“Turkish Television Takes on Topic of Child Brides” – New York Times

“A young girl in braids and a bridal veil lifts a tear-stained face to the camera. “My name is Hayat, and I am 15 years old,” she tells the audience. “My husband is 70 years old.”

A stout, white-bearded man steps into the frame to join her, and she dissolves into tears. “This dress is not my bridal gown,” she sobs. “It is my shroud.”

The music swells and the camera cuts to black. “One out of two women in Turkey is married off as a teenager,” a speaker announces from off-screen. “More than two million of our girls have been sold for a bride price.”

The two-minute film clip, which has already racked up tens of thousands of clicks on the Internet, is the trailer for a much-anticipated soap opera by Mahsun Kirmizigul, a popular singer turned screenwriter and director, which is scheduled to debut Friday on Turkish television.

The series, called “Life Goes On,” will follow the life and times of Hayat’s extended family as they flee poverty in central Anatolia and attempt to find their feet in Istanbul. The focus in the initial episodes will be on the fate of the young girl, as she is married off to the old man — a fate that is all too common in Anatolia. […]”

Source : New York Times

“The Dirt, and the Soap, on the Ottoman Empire” – New York Times

“For the show’s producers, it is nothing less than a Magnificent Controversy.

“Muhtesem Yuzyil,” or “Magnificent Century,” a lavish prime time soap opera about the life of Suleiman the Magnificent and Hurrem, the slave who became his powerful wife, is as admired here as it is reviled.

Suleiman ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 at the height of its glory and is still revered as Kanuni, or Lawgiver.

The series attracted a wave of protests from irate viewers and even government officials. Critics said it was disrespectful to the sultan because it showed him drinking alcohol — banned in Islam — and womanizing with concubines in the harem. They also complain that its scriptwriters take liberties with historical events and depictions of royal lives.

Still, despite warnings from the government media regulator, or perhaps because of them, ratings remain sky high on Wednesday nights as each colorful chapter of fictionalized history unfolds.

After receiving what it said was more than 70,000 complaints when the drama first aired in January, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television, known by the Turkish acronym RTUK, said that Show TV, the channel broadcasting the series, had wrongly exposed “the privacy of a historical person” and owed the public an apology. […]”

Source : New York Times

“Turks Put Twist in Racy Soaps” – New York Times

From left, Kivanc Tatlitug, Selcuk Yontem and Beren Saat in a scene from “Ask-i Memnu,” the top-rated series in Turkey. Source : Doğan TV & New York Times

“[…] Just another day at the office for the stars of “Gumus,” the Turkish soap opera that during its two-year run here on Kanal D has offered Turks not only the daytime-television miracle of sexual foreplay, but the standard sudsy compendium of shotgun weddings, kidnappings, car accidents and crazy plot twists like the one when the dead girlfriend of the aforementioned married dreamboat turns out to be alive and the mother of his illegitimate baby.

Usual stuff to American aficionados of the genre. But Turkish television has given the soap a fresh twist by making the connivers, kidnappers and canoodlers Muslims. And it is Arab audiences, even more than Turks, who have been swept off their feet.

Led by “Gumus” (“Noor” in Arabic), a wave of Turkish melodramas, police procedurals and conspiracy thrillers — “Yaprak Dokumu,” “Kurtlar Vadisi,” “Asmali Konak,” “Ihlamurlar Altinda” and now the steamy “Ask-i Memnu,” the top-rated series in Turkey (think Madame Bovary on the Bosporus) — are making their way onto Arab televisions, wielding a kind of soft power. […]”

Source : New York Times

“Arab TV Tests Societies’ Limits With Depictions of Sex and Equality” – New York Times

“BEIRUT, Lebanon — Many Arabs were shocked and appalled earlier this month when a prominent Saudi cleric declared that it was permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV stations that broadcast “immoral” material.

Saudi clerics have denounced popular soap operas like “Bab al-Hara,” which attract enormous audiences during Ramadan.

But the comment, by Sheik Saleh al-Luhaidan, was only the most visible part of a continuing cultural controversy over Arab television. This summer another Saudi cleric denounced the Arab world’s most popular television show ever — the dubbed Turkish series “Noor” — calling it “replete with evil, wickedness, moral collapse and a war on the virtues.” He also barred Muslims from watching the series, which portrays the lives of moderate Muslims who drink wine with dinner and have premarital sex.” […]

Source : New York Times