Censorship

May 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yesterday’s post?  Happened a couple of weeks before “the accident.”  My life definitely doesn’t involve traipsing around graveyards anymore.  Though when I can walk again, just try and stop me!

During the first week of my lojman-based convalescence, I was pretty productive.  I limited myself to 2, maybe 3 hours of TV followed by 2-3 hours of Ladino interview transcription, reading, harmonica playing, and napping.  Use this opportunity, I told myself.  Set a schedule, have goals, be productive.

Then weeks 2 and 3 rolled around and my motivation ebbed as I became hypnotized by E2’s daily cycle of Ellen, Martha Stewart, and Gossip Girl.  It repeats thrice (great word) and so did I.  I’m admitting it, without shame: at some points during the past 3 weeks I watched 9 straight hours of Ellen, Martha, and my favorite Scandalous Upper East Siders.

My expression was as vacant as Nate's--but he's prettier

After a Saturday night chocolate cake and Mad Men binge (the 3-episode cycle from 8-11 pm repeated again at 1 am!), I put my one good foot down and said, “Sherri, pull yourself together.”  I threw out what remained of the cake, turned off the TV, and resolved to, well, get shit done.  After a good night’s sleep.  Sloth makes you tired.

Monday was fantastic.  I can be a pretty good taskmaster when I need to be.  So I rewarded myself with some late-night lounging.  CNBC-E, my favorite American TV channel in Turkey, was showing Bobby, the much-maligned 2006 docudrama of RFK’s assassination, the only movie to unite such disparate stars as Emilio Estevez, Laurence Fishburne, Heather Graham, and Lindsay Lohan.  Dressed to the nines in their 60’s finest?  Great!  I began to willingly suspend my disbelief and actually enjoy the movie–and then this came on the screen:

No, Demi Moore’s not sporting the biggest orange flower ring EVER.  It’s a cigarette.  In an effort to dissuade viewers from smoking, no one on Turkish television is allowed to be shown smoking or holding a cigarette.  So instead, network censors replace cigarettes with neon-colored flowers.  This is utterly ridiculous and has the complete opposite effect of drawing the viewers’ eyes even more to what they already know is a cigarette.  A cigarette made prettier!  I want to smoke psychedelic flowers, too!  The ban completely ruined Control, the Joy Division film I watched back in October.  Do you know how many flowers Ian Curtis smoked during the 70’s?

This isn’t to say I don’t greatly appreciate the same 2009 law which banned smoking in indoor bars, restaurants, and cafes (though many slyly get around that by simply installing temporary windows in the winter and continuing to claim open-air status).  There’s enough real smoke (and smoke blown up people’s asses) in Turkey to go around.  But if anyone in the Turkish government thinks this act of TV censorship is preventing anything, they’re wrong.

Of course they’re wrong!  Remember when Turkey banned YouTube and every criticism of Ataturk went away?  Or when, instead of simply shutting down one person’s site, Turkey banned Blogger?  It was like that one time in kindergarten when some kid stole something and wouldn’t admit it so the teacher punished the entire class.  I am not your child, Turkish government!  And then here’s a whole list of other sites Turkey has recently banned.

It gets worse.  In August, the country’s Information Technology Board (BTK) will require that all Turkish households with Internet access choose a content filter.  You can’t not choose a filter.  They come in different levels: family, children, domestic, and standard.  Let’s play “choose your own repression!”  But I’m being selfish.  It’s to protect the conservative children, won’t somebody think of the children?! says BTK chairman Tayfun Acarer.  Of course!  In the words of Ersu Ablak, I want freedom, I must be a sick porno freak.

It doesn’t end there.  The Telecommunications Directorate issued a list of 138 words that are now banned from Turkish domain names, among them the English words beat, hot, homemade, and, winner of the Overwhelming Irony Award, free.  Also forbidden are the Turkish words for breath and, winner of the *Facepalm* Award, forbidden.

The opposition CHP party is ridiculing this which deserves to be ridiculed in TV ads for the upcoming June 12 election. This is my favorite:

I wish I could provide a translated transcript for you, but I don’t understand everything they’re saying.  What I do know is that they’re talking plainly about the sheer inanity of the ban, including the forbidden ban.  The ad is basically one big partywide *facepalm*.

It’s easy enough to get around the ban by using a service like HotSpot Shield, which encrypts your internet connection.  But we shouldn’t need to.  Turkey’s been widely criticized by the western world not only for censoring the Internet but for arresting and silencing journalists on trumped-up or false charges. And the Turkish people aren’t taking this laying down either.  There have been numerous protests around the country to challenge the government’s continual impinging of freedom.  But nothing seems to change, and as CHP stands little chance of upsetting AKP next month, expect plenty more viewings of shiny fluorescent flower inhalation in the coming years.

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