalism.
The « Ottomania » gripping Turkey is manifest in museum exhibits on Ottoman art, clothes and calligraphy, restoration of Ottoman buildings and an interest in Ottoman Turkish language courses offered by academies.
Turks’ rediscovery of their past coincides with frustration at the slow pace of Turkey’s accession to the European Union.
Sent into unceremonious exile by the young Turkish republic, descendants of the Ottoman imperial family are also enjoying a rehabilitation of sorts, with surviving members appearing in the media.
« There is a new interest among Turks in rediscovering the Ottoman past, » said Ilber Ortayli, the director of Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, residence of Ottoman sultans for 400 years. « No nation has the luxury of rejecting its past, especially if you have a magnificent past. Even during the republican years people were proud of their Ottoman history. »
« THE PAST IS AN INVENTED LAND »
Reactions to The Magnificent Century recall the divided reception given to a film in 2008 which depicted Ataturk as a hard-drinking, lonely man beset by doubts.
With the boot on the other foot, Kemalists called that work an insult to the memory of modern Turkey’s founder.
Turkish society often seems polarized between conservative Muslims and secularists, each group viewing their country through different sides of a prism.
« The past is always an invented land, » Nobel prize-winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk said last year. « The revision of the past is always held to the political struggles of a country. »
Turkey’s television supervisors said they received more than 70,000 complaints after the first airing of the drama.
Meral Okay, the screenwriter, said most of the anger stemmed from the fact that the film-makers had opened the doors of the harem to the public.
« We have been saying the same thing from the start. This is a fiction inspired by history, » said Okay. « By entering the harem, we made all those untouchable and respected characters of history closer to us. We gave them a material existence as humans, with fears, anger and passions. »
Fiction or not, viewers were split as to whether it was appropriate to show the revered Suleiman cavorting in the harem.
« I think it hurts our national pride, » said Huseyin Kilic, who runs a tobacco shop in Istanbul. « Young generations look up to those historical figures who have achieved so much. And what do they see on this show? These great men have a weakness for women – and not only one woman, many of them! »
But Sevda Gunes, a 19-year old student, said she did not understand all the fuss over the drama and the sultan.
« I don’t know why people are bothered so much. Besides, it’s just a show. Why can’t people just watch it and have fun? » »
Présentation : « Les 5èmes Journées d’économie de la culture et de la communication sont organisées par la Chaire d’innovation & régulation Orange Ecole Polytechnique TELECOM Paris Tech, le ministère de la Culture et de la Communication DEPS, le GIS Culture-Médias & Numérique, avec le concours de Cap Digital.
Elles ont pris pour thème:
«Culture-médias&numérique: nouvelles questions de concurrence»
Le 8 Février 2011, au Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
« Pop culture continues to bring out the nation’s sensitivities, or, more likely, insecurities. Controversy is sparked by a TV series showing Sultan Süleyman courting women in the harem rather than conquering the known world, and by a comic book showing a young Atatürk beaten by his superior in the military. Both are accused of tarnishing Turkey’s history. But when it comes to the ultra-nationalistic, ultra-violent movie ‘Valley of the Wolves: Palestine,’ there’s no reaction
Turkey is the best country in the world, Turkish history is solely an epic collection of glorious victories and Turks are the greatest people to have ever graced the earth. If these are the messages in your film, TV show or comic book, you are good to go.
But if, by any chance, that same work is seen as tarnishing the image or history of Turkey, you are likely to find an army of sensitive citizens, fanatic ideologues and statesmen (and stateswomen) more than happy to lynch you.
Pop culture tested the limits of national sensitivities in January, with a TV series, a film and a comic book roiling the waters of a nation insecure, intolerant and, at times, paranoid about its identity and how it is perceived by others.
Ironically, the most violent and discriminatory of these three new releases turned out to be the one nobody really found it necessary to make a fuss about. The blockbuster “Valley of the Wolves: Palestine” did not seem to hit a nerve. Killing dozens of onscreen Palestinians and Israelis apparently isn’t much of a problem as long as it is done for the purposes of revenge on behalf of all Turks.
