« Pop culture in Turkey pushes the nation’s buttons once again » – Hürriyet Daily News

The new TV series "Muhteşem Yüzyıl" (Magnificent Century) depicts the imperial life of Süleyman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning Ottoman sultan. (Source : Hürriyet)

« 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.[…] »

Source : Hürriyet Daily News