Today’s blog entry is about something that affects most of us: Getting drunk.
But beforehand, something completely different; I find it interesting to watch other country’s TV programs even though I understand crap. For example Turkish soap operas. I recall from German soaps that the actors aren’t specifically giving their best but behave overly dramatic. Each line seems to be bold, each gesture exaggerated. However, the Turkish equivalents exceed this tendency so much, that to me they seem like the videos shown to autistic kids to teach them how to recognise expressions and emotions. Every scene and dialogue appears to be about life and death (in fact, they could be – I don’t speak a word of Turkish). Talking about soap operas, I remember that in Timor Leste, TV used to show Portuguese soaps as well. That was a bit odd, since Timoresians can relate to the everyday reality of a common family in Lisbon about as much as I can relate to the problems of conservative media mogul and billionaire Rupert Murdochs gay son. Besides, few Timorese speak Portuguese – or own a TV, for that matter. Getting back to the topic, I take a wild guess and say that the reason why soap opera actors overact isn’t because they suck at their job, but to make it as easy for the audience to figure what’s going on.
What does all of this have to do about booze?
The other day, we were sitting at a friend’s house getting ready for friday night by drinking. Alcohol is overly expensive in Turkey. You might have heard that the current government is trying to fight the liquid sin wherever they see it. Well, this is a part of their policy. What’s also part of their policy is what our little group witnessed in TV, which was silently showing a Turkish comedy from the 90s while music was playing from its speakers.
Alcohol was blurred out. Glasses with whiskey, cocktails, shots were obliterated like you would expect it from the face of a victim of sorts shown in the news. Now, this is interesting: 20 years ago, it was apparently completely okay to show lots of alcohol in Turkish movies. Nowadays, it’s not, while all the gambling that went on at the same time seemed okay.
Do you think a child watching this movie would have recognised the drinks as alcohol? It’s a movie; you could only tell the type of drink by the shape of the glasses, and only if you are already familiar with those. So what about teenagers watching kid-friendly Turkish TV? Would they go “Oh, this is seems to be forbidden, we better never ask what they have in those glasses”? A few more likely associations: Mysterious, interesting, something only adults do, something that signifies independence since it’s apparently against the rules of society.
But as a matter of fact, I believe that the aim of shot-blurring isn’t as much to protect the youth (even though that was probably the official reason). I think it’s a political statement: We are against alcohol, we would like to delete it from our society, and we have the power to bring this discussion into your living rooms.
Needless to say that prohibition doesn’t work but makes the problem worse and encourages corruption. See, for example, the Prohibition. Same goes for marijuana, by the way. I’m not even looking for it, but usually after being in a country for two weeks, I know how I could get weed if I wanted to. And every time I see a drunken guy in the bus or on the streets molesting people or trying to pull off a fight I think to myself “This wouldn’t happen if he was high”.
What else happened in Turkey? I had a great night followed by a great day in and around Taksim, while Turkey discusses new democratic measures taken by the Erdogan government. For the pros, see this article by a senior adviser to the Prime Minister of Turkey, or this article from a Kurdish news page for a more critical view, or this link if you don’t care and want to see pictures of cats instead.