The “Valley of the Wolves” franchise – including, so far, three seasons of a TV series and subsequent films – has been, more than anything else, an unabashed exploitation of Turkey’s sensitivities, or, more likely, insecurities, in the new world order of a new millennium. Its leading character, a rogue nationalist hero, is above the law and establishes his own sense of justice in the name of patriotism. Short and stocky like Jack Bauer of “24,” and a troubled sociopath like Rambo, Polat Alemdar became an instant role model for many young men in Turkey. He fed on their frustrations with being stuck in a limbo between middle class and lower class, between city and rural and between modernity and tradition.
The recently released film cashes in on last year’s Israeli commando attack on the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish aid ship carrying pro-Palestinian activists to the Gaza Strip in a trip that ended with the death of eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent on board. The words “cash in” pretty much summarize the sentiments, as the Mavi Marmara-related scene at the beginning of the movie doesn’t tie with the rest of the story, giving the impression that it was tacked on to exploit the death of nine people.[…] »
« Turkey’s leading media group Dogan Yayin, embroiled in legal battles against crippling tax fines, said late on Wednesday appeals by both it and the state against initial court rulings had been rejected.
The publishing group said that of cases heard at the tax court involving a sum of 862.3 million lira, the court ruled in its favour for 814.22 million lira worth of that sum.
The court ruled against Dogan for 17.6 million lira worth, and had yet to decide on the remaining 30.6 million lira.
Of cases involving 796.7 million lira dealt with by the administrative court, the court ruled in Dogan Yayin’s favour for 783.2 million lira worth and against in 13.5 million worth.
Challenges by the tax office to court rulings in Dogan’s favour, had been rejected. Similarly Dogan Yayin’s challenges to rulings against it had also been rejected — leaving the original decisions in place. Dogan Yayin is selling its assets but will not exit the media sector entirely.
U.S. private equity fund KKR, Time Warner and private equity fund Texas Pacific Group are among shortlisted bidders for Dogan Yayin’s assets and will have a month to put their final binding offers on the table, a banker said on Tuesday.
Turkish foodmaker Yildiz Holding may bid in partnership with KKR, sources familiar with the deal told Reuters on Wednesday. »
« Le film Vallée des Loups-Palestine, qui évoque l’affaire de la flottille de Gaza, est une virulente charge contre l’État hébreu.
L’honneur souillé des Turcs se lave dans le sang. Et c’est Polat Alemdar, héros du film Vallée des Loups-Palestine, qui se charge de le faire comprendre aux Israéliens. À l’affiche de tous les cinémas de Turquie depuis vendredi, ses nouvelles aventures le conduisent en Israël pour venger les neuf victimes turques du Mavi Marmara – le ferry pris d’assaut par Tsahal en mai dernier. Si les tribulations de ce Rambo version turque, mi-justicier, mi-voyou, promettent de caracoler en haut du box-office, elles ne vont pas arranger les relations entre la Turquie et Israël, moribondes depuis le fiasco de l’abordage de la flottille affrétée par une ONG islamiste turque à destination de Gaza.(…) »
« Are Turkish series as taboo-breaking as the western media (and Turkish conservatives) make them out to be? As the content on Turkish television becomes increasingly liberalized, claims that these images are changing the status of women in the Arab world are growing. But liberals in Turkey are skeptical that television can have such an effect.
Homosexuality and sexual violence on prime time. Blockbuster soap operas telling convoluted stories of forbidden love. There is plenty of shocking content on Turkish television screens these days.
A month ago, a third of Turkish television viewers tuned in to watch one of the country’s most popular young actresses being gang-raped in the first episode of a new series.
A couple of days later a television channel—bought recently by a businessman close to the former Islamist government—broadcast the first ever Turkish-made soap opera to show two men in bed together, naked(…) »