Censorship

There are lots of things about Turkey and censorship that deserve attention. We could talk about the internet filters that not only catch porn but also some Darwinian websites. We could talk about journalists who write books about shadowy organisations, only to then be arrested on suspicion of being in said shadowy organisation. We could talk about journalists being arrested for not-entirely-clear reasons but possibly to do with their ethnic background. We could talk about the “mahalle baskisi”, the local pressure to conform, and how it stifles free debate and exchange of ideas. We could talk about the newspapers and how some are pro-government and some are not, but none will print a contrary view to that of the editor or owner.

But we won’t talk about any of that, we’ll talk about television.

I first noticed it with cigarettes. I’m not sure when but they disappeared off our tv screens, generally replaced with a fuzzy patch. It was funny to see suave characters with smoke trailing from fuzzy patches. It didn’t always add to the atmosphere of the programme I’ll admit. Still CNBC-E had the best idea with their cartoon flower solution. (In an excellent piece of marketing you can now buy the censor flowers to disguise your own smoking!)

Charlie does love his flowers, eh, I mean cigars...

So a while after that I noticed that cigarettes weren’t the only things that disappeared, alcoholic drinks had vanished too. Again the credibility was stretched as we watched our downtrodden hero prop up the bar with a fuzzy drink to match his fuzzy cigarette.

Then last week while watching 48 Hours Eddie Murphy walked into a nude bar and was completely surrounded by fuzz. The women’s heads were the only things unobscured. Now my memory of 48 Hours was that there wasn’t really a huge amount on show anyway but all those fuzz patches got me fierce curious altogether.

Then once the shooting started the fuzz increased again. No gunshot wounds, no bleeding, no gore, just a shot and some fuzz. Last nights Steven Seagal movie ended in a fuzz of pink.

So cigarettes, alcohol, nudity and gore all banned from viewing on Turkish television. This was evening time and the kids had been sent to bed well in accordance with Metin Akpinar and Ibrahim Kutluay’s admonishments that 9.30 was time for bed. The movies had all started with the symbols telling us what to expect and what age it was suitable for. But still the television governing body RTUK decided that they knew better.

My final example is most worrying. A married couple reunited after a day of strife and worry run towards each other, relief visible, speeding up as they get closer and then snip.

They stand beside each other, no kiss, no hug.

No, that would be to give the little children a bad example, it could affect their spiritual development to witness affection between two married television characters.

It’s heating up the water slowly so the frog is boiled before he realises.